Friday, August 20, 2010

New Unemployment Claims SURGE, Hit Highest Level Since November 2009

WASHINGTON (AP) -- New applications for unemployment insurance reached the half-million mark last week for the first time since November, a sign that employers are likely cutting jobs again as the economy slows.

The Labor Department said Thursday that initial claims for jobless benefits rose by 12,000 last week to 500,000, the fourth increase in the past five weeks. Wall Street economists forecast that claims would drop.

The four-week average, a less volatile measure, rose by 8,000 to 482,500, the highest since December. There were no special factors that distorted the numbers, a Labor Department analyst said.

The increase suggests the economy is creating even fewer jobs than in the first half of this year, when private employers added an average of about 100,000 jobs per month. That's barely enough to keep the unemployment rate from rising. The jobless rate has been stuck at 9.5 percent for two months.

Stock futures fell on the news. The Dow Jones industrial average futures had risen more than 50 points before the report was released. They dropped quickly and were down as much as 20 points afterward.

Jobless claims declined steadily last year from a peak of 651,000 in March 2009 as the economy recovered from the worst downturn since the 1930s. After flattening out earlier this year claims have begun to grow again.

The number of people continuing to receive benefits fell by 13,000 to 4.5 million, the department said. The continuing claims data lags initial claims by one week.

But that doesn't include millions of people receiving extended unemployment insurance, paid for by the federal government. About 5.6 million unemployed workers were on the extended unemployment benefit rolls, as of the week ending July 31, the latest data available. That's an increase of about 300,000 from the previous week.

During the recession, Congress added up to 73 extra weeks of benefits on top of the 26 weeks customarily provided by the states. The number of people on the extended rolls has increased sharply in recent weeks after Congress renewed the extended program last month. It had expired in June.

Private employers added only 71,000 jobs in July. But that increase was offset by the loss of 202,000 government jobs, including 143,000 temporary census positions.

July marked the third straight month that the private sector hired cautiously. Economists are concerned that the unemployment rate will start rising again because overall economic growth has weakened significantly since the start of the year.

In a healthy economy, jobless claims usually drop below 400,000. But the recent increases in claims provide further evidence that the economy has slowed and could slip back into a recession. Many analysts are worried that economic growth will ebb further in the second half of this year.

After growing at a 3.7 percent annual rate in the first quarter, the economy's growth slowed to 2.4 percent in the April-to-June period. Some economists forecast it will drop to as low as 1.5 percent in the second half of this year.

Death and Joblessness: How Suicide Dogs the Long-Term Unemployed

He hit "publish" on the last Wednesday in July, in the middle of a long afternoon. "I also have become homeless and am on the verge of suicide. I slept out in the wood last night and didn't gett very much sleep. I hate to bring you people down with my problems but I thought you would like to know this. I don't know what else to say except I'm very sorry it turned out like this but I can take the strain of living like this very much longer." (All posts are reproduced as published.)

[A photograph taken after a protest in Grand Rapids, Mich. (Creative Commons)]A photograph taken after a protest in Grand Rapids, Mich. (Creative Commons)
The post went up as part of a conversation about homelessness on Unemployed-Friends, a popular online forum for the unemployed to connect with one another. Most were discussing how to live in homeless shelters after eviction or foreclosure. But his post went further. "This is killing me physically and emotoinally. I am at the end of my rope and getting to the point of letting go. I have tried everything I know to get help. DHS won't help' Salvation Army won't help. 211 won't help. I have no idea as to where to go from here. If you don't hear from me by tomorrow I probably will be dead."

Thousands of users visit the web site daily, offering one another everything from advice about applying for unemployment insurance benefits to emotional support. It is one of dozens of such sites helping the nation's 14.6 million unemployed - particularly the long-term unemployed, the 6.6 million Americans who have been out of work for more than six months. "I am very tempted to walk in front of an oncoming semi right now. Sorry to go on ranting but I am getting to the point where I feel I have no choice. For those of you that want to know I am currently in Grand Rapids. I appreciate your words of encouragement but right now it doesn't seem to be enough to keep me going."

The post ended, "I will try to tough out another night. Goodbye for now."


The unemployed commit suicide at a rate two or three times the national average, researchers estimate. And in many cases, the longer the spell of unemployment, the higher the likelihood of suicide.

On online fora such as Unemployed-Friends, the topic comes up often, users finding news reports or hearing tell of deaths in their community, and mourning them. There was the Staten Island suicide, where an emergency medical services employee who thought himself about to be fired posted his final words on Facebook: "I can't go on anymore. I just hung myself." In Anaheim, Calif., there was the man underwater on his mortgage and awash in credit card debt who shot his wife and and one of his children before himself. His two children survived. His wife did not. In Indiana, there was the middle-aged mother who sent her daughter out to buy soda and killed herself before her daughter came back. That happened the day after the repossession of her Chevy Malibu.

Other stories are more apocryphal. In a post that ginned up dozens of comments and thousands of views on Unemployed-Friends, someone reported a father of three in Michigan had killed himself, writing in his final letter, "I am sorry, I have now lost every ounce of pride I ever had. You will be better off without me." (The report of the suicide is unconfirmed.) A colleague told me he knew of a local man who killed himself when his unemployment insurance ended, because when his unemployment insurance ended he had no way to pay his child support.

