Thursday, September 30, 2010

Up To 45cm Fresh August Snow In 24 Hours on Swiss Glaciers

Saas Fee In Summer
Saas Fee In Summer

Saas Fee has reported half-a-metre of fresh powder falling on its glacier in the past few days and neighbouring resorts Zermatt and, over in Italy, Cervinia, have also seen big snowfalls setting off Skiinfo powder alarms.

Switzerland's two open glacier ski areas have seen remarkable August snowfalls with Saas Fee reporting 45cm (18 inches) of new snow on Sunday, with more falling since, including another 5cm (two inches) yesterday. Neighbouring Zermatt, the only area open 365 days and home to Europe's highest lifts, reported healthy snowfalls too. Saas Fee describes current conditions as "packed powder" and has a 1.6m (5.3 foot) base with terrain park and half pipe open. Both resorts set off Powder Alarms on, triggered for snowfall of 20cm or more, obviously a rare event in August. Zermatt triggered another powder alarm on Tuesday with another 28cm (nearly a foot) of snow reported.
The heavy snowfall spilled over in to Italy where Zermatt's Italian neighbour, Cervinia, to which it is lift-linked, received a 20cm fall. Val Senales has also been receiving more snow, with another 5cm on Tuesday, the latest of about 10 days of regular snowfalls there, it currently has a one metre base. Passo Stelvio is also open.
In France the glacier ski areas at Tignes and Les 2 Alpes are both entering their last fortnight of summer operations. Les 2 Alpes has the better snow cover with a metre depth while Tignes has 30cm, both areas received a little new snow at the weekend.
The picture is a little less good in Austria where the Kitzsteinhorn Glacier remains closed for a second week due to warm temperatures ad a diminished snowpack - down to 10cm (four inches) on the glacier with temperatures above freezing still and rain falling. It's a similar picture on the Dachstein Glacier where the lifts are running but downhill slopes and terrain park are closed - they report a 30cm (foot) base but that the snow is "wet."
Two Austrian glacier areas are still open however, the largest one, Tux, had fresh snow on Sunday too and reports ‘powder' conditions with 20km of slopes open, a 125cm (four foot) base and more than 600m summer vertical. The Molltal glacier continues to report 9.5km of trails open and a 1.2m (four feet) base.

Hernando man jailed for shining laser at sheriff's copter pilot

A 23-year-old Spring Hill man faces a charge of illegal use of a laser light after he flashed a laser beam into the eyes of a Hernando County Sheriff's Office helicopter pilot who was flying overhead, according to deputies.

Louis Carmine Amalfitano, of 13321 Jay Court, was taken into custody on an active warrant Monday. He remained behind bars at the county jail Tuesday in lieu of $500 bail.

According to the arrest affidavit, a helicopter pilot with the Sheriff's Office was responding to a call in the area of Weeki Wachee Village on the evening of Sept. 17...

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Earthquake Details

  • This event has been reviewed by a seismologist.
Location 4.920°S, 133.783°E
Depth12.3 km (7.6 miles)
Distances105 km (65 miles) NNW of Dobo, Kepulauan Aru, Indonesia
310 km (190 miles) WSW of Enarotali, Papua, Indonesia
900 km (560 miles) NNE of DARWIN, Northern Territory, Australia
2985 km (1850 miles) E of JAKARTA, Java, Indonesia
Location Uncertaintyhorizontal +/- 13.7 km (8.5 miles); depth +/- 2.6 km (1.6 miles)
ParametersNST=143, Nph=146, Dmin=279.4 km, Rmss=1.36 sec, Gp= 25°,
M-type=centroid moment magnitude (Mw), Version=6
Event IDus2010bubv
  • Did you feel it? Report shaking and damage at your location. You can also view a map displaying accumulated data from your report and others.

Fake Al Qaeda Actors EXPOSED! Adam Gadahn & Yousef al-Khattab


Earthquake Details

  • This event has been reviewed by a seismologist.
Location 4.905°S, 133.711°E
Depth10 km (6.2 miles) set by location program
Distances110 km (70 miles) NNW of Dobo, Kepulauan Aru, Indonesia
315 km (195 miles) WSW of Enarotali, Papua, Indonesia
900 km (550 miles) NNE of DARWIN, Northern Territory, Australia
2985 km (1850 miles) E of JAKARTA, Java, Indonesia
Location Uncertaintyhorizontal +/- 6 km (3.7 miles); depth fixed by location program
ParametersNST=208, Nph=208, Dmin=273.1 km, Rmss=1.33 sec, Gp= 22°,
M-type=teleseismic moment magnitude (Mw), Version=7
Event IDus2010bubm
  • Did you feel it? Report shaking and damage at your location. You can also view a map displaying accumulated data from your report and others.


In San Francisco Private Sector Salaries average $46,000./yr while Public Sector Salaries average $93,000./yr.
It is similar around the country. Employment in the Public Sector is increasing dramatically as a matter of Government Policy while Private Sector Employment continues to collapse also as a result of Government Policies.
Who pays the salaries of these high paid Government workers?
When and why did this upside down flip flop in favor of Government Bureaucrats occur?
What is the motivation behind this reversal of historical 'Capitalist Principals'?
Why were Obama supporters dancing in the streets saying 'Obama is going to give us the money' when he was elected?
Has he not fulfilled his pledge to them?
Have the hundreds of billions of taxpayer funds given to Acorn and the Unions, which is ongoing, not fulfilled his pledges to them?
Is there any reasonable excuse for anyone anywhere in this country not being able to observe the obvious?
Is it any wonder the 44% or so of Americans on the receiving end of this Government directed largess wants it to continue?
Is this not 'buying votes' with our money?
Is it not obvious the plan is to continue and increase this vote buying, intentionally creating a Marxist State instead of a State based upon 'Free Enterprise'?
While these same Marxist pass laws outlawing farming on your own land the San Joaquin Valley has now become a dust bowl because they stopped the flow of water. An accident? What better way to 'Control' the people than to control their food supplies.
Detained Illegal Aliens released in the U.S. on orders of Obama, an accident? One man saying 'enforce this law, do not enforce that law'? It's A OK for Black Panthers to wield night sticks at polling places says his 'Justice' Department?
Is this America, supposedly a nation of laws?
Coastlines and water sources turned over to the U.N. an accident?
Military Secrets and Eminent Domain of the U.S. to China by Clinton/Obama an accident?
Sixty's Marxist Radicals appointed as 'CZARS' an accident?
Law after Law passed against the wishes of the American people, an accident?
Trillions to corrupt Banks and Wall Street with more Trillions being 'threatened' now an accident?
A Farcical Financial Carousel of Fraud ongoing between the Banks, the Fed and The Treasury, an accident?
The differences between Conservative and Liberal/Marxist thought and action could not be more profound. Not that one is completely right at the expense of the other all the time. There is much grey where compromise is the appropriate outcome. However, when Liberalism is taken to the extreme as it has been under the Obama Administration, then 'Liberalism' becomes a word used to hide the extremes of Liberal thought and action which is Communism.
Voting in today's environment offers no opportunity to vote for the middle or compromise position. The electorate is literally 'forced' to choose between the known extreme of 'Obamaism' and the potential extreme (in the Liberal mind) of Conservatism.
In this situation its one or the other and IMO Conservative thought and votes must DEFEAT Liberal thought and votes. Under existing circumstances who will argue that the future of our Country is not at stake? The future is obviously at stake as is the Republic and its Constitution and Free Enterprise and Capitalism. It is inconceivable to me that 44% of Americans would be in favor of the extreme left represented by Obama and the Sixties Marxist Radicals he has surrounded himself with and I question the accuracy of the data and the polls. Surely we are not 'that far gone'. For years I have reported an expectation of exposure and the death of the EVIL Fed Res Banking System and its Corporate Political Clients who are basically NWO Marxist. . I never dreamed it would take this long or that Metals Backed Banking and Prosperity Distribution would be fought against so diligently by our own 'Leadership' in their attempt to preserve their Personal Power via the corrupt wielding of the Printing Press. In spite of these realities and difficulties I still expect the outcome discussed here so often and I expect it momentarily.
When Republicans were in 'control' we had hundred dollar screw drivers, three hundred dollar hammers, eight hundred dollar toilet seats, two trillion missing from the Pentagon Budget and all manner of financial atrocities repulsive to Liberals and most Americans. 'Conservative' and 'Republican' are not synonymous. While there is little room for Conservative thought in the Democratic Party it is also true that the Republican Party is no longer Conservative.
What our country needs, IMO, is a return to the Conservative Principles upon which our nation was founded that being the Constitution and respect for Gods Laws.
I urge you to find and elect the Conservative Candidate regardless of Political Party if in fact the 'normal' election takes place.

