Tuesday, December 22, 2009

'Global' thinking won't necessarily solve the world's problems

There'll be nowhere to run from the new world government

'Global' thinking won't necessarily solve the world's problems, says Janet Daley
By Janet Daley Published: 7:24PM GMT 19 Dec 2009

There is scope for debate – and innumerable newspaper quizzes – about who was the most influential public figure of the year, or which the most significant event. But there can be little doubt which word won the prize for most important adjective. 2009 was the year in which "global" swept the rest of the political lexicon into obscurity. There were "global crises" and "global challenges", the only possible resolution to which lay in "global solutions" necessitating "global agreements". Gordon Brown actually suggested something called a "global alliance" in response to climate change. (Would this be an alliance against the Axis of Extra-Terrestrials?)
Some of this was sheer hokum: when uttered by Gordon Brown, the word "global", as in "global economic crisis", meant: "It's not my fault". To the extent that the word had intelligible meaning, it also had political ramifications that were scarcely examined by those who bandied it about with such ponderous self-importance. The mere utterance of it was assumed to sweep away any consideration of what was once assumed to be the most basic principle of modern democracy: that elected national governments are responsible to their own people – that the right to govern derives from the consent of the electorate.

Related Articles
This brave new world we live in needs leaders based in reality (/finance/comment/liamhalligan/5105721 /This-brave-new-world-we-live-in-needs-leaders-based-in-reality.html)
FSA slams stable door, but policy-making on the hoof won't solve crisis (/finance/comment/damianreece /2985356/FSA-slams-stable-door-but-policy-making-on-the-hoof-wont-solve-crisis.html)
Afghanistan election: Would you risk your life to cast a vote? (/comment/columnists/janetdaley/6072915

Turkmenistan-China pipeline changes energy balance

China has arrived in Central Asia. That is the unmistakeable lesson of the opening of the Turkmenistan-China gas pipeline on December 12 (BBC, December 14). The 1,833 kilometre pipeline, which will carry up to 40 billion cubic metres (bcm) of gas, also traversing Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan before linking into China’s network in Xinjiang, was formally agreed only in April 2006. The construction of such an ambitious project in a relatively limited time-frame is a concrete demonstration of Beijing’s push to secure the region’s natural resources.

“The strategic significance of the Turkmenistan-China pipeline cannot be underestimated”, said analyst Borut Grgic (Atlantic Council, December 18). It is hard to argue with his assessment. This pipeline could be yet another blow to the EU’s Nabucco pipeline, from the Caspian to Europe: but Nabucco is already so frail that the possibility of losing Turkmen gas as well seems inevitable. Far more significant is the implications for Russian and Iranian Caspian policies, as well as China’s rising influence in Central Asia.

For Ashgabat, the pipeline will be a vital economic lifeline when operating at full capacity in 2012: the lack of supply to Russia is currently costing around $1 billion per month. It also opens the way for greater Chinese investment in the country’s huge but largely untapped gas fields. In the long-term, we could even see Chinese-built pipelines stretching across the deserts of Turkmenistan to Chinese-operated gas fields in the Caspian Sea. We are also likely to see a ripple effect from this project, as Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan begin plugging their own gas supplies into the Turkmenistan-China pipeline.

Iran is only peripherally involved, but will still be watching China’s actions closely. Currently, a single pipeline takes 8bcm of Turkmen gas to northern Iran, but another pipeline is almost complete. When both are fully operational, 20bcm per year will be flowing to Turkmenistan’s southern neighbour.

If Russia begins to aggressively defend its stake in the country’s gas fields, we could soon see a three-way struggle between Moscow, Beijing and Tehran for control of Turkmen gas fields. Although Turkmenistan’s resources are vast, there is still no agreement on exactly how vast they are, partly as a result of the country’s suspicions towards outside investors and unreliable, centrally-planned economy. If there are insufficient supplies to satisfy all three hungry customers, there could be serious geo-economic competition in Turkmenistan.

For Russia, the pipeline is a major blow. It will deprive Moscow of its strategic control over large-scale Turkmen gas supplies. These supplies have been suspended since April 2009 due to a pipeline explosion, blamed on technical problems arising from a pricing dispute between Russia’s Gazprom and Turkmenistan. Although Gazprom is still contracted to purchase 90% of Ashgabat’s gas, when the pipeline restarts this share will be nearly halved, due to the China route and a new route to Iran (RFE/RL, December 14).

Gazprom has had a near-monopsony on Turkmenistan’s gas since 1991, relying on a mixture of Soviet-era pipeline infrastructures, preferential tariffs, political pressure and economic support. But Russia can no longer rely on the legacy of the USSR to keep Turkmenistan in its sphere of influence. As the pipeline shows, there are new players in town with deeper pockets and more political capital.

The Kremlin has tried to put a brave face on matters. First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov insisted that “we support these projects” (ITAR-TASS, December 19). His boss Vladimir Putin also reassured reporters that the pipeline would not affect Sino-Russian cooperation on energy, a strategic priority for Moscow (Oil&Gas Journal, December 7). But Russia is clearly concerned. The same scenario that played out to the west of the Caspian – the grasp of former Soviet energy resources by outside players – has now taken place to the east.

There are also implications for Russia’s bilateral gas trade with China. Vladimir Socor at the Jamestown Foundation notes that Siberian gas supplies to China now face a competitor in the form of Turkmen gas, increasing Beijing’s leverage in ongoing price negotiations (Jamestown Foundation, December 18). China’s increasing domination of Russia’s former dominions in Central Asia – which has also included recent plans to buy up Kazakh farmland (RFE/RL, December 17) – will have long-term implications for Russia’s political, energy and economic strategies. How it handles the rise of China in the region will be one of the most unpredictable trends of the next decade.

In order to keep the three Central Asian transit states cooperating with each other (not guaranteed given their history of disputes), China will have to make a firmer political commitment to the region. Just as Georgia, Azerbaijan and Turkey have become close allies as a result of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan project, so China, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan will be bound together through this new pipeline. The implications - for Russia, Iran, and the West – will be serious.

By Alexander Jackson


An integral cog in the Hasbara wheel of destruction are the groups operating as NGOs (Non Governmental Organisations) .THIS is a description of one such group, one that has caused much damage and grief to many involved in Human Rights work on behalf of the Palestinian people.

Yesterday I posted a piece about the Canadian government cutting off funds to a group involved in Human Rights work. This action was instigated by a group in Israel which is linked above. Monitor, since its inception, has concentrated all of its energy on the spreading of lies to discredit any and all organisations working in the field of Human Rights on behalf of Palestinians. Their main target has been another NGO group called Human Rights Watch. Many man hours are spent trying to discredit them.

What Monitor sees as presenting the truth is nothing but a never ending web of lies. It seems that no one monitors them or their activities, but perhaps that is what is needed. Those that support and fund this organisation should be aware of how they operate. Below is one of the latest examples ….