The stories appear in letters to Congress as well. "My dad, S, killed himself March 16, 2009 because he ran out of money and could not find work. My whole family had been devastated by the economy. He was 61 years old and could not take it anymore. He could not figure out how to keep the electric on, buy food, or keep a roof over his head. A day before his electric was to be shut off, and 2 weeks away from eviction, my dad took the hardest walk of his life. He left a note on the dining room table for my sister and I. His suicide letter said ‘I love you. I had to do this. I ran out of money. I wish you both luck in your lives'. He left the door unlocked with the door key left in the lock. He carefully laid out two suits for us to pick from to bury him in," one person from Forest Hills, N.Y., wrote to Rep. Anthony Weiner (D). "I almost caught my dad in time, maybe another 10 minutes and I could have saved him."

The stories show the deeper wounds of unemployment, and especially long-term unemployment. It is not just the loss of a job, but the loss of community, routine and purpose. It means worse health. It means higher rates of divorce. It means alcohol abuse. All of these are also risk factors for suicide.


The users of Unemployed-Friends knew these stories. And they knew this shame and suffering, knew it well enough to take it seriously, for fear of what it can make people do. The web site goes so far as to keep suicide prevention hotline numbers at the top of every page. So when the note from user Vidirian2001 published to the forum, the virtual community realized it had little time to prevent a real-world death. The first reply begged Vidirian to call emergency services. Others suggested a clinic or the hospital.

"Please take the advice of the posters here - we care about you - even if we don't know you personally - anyone can feel the way you are feeling - we are all facing hard times," one wrote. "Please Please - I am in tears reading your story." They said they were crying and praying for the anonymous poster, and told their own stories of survival. One posted Psalms.

Some asked if any fellow Michiganders would go find the user, to help him or her.

Vidirian2001 did not respond until the next morning. "Hello people. Today doesn't seem to be much better. For those of you that would like to know I am in Grand Rapids MI . If I can't get any help soon I will follow through with my plans. I also have tried calling suicide prevention and they just transferred me to some one else who then dropped the call. I have no blood relatives I can count on. The friends I do have are supportive but can't/won't help me. I am crying right now because I feel there is no way out."


There is no saying how many suicides the recession has caused.

During the Great Depression, the suicide rate increased about 20 percent, from 14 to 17 per 100,000 people. The Asian economic crisis in 1997 led to an estimated 10,400 additional suicides in Japan, Hong Kong and Korea, with suicides spiking more than 40 percent among some demographic groups. But such statistics can mislead, social scientists say. Joblessness does not cause suicide. Rather, it correlates: Depressed persons tend to lose their jobs due to poor work performance, and a few also commit suicide. Jobless people tend to turn to alcohol, worsening their depression, and increasing the chances that they harm themselves. Still, academic studies show that suicide rates tend to move with the unemployment rate. Researchers in New Zealand found that the unemployed were up to three times as likely to commit suicide, with middle-aged men the most likely.

So how many suicides are associated with the recession? Nobody knows, not yet. The statistics lag about three years, so the official Center for Disease Control numbers still predate the financial crisis. Right now, therefore, the reports remain anecdotal.

But looking at individual counties' or cities' data, there are ominous signs of a real spike. Some counties show no change. Others show dramatic climbs. In rural Elkhart County, Ind., where the unemployment rate is 13.7 percent, there were nearly 40 percent more suicides in 2009 than in a normal year. In Macomb County, Mich., where the unemployment rate is also 13.7 percent, an average of 81 people per year committed suicide between 1979 and 2006. That climbed to 104 in 2008 and to more than 180 in 2009.

The suicide prevention hotlines also show signs of stress. In Jan. 2007, as the recession started, there were 13,423 calls to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, a nationwide toll-free hotline. A year later, there were 39,467. In Aug. 2009, the call volume peaked at 57,625. Last year, the government granted the group an extra $1 million to increase programs in places with high unemployment rates.


By Thursday, the posters on Unemployed-Friends knew more about the user known as Vidirian2001. They had gone back to his first post, which went up in June. "Hello everyone. I am Scott I am 45 years old. I have been out of work for over 3 1/2 years. I am getting to the end of my rope. Yesterday, the postman came to the door with a letter for me to sign for. I thought it was something to do with my parents property which is in forclosure. It turns out my wife of 7 years is filing for divorce and is kicking me out of the apartment."

Rapidly, they pieced identifying details together: Scott, male, 45, estranged. They knew he lived in Grand Rapids, Mich., where the unemployment rate is 11.1 percent. They knew that he posted from a library somewhere in Grand Rapids. They knew he was suicidal, but still reaching out. They knew they had to help him.

Users started calling all of the libraries in Grand Rapids in real time, asking the workers to go find him. Another called the Grand Rapids Police Department's non-emergency line, providing them with all of the information about Scott and his known whereabouts. Another called the Michigan suicide prevention office. Along with the librarians and the police, they managed to get Scott, still suicidal, to a hospital for urgently needed medical care.

And one user living in Traverse City, hours from Grand Rapids but within driving distance, offered Scott a place to stay to get him off of the streets. "I think it would be better for someone(my son) to pick him up than have him travel alone by bus- he is too vulnerable at this point for the trip alone. We are already rearranging our dining area so we can make him a make shift room of his own so he will have some kind of privacy. My hubby is hoping he likes to fish cause that will give him a new fishing partner!" she wrote.