European cities hit by anti-austerity protests

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Protesters take to the streets in Barcelona, Athens and Brussels

Tens of thousands of people from around Europe have marched across Brussels in a protest against spending cuts by some EU governments.

Spain has held a general strike, with protesters in Barcelona clashing with police and torching a police car.

Other protests against austerity measures have been held in Greece, Italy, the Irish Republic and Latvia.

Trade unions say EU workers may become the biggest victims of a financial crisis set off by bankers and traders.

Many governments across the 27-member bloc have imposed punishing cuts in wages, pensions and employment to deal with spiralling debts.

On Wednesday night, Portugal's minority government announced proposals to cut civil servants' pay and state spending while raising taxes in an attempt to lower the country's debt levels.

In Greece and the Irish Republic, unemployment figures are at their highest level in 10 years, while Spain's unemployment has doubled in just three years.

In Britain the government is planning to slash spending by up to 25% in some areas, while France has seen angry protests against a planned increase in the minimum retirement age.


Police sealed off the EU headquarters and barricaded banks and shops ahead of the protest in Brussels. It was described by unions as a day of action under the slogan "No to austerity, priority to jobs and growth".

Tens of thousands of demonstrators, many carrying large red and green balloons and banners, headed towards EU institution buildings in the Belgian capital.

They made heard their voices, whistles, horns and anything else they could find, says the BBC's Nick Childs in the city, amid the sound and smoke of firecrackers.

Speaking at the march, Jean Claude Mailly, head of the French union Force Ouvriere, said there was still time to rethink the austerity measures.

"It is never too late because the austerity measures are in the process of being set up now," he told the BBC.

"So we are in a period where social movements of a different nature will have a big value in the weeks and months to come. There is a strong social tension."

Labour unions in Spain began the country's first general strike in eight years by marching through the capital, Madrid, in an effort to shut down the city.

Also in the capital, there were mass protests outside bus and metro stations, and few buses were running. Many high-speed trains were cancelled and only about a quarter of commuter trains were running.

Groups of strikers went into shops and banks trying to force them to close.

The airline Iberia said it expected to operate only 35% of scheduled flights.

'Banks to blame'

In the Irish Republic, a man drove a cement mixer covered with anti-bank slogans into the gates of the parliament in Dublin, in an apparent protest at the country's expensive bank bail-out.

A woman stands in front of a closed shop in Madrid, Spain, on 29 September, 2010. Strikers held a protest in central Madrid, prompting some shops to close

The European Trade Union Confederation (Etuc) said the protesters were marching to voice their anger over budget-slashing plans and cuts which "could lead Europe into a recession".

The union warns that the financial crisis - which it describes as the worst in Europe since the 1930s - has already made 23 million people across the EU jobless. It fears that the austerity measures being implemented by various EU governments could "result in even more unemployment".

"We didn't cause this crisis. The bill has to be paid by banks, not by workers," Etuc said.

Instead, the organisation urges governments to guarantee workers stable jobs, strong social protection and better pensions.

Workers in many EU countries are frustrated that they are paying for the mistakes of the banks and the financial sector, the BBC's Christian Fraser in Brussels reports.

The recovery is still fragile. In some countries it has not even begun, and many fear the cuts could provoke further trouble, our correspondent says.

He adds that in short, it is a debate on austerity versus stimulus, cuts or spending, and the opinions are deeply and bitterly divided.

The police accepted the settlers version, now there's doubt, 26/9/10

Man Who Listened To Fred Mishkin's Advice, Will Be First To Be Criminally Charged For Great Depression 2

The place where the global crisis, culminating as a result of 30 years of cheap money, began, Iceland, may well be the place which sees the first ever criminal conviction stemming from the Depression v2. Globe and Mail reports that Iceland's former prime minister has been referred to a special court, which could make him the first world leader to be charged in connection with the global financial crisis.

Lawmakers voted 33-30 to refer charges against former prime minister Geir Haarde for allegedly failing to prevent Iceland's 2008 financial crash that toppled the government, brought protests and crippled the national currency.

The special court has never before been convened. The court handles cases in which the parliament, the Althingi, decides to act against ministers on their handling of duties.

Mr. Haarde, former prime minister and ex-leader of Independence Party, is no longer in parliament. He did not run in the 2009 elections.

Iceland, a volcanic island with a population of just 320,000, went from economic wunderkind to fiscal basket case almost overnight when the credit crunch took hold.

After dizzying economic growth that saw banks and companies in this tiny Nordic nation snap up assets around the world for a decade, the global financial crisis wreaked political and economic havoc in Iceland. Its banks collapsed within a week in October, 2008.

Frankly we couldn't care less about Mr. Haarde. We are confident he will get his just deserts. What we would like to know is when will someone finally charge his "advisor", former New York Fed, and current Columbia professor Fred Mishkin, in the Hague, for hate crimes against world leverage, and for providing precisely the advice followed by the Iceland PM, that resulted in not just the collapse of the tiny Volcano-riddled country, but was the first domino to set off the discovery that all of the European periphery is now completely and totally insolvent. We refer of course to Mr. Mishkin's 2006 report "Financial Stability in Iceland" in which the then-Fed member observes: "The economy has already adjusted to financial liberalization, which was already completed a long time ago, while prudential regulation and supervision is generally quite strong." Less than two years later the country was bankrupt.