Based on the following, NGO Monitor prepared an extensive dossier to present to the Canadian government….
  • In December 2008, during the Gaza conflict, KAIROS wrote to Prime Minister Harper alleging that “[o]ne and a half million people living under illegal occupation…have no escape from being bombed as punishment for violent acts they did not commit.” Israel was blamed for Palestinian violence: “Mass killings turn youth growing up in despair and humiliation into fighters.”
  • In another letter, the NGO claimed “Canada has an obligation to speak out against this collective punishment of the people in Gaza,” and expressed that it was “further disturbed” at Canada’s position that opposed one-sided UN Human Rights Council resolutions targeting Israel (and promoted by the Organization of the Islamic Conference).
  • Further demonstrating its core political bias, KAIROS pressed the argument that thousands of Hamas’ “[rocket] attacks in no way justify this siege [of Gaza].”
  • KAIROS frequently joins other anti-Israel NGOs in accusing Israel of “war crimes” and “collective punishment.”
  • KAIROS’ response can be found HERE
With the logic used above, the UN, the EU and anyone else that speaks out against Israeli aggression or the occupation should also have their funds cut off. One point that must be noted is that Monitor never targets any right wing or Jewish terrorist organisations. That must not go ignored.

The following, from the archives of the Forward says it all….

Monitoring The Monitor

By Leonard Fein

One of the more active sideshows of our time is the tangle of new organizations devoted to uncovering and broadcasting what they see as “the truth.” Now that the Internet has radically simplified the work and lowered the cost of getting such messages out, it seems a wonder that there’s room in cyberspace for all the information that each day brings.

But there’s the rub: It’s not the quantity that’s the problem, it’s the nature of what passes for “information.” How are we to distinguish between information and noise? How can we tell when an organization’s ideological agenda colors its presentation?

What brings this to mind just now is an unfolding assault on Human Rights Watch, which is widely regarded and respected, along with Amnesty International USA, as the premier human rights agency in the United States. Its reports are carefully researched and, often to the embarrassment of governments, widely reported.

So, for example, its recent 53-page report on the “rendition” of some 60 alleged Islamist terrorists, sent to Egypt where (contrary to our president’s bland assessment) even our State Department indicates they are virtually certain to be tortured. Other Human Rights Watch reports in recent weeks have focused on Darfur; on America’s treatment of prisoners in Guantanamo, Afghanistan and Iraq, and on the state of human rights in Peru, in Nepal, in Iraq and in Vietnam.

These reports, frequently of conditions that would otherwise pass unnoticed, are produced by a staff of nearly 200 people in 15 offices around the world with an annual budget just short of $22 million.

It comes as no surprise that Human Rights Watch also speaks out on Israel, often (though not always) critically. Enter NGO Monitor, an organization that believes that the best way to defend Israel is to condemn anyone who criticizes it.

NGO Monitor operates out of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs/Institute for Contemporary Affairs. Its editor is Gerald Steinberg, a professor at Bar-Ilan University in Israel, and its stated purpose is “to end the practice used by certain self-declared ‘humanitarian NGOs’ of exploiting the label ‘universal human rights values’ to promote politically and ideologically motivated anti-Israel agendas.”

It is in that context that it has paid special attention to Human Rights Watch, offering on its Web site more reports on Human Rights Watch than on any other of the 75 NGOs it seeks to “out.” It holds that Human Rights Watch exploits “the rhetoric of universal human rights to promote narrow political and ideological preferences,” thereby falling squarely within the explicit scope of NGO Monitor’s interest.

I cannot here review all of what NGO Monitor claims as evidence for its harsh view that Human Rights Watch acts “in concert with [the] international demonization of Israel.” But here are two items that provide an indication of the “narrow political and ideological preferences” of NGO Monitor itself:

On April 18, NGO Monitor issued a “draft report on Human Rights Watch” which claims that an “objective quantitative analysis” shows that Human Rights Watch places an “extreme emphasis on critical assessments of Israel.” I have reviewed the draft document and checked its central claim against the actual documents Human Rights Watch has produced regarding Israel since the year 2000. The discrepancy between NGO Monitor’s claims and Human Rights Watch’s record is massive.

Human Rights Watch has in fact devoted more attention to each of five other nations in the region — Iraq, Sudan, Egypt, Turkey and Iran — than to Israel. I called this to Steinberg’s attention on May 3, and he responded that NGO Monitor would “examine and respond” to the discrepancies. Since then, I have received 27 emails from Steinberg; not one has in any way responded to this matter. Yet the draft report remains online, unamended.

On June 30, Israel’s Supreme Court issued a much-publicized ruling on the “separation fence.” The heart of the ruling was that “the route which the military commander established for the security fence… injures the local inhabitants in a severe and acute way, while violating their rights under humanitarian international law” and that the fence must therefore be relocated.

But if you were to read the NGO Monitor’s summary of the ruling, you would never know this. You would, instead, read all the court’s reasons for declaring that Israel has the right to build a fence to protect its citizens — and none of the language that explains the court’s view that the location of the fence is an unacceptable “infringement on the local inhabitants’ rights and interests.”

Now NGO Monitor is on a public campaign to establish a mechanism, as Steinberg puts it, “to watch the watchers” — that is, to provide external controls over the actions of NGOs in general and of Human Rights Watch in particular. It also urges that NGO hiring and other practices be “transparent.”

Here, again, my repeated requests for an explanation of just how hiring practices might be rendered transparent, and why board oversight and donor response are inadequate as safeguards, have gone unanswered.

Human Rights Watch is not beyond criticism; no NGO is. And all NGOs — NGO Monitor not less than Human Rights Watch — have an agenda. It is entirely appropriate for outsiders to enquire, to judge whether an NGO’s claimed agenda is honestly stated and honestly pursued.

NGO Monitor is not exempt from the kind of scrutiny it proposes for Human Rights Watch and others; its claim that Human Rights Watch “promotes narrow political and ideological preferences” while its own hands are clean and its motives pure is vacuous.

Let it, as it wishes, “watch the watcher” — but let it, in turn, be watched.


Some background information on the group can be found HERE

World's Sole Military Superpower's 2 Million-Troop, $1 Trillion Wars

With a census of slightly over 300 million in a world of almost seven billion people, the U.S. accounts for over 40 percent of officially acknowledged worldwide government military spending with a population that is only 4 percent of that of the earth's. A 10-1 disparity.

In addition to its 1,445,000 active duty service members, the Pentagon can and does call upon 1.2 million National Guard and other reserve components. As many as 30% of troops that have served in Afghanistan and Iraq are mobilized reservists. The Army National Guard has activated over 400,000 soldiers since the war in Afghanistan began and in March of 2009 approximately 125,000 National Guard and other reserve personnel were on active duty.

The Defense Department also has over 800,000 civilian employees at home and deployed worldwide. The Pentagon, then, has more than 3.5 million people at its immediate disposal excluding private military contractors.

After allotting over a trillion dollars for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq alone and packing off more than two million of its citizens to the two nations, the U.S. military establishment and peace prize president have already laid the groundwork for yet more wars. Boeing, Raytheon and General Electric won't be kept waiting.

In his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech on December 10 the president of the United States appropriated for his country the title of "the world's sole military superpower" and for himself "the Commander-in-Chief of the military of a nation in the midst of two wars."

This may well have been the first time that an American - and of course any - head of state in history boasted of his nation being the only uncontested military power on the planet and unquestionably the only time a Nobel Peace Prize recipient identified himself as presiding over not only a war but two wars simultaneously.