"For all offering to help pay for this I will get back with you if we need any help with gas money but I think we have enough gas in our van to make the trip I am 126 miles away and I get really good mileage and a couple of my kids are willing to help with money if we need it."


The governmental statistics on suicide, unemployment and the relationship between the two are surprisingly thin.

Amy Rowland, a spokesperson for the CDC Injury Center, acknowledges as much, noting a bump in the suicide rate for older male workers. "Studies done by other researchers show that economic strain and loss are risk factors for suicide." she says. "However more studies need to be done to better understand what might be occurring in this age group that is contributing to these increases and how we can best control and prevent it."

Economists Richard Dunn of Texas A&M University and Timothy Classen of Loyola University Chicago are conducting some of those studies. They wanted to pinpoint the effect joblessness had on suicide rates. The problem was sorting out correlation and causation, as many people lose their jobs for depression or alcoholism or drug abuse, which in turn increase the risk of suicide. The economists, of course, could not fire people at random and then track them. So they looked for natural experiments, where workers were fired for reasons other than job performance. They zeroed in on mass layoffs, like when a factory closes and thousands of workers find themselves suddenly unemployed.

Unemployment, they found, does increase the risk of suicide. And not just once, but twice: First, just after the factory shuts down, and then again, about six months later, when unemployment insurance ends. The impact is strongest among men. Dunn explains: "If you had laid off 4,000 [men] initially, one would have killed himself immediately, within a month, and six months later, another person would have killed himself."

"We don't expect all 4,000 people to remain unemployed in month six," Dunn continues. "It is probably 2,000 or 1,000 people who are. So the research suggests that the impact of losing your unemployment benefits is actually stronger than the impact of losing your job. How much stronger? We don't know. But twice as strong, three times as strong. Some significant difference."

That is to say, duration of unemployment and loss of unemployment benefits are more important determinants of suicide risk than job loss itself.


I spoke with Scott on the phone this week, his voice affectless, his sentences matter-of-fact and declarative, his mood impossible to read. The first thing he told me is that he continues to struggle with suicidal thoughts.

He explains what happened on the day of his post: He was sitting at a kiosk on the computer, considering whether to throw himself in front of a semi or to go "dance with a train," the words delivered to me as if he were noting the weather. Suddenly, the police approached him in the library and took him to a nearby hospital. Most persons threatening suicide must remain in the hospital for at least 24 hours of observation. Scott says that the hospital released him in an hour, with numbers for services to call. He promised them that he would go get counseling. He spent another night homeless, sleeping on a cement slab in the back of his former apartment building. "There was a patio back where I used to live, so I went there," he says.

"After that, the people I'm staying with - well, their sons - they came and got me. I had counseling set up in Grand Rapids, but I'm in Traverse City now. I'm not going to go 150 miles -150 each way, a two and a half hour drive - for counseling." He is not currently in therapy, and does not have ready access to medical care.

We talk about his former life. He has struggled with depression for decades. It runs in his family. His mother and father both suffered from it, too. He was a wood worker and furniture maker, but the industry has left Michigan for China and Malaysia. Still, he had a wife and an apartment, food on the table. But he lost his job. Earlier this summer, his wife left and evicted him, leaving him destitute and homeless. Now, he is living with a family that found him on a message board, in a makeshift bedroom in their home. Both the husband and wife are unemployed themselves. They are hoping to sell their house if they can, and move out of Michigan to somewhere warmer, somewhere with jobs. Scott is waiting on food stamps and possible disability payments for a wrist injury.

He is disappointed with the state of Michigan - he has no caseworker, no hospital stay, no counseling, no Medicaid - disappointed "to say the least. That's just putting it mildly." He also feels disappointed with Congress. "The - the system is broken, as far as I'm concerned," his voice breaking for a moment. "It's broken and it needs to be repaired drastically and urgently, but the people in Congress could care less as long as they've got theirs. I'm not even the worst off. On the forum, one guy sold his computer to buy some milk for his kid, then got in his van and shot himself. I'm better off than many."

When the Unemployed-Friends rescue happened, he posted: "All I have to say to you people on this forum is: YOU PEOPLE ARE A GODSEND. Not only for me but for others who need a helping hand and someone to talk to. I am crying tears of joy because someone who doesn't even know me is willing to help me in my time of need."

I ask him how he is feeling now. He replies, "Like a burden. I have no money. I have no job. I'm not going to lie to you. I still think about it."

"Recovery" Lies Are Worldwide

When a new supermarket opened today in Auckland it created 150 new jobs, but that was a small comfort for the 2550 people who applied for jobs there and missed out, Labour leader Phil Goff said today.
Mr Goff today opened a New World supermarket in his Mt Roskill electorate, where the owner operator had told him 2700 people had applied for the 150 positions created in the new store.
"I had to ask the question -- where is John Key's recovery for the ordinary people in my electorate."
Mr Goff said supermarket owners had told him this was the worst period they could remember in retailing and they were concerned about further impacts from the rise in GST, which will increase from 12.5 to 15 percent on October 1.
"People are finding it hard to make ends meet now, that extra ... on top of all their groceries is just going to make life harder for them."
More Here..

Baby Boomers Experience Murphy's Law Firsthand

For OpEdNews: Joshua Sanders - Writer

It's no secret our economy is in bad shape. The unemployment rate remains high at 9.6 percent, consumers are not consuming and banks are not giving out loans. Housing prices, whose perpetual increases have been the backbone of income wealth generation and security, are plummeting. Years of inflating the housing market has come back to bite us (just as many warned).