For much more on Mishkin's involvement in the financial crisis, we can not recommend enough the upcoming movie Inside Job, which destroys not only Napoloen Dynamite Sr.'s reputation, but that of his current boss, the Dean of Columbia Business School, one Glenn Hubbard, in a way that has to be seen to be believed.

The clip below is from Inside Job.

h/t Brian


Chernobyl Legacy by Paul Fusco (15 pics)

Paul Fusco is an American photographer who produces important reportages on social issues in the US and world. Here are photos of Belarussian children and adults sickened by radioactive fallout from the Chernobyl explosion. Some images are very graphic.


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Council Member MELTDOWN Highlights - Vancouver City, WA

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Geir Haarde, Iceland Ex-PM, Indicted For Role In Financial Crisis

Gudjon Helgason and Paisley DoddsAssociated Press

REYKJAVIK, Iceland — Iceland's former Prime Minister Geir Haarde has been referred to a special court in a move that could make him the first world leader to be charged in connection with the global financial crisis.

After a heated debate Tuesday, lawmakers voted 33-30 to refer charges to the court against Haarde for allegedly failing to prevent Iceland's 2008 financial crash – a crisis that sparked protests, toppled the government and brought the economy to a standstill by collapsing its currency.
Haarde faces up to two years in jail if found guilty. The court, which could dismiss the charges, has never before convened in Iceland's history. A hearing date has not yet been set.

Haarde, ex-leader of the Independence Party, is no longer in parliament and stepped down from office last year following widespread protests and treatment for esophageal cancer.

"I will answer all charges before the court and I will be vindicated." Haarde, 59, told the Icelandic Broadcaster RUV. "I have a clean slate. This charge borders on political persecution."

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Gilad Atzmon: Roger Waters and the Bombs of David

Ynet reported today that The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) on Monday criticized rock star Roger Waters for simply conveying the truth.

During Waters’ performances of “Goodbye Blue Sky,” in Toronto, an animated scene projects images of planes dropping bombs in the shape of Jewish Stars of David followed by dollar signs. It should be noted that the clip also displays bombs in the shape of crosses, Muslim crescents and a fuel company's logo.

We had better face it once and for all: artists are often significantly far ahead of our corrupted ‘liberal’ politicians, who, for some reason, keep silent instead of confronting the Jewish State.

The truth needs to be told: Israel is the Jewish State and, actually, it does drop bombs from airplanes decorated with Jewish symbols, and those planes are flown by Jewish pilots.

Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, issued a statement saying that "it is outrageous that Roger Waters has chosen to use the juxtaposition of a Jewish Star of David with the symbol of dollar signs.…the use of such imagery in a concert setting seems to leave the message open to interpretation, and the meaning could easily be misunderstood as a comment about Jews and money.”

I am perplexed by Foxman’s comment. There is not actually much room for interpretation here :the facts are well established. The U.S. is providing Israel with at least $7.0 million each day. This is a lot of money -- especially when it converted into bombs and white phosphorus. The Israeli war crimes are also established : I advise Foxman to read the Goldstone Report.

"Of course Waters has every right to express his political views about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through his music and stagecraft. However, the images he has chosen, when put together in the same sequence, cross a line into anti-Semitism,” said Foxman, "We wish that Waters had chosen some other way to convey his political views without playing into and dredging up the worst age-old anti-Semitic stereotype about Jews and their supposed obsession with making money."

May I suggest to Foxman and his notorious ADL that the rest of humanity also has a wish : we want to see an end to the terror imposed by the Jewish state, in the name of the Jewish people, Foxman included. We also want to see an end of Jewish institutional pressure being exercised on so many Western political groups, parties and governments.

If Foxman is really concerned about anti-Semitism, he would do far better to tackle the real root causes of anti Semitism, by confronting Israel and its lobbies about their policies, and he might think of leading world Jewry to do the same.

First World War officially ends

The First World War will officially end on Sunday, 92 years after the guns fell silent, when Germany pays off the last chunk of reparations imposed on it by the Allies.

The armistice between the Allies and Germany was signed in a railway carriage in Compiègne Forest on 11 November 1918

The final payment of £59.5 million, writes off the crippling debt that was the price for one world war and laid the foundations for another.

Germany was forced to pay the reparations at the Treaty of Versailles in 1919 as compensation to the war-ravaged nations of Belgium and France and to pay the Allies some of the costs of waging what was then the bloodiest conflict in history, leaving nearly ten million soldiers dead.

The initial sum agreed upon for war damages in 1919 was 226 billion Reichsmarks, a sum later reduced to 132 billion, £22 billion at the time.

The bill would have been settled much earlier had Adolf Hitler not reneged on reparations during his reign.

Hatred of the settlement agreed at Versailles, which crippled Germany as it tried to shape itself into a democracy following armistice, was of significant importance in propelling the Nazis to power.

"On Sunday the last bill is due and the First World War finally, financially at least, terminates for Germany," said Bild, the country's biggest selling newspaper.

Most of the money goes to private individuals, pension funds and corporations holding debenture bonds as agreed under the Treaty of Versailles, where Germany was made to sign the 'war guilt' clause, accepting blame for the war.

France, which had been ravaged by the war, pushed hardest for the steepest possible fiscal punishment for Germany.

The principal representative of the British Treasury at the Paris Peace Conference, John Maynard Keynes, resigned in June 1919 in protest at the scale of the demands.

"Germany will not be able to formulate correct policy if it cannot finance itself,' he warned.

When the Wall Street Crash came in 1929, the Weimar Republic spiralled into debt. Four years later, Hitler was elected Chancellor of Germany.

Former president Jimmy Carter hospitalized in Ohio

CLEVELAND (AP) — An airport spokeswoman says former President Jimmy Carter has been hospitalized in Cleveland.

Carter was a passenger on a commercial flight to Cleveland on Tuesday morning and became ill.

Jackie Mayo, a spokeswoman at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, says Carter was taken off the plane by rescue crews.

From $44 To $4 In Less A Second: Today's Flash Crash Brought To You Courtesy Of The Nasdaq And A Clueless And Corrupt SEC

Today's reverse engineered HFT algo strategy: if price drops more than x% in a millisecond, then enter order y% below bid, else pull all bids, especially when price is 90% below most recent NBBO posted a mere second earlier. Which is precisely what happened to Progress Energy (PGN), which dropped from $44 to $4 in less than second, but not in quantized fashion (i.e. fat finger), but in a gradual, than exponentially accelerating manner, as an algo took out all the bids. We can't wait for this week's 21st sequential outflow from equity funds: luckily investors are now all too aware that holding a stock, any stock, is dangerous to one's sanity, not to mention stop loss orders. And where the hell was the circuit breaker on this one? The market is and continues to be a miserable joke, especially courtesy of Nasdaq and the 160 trades in PGN that occurred at ridiculous, HFT-exaggerated prices. And of course, all those lucky fools who bought the stock at a 90% discount are about to be DKed, because it is Nasdaq's prerogative to protect its HFT paying clients, and not investors.