As to the appropriateness of laying such claims in the venue and on the occasion he did - accepting the world's preeminent peace award before the Norwegian Nobel Committee - Barack Obama at least had the excuse of being perfectly accurate in his contentions.

He is in fact the commander-in-chief in charge of two major and several smaller wars and his nation is without doubt the first global military power which for decades has operated without constraints on five of six inhabited continents and has troops stationed in all six. United States armed forces personnel and weapons, including nuclear arms, are stationed at as many as 820 installations in scores of nations.

The U.S. has recently assigned thousands of troops to seven new bases in Bulgaria and Romania [1], deployed the first foreign troops to Israel in that nation's history to run an interceptor missile radar facility in the Negev Desert [2], and last week signed a status of forces agreement with Poland for Patriot missiles (to be followed by previously ship-based Aegis Standard Missile-3s interceptors) and U.S. soldiers to be stationed there. The troops will be the first foreign forces based in Poland since the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact in 1991.

The U.S., whose current military budget is at Cold War, which is to say at the highest of post-World War II, levels, also officially accounts for over 41% of international military spending according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute's report on 2008 figures: $607 billion of $1.464 trillion worldwide. On October 28 President Obama signed the 2010 National Defense Authorization Act with a price tag of $680 billion, including $130 billion for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

That figure excludes military spending outside of the Department of Defense. The American government has for several decades been the standard-bearer in outsourcing to private sector contractors in every realm and the Pentagon is certainly no exception to the practice. According to some estimates, American military and military-related allotments in addition to the formal Pentagon budget can bring annual U.S. defense spending as high as $1.16 trillion, almost half of official expenditures for all of the world's 192 nations, including the U.S., last year.

With a census of slightly over 300 million in a world of almost seven billion people, the U.S. accounts for over 40 percent of officially acknowledged worldwide government military spending with a population that is only 4 percent of that of the earth's. A 10-1 disparity.

The U.S. also has the world's second largest standing army, over 1,445,000 men and women under arms according to estimates of earlier this year, second only to China with 2,255,000. China has a population of over 1.325 billion, more than four times that of America, and does not have a vast army of private contractors supplementing its armed forces. And of course unlike the U.S. it has no troops stationed abroad. India, with a population of 1.140 billion, has active duty troop strength smaller than that of the U.S. at 1,415,000.

The U.S. and Britain are possibly alone in the world in deploying reservists to war zones; this last February the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen acknowledged that 600,000 reserves have been called up to serve in the area of responsibility of the U.S. Central Command, in charge of the Afghan and Iraqi wars, since 2001. In addition to its 1,445,000 active duty service members, the Pentagon can and does call upon 1.2 million National Guard and other reserve components. As many as 30% of troops that have served in Afghanistan and Iraq are mobilized reservists. The Army National Guard has activated over 400,000 soldiers since the war in Afghanistan began and in March of 2009 approximately 125,000 National Guard and other reserve personnel were on active duty.

The Defense Department also has over 800,000 civilian employees at home and deployed worldwide. The Pentagon, then, has more than 3.5 million people at its immediate disposal excluding private military contractors.

In the last 48 hours two unprecedented thresholds have been crossed. On the morning of December 19 the U.S. Senate met in a rare Saturday morning session to approve a $636.3 billion military budget for next year. The vote was 88-10, as the earlier vote by the House of Representatives on December 16 was 395-34. In both cases the negative votes were not necessarily an indication of opposition to war spending but part of the labyrinthine American legislative practices of trade-offs, add-ons and deal-making on other, unrelated issues, what in the local vernacular are colorfully described as horse-trading and log-rolling among other choice terms. A no vote in the House or Senate, then, was not automatically a reflection of anti-war or even fiscally conservative sentiments.

The Pentagon appropriation included another $101 billion for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq (Obama signed the last formal Iraq and Afghanistan War Supplemental Appropriations, worth $106 billion, in July), but did not include the first of several additional requests, what are termed emergency spending measures, for the Afghan war. The first such request is expected early next year, more than $30 billion for the additional 33,000 U.S. troops to be deployed to the war zone, which will increase the number of American forces there to over 100,000.

On the day of the Senate vote Bloomberg News cited the Congressional Research Service, which had tallied the numbers, in revealing that the funds apportioned for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have now pushed the total expenditure for both to over $1 trillion. "That includes $748 billion for spending related to the war in Iraq and $300 billion for Afghanistan, the research service said in a Sept. 28 report."

The new Pentagon spending plan "includes $2.5 billion to buy 10 additional Boeing Co. C-17 transports that weren't requested by the Pentagon. Chicago-based Boeing also would benefit from $1.5 billion for 18 F/A-E/F Super Hornet fighters, nine more than the administration requested."

Funding for military aircraft not even requested by the Defense Department and the White House or for larger numbers of them than were is another curious component of the American body politic. That arms merchants (and not only domestic ones) place their own orders with the American people's alleged representatives - the current Deputy Secretary of Defense, William Lynn, was senior vice president of Government Operations and Strategy for Raytheon Company prior to assuming his new post - is illustrated by the following excerpts from the same report:

"Defense Secretary Robert Gates recommended April 6 that the C-17 program be terminated once Boeing delivers the last of 205 C-17s in late 2010. Boeing, the second-largest defense contractor, has said its plant in Long Beach, California, will shut down in 2011 without more orders.

"The budget also includes $465 million for the backup engine of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The engine is built by Fairfield, Connecticut-based General Electric Co. and London-based Rolls Royce Plc. The administration earlier threatened to veto the entire defense bill if it contained any money for the engine." [3]

The Pentagon and its chief Gates may win battles with the Congress and even the White House when they relate to the use of military force abroad, but against the weapons manufacturers and the congressmen whose election campaigns they contribute to the military brass will come off the losers.

In addition to the nearly two-thirds of a trillion dollar annual Pentagon war chest, the ongoing trillion dollar Broader Middle East war is a lucrative boon to the merchants of death and their political hangers-on.

On December 18 a story was posted on several American armed forces websites that U.S. soldiers have been sent to Afghanistan and Iraq 3.3 million times since the invasion of the first country in October of 2001. The report specifies that "more than 2 million men and women have shouldered those deployments, with 793,000 of them deploying more than once."

The break-down according to services is as follows:

More than 1 million troops from the Army.

Over 389,900 from the Air Force.

Over 367,900 from the Navy.

More than 251,800 Marines.

This past October alone 172,800 soldiers, 31,500 airmen, 30,000 sailors and 20,900 Marines were dispatched to the two war zones. [4]

The bulk of the U.S.'s permanent global warfighting force may be deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq, but enough troops are left over to man newly acquired bases in Eastern Europe, remain in Middle East nations other than Iraq, be based on and transit through the Manas Air Base in Kyrgyzstan, take over seven new military bases in Colombia, run regional operations out of America's first permanent base in Africa - Camp Lemonier in Djibouti, where 2,400 personnel are stationed - and engage in counterinsurgency campaigns in the Philippines, Mali, Uganda, Yemen and Pakistan.

Recently a U.S. armed forces newspaper reported in an article titled "AFRICOM could add Marine Air Ground Task Force" that "A 1,000-strong Marine combat task force capable of rapidly deploying to hot spots could soon be at the disposal of the new U.S. Africa Command."