Housing price inflation was great for the baby boomer generation. They sacrificed the livelihoods of future generations so they could say "My house makes more money that I do." Unfortunately, no one ever stopped to ask where this money was coming from. It came at the expense of future generations.

"We were all corrupted by the housing boom, to some extent. People talked endlessly about how their houses were earning more than they did, never asking where all this free money was coming from. Well the truth is that it was being stolen from the next generation," writes Iain MacWhirter in The Herald. "Houses price increases don't produce wealth, they merely transfer it from the young to the old - from the coming generation of families who have to burden themselves with colossal debts if they want to own, to the baby boomers who are about to retire and live on the cash they make when they downsize."

Now, because an entire generation depended not on manufacturing and real economic growth, but on bubble economies and endless housing price increases, the American economy is nothing but a nation of consumers buried in debt with no end in sight. Young Americans are going to suffer.

A recent article by the Wall Street Journal practically cried out for pity for the baby-boomer generation. According to the WSJ, baby boomers will be unable to spend as much as they used to.

"We will have to learn to make do with a lot less in material things," said Gary Snodgrass, a 63-year-old health-care consultant in Placerville, Calif. The financial crisis slashed his retirement savings 40 percent and the value of his house by about half.

Well, boo-hoo. What do you expect when an entire economy is based on an inflated housing market? That bubble will inevitably burst. This is Murphy's law at its finest. Right before retirement this bubble baby boomers relied on and sacrificed future generations to has finally burst.

Okay, maybe I'm being too harsh. In truth, the vast majority of baby boomers were just doing what their financial advisors told them to. In 2008 I remember hearing not to worry, to invest in real estate, to invest in American financials (although that was good short-term advice thanks to the bailout) and to ignore all the hype about a bubble bursting. Our economy was just going through a cycle. Good advice, MBA man.

The reality is that the housing bubble was not driven by supply and demand and it was not the fault of over-aggressive consumption (well, not entirely). Prices in the bubble, even now, exist because banks were willing to lend. Most people will borrow as much as they can, leveraging everything from food and shelter to Lamborghinis (if they could). Banks have been willing to lend to these overzealous borrowers because they are in a position to manipulate the government, which means that banks can either push their risks onto the taxpayer or just insure their investments through the government. Sound familiar?

Americans have been sold down the river. We sat back for far too long and just watched as our manufacturing capabilities were shipped overseas. The middle class and future generations were sacrificed so the top 1 percent could triple their income. America was shammed into relying on an economy propped up by the inflated housing market and vapid debt-based consumption, causing us to witness 3 decades of wage stagnation and an economy that is now visibly circling the drain. America can no longer sit idly by amidst the destruction of our future generation's livelihood.

Writes for Attends school at The Ohio State University, part-time, earning a BS in Business Finance.

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author
and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

The Truth is the Best Fuck in Town.

Dog Poet in Orbit…….

Begin transmission…….

While all of us are focused on everything else and that includes the unknown nightmare of the Gulf of Mexico, something else is also happening. Something like this. The world is transforming my friends. It is happening in front of your eyes and around the corner while you shop and surf and dream and fuck. I know it has always been the appearance of something taking place, through the television, the windshield and in your mind that flashes by the peripheral of the seeing, discounting, laughing, sneering, without compassion, wincing, disinterested, occasionally with curious eyes and sometimes helpful and compassionate. It is also soon to be right there where ‘you’ are; discounting you, laughing at you, sneering at you, without compassion for you, not wincing, disinterested in and occasionally curious about you and sometimes helpful and compassionate

I don’t know what the reader knows about The Partition/Pakistan and Gandhi; not to mention the coincidental timing of two different countries in two separate places; one of them receiving most of the misery of late and the other one causing it; one of them the size of a Liberty dollar and the other the size of a centime… the Hindu Kush… Karachi has 20 million people nearly (digressing) and all that grasped and expanded and crunched territory that looks like god reached down and grabbed a part of the world like a brown paper sack and crushed it for a moment and then let go. It could have been Mother Nature grabbing the ground like it was a bed sheet as she thrust her hips back up into her heavenly lover and then she fell back and became an ocean. I don’t know. Don’t ask and well, you can’t tell anyway can you? What was that thing about the groove under your nose? Isn’t that where the angel pressed its finger and said, “Shush”? …silence.

What kind of a number is twenty million? That is the amount of people affected there

And we’ve seen those numbers in those places before, gulag speaking. Never forget that Stalin was from Georgia either. Don’t forget, if you ever knew, about the tunnels through the Caspian Mountains. Don’t forget about all those strange fires in Russia. Don’t forget about all those interesting oil spills in Michigan, China and what you already know or… don’t know. There’s a game called Risk and a game called Go. one is more like Monopoly and the other more like chess, I guess (rhyming feature turned on).

Somebody said a hard rain was going to fall and I’m writing a song about The Gulf of Mexico, hope to have it up here soon but this ain’t about the rain; the rain is the responding to a karma kind of thing where the people who did some shit before are now reincarnated into the next chapter of it and this isn’t about my songs because those are incidental to anything. The people I am going to talk about don’t care about Karma, even if it is the truth, they would help anyway. This is about who and why and do you really know. I’m following along with some of yesterday’s Smoking Mirrors. The time is here now and so all of us have to take off our masks. Some of us do it willingly because we’re like Strider before he was Aragorn. We’re the real marines who have been protecting your borders. Other masks are going to be ripped off. Those are the ones employing the people who turn into red faced, martini drinking, heart attack victims and who work at destroying borders and making laws and rules that turn honesty and truth into a crime.