And here is the stepwise drop from $44 to $4, with no circuit breakers being activated. Total and absolute farce. In China someone would have taken a bullet for this. Only in America do the regumalators demand greater budgets, and year end bonuses, to continue their worthless shitjobs.

Pharmaceutical drug addiction causing massive increase in crime

(NaturalNews) It used to be that thieves targeted wealthy homes filled with expensive things like jewelry to rob, but according to officials, a new kind of thief is on the loose: the pharmaceutical drug addict. They say prescription drugs like opiate painkillers are responsible for causing a widespread increase in crime against sick and elderly people whose medicine cabinets are loaded with legal narcotics.

The problem has gotten so out of control that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) recently held a nationwide drug take-back day in which citizens were encouraged to take their old and unused pharmaceutical drugs to one of 4,000 drop-off points to be properly disposed of.

"We're seeing people desperately and aggressively trying to get their hands on these pills," Janet T. Mills, the attorney general in Maine, is cited as saying in a recent New York Times piece. "Home invasions, robberies, assaults, homicides, thefts -- all kinds of crimes are being linked to prescription drugs."

According to recent reports, a masked man forcibly entered the home of a 77-year-old Maine woman and proceeded to knock her to the ground, stealing her Oxycontin pills at knifepoint. And in Massachusetts, a similar event took place when three armed men broke into a home, tied up the owner's hands and feet with duct tape, and ravaged the home in search of Oxycontin.

Desperate addicts have even gone so far as to pose as potential home buyers at open houses, where they proceed to the nearest medicine cabinet to snatch whatever they can find.

"One will distract the realtor while the other goes and trifles through the medicine cabinet looking for pain medication," explained Matthew Murphy, assistant special agent in charge of the DEA's New England field division in Boston.

Officials are urging members of the public to properly dispose of any expired, unused or unneeded medicines as soon as possible to avoid becoming victims of pharmaceutical crimes.

Sources for this story include:

Americans Vastly Underestimate Wealth Inequality, Support 'More Equal Distribution Of Wealth': Study


Americans vastly underestimate the degree of wealth inequality in America, and we believe that the distribution should be far more equitable than it actually is, according to a new study.

Or, as the study's authors put it: "All demographic groups -- even those not usually associated with wealth redistribution such as Republicans and the wealthy -- desired a more equal distribution of wealth than the status quo."

The report (pdf) "Building a Better America -- One Wealth Quintile At A Time" by Dan Ariely of Duke University and Michael I. Norton of Harvard Business School (hat tip to Paul Kedrosky), shows that across ideological, economic and gender groups, Americans thought the richest 20 percent of our society controlled about 59 percent of the wealth, while the real number is closer to 84 percent.

More interesting than that, the report says, is that the respondents (a randomly selected 5,522-person sample, reflecting the country's ideological, economic and gender demographics, surveyed in December 2005) believed the top 20 percent should own only 32 percent of the wealth. Respondents with incomes over $100,000 per year had similar answers to those making less than $50,000. (The report has helpful, multi-colored charts.)

The respondents were presented with unlabeled pie charts representing the wealth distributions of the U.S., where the richest 20 percent controlled about 84 percent of wealth, and Sweden, where the top 20 percent only controlled 36 percent of wealth. Without knowing which country they were picking, 92 percent of respondents said they'd rather live in a country with Sweden's wealth distribution.

As the new Forbes billionaires list, released Wednesday, testifies, the richest Americans are getting richer, even as the country as a whole gets poorer. After 2005 income inequality continued to balloon.

Head of EPA testifies that using dispersants in the Gulf was a "VERY EVI...

Will All Countries Be Forced Into One Child Families?


China suffered worldwide condemnation 20 plus years ago when it instituted one child families. Since that time, it slowed its 12 million annual net gain race-horse population growth down to eight million annually. Even so, it expects to grow from 1.3 to 1.55.

More ominously, India at 1.16 billion, adds 12 million net gain annually on their way to overtake China in the population bracket at 1.55 billion by 2050. One wonders how the top leaders around the world, both religious and governmental, can remain silent?

In a recent report, E & E reporter, Debra Kahn said, "A leading Chinese industrialist called yesterday for worldwide population constraints and an end to government-sponsored consumerism as solutions to climate change and other environmental issues. Speaking at a conference put on by Business for Social Responsibility (BSR), a group that helps businesses institute environment and social sustainability programs, Zhang Yue, chairman and CEO of Broad Air Conditioning, also said governments should stop stimulating the economy by appealing to consumers' sense of patriotism."

"Encouraging folks to have kids is an encouragement to have more and more markets to buy more stuff," Zhang said through an interpreter. "Some people say it's a human rights issue [to control birth rates]: 'My right to have kids is tied to my quality of life.' I say it'll take us in a direction that you have no right to take us in."

Kahn said, "The issue of population control has made headlines in recent days, with conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh attacking New York Times reporter Andrew Revkin for speculating that birth control could be used to limit greenhouse gas emissions (Greenwire, Oct. 21)."

Zhang said, "China's one-child policy should be emulated around the world, calling population growth "humankind's first big problem."

"We haven't connected population to environmental protection yet in China," Zhang said. Doing so would make clear the connection between population growth and greenhouse gas emissions, as well as the issue of dealing with an aging populace, he said. "In the next two-three decades we've got to come down to a one-child policy. Only through population control can we really address some of these major issues."

Kahn said, "Zhang, who has been listed by Forbes as one of the 100 richest businesspeople in China, also said businesses and government need to slow down development or risk catastrophic climate change."

"The planet right now is in some ways an equation that can't continue," he said. "We'll become extinct." Although Broad sells air conditioners in 40 countries, the company is prioritizing higher salaries over expansion, he said. "Our company isn't growing as fast as others, but we haven't had a loan from the bank in 15 years."

Zhang said, "Governments, particularly the Chinese, should stop exhorting consumers to fix the economic downturn by shopping more. Countries are misguiding the public and driving consumption. We've tied consuming to patriotism almost in China, and it's a very dangerous concept, a dangerous attitude to give the public.

"There's no financial crisis really in China, but we use it as an excuse to get people to buy stuff. Even people in the countryside who don't have electricity are being encouraged to buy refrigerators."

In response to a question about correlating economic growth with happiness, he said it was not so: "The more you develop economically, the worse the food is. Seventy percent of the antibiotics in the United States are used for livestock."


Meredith Whitney: Next Shoe to Drop

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Recession rips at US marriages, expands income gap

WASHINGTON – The recession seems to be socking Americans in the heart as well as the wallet: Marriages have hit an all-time low while pleas for food stamps have reached a record high and the gap between rich and poor has grown to its widest ever.

The long recession technically ended in mid-2009, economists say, but U.S. Census data released Tuesday show the painful, lingering effects. The annual survey covers all of last year, when unemployment skyrocketed to 10 percent, and the jobless rate is still a stubbornly high 9.6 percent.