The feature added that a Marine unit previously attached to the newly launched AFRICOM has "already deployed in support of training missions in Uganda and Mali," whose armies are fighting the Lord's Resistance Army and Tuareg rebels, respectively. [5]

In Yemen, Houthi rebel sources "accused the U.S. air force [on December 15] of joining attacks against them, and killing at least 120 people in a raid in the north of the poor Arab state."

Their information office said "The savage crime committed by the U.S. air force shows the real face of the United States." [6]

According to ABC News "On orders from President Barack Obama, the U.S. military launched cruise missiles early Thursday [December 17] against two suspected al-Qaeda sites in Yemen," [7] to complement mounting missile attacks in Pakistan.

The Houthi rebels are religiously Shi'ia, so any attempt at exploiting an al-Qaeda rationale for bombing their villages is a subterfuge.

At the same time the Commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe and NATO Allied Air Component, General Roger Brady, fresh from a tour of inspection of the Caucasus nations of Azerbaijan and Georgia, was at the Adazi Training Base in Latvia to meet with the defense ministers of that nation, Estonia and Lithuania and plan "closer military cooperation in the security sector between the Baltic States and the USA which also included joint exercises in the Baltic region." [9] All five nations mentioned above - Azerbaijan, Estonia, Georgia, Latvia and Lithuania - border Russia.

During the same week's summit of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) in Havana, Cuba, the host country's president Raul Castro said of the latest Pentagon buildup in Colombia that "The deployment of [U.S.] military bases in the region is...an act of aggression against Latin America and the Caribbean." [9]

Less than a week later the government of Colombia, the third largest recipient of American military aid in the world, announced it would construct a new military base near its border with Venezuela. "Defense Minister Gabriel Silva said [on December 18] that the base, located on the Guajira peninsula near the city of Nazaret, would have up to 1,000 troops. Two air battalions would also be activated at other border areas....Army Commander General Oscar Gonzalez meanwhile announced [the following day] that six air battalions were being activated, including two on the border with Venezuela." [10]

After allotting over a trillion dollars for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq alone and packing off more than two million of its citizens to the two nations, the U.S. military establishment and peace prize president have already laid the groundwork for yet more wars. Boeing, Raytheon and General Electric won't be kept waiting.


1) Bulgaria, Romania: U.S., NATO Bases For War In The East
Stop NATO, October 24, 2009
2) Israel: Forging NATO Missile Shield, Rehearsing War With Iran
Stop NATO, November 5, 2009
3) Bloomberg News, December 19, 2009
4) Michelle Tan, 2 million troops have deployed since 9/11
December 18, 2009
5) Stars And Stripes, December 16, 2009
6) Reuters, December 16, 2009
7) ABC News, December 18, 2009
8) Defense Professionals, December 14, 2009
9) Russian Information Agency Novosti, December 14, 2009
10) Agence France-Presse, December 19, 2009


Blog site:

To subscribe, send an e-mail to:

Daily digest option available.

by Rick Rozoff
Rick Rozoff is a frequent contributor to Global Research. Global Research Articles by Rick Rozoff

US retailers in rush to save Christmas sales after storm

WASHINGTON (AFP) - US retailers scrambled Monday to stave off a holiday sales disaster after an East Coast blizzard that forced many shops and malls to close for the critical pre-Christmas weekend.

Some retailers announced extended opening hours to make up for lost sales after the snowstorm blanketed a large swathe of the east coast on what is one of the busiest shopping weekends of the year.

Online retailers, who looked set to become the biggest winners from the record snowfalls, extended shipping offers to allow consumers to get last-minute gifts by Christmas Eve.

The storm "may put a damper on last minute Christmas shopping, possibly causing more shoppers to use gift cards rather than trek to visit retail stores," said Fred Dickson, analyst at the brokerage DA Davidson & Co.

"We may see some last-minute bargains no one expected ahead of the storm in hopes of making up for lost sales and volume."

Peter Morici, economist at the University of Maryland, said he expected the blizzard to shift some sales to the Internet.

"Overall, fewer items will be purchased but the transactions prices will be higher both owing to a more limited scope of choices for shoppers and more online shipping and handling revenues," he said.

"Retail sales will be somewhat lower but the big story will be the migration to online outlets. Higher transactions prices will compensate, considerably, for smaller volumes."

Some online merchants including Land's End and Overstock.com were promising free or discounted shipping for procrastinators who order Monday or in some cases Tuesday, for delivery Thursday.

Amazon.com was still promising delivery in time for Christmas for many items, with free shipping on electronics.

Target, one of the largest US retailers, announced Monday that most of its stores in markets affected by the heavy snowstorm along the east coast, will operate extended holiday hours ahead of December 25, from 7 am to midnight.

This includes all stores in the capital Washington and states of Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, Delaware, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, and many stores in Pennsylvania, New York and Massachusetts.

"We understand that the shopping plans for many of our guests in the mid-Atlantic and Northeast during this weekend before Christmas were affected by the severe storm," said Troy Risch, executive vice president at Target.

"To give these guests more opportunity to make all their holiday purchases, the majority of our stores in hard hit areas will open one hour earlier than originally planned and remain open until midnight."

Retailers are also planning for post-Christmas sales. Target said all stores nationwide will be open from 7 am on December 26 while rival JC Penney said stores would open at 5 am -- the earliest opening on the day after Christmas in store history.

The snowstorm caps what is expected to be a lackluster holiday season for the retail industry. The National Retail Federation has called for a drop of 1.0 percent in dollar value compared to last year for the season, which often is critical for sales and profits.

In the nation's capital, Washington, federal government agencies were closed Monday after the snowstorm that saw up to 24 inches (61 centimeters) blanket parts of the region on Saturday and Sunday.

But from Virginia north to New York and Maine, residents awoke to clear skies, with the worst of the storm well over as holiday shoppers scrambled to make up for lost time four days ahead of Christmas.

Mercedes-Based 10,000-Liter Water Cannon


This endearing vehicle is the Water Cannon 10000, built by Austrian coachbuilder Rosenbauer and based on the Mercedes-Benz Actros 3341 all-wheel-drive truck. Ten thousand is the water capacity in liters (equalling 2642 gallons). Every minute, up to 925 gallons can be dispensed at high pressure to clear the road and put protests to a swift end. Refilling is accomplished at water hydrants, open water, or both simultaneously, all at the same rate.

Reassuringly, the 31-ton Water Cannon 10000 is propelled by “an environmentally friendly Euro 5 version of a V-6 turbo-diesel engine. . . featuring BlueTec SCR diesel technology,” gushes a Mercedes press release. There’s more good news: “The driver benefits from a convenient Mercedes Powershift automated transmission.” And while the auxiliary HVAC system helps “maintain a pleasant interior temperature,” there is also “a refrigerated compartment for storing refreshments.” Nice!