Yes, I’m writing a lot better. I’m allowed to now. It was a little difficult keeping all those horses in the stable, snorting, champing, not at, but for the bit, mucus frothing at the brisk hit of Spring dawning, like Madre De Christos, Bolivian flake cocaine snorted off of the ass of the most outrageous and intelligent, flexible and articulate jailbait of all time ( made illegal by those who keep it for their private stock, getting the unwilling end of it), wild, inventive, both innocent and knowing, telling you, “It don’t matter how old I am. I am definitely old enough for that and I want it and if you don’t, I’ll say you tried… with my innocent face, or… if you do, I’ll let you do it again and again and I won’t tell anyone, except for my friends and they are all prettier than me. It’s an almost lubricious, deliquescing, palm reading, hot love done in Braille in the room next to the parents that are probably listening cause they want some of that too. Yeah… it’s that good and yeah, the parents offer you money to come back and do it again but you have more important shit to take care of. That’s how the truth is for me and that’s how the truth is for some of the people I mentioned lately, so everyone should remember that the truth is the best fuck in town and yes, she swallows but she shows it to you first. It’s perfectly alright for you to feel good when she says that’s the best thing I ever tasted because, hey, it’s the truth.

All your enemies are watching it happen too and they can’t do a thing about it. Why? Because they work for the lies. The lies have all the paper; paper money, paper documents, paper dicks. What happens when you stick your paper dick into the hot mouth of truth? Our side, with the obvious moles and occasional warts and unfortunate public farts may live a life of dishonor and discredit in the fuckless wastelands of perfume toxic and unmoving pussies, being serviced by short-sheeted dicks who think great love is made by hammering the fuck out of something that already opened its legs for you and surrendered itself for it but I suspect you and they get what you both deserve. One lacking motivation and the other lacking finesse.

I know I could be set down in any street in Karachi, or even a Taliban location in the Kush and be safer than walking around Piedmont Park in Atlanta after midnight or off street wise from Sunset in Hollywood, even though I am safe in either place. People are people except when they are not. The right people know each other wherever they are. Even tigers don’t fuck with people who aren’t afraid of them. Who are these people who are not afraid of tigers? They got Lady Truth on their arm. They don’t need armies and police. They don’t need weapons. They don’t need anything. Your Bible is full of these things, even if it is all bent out of shape, you can’t conceal the truth when it’s there. She doesn’t take her clothes off for everybody. You got to win her ass and that having been done, it’s not surprising that some people will turn down everything that most people sold their asses and souls for and got the shit end of the stick in return for it. Those people get beautiful robots that can’t move; food that tastes like what it turns into and intoxicants that kill their capacity to enjoy and they pay big for the opportunity to look like they are enjoying themselves and it is exclusive.

It’s real exclusive for tens of millions of people who have physical fortunes and no physical grace. Only the few, the real marines, the truly unstruting proud have it all. They give their life away every moment and count it well spent. The rest, parade around in uniforms with medals and toast their victories that were won at the expense of another man’s life. It’s their useless, predatory life and they paid for and never even understood how much it cost or how little they got out of it.

Think about all of this the next time you pick up a magazine or a newspaper, watch TV or go to a concert. Think about this the next time you read or listen and think about what you are seeing and hearing and ask yourself if the empty vacuous crap, with the accelerated yeast infection rise, is the Wonder Bread of your tomorrow and the source of the strength in your bones. Ask yourself why you can’t dance to music with no meaning or make love to someone not even designed for or capable of the expression, while lean men with nothing can fuck better than the most expensive hooker you can buy, underneath the most ordinary man and turn him into Casanova and make him follow them around and forget he ever saw any of the women that you made everyone think was more desirable and beautiful. Lest anyone think I am demeaning women or making them an object, it’s possible, if you consider the truth an insult or don’t recognize god as your mother as well as your father, well… you probably then don’t even understand karma because that all starts with getting born by a woman and which of those women, is up to you (nudge nudge… let’s see, sexual history, capacity for love, yadda yadda). Take a look around my friends at your fine and fashionable urban environments and tell me what you see. Yeah, well… the truth is not politically correct and it’s not fair either, not the way we come to define fair, or justice or laws.

Before you consider going to bed with the truth you had better be prepared to bend over for it first because that’s how the truth will first appear, as your father coming up on your rear (rhyming feature turned off). It hurts the first time too but then it feels incredible and you got to watch that. The idea is to have it happen to you and not to have it keep happening to you because it feels good to know that you’re so wrong, over and over; “ turn me over and beg me to make you the master of my ass” but then you never can give it up. It’s far more pleasurable to deliver it to someone else, even though you are the one who gets the pain this time. That’s love baby and that’s the truth but you don’t have to bear the child either. Think about it. It’s the lies that bear the truth. It’s the lie you told her that made her pregnant with the possibility that you didn’t lie. Did you? Your children will be the evidence down to however so many generations and so forth and so on. I’m telling you more here than you will read in ten thousand volumes that will never tell you this in personal terms.