The figures also show that Americans on average have been spending about 36 fewer minutes in the office per week and are stuck in traffic a bit less than they had been. But that is hardly good news, either. The reason is largely that people have lost jobs or are scraping by with part-time work.

"Millions of people are stuck at home because they can't find a job. Poverty increased in a majority of states, and children have been hit especially hard," said Mark Mather, associate vice president of the Population Reference Bureau.

The economic "indicators say we're in recovery, but the impact on families and children will linger on for years," he said.

Take marriage.

In America, marriages fell to a record low in 2009, with just 52 percent of adults 18 and over saying they were joined in wedlock, compared to 57 percent in 2000.

The never-married included 46.3 percent of young adults 25-34, with sharp increases in single people in cities in the Midwest and Southwest, including Cleveland, Phoenix, Los Angeles and Albuquerque, N.M. It was the first time the share of unmarried young adults exceeded those who were married.

Marriages have been declining for years due to rising divorce, more unmarried couples living together and increased job prospects for women. But sociologists say younger people are also now increasingly choosing to delay marriage as they struggle to find work and resist making long-term commitments.

In dollar terms, the rich are still getting richer, and the poor are falling further behind them.

The income gap between the richest and poorest Americans grew last year to its largest margin ever, a stark divide as Democrats and Republicans spar over whether to extend Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy.

The top-earning 20 percent of Americans — those making more than $100,000 each year — received 49.4 percent of all income generated in the U.S., compared with the 3.4 percent made by the bottom 20 percent of earners, those who fell below the poverty line, according to the new figures. That ratio of 14.5-to-1 was an increase from 13.6 in 2008 and nearly double a low of 7.69 in 1968.

At the top, the wealthiest 5 percent of Americans, who earn more than $180,000, added slightly to their annual incomes last year, the data show. Families at the $50,000 median level slipped lower.

Three states — New York, Connecticut and Texas — and the District of Columbia had the largest gaps between rich and poor. Big gaps were also evident in large cities such as New York, Miami, Los Angeles, Boston and Atlanta, home to both highly paid financial and high-tech jobs as well as clusters of poorer immigrant and minority residents.

Alaska, Utah, Wyoming, Idaho and Hawaii had the smallest income gaps.

"Income inequality is rising, and if we took into account tax data, it would be even more," said Timothy Smeeding, a University of Wisconsin-Madison professor who specializes in poverty. "More than other countries, we have a very unequal income distribution where compensation goes to the top in a winner-takes-all economy."

Lower-skilled adults ages 18 to 34 had the largest jumps in poverty last year as employers kept or hired older workers for the dwindling jobs available. The declining economic fortunes have caused many unemployed young Americans to double-up in housing with parents, friends and loved ones, with potential problems for the labor market if they don't get needed training for future jobs, he said.

Homeownership declined for the third year in a row, to 65.9 percent, after hitting a peak of 67.3 percent in 2006. Residents in crowded housing held steady at 1 percent, the highest since 2004, a sign that people continued to "double up" to save money.

Average commute times edged lower to 25.1 minutes, the lowest since 2006, as fewer people headed to the office in the morning. The share of people who carpooled also declined, from 10.7 percent to 10 percent, while commuters who took public transportation were unchanged at 5 percent.

The number of U.S. households receiving food stamps surged by 2 million last year to 11.7 million, the highest level on record, meaning that 1 in 10 families was receiving the government aid. In all, 46 states and the District of Columbia had increases in food stamps, with the largest jumps in Nevada, Arizona, Florida and Wisconsin.

Other findings:

_The foreign-born population edged higher to 38.5 million, or 12.5 percent, following a dip in the previous year, due mostly to increases in naturalized citizens. The share of U.S. residents speaking a language other than English at home also rose, from 19.7 percent to 20 percent, mostly in California, New Mexico and Texas.

_The poorest poor hit record highs. Twenty-eight states had increases in the share of people below $10,977 in income, half the poverty line for a family of four. The highest shares were in the District of Columbia, Mississippi, Kentucky, Arkansas and South Carolina. Nationally, the poorest poor rose to 6.3 percent.

_Women's average pay still lags men's, but the gap is narrowing. Women with full-time jobs made 78.2 percent of men's pay, up from 77.7 percent in 2008 and about 64 percent in 2000, as men took bigger hits in the recession.

_More older people are working. About 27.1 percent of Americans 60 and over were in the work force. That's up from 26.7 percent in 2008.

The census figures come weeks before the pivotal Nov. 2 congressional elections, when voters anxious about rising deficits and the slow pace of the economic recovery will decide whether to keep Democrats in control of Congress.

The 2009 tabulations, which are based on pretax income and exclude capital gains, are adjusted for household size where data are available. Prior analyses of after-tax income made by the wealthiest 1 percent compared to middle- and low-income Americans have also pointed to a widening inequality gap, but only reflect U.S. data as of 2007.


Depression climbs among Gulf Coast residents after BP oil spill

Gulf Coast residents reported a 25.6 % increase in depression after the massive BP oil spill spewed an estimated 172 million gallons of crude into the water, a Gallup poll released Tuesday finds.

A clinical diagnosis of depression among those surveyed was up four points--25.6%-- in the 15 weeks after the April 20 Deepwater Horizon explosion compared to the 15 weeks before the oil spill.

By Gerald Herbert, AP
The poll found residents of inland counties reported a 2.2% decrease in depression, while residents of non-Gulf states reported a 0.6% rise.

Gallup also found a 15.5 % increase in feelings of worry and sadness reported by Gulf Coast residents, compared to a 1.8 % decrease for those not in the Gulf.

Its findings are based on 2,598 interviews conducted from Jan. 2-Aug. 6, 2010, with residents from Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida and Texas. During the same period, 30,657 interviews were conducted with residents of inland counties of Gulf Coast states and 179,435 in non-Gulf states.

How Bush Holdovers Trapped Obama

President Barack Obama trapped himself in the morass of Afghanistan by his post-election decision to show bipartisan continuity and to keep in place George W. Bush’s military command structure, particularly Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Gen. David Petraeus.

After his solid victory in November 2008, Obama rebuffed recommendations from some national security experts that he clean house by installing a team more in line with his campaign pledge of “change you can believe in.” He accepted instead the counsel of Establishment Democrats who warned against any disruption to the war-fighting hierarchy and who were especially supportive of keeping Gates.

The results are now in. Bob Woodward’s new book, Obama’s Wars, makes clear that it was Bush’s old team that made sure Obama was given no option other than to escalate troop levels in Afghanistan. The Bush holdovers also lobbied for the troop increase behind Obama’s back.

According to Woodward’s book, Gates, Petraeus and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman, Adm. Mike Mullen, refused last year to even prepare an early-exit option that Obama had requested. Instead, they offered up only plans for their desired escalation of about 40,000 troops.

Woodward wrote: “For two exhausting months, [Obama] had been asking military advisers to give him a range of options for the war in Afghanistan . Instead, he felt that they were steering him toward one outcome and thwarting his search for an exit plan.