German police seem to expect more than a few riots over the next few years, as 78 of these vehicles will be put into service over the next ten years (at total cost of €75 million or $107.6 million). Open the refreshments!














































拉斯維加斯金沙主席兼行政總裁艾德森(Sheldon Adelson)親臨新加坡,並在週一下午會見媒體時說,斥資55億元的濱海灣金沙建築工程龐大,落成後將在新加坡經營數十年,不是幾天或幾週,因此延期開業不是問題,重要是確保一切妥善。































他聲稱陳淑娟在5間合夥公司裡欺壓他,不但革除他的執行董事職位,也不准他參與管理公司,更不分發股息。他因此起訴陳淑娟和5家以“iPreci ation”為名的公司,要求高庭下令辯方以合理價格購買他名下的股份。

陳淑娟曾在2005年獲頒“新崛起最佳旅遊業傑出企業家”獎。她成立的幾家以“iPrec iation”為名的公司經營物色和售賣藝術品的生意。






Economists Are Trained to Ignore the Real World

As I have repeatedly noted, mainstream economists and financial advisors have been using faulty and unrealistic models for years. See this, this, this, this, this and this.

And I have pointed out numerous times that economists and advisors have a financial incentive to use faulty models. For example, I pointed out last month:

The decision to use faulty models was an economic and political choice, because it benefited the economists and those who hired them.

For example, the elites get wealthy during booms and they get wealthy during busts. Therefore, the boom-and-bust cycle benefits them enormously, as they can trade both ways.

Specifically, as Simon Johnson, William K. Black and others point out, the big boys make bucketloads of money during the booms using fraudulent schemes and knowing that many borrowers will default. Then, during the bust, they know the government will bail them out, and they will be able to buy up competitors for cheap and consolidate power. They may also bet against the same products they are selling during the boom (more here), knowing that they'll make a killing when it busts.

But economists have pretended there is no such thing as a bubble. Indeed, BIS slammed the Fed and other central banks for blowing bubbles and then using "gimmicks and palliatives" afterwards.

It is not like economists weren't warning about booms and busts. Nobel prize winner Hayek and others were, but were ignored because it was "inconvenient" to discuss this "impolite" issue.

Likewise, the entire Federal Reserve model is faulty, benefiting the banks themselves but not the public.

However, as Huffington Post notes:

The Federal Reserve, through its extensive network of consultants, visiting scholars, alumni and staff economists, so thoroughly dominates the field of economics that real criticism of the central bank has become a career liability for members of the profession, an investigation by the Huffington Post has found.

This dominance helps explain how, even after the Fed failed to foresee the greatest economic collapse since the Great Depression, the central bank has largely escaped criticism from academic economists. In the Fed's thrall, the economists missed it, too.

"The Fed has a lock on the economics world," says Joshua Rosner, a Wall Street analyst who correctly called the meltdown. "There is no room for other views, which I guess is why economists got it so wrong."

The problems of a massive debt overhang were also thoroughly documented by Minsky, but mainstream economists pretended that debt doesn't matter.

And - even now - mainstream economists are STILL willfully ignoring things like massive leverage, hoping that the economy can be pumped back up to super-leveraged house-of-cards levels.

As the Wall Street Journal article notes:
As they did in the two revolutions in economic thought of the past century, economists are rediscovering relevant work.
It is only "rediscovered" because it was out of favor, and it was only out of favor because it was seen as unnecessarily crimping profits by, for example, arguing for more moderation during boom times.

The powers-that-be do not like economists who say "Boys, if you don't slow down, that bubble is going to get too big and pop right in your face". They don't want to hear that they can't make endless money using crazy levels of leverage and 30-to-1 levels of fractional reserve banking, and credit derivatives. And of course, they don't want to hear that the Federal Reserve is a big part of the problem.

Indeed, the Journal and the economists it quotes seem to be in no hurry whatsoever to change things:
The quest is bringing financial economists -- long viewed by some as a curiosity mostly relevant to Wall Street -- together with macroeconomists. Some believe a viable solution will emerge within a couple of years; others say it could take decades.

Saturday, PhD economist Michael Hudson made the same point:

I think that the question that needs to be asked is how the discipline was untracked and trivialized from its classical flowering? How did it become marginalized and trivialized, taking for granted the social structures and dynamics that should be the substance and focal point of its analysis?...

To answer this question, my book describes the "intellectual engineering" that has turned the economics discipline into a public relations exercise for the rentier classes criticized by the classical economists: landlords, bankers and monopolists. It was largely to counter criticisms of their unearned income and wealth, after all, that the post-classical reaction aimed to limit the conceptual "toolbox" of economists to become so unrealistic, narrow-minded and self-serving to the status quo. It has ended up as an intellectual ploy to distract attention away from the financial and property dynamics that are polarizing our world between debtors and creditors, property owners and renters, while steering politics from democracy to oligarchy...

[As one Nobel prize winning economist stated,] "In pointing out the consequences of a set of abstract assumptions, one need not be committed unduly as to the relation between reality and these assumptions."

This attitude did not deter him from drawing policy conclusions affecting the material world in which real people live. These conclusions are diametrically opposed to the empirically successful protectionism by which Britain, the United States and Germany rose to industrial supremacy.

Typical of this now widespread attitude is the textbook Microeconomics by William Vickery, winner of the 1997 Nobel Economics Prize:

"Economic theory proper, indeed, is nothing more than a system of logical relations between certain sets of assumptions and the conclusions derived from them... The validity of a theory proper does not depend on the correspondence or lack of it between the assumptions of the theory or its conclusions and observations in the real world. A theory as an internally consistent system is valid if the conclusions follow logically from its premises, and the fact that neither the premises nor theconclusions correspond to reality may show that the theory is not very useful, but does not invalidate it. In any pure theory, all propositions are essentially tautological, in the sense that the results are implicit in the assumptions made."

Such disdain for empirical verification is not found in the physical sciences. Its popularity in the social sciences is sponsored by vested interests. There is always self-interest behind methodological madness. That is because success requires heavy subsidies from special interests, who benefit from an erroneous, misleading or deceptive economic logic. Why promote unrealistic abstractions, after all, if not to distract attention from reforms aimed at creating rules that oblige people actually to earn their income rather than simply extracting it from the rest of the economy?

As I have previously written, mainstream economists and financial advisors who promote flawed models are not necessarily bad people:

I am not necessarily saying that mainstream economists were intentionally wrong, or that they lied because it led to promotions or pleased their Wall Street, Fed or academic bosses.

But it is harder to fight the current and swim upstream then to go with the flow, and with so many rewards for doing so, there is a strong unconscious bias towards believing the prevailing myths. Just like regulators who are too close to their wards often come to adopt their views, many economists suffered "intellectual capture" by being too closely allied with Wall Street and the Fed.

As Upton Sinclair said:

It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.

We Are Change: Truth behind 9/11, New World Order & the Fed

Click this link ...... http://eclipptv.com/viewVideo.php?video_id=9090

Goldman Sachs Imploded The Housing Market

Click this link ..... http://eclipptv.com/viewVideo.php?video_id=9091

Gerald Celente, Fascism In The USA in 2010 Through Terror Event

Click this link ..... http://eclipptv.com/viewVideo.php?video_id=9092

Jim Rogers Bloomberg December 2009 - "More Food Shortage Coming" P1

Click this link ...... http://eclipptv.com/viewVideo.php?video_id=9093

Goldman May Move 20% of UK Staff to Spain

Goldman Sachs warns UK Treasury it may transfer 20% of its 5,000 London staff to Spain in protest over UK tax and bonuses

Goldman Sachs (GS) has threatened the UK Treasury with plans to move up to 20 per cent of its London-based staff to Spain in a standoff over tax and bonuses.