It’s all sex baby, it’s just not exactly Freud, unless, of course (heh heh, yeah, right but at least you get the funny hats). Your outrageous cosmetics are necessary and proof that lies grow more ugly each moment they are alive and so do you ( I thought I turned that feature off?) if you are presenting yourself as something other than you are. That’s why you need the night and darkness so you can look as good as you ever will and send in a proxy to play your part while you watch.

Think about this the next time you visit a real truth site. You know who they are. They tell you about what’s really happening in Pakistan and The Gulf and it doesn’t matter if one of them thinks that HAARP is a radar machine and one thinks it’s a weapon. It doesn’t matter if one gets pissed about no plane at the Pentagon and somebody else thinks it’s a missile. It doesn’t matter if they don’t like each other most of the time and compete like siblings do. It’s that children of Abraham thing. You know what I mean or you don’t.

Think about these guys when you buy a magazine, turn on a TV, buy a newspaper, some pointless piece of shit that was easier to get than the genuine article, given to you free on a real man’s sweat and blood for and on your behalf. The next time one of these people tells you they need donations …and you can imagine how that makes them feel to do it, as if they aren’t trusting enough or doing without enough to keep it real, short of the lights going out; you ask yourself whether maybe that isn’t a reasonable operating cost for you since you would be in the dark without them and I’m not talking about me, not even subliminally. As you can see, I already got a birthday present from the divine, even if it is a few days early and you’re reading the evidence of it. The truth doesn’t mean much if it can’t be communicated and my daddy gave me a bunch of new bells and whistles to put some more shimmery, even more see-through sexy dresses, on the most beautiful woman in the world… Lady Truth… because, like I say, when the truth takes off her clothes, the world disappears and there’s nothing like seeing your reflection in her eyes.

So, you make it a point now to tell everyone you see to come away from those uptown girls on Commercial Street, cause they too expensive but you know a girl who gives it away for free and she’s the best fuck in town. Now do you know the difference between a whore and a prostitute? Now do you know the difference between virtue and vice? You’ve been looking up the wrong skirts and the truth doesn’t have to shave except a little when she wants to look nice.

God have mercy on Pakistan.

End Transmission and ahrooooooooooo!!!

Jobless claims rise to highest level in 9 months

WASHINGTON – Employers appear to be laying off workers again as the economic recovery weakens. The number of people applying for unemployment benefits reached the half-million mark last week for the first time since November.

It was the third straight week that first-time jobless claims rose. The upward trend suggests the private sector may report a net loss of jobs in August for the first time this year.

Initial claims rose by 12,000 last week to 500,000, the Labor Department said Thursday.

Construction firms are letting go of more workers as the housing sector slumps and federal stimulus spending on public works projects winds down. State and local governments are also cutting jobs to close large budget gaps.

The layoffs add to growing fears that the economic recovery is slowing and the country could slip back into a recession.

"The rise in initial jobless claims over the past three weeks makes it difficult to maintain confidence in the recovery and suggests the labor market is backtracking," Ryan Sweet, an economist at Moody's Analytics, wrote in a note to clients.

Stocks tumbled on the fear of more layoffs and weak job growth. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 185 points in midday trading. Broader indexes also declined.

Jobless claims declined steadily last year from a peak of 651,000 in March 2009 as the economy recovered from the worst downturn since the 1930s. They hit a low of 427,000 in July before rising steadily over the past six weeks.

In a healthy economy, jobless claims usually drop below 400,000.

"This is obviously a disappointing number that shows ongoing weakness in the job market," said Robert Dye, senior economist at the PNC Financial Services Group.

Dye said claims showed a similar pattern in the last two recoveries, but eventually began to fall again. The current elevated level of claims is a sign employers are reluctant to hire until the rebound is well under way. That's what happened in the recoveries following the 1991 and 2001 recessions, which were dubbed "jobless recoveries."

California reported the largest increase in new claims two weeks ago, the latest data available. The state saw a jump of 4,393 in claims, due to more layoffs in services. Georgia has seen claims rise sharply for two straight weeks because of layoffs in construction and manufacturing.

The nationwide increase suggests the economy is creating even fewer jobs than in the first half of this year, when private employers added an average of about 100,000 jobs per month. That's barely enough to keep the unemployment rate from rising. The jobless rate has been stuck at 9.5 percent for two months.

Private employers added only 71,000 jobs in July. But that increase was offset by the loss of 202,000 government jobs, including 143,000 temporary census positions.

July marked the third straight month that the private sector hired cautiously. Economists are concerned that the unemployment rate will start rising again because overall economic growth has weakened significantly since the start of the year.

After growing at a 3.7 percent annual rate in the first quarter, the economy's growth slowed to 2.4 percent in the April-to-June period. Some economists forecast it will drop to as low as 1.5 percent in the second half of this year.

The four-week average, a less volatile measure, rose by 8,000 to 482,500, the highest since December.

The number of people continuing to receive benefits fell by 13,000 to 4.5 million, the department said. The continuing claims data lags initial claims by one week.

But that doesn't include millions of people receiving extended unemployment insurance, paid for by the federal government. About 5.6 million unemployed workers were on the extended unemployment benefit rolls, as of the week ending July 31, the latest data available. That's an increase of about 300,000 from the previous week.

During the recession, Congress added up to 73 extra weeks of benefits on top of the 26 weeks customarily provided by the states. The number of people on the extended rolls has increased sharply in recent weeks after Congress renewed the extended program last month. It had expired in June.