“He would later tell his White House aides that military leaders were ‘really cooking this thing in the direction they wanted.’”

Woodward identified Gates, Petraeus and Mullen as “unrelenting advocates for 40,000 more troops and an expanded mission that seemed to have no clear end.”

The effort to box Obama in reached a crisis point on Nov. 11, 2009, in the White House Situation Room when Obama confronted the three and complained, “You have given me one option [for the escalation]. We were going to meet here today to talk about three options. … You agreed to go back and work those up."

Mullen protested. "I think what we've tried to do here is present a range of options." But Obama shot back that two options were clearly unfeasible and the other two were variations of the 40,000-troop increase request.

The Bush holdovers even resisted passing along a “hybrid” plan that came from outside their group, from Vice President Joe Biden who had worked with JCS vice chairman, Gen. James Cartwright. The plan envisioned a 20,000 troop increase and a more limited mission of hunting Taliban insurgents and training Afghan government forces.

Woodward reported, “When Mullen learned of the hybrid option, he didn't want to take it to Obama. ‘We're not providing that,’ he told Cartwright, a Marine known around the White House as Obama's favorite general.

“Cartwright objected. ‘I'm just not in the business of withholding options,’ he told Mullen. ‘I have an oath, and when asked for advice I'm going to provide it.’"

A Rigged War Game

Later, Obama told Gates and Mullen to present the hybrid option as one possibility, but instead the Bush holdovers sabotaged the idea by organizing a classified war game, code-named Poignant Vision, that some military insiders felt was rigged to discredit the hybrid option, Woodward reported.

According to Woodward’s book, Petraeus cited the results of the war game to Obama at the Nov. 11 meeting as proof the hybrid option would fail, prompting a plaintive question from a disappointed President, “so, 20,000 is not really a viable option?"

Without telling Obama about the limits of the war game, Mullen, Petraeus, Gates, and then-field commander, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, asserted that the hybrid option would lead to mission failure.

"Okay," Obama said, "if you tell me that we can't do that, and you war-gamed it, I'll accept that," according to Woodward’s book.

Obama turned to Gates at one point with the complaint: "You have essentially given me one option," he said."It's unacceptable."

Gates replied, "Well, Mr. President, I think we owe you" another option. But Woodward wrote, “It never came.”

According to Woodward's book, “At critical points in the review, the ghosts of Vietnam hovered. Some participants openly worried that they were on the verge of replaying that history, allowing the military to dictate the force levels.

“While Obama sought to build an exit plan into the strategy, the military leadership stuck to its open-ended proposal, which the Office of Management and Budget estimated would cost $889 billion over a decade. Obama brought the OMB memo to one meeting and said the expense was ‘not in the national interest.’”

Faced with this resistance from the Bush holdovers – and unaware that their war game may have been fixed – Obama finally devised his own option that gave Gates, Petraeus and Mullen most of what they wanted – 30,000 additional troops on top of the 21,000 that Obama had dispatched shortly after taking office.

Obama did try to bind the Pentagon to a more limited commitment to Afghanistan, including setting a date of July 2011 for the beginning of a U.S. drawdown. Though Obama required all the key participants to sign off on his compromise, it soon became clear that the Bush holdovers had no intention to comply.

‘Wiggle Room’

Even after Obama consented to the 30,000 additional troops, Woodward reported that the Pentagon continued to push for 4,500 more, called “enablers” who would handle logistics, communications and other non-combat functions.

Woodward cited a “clearly annoyed” Obama responding "I'm done doing this!"

According to Woodward’s book, Obama insisted that the 30,000 was a "hard cap" and that there would be no further “wiggle room.”

Obama added, "It'd be a lot easier for me to go out and give a speech saying, 'You know what? The American people are sick of this war, and we're going to put in 10,000 trainers because that's how we're going to get out of there,' " Woodward reported.

However, when Obama's deputy national security adviser Thomas Donilon noted that Gates might resign if Obama pressed for the 10,000 trainer option, Obama backed off, saying “that would be the difficult part.”

Obama later explained to Gates that the 30,000 was the most that “I'm willing to take on, politically," according to Woodward. Gates continued to press for the “enablers.”

"I've got a request for 4,500 enablers sitting on my desk," Gates said. "And I'd like to have another 10 percent that I can send in, enablers or forces, if I need them."

"Bob," Obama responded, "30,000 plus 4,500 plus 10 percent of 30,000 is … 37,500. … I'm at 30,000." Obama offered Gates “some latitude within your 10 percentage points" but only under exceptional circumstances.

While drawing this slightly squiggly line in the sand, Obama made clear to Gates that the only other option would be to go with the 10,000 trainers.

"Can you support this?" Obama asked about the 30,000-troop figure. "Because if the answer is no, I understand it and I'll be happy to just authorize another 10,000 troops, and we can continue to go as we are and train the Afghan national force and just hope for the best."

Before Obama’s decision to dispatch the 30,000 troops, the Bush holdovers also sought to hem in the President’s choices by working with allies in the Washington news media and in think tanks.

As we’ve reported at, Petraeus, Mullen and McChrystal were essentially campaigning for their desired escalation through interviews, speeches, and propaganda visits to the war zone by influential neoconservatives.

For instance, early in 2009, Petraeus personally arranged for Max Boot, Frederick Kagan and Kimberly Kagan to get extraordinary access during a trip to Afghanistan .

“Fears of impending disaster are hard to sustain, however, if you actually spend some time in Afghanistan , as we did recently at the invitation of General David Petraeus, chief of U.S. Central Command,” they wrote upon their return.

“Using helicopters, fixed-wing aircraft, and bone-jarring armored vehicles, we spent eight days traveling from the snow-capped peaks of Kunar province near the border with Pakistan in the east to the wind-blown deserts of Farah province in the west near the border with Iran . Along the way we talked with countless coalition soldiers, ranging from privates to a four-star general,” the trio said.

Their access paid dividends for Petraeus when they penned a glowing report in the Weekly Standard about the prospects for success in Afghanistan – if only President Obama sent more troops and committed the United States to stay in the war for the long haul.

Making a Call

Woodward’s book adds that “in September 2009, Petraeus called a Washington Post columnist to say that the war would be unsuccessful if the president held back on troops. Later that month, Mullen repeated much the same sentiment in Senate testimony, and in October, McChrystal asserted in a speech in London that a scaled-back effort against Afghan terrorists would not work.”

This back-door campaign infuriated Obama’s aides, including White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, Woodward reported.

“Filling his rant with expletives, Emanuel said, ‘Between the chairman [Mullen] and Petraeus, everyone's come out and publicly endorsed the notion of more troops. The president hasn't even had a chance!’" Woodward reported.

However, the incoming Obama administration was warned of this possibility of backstabbing by Gates and other Bush appointees when it was lining up personnel for national security jobs. Instead, Obama’s team listened to Establishment Democrats like former Rep. Lee Hamilton and former Sen. David Boren, who were big fans of Gates.