It's believed that the Wall Street investment bank, which paid more than £2bn to the Exchequer's ailing coffers in corporation tax alone last year, has fired a warning shot across the Government's bows in response to the tax measures unveiled in the pre-Budget report earlier this month.

Goldman Sachs International was the biggest contributor from the financial services sector to Britain's purse last year. Previous reports suggest that in some years the firm's staff have contributed more than £1bn in personal income tax to public coffers.

A City source said: "Goldman could move a relatively large number of people if it wants to. Given how much Goldman and its staff contribute to the tax take, the firm has plenty of leverage. This is a bargaining position more than anything."

The bank, which employs around 5,000 staff in London, is believed to have strong links to the Spanish government, although it has a relatively modest number of employees in the country. Although staff moving to Spain would not receive any special tax incentives, the bank could avoid paying the bonus tax, details of which, so far, remain sketchy. A Goldman Sachs spokesman said it is looking at all options as it negotiates with the tax authorities over the bonus tax.

Tullett Prebon, a City money broker, said last week that it was offering its staff the chance to relocate, in an effort to avoid paying the super tax. But it is thought that the offer only relates to a portion of its 700-strong London staff.

Barclays' (BCS) chief executive, John Varley, waded into the bonus debate on Friday, warning that talent was likely to flee London because of the tax. "This is a global industry and talent is mobile. We need a level playing field to make sure that we can compete with the best companies in the world," he said.

The Bank of England added fuel to the bonus fire last week when it said that the bailout of Britain's banks might have been avoided had City bonuses been just one fifth less in the years running up to the crisis. In its Financial Stability Report, the Bank said: "If discretionary distributions had been 20 per cent lower per year between 2000 and 2008, banks would have generated around £75bn of additional capital – more than provided by the public sector during the crisis."

Meanwhile, firms continue to negotiate with Her Majesty's Revenue over details of the super tax, which will tax bonuses of £25,000 at 50 per cent. It is believed that independent stockbrokers will be spared, after initially being caught in the Chancellor's net.

Provided by The Independent—from London, for Independent minds

Pilot for 9/11 flight school considered "Grave threat to national security"

A U.S. Customs Agent on duty when controversial drug pilot and “soldier of fortune” Michael Brassington attempted to re-enter the US through Fort Lauderdale International Airport in April of 2004 was instructed by a Supervisor at Immigrations & Customs Enforcement (ICE) to treat Brassingtona long-time employee and business associate of Wallace J. Hilliard, owner of the flight school that taught Mohamed Atta to fly as a “grave threat to national security.”

The news comes as the former Guyanese military pilot prepares to go on trial in a Federal Courthouse in Newark next month for recklessly endangering the lives of passengers, whose number includes ex-Presidents George Herbert Walker Bush and Bill Clinton as well as numerous celebrities.

The disclosure, from a soon-to-be-released documentary, “The New American Drug Lords,” is a reminder, more than eight years later, of the unfinished nature of the investigation into the 9/11 attack.

Narcotics record was first revealed in "Welcome to TerrorLand"

James Sanders was a Customs Agent on late night duty on April 6th 2004 at Fort Lauderdale International Airport, when he had a memorable encounter with Michael Brassington, who was attempting to re-enter the U.S. from the Bahamas.

“Brassington went through Immigration first," explained Sanders. "The Immigration Inspector had ‘top-stamped’ his Customs declaration, which means he needed to be ‘secondary-ed,’ which means given a closer inspection… search his luggage, at the very least, and ask him more questions,”

“The INS Agent whispered to me that Brassington had a narcotics record.”

Brassington has previously been identified, in news articles in this space and in the book “Welcome to TerrorLand,” as the co-pilot aboard a Lear Jet belonging to Wally Hilliard on thirty-nine weekly drug flights from Venezuela to Fort Lauderdale and Teterboro Airport outside New York City on

After being surrounded on the tarmac at Orlando Executive Airport by DEA agents with submachine guns, the plane was busted on July 25, 2000.

Agents found 43 lbs. of heroin onboard.

The Orlando Sentinel called it “the biggest bust of its kind in Central Florida history.”

The revelation, which is clearly significant to the story of the 9/11 attack, has been treated to years of official silence, and ignored in the mainstream media.

"Thirty-nine weekly drug flights:" Irrelevant to story of 9/11 attack?

A notation had been placed after Brassington’s name on his computer screen, Sanders said.

It provided—at long last—official confirmation of our reporting.

“Brassington had an "active lookout" for narcotics,” sander explained. “And there was the date, July 25, 2000, that he’d got caught.”

“Come to find out later, he’d been working for a 9/11 flight school owner named Wally Hilliard. But I only found that out after I discovered your website, www.madcowprod.com. Its kind of strange that the whole subject never came up while I was working down there. And I just couldn't have imagine that this was all connected to 9/11.”

While Customs Agent Sanders was examining his narcotics record in the computer Brassington began brandishing a letter from a top official in the U.S. Dept of Homeland Security.

“I was looking at Brassington’s narcotics record on the computer,” says Sanders, still incredulous at the memory, “when he handed me a letter from Washington!”

Despite Brassington’s ongoing participation in a criminal enterprise, the letter seemed clearly designed to smooth his re-entry into the U.S.

"A 'get out of jail-free-pass' sometimes isn't enough"

Sanders’ voice rose in indignation as he read it out loud.

“This is what the Dept of Homeland Security has to say to somebody that got caught smuggling drugs for a 9/11 flight school owner:

“This is in reference to your letter of Sept 23 2003 when you expressed concerns you were having clearing customs when returning to the United States from foreign travel.

”Please let us apologize for any inconvenience or unpleasantness you may have experienced. On behalf of the border and Transportation security directorate, let me assure you it is not our intent to subject the traveling public to unwarranted scrutiny.

"The traveling public is entitled to and is accorded the utmost courtesy and facilitation we can offer within the limits of our enforcement responsibilities. Regrettably our efforts can occasionally cause inconvenience.”

"We have reviewed our records and taken action so you will no longer encounter any automatic special attention beyond normal probabilities upon future return to the United States or territories thereof."

The letter is signed by Gloria Marshall, head of the "Information Disclosure Unit" of the "Mission Support Division" of the Dept. of Homeland Security.

DEA be damned! De-activate his lookout!

“What that's saying, is that—at the very least—they were going to de-activate his lookout,” Sanders explained.

“But the lookout was placed by the DEA. It was a DEA record. So Customs is countermanding a record placed by another Federal Agency, which is illegal.”

“This was a strange occurrence. So I hesitated. I said, okay wait a second. He has this official-looking letter that says they're going to take care of his record…

“But he still has an active record. I felt like a deer in the headlights. I didn’t know what to do. But I had just enough ‘presence of mind’ to pick up the phone and call Special Agent Norm Bright, who the record said was Brassington’s 'point of contact.’”

“Point of contact” is a Customs term, Sanders told us, for an Agent assigned particular responsibility for a “person of interest” whose movements are being tracked.

“Bright was a local ICE Agent and I guess he was tracking Brassington,” said Sanders. “So I called him up, and I told him about the letter.