Instant View: Jobless Claims Rise More Than Expected

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly climbed to a nine-month high last week, government data showed on Thursday, yet another setback to the frail economic recovery.

KEY POINTS: * Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 12,000 to a seasonally adjusted 500,000 in the week ended August 14, the highest since mid-November, the Labor Department said. * Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast claims slipping to 476,000 from the previously reported 484,000 the prior week, which was revised up to 488,000 in Thursday's report. * The four-week average of new jobless claims, considered a better measure of underlying labor market trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, rose 8,000 to 482,500, the highest since early December. * The number of people still receiving benefits after an initial week of aid fell 13,000 to 4.48 million in the week ended August 7 from an upwardly revised 4.49 million the prior week. * Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast so-called continuing claims rising to 4.50 million from a previously reported 4.45 million.


"There's still no sign of growth there, still weighing down the economy. Until you get those jobs numbers turned around no matter how you spin this, no matter how you look at corporate earnings, it's not going to work. The economy is not recovering until you get those jobs moving in the other direction.

"If you don't want to call it a full double dip you're certainly in a flat line now. And you're not seeing any growth.

"That said, I wouldn't be surprised if they take the (stock) market higher today. I'd expect a plunge at the open but I wouldn't be surprised if we're green by 10:15 (a.m. EDT). The stock market is not a really good indicator if the economy any more. It doesn't tell you what's going on out there."


The United Nations, Impunity and War

August 19, 2010 "Periodico" -- Resolution 1929 of the United Nations Security Council on June 9, 2010 sealed the fate of imperialism.

I’m not sure how many noticed that among other absurdities, the Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon, fulfilling orders from above, committed the blunder of appointing Alvaro Uribe (when he was about to complete his mandate) as vice president of the commission to investigate the Israeli attack on the humanitarian fleet carrying essential food to the besieged population in the Gaza Strip. The attack occurred in international waters and at a considerable distance from the coast.

That decision gave Uribe, accused of war crimes, total impunity: as if a country full of mass graves of the bodies of murdered people, some with as many as 2,000 victims; and seven US military bases, plus the rest of the Colombian military bases at its service, had nothing to do with terrorism and genocide.

On the other hand, on June 10, 2010, Cuban journalist and director of the Mesa Redonda national television program Randy Alonso wrote an article entitled El llamado Gobierno Mundial se reunió en Barcelona (The so-called world government meets in Barcelona), published on the CubaDebate website. The article states:

"They arrived at the pleasant Hotel Dolce in cars with darkened windows or by helicopters.

"They were more than 100 economic, financial, political and media leaders from North America and Europe, who came for the annual meeting of the Bilderberg Club, a sort of shadow world government.”

Like Alonso, other honest writers were following the news that managed to leak out from the strange encounter. Someone much more informed than they has been on the trail of these events for many years.

"The exclusive Club, which met in Sitges, was formed in 1954 after the idea of advisor and political analyst Joseph Retinger. Its initial driving forces were US tycoon David Rockefeller, Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands and Belgian Prime Minister Paul Van Zeeland. Its founding purpose was to combat the growing ‘anti-Americanism’ that existed in Europe at the time and to confront the Soviet Union and communism that was gaining strength in the Old Continent.

"Their first meeting was held at the Hotel Bilderberg in Osterbeck, Netherlands, May 29 and 30, 1954; hence the name of the group, which has since met annually with the exception of 1976.

"There is a core of permanent members who are the 39 members of the Steering Committee, the rest are guests.

"[…] the organization demands that nobody 'gives interviews,' nor reveals anything that an individual participant has said. The essential requirement is an excellent command of English [...]; there are no translators present.

"No one knows for sure the real scope of the group. Specialists of the body say that it is no accident that it always meets shortly before the G-8 (previously G-7) and that it seeks a new world order with a single government, military, economy and ideology.

"In a Newsweek magazine article, David Rockefeller said, ‘Somebody has to take governments' place, and business seems to me to be a logical entity to do it.’

"[…] banker James P. Warburg said, 'Like it or not we shall have a world government. The only question is whether it will be achieved by consent or by conquest.’

“‘’Ten months prior, they knew the exact date of the invasion of Iraq, along with what was going to happen with the real estate bubble. With information like that you can make a lot of money in all types of markets. What we’re talking about are clubs of power and information.’

“According to analysts, one of the issues that most worries the Club is the ‘economic threat’ represented by China and its repercussions on North American and European societies.

“Some specialists have demonstrated the influence of the Club on the elite with the fact that Margaret Thatcher, Bill Clinton, Tony Blair and Barack Obama were all invited to the Club before being elected to the highest position of government in Great Britain and the United States. Obama attended their meeting in June 2008 in Virginia, five months before winning the presidency; a victory that was predicted at the 2007 meeting.”

“Despite all this secrecy, the press has revealed a few names here and there. Among those who attended the meeting in Sitges were important businesspeople such as the presidents of Fiat, Coca Cola, France Telecom, Telefónica de España, Suez, Siemens, Shell, Novartis and Airbus

“Financial and economic gurus also attended meetings such as the famous speculator George Soros; economic advisors to Obama, Paul Volcker and Larry Summers; the flamboyant British Secretary to the Treasury George Osborne; the former president of Goldman Sachs and British Petroleum, Peter Shilton […]; World Bank President Robert Zoellic; IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn; Director General of the World Trade Organization Pascal Lamy; the president of the European Central Bank, Jean Claude Trichet; the president of the European Investment Bank, Philippe Maystadt.”