As I wrote in November 2008, “if Obama does keep Gates on, the new President will be employing someone who embodies many of the worst elements of U.S. national security policy over the past three decades, including responsibility for what Obama himself has fingered as a chief concern, ‘politicized intelligence.’ …

“It was Gates – as a senior CIA official in the 1980s – who broke the back of the CIA analytical division’s commitment to objective intelligence.”

More than any CIA official, Gates was responsible for the agency’s failure to detect the collapse of the Soviet Union, in large part because Gates had ridden roughshod over the CIA analysts on behalf of the Reagan administration’s desire to justify a massive military buildup by stressing Soviet ascendance and ignoring evidence of its disintegration.

As chief of the CIA’s analytical division and then deputy CIA director, Gates promoted pliable CIA careerists to top positions, while analysts with an independent streak were sidelined or pushed out of the agency.

“In the mid-1980s, the three senior [Soviet division] office managers who actually anticipated the decline of the Soviet Union and Moscow’s interest in closer relations with the United States were demoted,” wrote longtime CIA analyst Melvin A. Goodman in his book, Failure of Intelligence: The Decline and Fall of the CIA.

Misleading Congress

Inside the CIA, there also were concerns about Gates’s role in misleading Congress regarding the secret Iran-Contra operations in the mid-1980s, an obstacle that had prevented Gates from getting the top CIA job when Reagan’s CIA Director William Casey died in 1987.

Plus, in 1991, Gates faced accusations that he had greased his rapid bureaucratic rise by participating in illicit or dubious clandestine operations, including helping Republicans sabotage President Jimmy Carter’s Iran hostage negotiations in 1980 (the so-called October Surprise case) and collaborating on a secret plan to aid Iraq’s dictator Saddam Hussein (the Iraqgate scandal).

Despite significant evidence implicating Gates in these scandals, he always managed to evade accountability by relying on his personal charm and Boy Scout looks. For his 1991 confirmation to be CIA director, influential friends like Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Boren of Oklahoma, and Boren’s chief of staff George Tenet made sure Gates got the votes he needed.

In his memoir, From the Shadows, Gates credited his friend, Boren, with clearing away the obstacles. “David took it as a personal challenge to get me confirmed,” Gates wrote.

(Tenet’s help on Gates also earned him some chits with the Bush Family, which paid off in 2001 when Tenet was Bill Clinton’s last CIA director and was kept on by George W. Bush, whom he served loyally, if incompetently.)

After getting confirmed in 1991, Gates remained CIA director until the end of George H.W. Bush’s presidency. However, after Bill Clinton removed him in 1993, Gates never wandered far from the Bush Family orbit, getting help from George H.W. Bush in landing a job as president of Texas A&M.

During the Clinton years, documents surfaced implicating Gates in questionable actions from the 1980s, but the new evidence got little notice.

For instance, the Russian government sent an extraordinary intelligence report to a House investigative task force in early 1993 stating that Gates had participated in secret contacts with Iranian officials in 1980 to delay release of 52 U.S. hostages then held in Iran , a move that undercut President Carter’s reelection effort.

“R[obert] Gates, at that time a staffer of the National Security Council in the administration of Jimmy Carter, and former CIA Director George Bush also took part” in a meeting in Paris in October 1980, the Russian report said.

The Russian allegation about Gates and the Paris meeting in October 1980 also didn’t stand alone. The House task force had other evidence from French and Israeli intelligence officials, as well as witnesses from the arms-trafficking field, corroborating reports of Reagan-Bush contacts with Iranian officials in Europe during Campaign 1980.

However, the House task force never followed up on the Russian report because when it arrived – on Jan. 11, 1993 – the task force chairman, Rep. Lee Hamilton, had already decided to get rid of the October Surprise case along with other allegations of Reagan-Bush wrongdoing.

Years later, Lawrence Barcella, the task force’s chief counsel, told me that in late 1992 evidence implicating the Republicans in the October Surprise caper had begun pouring in, so much so that he urged Hamilton to extend the investigation for three months but that Hamilton declined. ( Hamilton has denied Barcella’s account.)

[For details on the October Surprise case, see Robert Parry’s Secrecy & Privilege. For the text of the Russian report, click here. To view the actual U.S. embassy cable that includes the Russian report, click here. For the latest on this historical mystery, see’s “Key October Surprise Evidence Hidden.”]

Iraqgate Scandal

Gates also was implicated in a secret operation to funnel military assistance to Iraq in the 1980s, as the Reagan administration played off Iran and Iraq battling each other in the eight-year-long Iran-Iraq War.

Middle Eastern witnesses alleged that Gates worked on the secret Iraqi initiative, which included Saddam Hussein’s procurement of cluster bombs and precursor chemicals used to produce chemical weapons for the war against Iran .

Gates denied all the Iran-Iraq accusations in 1991, and Boren’s Senate Intelligence Committee never pressed too hard to check them out.

However, four years later – in early January 1995 – Howard Teicher, one of Reagan’s National Security Council officials, added more details about Gates’s alleged role in the Iraq shipments.

In a sworn affidavit submitted in a Florida criminal case, Teicher stated that the covert arming of Iraq dated back to spring 1982 when Iran had gained the upper hand in the war, leading President Reagan to authorize a U.S. tilt toward Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

The effort to arm the Iraqis was “spearheaded” by CIA Director Casey and involved his deputy Gates, according to Teicher’s affidavit.

“The CIA, including both CIA Director Casey and Deputy Director Gates, knew of, approved of, and assisted in the sale of non-U.S. origin military weapons, ammunition and vehicles to Iraq,” Teicher wrote.

Ironically, this same pro-Iraq initiative involved Donald Rumsfeld, whom Gates replaced as Defense Secretary in 2006. In the 1980s, Rumsfeld was Reagan’s special emissary to the Middle East . An infamous photograph from 1983 shows a smiling Rumsfeld shaking hands with Saddam Hussein.

Teicher described Gates’s role as far more substantive than Rumsfeld’s. "Under CIA Director Casey and Deputy Director Gates, the CIA authorized, approved and assisted [Chilean arms dealer Carlos] Cardoen in the manufacture and sale of cluster bombs and other munitions to Iraq ,” Teicher wrote.

However, like the Russian report, the Teicher affidavit was never seriously examined or explained.

After Teicher submitted it to a federal court in Miami, the affidavit was classified a state secret and Teicher’s credibility was attacked by Clinton administration prosecutors who saw Teicher’s account as disruptive to their prosecution of a private company, Teledyne Industries, and one of its salesmen, Ed Johnson.

Gates benefited, too, from Official Washington ’s boredom with – and even hostility toward – Reagan-Bush-41-era scandals.

Instead, the polite and personable Gates continued to enjoy influential protectors on both sides of the aisle, from Republicans around George H.W. Bush to Democrats like David Boren and Lee Hamilton.