What every successful drug trafficker needs to know

“He said you can just disregard the letter, and told me to ignore it. And he described Mike Brassington to me as a ‘grave threat to national security. He told me that I needed to check him, search him, and search all his passengers.”

“And that's what I did,” Sanders explains. “I didn't think of him as a terrorist suspect. I just thought he was really into drugs, and I needed to check him really close. I had no idea of the shit-storm I was about to ignite.”

“I searched the luggage of all his passengers, and then I searched his plane.

“Norm Bright also told me to try to get a drug dog there. But the problem with that is that on Tuesday nights, there aren’t any drug dogs available,” explained Sanders.

Tuesday night is the drug dogs night off."

While far from the first hint we’d received that things might not be as ship-shape in the Dept of Homeland Security as American citizens who have been footing the enormous bill have been led to believe, the news came as something of a shock.

Apparently it doesn’t take elaborate radar detection and counter-surveillance electronic gear to become a successful drug trafficker, as we’d been led to believe…

Anyone with an “in” at U.S. Customs, like Michael Brassington, is clued-in to the facts about the best time of the week to enter the U.S. through Fort Lauderdale.

On Tuesday night. While the drug dogs are out bowling.


Whitehouse on Health Care Opponents

Click this link ...... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dvZCOECt3a8&feature=player_embedded

Top 5 Reasons to Kill the Senate Healthcare Bill

Top 5 reasons to kill the senate healthcare bill:

1. Forces you to pay up to 8% of your income for health insurance -- whether you want it or not (source)

2. Many of the taxes that will pay for the bill will start now, but the benefits won't start until 2014. How is that helpful? (source)

3. Grants monopolies to drug companies to prevent generic versions of high tech drugs from coming to market. Not sure how that's going to lower costs... (source)

4. Under this bill, the cost of medical care will continue to RISE an average of 1000 a year for a family of four. (source)

5. The minor detail that it's not constitutional! Congress does not have the authority to enact this legislation, yet they don't seem to care. The people we have elected in both parties recognize no limitation on their power, and it's up to us - all of us - to stop this. (source)

No charges filed in vandalism of UC Berkeley chancellor's campus home

Eight people arrested after protesters vandalized the campus home of the UC Berkeley chancellor have not been charged with any crime and may never be, according to the Alameda County district attorney’s office.

There is insufficient evidence to file charges related to the Dec. 11 event, although University of California police will continue to investigate who was responsible for the estimated $18,000 in damage to windows, light fixtures and large planter urns in front of the house.

It was unclear who the vandals were in the crowd of up to 70 people who peacefully protested recent UC fee hikes, said Teresa Drenick, a spokeswoman for the district attorney's office. If UC police turn up new evidence, some or all of the original eight people arrested and others could be charged, Drenick said.

“And it is possible nobody will get charged,” she added.

The eight included two UC Berkeley students and two UC Davis students. The students could still face potential UC discipline pending the outcome of a campus judicial review, UC officials said.

-- Larry Gordon

More breaking news in L.A. Now:

Angeles Crest Highway reopened after rain-related closure

2 bodies found in a Riverside County vineyard

High winds, falling snow levels expected in Southern California

LAPD: Brittany Murphy's death not a criminal matter

Appeals court denies Roman Polanski's bid to throw out sex case

'Everything back to normal' at LAX

Federal investigators to look into cause of fatal San Diego Coast Guard crash

Police seek shooter who killed 1, injured 2 in Mid-City

Request for Station fire choppers not heeded, Times investigation shows

Cycles of atrocities, Cycles of Shame & Regret, and Cycles of more atrocities…

This recent article by Time Magazine on Agent Orange in Vietnam opened up a floodgate of emotions I had thought I had gotten over with a year ago, after my own personal first-hand experiences there. The article was fairly well-written, that is, considering the publication. Here are some excerpts:

This lonely section of the abandoned Danang air base was once crawling with U.S. airmen and machines. It was here where giant orange drums were stored and the herbicides they contained were mixed and loaded onto waiting planes. Whatever sloshed out soaked into the soil and eventually seeped into the water supply. Thirty years later, the rare visitor to the former U.S. air base is provided with rubber boots and protective clothing. Residue from Agent Orange, which was sprayed to deny enemy troops jungle cover, remains so toxic that this patch of land is considered one of the most contaminated pieces of real estate in the country. A recent study indicates that even three decades after the war ended, the cancer-causing dioxins are at levels 300 to 400 times higher than what is deemed to be safe.

After years of meetings, signings and photo ops, the U.S. held another ceremony in Vietnam on Dec. 16 to sign yet another memorandum of understanding as part of the continuing effort to manage Agent Orange’s dark legacy. Yet there are grumblings that little — if anything — has been done to clean up the most contaminated sites. Since 2007, Congress has allocated a total of $6 million to help address Agent Orange issues in Vietnam. Not only does the amount not begin to scratch the surface of the problem or get rid of the tons of toxic soil around the nation, but there are questions about how the money is being spent.

Groups caring for children born with horrific deformities from Agent Orange — such as malformed limbs and no eyes — are wondering why they haven’t seen any of that money. Bedridden and unable to feed themselves, many patients need round-the-clock care. As they age, and parents die, who is going to look after them? asks Nguyen Thi Hien, director of the Danang Association of Victims of Agent Orange.

You can read the entire article here.

I spent the better part of the year 2008 in Vietnam. I traveled around the country, and was involved in interviewing and recording various children related charities and organizations there. While in the Da Nang area I had an opportunity to visit and interview a family who were victims of Agent Orange – bed-ridden twin men of age 28 and their parents.

The family lived in a village, in a shack, 3.5 miles from the nearest road. I had to walk the entire distance on a very hot and humid day, pass through many rice paddies, and after being chased by an angry water buffalo, I finally made it.

The following 5-minute video includes one of the interview segments I conducted with the parents, and brief footage of the twin’s horrendous condition. Before you watch the video:

  • The footage of the Agent Orange victims is very graphic and may be disturbing to some.

  • I apologize for the quality of the video: I had to conduct the interview through my translator and overcome my own shock and emotional response, while recording the victims.

Here is my video, recorded in March 2008, near Da Nang, Vietnam:

I want to emphasize these facts from the Time Magazine article:

The U.S. government still spends billions every year on disability payments to those who served in Vietnam — including their children, many of whom are suffering from dioxin-associated cancers and birth defects. Since 2007, Congress has allocated a total of $6 million to help address Agent Orange issues in Vietnam.


Some point out that the U.S. spends only a fraction on Agent Orange cleanup compared to the $50 million it spends every year on searching for the remains of American soldiers missing in action.

And I want to add a few other comparison points:

We spend billions per week on undeclared wars to injure, kill, and destroy. We spend hundreds of millions of dollars on fraudulent and wasteful defense contracts. We spend billions on drones and bombs which kill 687 civilians per 14 enemy targets, amounting to a ratio of nearly 50 civilians killed for each undeclared enemy killed…

And when it comes to cleaning up this huge mess we left behind in Vietnam, when it comes to a certain degree of reparation expected from a superpower nation with even a minute amount of moral decency, when it comes to…we go on denying responsibility, arguing irrational technicalities, and do nothing, absolute zilch.