Plus, some of Gates's CIA protégés, such as former Deputy Director John McLaughlin, were liked by Democrats as well as Republicans. (McLaughlin was a member of Obama’s intelligence advisory group during Campaign 2008.)

A Comeback

Gates’s connections – and his timing – served him well when he was placed on the Iraq Study Group in 2006 along with its co-chairs, Lee Hamilton and Bush Family lawyer James Baker. By fall 2006, the ISG was moving toward recommending a drawdown of U.S. forces in Iraq .

Meanwhile, President George W. Bush found himself in need of a new Defense Secretary to replace Donald Rumsfeld, who had grown disillusioned with the Iraq War.

Though Rumsfeld was viewed publicly as a hardliner, privately he sided with his field commanders, Generals George Casey and John Abizaid, in favoring a smaller U.S. “footprint” in Iraq and a phased withdrawal. Rumsfeld put his views in writing on Nov. 6, 2006, the day before congressional elections.

With Rumsfeld going wobbly on the war and the Republicans doing badly in the polls, Bush turned to Gates and – after getting Gates’s assurance that he would support Bush’s intent to escalate the war, not wind it down – Bush offered him the job.

Rumsfeld’s firing and Gates’s hiring were announced the day after the Nov. 7 elections and were widely misinterpreted as signs that Bush was throwing in the towel on Iraq .

Rumsfeld’s memo was disclosed by the New York Times on Dec. 3, 2006, two days before Gates was scheduled for his confirmation hearing. [See’s "Gates Hearing Has New Urgency."]

But Democrats on the Senate Armed Services Committee were so enthralled by the false narrative of Bush tossing over the ideologue (Rumsfeld) in favor of the realist (Gates) that they took no note of what the real sequence of events suggested, that Bush was determined to send more troops.

Gates was whisked through to confirmation with no questions about the Rumsfeld memo and with unanimous Democratic support. Sen. Hillary Clinton and other senior Democrats praised Gates for his “candor.”

Within a few weeks, however, it became clear that Bush – with Gates’s help – had bamboozled the Democrats.

Not only did Bush dash the Democrats’ hopes for a bipartisan strategy on Iraq by junking the ISG recommendations, but he chose to escalate by adding 30,000 new troops. For his part, Gates joined in pummeling the Democrats by suggesting that their legislation opposing the "surge" was aiding and abetting the enemy.

“Any indication of flagging will in the United States gives encouragement to those folks,” Gates told reporters at the Pentagon on Jan. 26, 2007. “I’m sure that that’s not the intent behind the resolutions, but I think it may be the effect.”

During Campaign 2008, Gates also opposed Obama’s plan to set a 16-month timetable for withdrawing U.S. combat forces from Iraq .

Nevertheless, Gates remained a favorite of the Washington insiders, many of whom – like Lee Hamilton – urged the victorious Obama to keep Gates on as a signal of bipartisan continuity in the war efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan .

Apparently wanting to emulate Abraham Lincoln’s “team of rivals,” Obama took this advice, also retaining Bush’s other top brass, Petraeus and Mullen, and naming a hard-line Democrat, Hillary Clinton, to be Secretary of State.

For these personnel moves, the President earned widespread praise from Washington insiders who remain especially enamored of Gates.

But Obama is now learning a hard lesson in national power politics, appointing people to key jobs who don’t agree with your vision – and who have their own political power bases – can get you, your government and your country in loads of trouble.

Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush, was written with two of his sons, Sam and Nat, and can be ordered at His two previous books, Secrecy & Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq and Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & 'Project Truth' are also available there. Or go to

Antiwar activists raided by FBI could face prison

The antiwar activists issued grand jury subpoenas after last week’s FBI raids in Minneapolis and Chicago could face jail time for their political support for third world movements the US declares to be “terrorist,” an attorney familiar with the defense case told the World Socialist Web Site.

On Friday, September 24, at 7 a.m. in the morning, the FBI launched simultaneous raids on the homes of eight antiwar activists in Minneapolis and Chicago.

Brandishing search warrants asserting that those under investigation have offered “material support of terrorism,” FBI agents and local police ransacked the homes for between three and five hours, taking the residents’ computers and cellular phones as well as thousands of books, letters, documents, and other personal belongings. In the case of the Minneapolis apartment of Mike Kelly, a member of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO), the FBI broke his door down and entered with guns drawn.

The FBI issued subpoenas demanding they appear before a grand jury in Chicago on October 12, and in the case of Minneapolis resident Tracy Molm, on October 5. It has been reported that subpoenas were also issued in Michigan and North Carolina, but homes there were evidently not raided.

The FBI’s intentions at the grand jury hearing are not entirely clear, but it is possible that the Obama administration seeks criminal indictments under the “Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996,” which essentially proscribes political speech in support of organizations the US president defines as “terrorist.”

The law, which prohibits “knowingly provid[ing] material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization,” even if the “support” consists only of “expert advice or assistance” for “lawful, non-violent purposes,” was upheld in June by the Supreme Court in the case Humanitarian Law Project v. Holder.

The FBI does not claim that those targeted pose any danger. “These were search warrants only,” said FBI agent Steve Warfield in Minneapolis the day of the raids. “There’s no imminent threat to the community.”

Minneapolis attorney Bruce Nestor, who is involved in discussions over a legal defense for the raid victims, told the World Socialist Web Site that the government could seek to imprison the activists. This might result if the defendants refuse to speak before the grand jury, which could result in civil contempt and jail time, or if the grand jury ultimately issues criminal indictments, which would result in a criminal trial.

Nestor pointed to the chilling implications of the Obama administration’s move. What movements Washington labels as “terrorist” has always depended on the aims of US imperialism. For example, the African National Congress (ANC) was, for much of the 1980s, officially labeled a terrorist operation for its struggle against apartheid in South Africa. But the Contras in Central America, who slaughtered and tortured tens of thousands of civilians in the dirty wars of the 1980s, were “freedom fighters,” according to the Reagan administration.

“Anyone who was a part of the anti-apartheid network in the US, under the current law, would have faced criminal charges and could be put in prison,” Nestor noted.

Nestor believes the raids have far-reaching implications, saying they appear designed to harass and intimidate the targeted groups. “But more importantly,” he continued, “they will have the effect of scaring away anyone who might want to find out more, to learn about their government’s activities all over the world.”

“This is the first time that the authorities have aimed broadly at what might be called ‘the mainstream antiwar activists,’” Nestor added, noting that the targeted individuals and groups are well known in the protest movement. “I don’t mean to minimize the repression that has taken place against Arab-American and Muslim groups in the US. But with these raids it appears to be a direct strike against the antiwar movement.”

In spite of the clear threat the raids level against democratic rights, the response of the liberal media has been virtual silence. The New York Times, the Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times have largely buried the story. The Nation has so far written nothing, a review of its web site reveals.

Protests against the raids have been held in a number of cities. On Monday, about 200 gathered in Minneapolis, and a smaller demonstration was organized in Chicago. In New York City about 100 gathered on Tuesday, one of thirty-two demonstrations reportedly organized across the US.