President Gerald Ford had the following to say on February 19, 1976, on the anniversary of the Japanese Internment:

I call upon the American people to affirm with me the unhyphenated American promise that we have learned from the tragedy of that long ago experience-forever to treasure liberty and justice for each individual American and resolve that this kind of error shall never be made again.

Okay, for this post I am not going to dwell upon President Ford’s consciously chosen words to emphasize our responsibility to treasure liberty and justice only for individual Americans, and not for all humanity (Still- I’m grinding my teeth, and holding my tongue). Now, here is my question:

What is it with all these past lessons of tragedies we later come to admit to and regret?! Because we keep doing the same thing over and over again. Because we seem to always turn around afterwards and start the next vicious cycle again. And it seems we have been making the vicious cycles longer and crueler each time: Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, Bagram, Extraordinary Renditions …

Perhaps a president or two later, we’ll be hearing regrets along the same lines on all the atrocious acts we’ve been engaged in since 2001, in the name of a war on terror, in the name of national security. Perhaps, we’ll be taking a solemn oath or two to not repeat the same atrocious acts. Perhaps we’ll have a law or two written to emphasize and engrave our regrets and commitment to never do the same again… And then, perhaps, there will come another pretext, or something declared and used as pretext, and we’ll go about forgetting all past regrets, declare our previous oaths nullified, and have the previous laws replaced with the opposite of the original and name them ‘patriotic,’ and …there we’ll go repeating history, only making each cycle bigger and worse than the one before.

Am I just being cynical here? I don’t think so. But, what do you think?

British Army 'waterboarded' suspects in 70s

Evidence casts doubt on guilt of man sentenced to hang for killing soldier

Evidence that the British army subjected prisoners in Northern Ireland to waterboarding during interrogations in the 1970s is emerging after one of the alleged victims launched an appeal against his conviction for murder.

Liam Holden became the last person in the United Kingdom to be sentenced to hang after being convicted in 1973 of the murder of a soldier, largely on the basis of an unsigned confession. His death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment and he spent 17 years behind bars.

The jury did not believe Holden's insistence that he made the confession only because he had been held down by members of the Parachute Regiment, whom he says placed a towel over his face before pouring water from a bucket over his nose and mouth, giving him the impression that he was drowning.

But now the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) has referred Holden's case to the court of appeal in Belfast after unearthing new evidence, and because of doubts about "the admissibility and reliability" of his confession. The commission says it believes "there is a real possibility" his conviction will be quashed. After a preliminary hearing earlier this month, Holden's appeal was adjourned to the new year.

However, the account that Holden gave at his trial is remarkably similar to those that have emerged since the CIA began using waterboarding techniques while interrogating al-Qaida suspects during the so-called war on terror.

Lawyers who have taken up his case have identified a second man who gave a similar account of being waterboarded after being arrested by detectives of the Royal Ulster Constabulary and questioned about the murder of a police constable. In a statement to a doctor in April 1978, this man said officers had put a towel over his face and poured water over his nose and mouth, and that "this was frightening and was repeated on a number of occasions". He was eventually released without charge. The CCRC also has a statement taken from a third man who says he was waterboarded by the British army in the early 70s.

All of the allegations of waterboarding come from a period after March 1972, when the then prime minister, Ted Heath, banned five other notorious torture methods which were subsequently condemned by the European court of human rights as being inhuman and degrading.

Holden, a Roman Catholic, was 19 and a chef when he was detained during a raid by soldiers of the Parachute Regiment on his parents' home in the Ballymurphy area of west Belfast in October 1972. Apparently acting on a tipoff from an informer, the soldiers accused Holden of being the sniper who, a month earlier, had shot dead Private Frank Bell of the regiment's 2nd Battalion. Bell had just turned 18 and had joined the regiment six weeks earlier. He was the 100th British soldier to die in Northern Ireland that year.

When Holden came to trial in April 1973 he told the jury he had been playing cards with his brother and two friends in a public place at the time Bell was shot. He said that after being arrested in his bed the soldiers had taken him to their base on Black Mountain, west of Belfast, where he was beaten, burned with a cigarette lighter, hooded and threatened with execution.

Holden also gave a detailed account of being waterboarded, although he did not use that term. In a court report published the following day, the Belfast Telegraph said the defendant told the jury that he had been pushed into a cubicle where he was held down by six men, that a towel was placed over his head, and that water was then poured slowly over his face from a bucket. "It nearly put me unconscious," Holden was quoted as saying. "It nearly drowned me and stopped me from breathing. This went on for a minute." A short while later he was subjected to the same treatment again, he said.

A sergeant from the Parachute Regiment and a British army captain told the court that Holden had confessed to the shooting during an "interview". The unnamed sergeant said Holden had wanted to confess to the murder because "he wanted to get it off his chest", while the officer said the teenager had told him that he had left the IRA a short while later because he felt such remorse.

The jury took less than 75 minutes to convict Holden of capital murder, and the judge, Sir Robert Lowry, told him: "The sentence of the court is that you will suffer death in the manner authorised by law." The then Northern Ireland secretary, William Whitelaw, commuted the sentence the following month, and the death penalty was abolished in Northern Ireland shortly afterwards. Holden did not appeal, however, with relatives saying at the time that he believed his trial had been "rigged" and a "farce".

He was eventually released from prison in 1989.

Holden's solicitor, Patricia Coyle, said: "At trial Mr Holden gave compelling evidence that the alleged confession was obtained by the army using water torture. He spent 17 years in jail. He is looking forward to the court hearing his appeal."

The new evidence that the CCRC has submitted to the court of appeal is being kept secret. The CCRC is unwilling to discuss this material, other than to say that it has not yet been disclosed at the request of the public body from which it was obtained. Holden's lawyers are now asking for it to be disclosed.

The Ministry of Defence said it was unable to confirm whether British service personnel had received instruction in waterboarding techniques as part of their counterinterrogation training at that time, and it would not disclose whether personnel currently receive such instruction "for reasons of operational security".

There is evidence that such instruction has been given, however. In 2005 Rod Richard, the former Welsh Office minister, told a Welsh newspaper that he had been waterboarded during his counterinterrogation training as a Royal Marines officer in the late 60s.

The Guardian has spoken to a former Royal Marines officer who says that he and his fellow officers and their men were all waterboarded at the end of their escape and evasion training at Lympstone, Devon, in the late 60s and early 70s. "You were tied to a chair and they would tip you over on your back, put a towel over your face and pour water over you. I can't recall what we called it – not waterboarding – but it produced a drowning sensation and it was pretty unpleasant."

Seven months before Holden was detained by British soldiers, the Heath government had publicly repudiated and banned five "interrogation techniques". RUC officers had learned the techniques – hooding, sleep deprivation, starvation and the use of stress positions and noise – from British military intelligence officers, but Heath assured the Commons that they "will not be used in future as an aid to interrogation".

There were subsequently unconfirmed allegations that the British army had experimented with other methods of torture, including electric shocks, and the use of drugs. Towards the end of the decade, Amnesty International was reporting that terrorism suspects were again being mistreated, this time by RUC detectives, "with sufficient frequency to warrant the establishment of a public inquiry".

A number of Republican former prisoners have told the Guardian that waterboarding was used as a form of punishment, as well as a means of extracting confessions.