Have any of our readers heard about this? Has any major outlet of the written or spoken media ever mentioned it? Is this the freedom of the press that they talk about so much in the West? Can any of them deny that these systematic meetings of the world’s most powerful financiers take place every year with the exception of the one year previously mentioned?

“The military sent some of its hawks —Randy continues—: the former Defense Secretary to Bush, Donald Rumsfeld and his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz; NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and his predecessor Jaap de Hoop Scheffer.”

“Digital technology magnate Bill Gates was the only participant who spoke to the press before the meeting. ‘I’m one of those who will be present,’ he said and added that the meeting will feature several financial debates.

“News speculators reported that the shadow powers analyzed the future of the Euro and strategies to save it, the current state of the European economy, and the trajectory of the crisis. They hoped to prolong the life of the patient using the religion of the marketplace and drastic social cuts.

“The general coordinator of the United Left, Cayo Lara, clearly defined the world that is imposed on us by the Bilderberg Club. ‘We are in an upside down world where democracies are controlled, guided and pressured by the dictatorships of the financial powers.’

“The most alarming piece of information revealed by the Spanish newspaper Público is the consensus by the members of the Club in favor of a US attack against Iran […] Remember that the Club members knew the exact date of the 2003 Iraq Invasion ten months before it happened.”

When added to all the evidence presented in recent Reflections, would it be whimsical to suggest that the war against Iran has already been decided on in the Empire’s highest circles of power? And that only an extraordinary effort by world opinion would be able to prevent war from detonating in the immediate future? Who is hiding the truth? Who is lying? Can any of the above be denied?

By Fidel Castro


The announcement that the Deepwater Horizon Well Head has been capped is being blared all across ABCNNBBCBS with headlines "oil no longer gushing into gulf." Among the more naive, it may be understood if they have the impression the problem is over (except for the cleanup) because that is the message being sold to the public.

But is it reality, or is it politics? There is no question that the Gulf Oil disaster is not going to help Democrats retain their hold on Congress come November. Senator David Vitter points out, correctly, that President Obama has a vested political interest in convincing the public that the problem is over, so that it will fade from public memory in the few months from now until the November elections.

Yes, British Petroleum and Transocean screwed up, but it was Obama's administration which failed to get the problematic US Minerals Management Service to properly exercise their job of oversight and safety inspections on the Gulf drilling rigs. MMS had been scandalized going back to 2008 for doing favors for and accepting gifts (including sexual favors) from the oil companies they were supposed to be keeping an eye on. In some cases, MMS let the oil companies fill out their own safety reports! The US Government knew what was going on and even issued a report on the problems with MMS.

Obama had over 400 days in office to do his job os getting the government to do their job, but failed in his primary task of taking care of this country, apparently too distracted with his love of Israel to pay attention to what was going on closer to home.

Obama makes a good show of rushing down to the gulf to "kick ass" and act like he is taking care of the situation, but in truth his job was to prevent such disasters from happening in the first place, not pose like a firefighter standing heroically over the wreckage after-the-fact.

In June, Thad Allen stated that the oil leak would last well into the fall election season!

Obama needs the Gulf Oil disaster to go away because it will be an election loser for the Democrats if the public is still thinking about it in November. Obama himself may be untouchable in this election because he is not running, but the public thirst for vengeance will find easy targets in Democratic candidates.

The announcement of the attempt to cap the well this last week was greeted with stunned amazement among experts (those not on BP's payroll). After all, BP had admitted back in May that the drill pipe and well casing had at least one leak 1000 feet below the blowout preventer; the reason the Top Kill procedure had failed.

CNN reported on two other potential leaks at 9,000 feet and 17,000 feet.

Back in June, video from the Remotely Operated Vehicles on the ocean floor spotted oil leaking up from fissures in the sea floor near the well.

That the drill pipe itself was destroyed in the initial methane "kick" that ignited the platform fire was underscored by the fact that two sections of the drill pipe had been jammed up inside the blowout preventer.

Common sense (and engineering) will tell you that if you have a pipe with leaks, putting a cap on one leak simply drives the oil out the other leaks. From an environmental perspective this makes no sense, because the oil is still leaking out of the well, just in a different place. Of greater concern is that the oil can flow out into the surrounding rocks the way the mud did during the failed Top Kill procedure, forming what is called a subsurface blowout. This is a huge bubble of oil inside the rock. The danger is if the bubble ruptures and the oil collected over 80 days of leakage rushed to the surface of the gulf all at once. Such a surge of oil could easily engulf and founder the surface ships.

Capping a well with known leaks below the surface really serves only one purpose, and that is to present to the media video images showing the well is capped, so that they can reassure the public the problem is over and please vote Democratic-or-you-are-just-being-a-racist.

But the hard reality being withheld from the public is that the problem is not fixed. The leak has not been stopped, it has just been moved out of sight. The camera feed of the capped well head will be shown constantly to assure Americans that all is well and lull us back to a useful torpor. No other views from around the well will be allowed.

Except that the cat is already out of the bag!

The following videos were captured from the live video feed of one of the BP ROVs. Recorded after the well cap test had begun, a test even the BP experts admit failed to generate the pressures that would signal "success" these videos clearly show what looks like oil seeping up through the ocean floor near the well head.

As you can see, while the well (or some well) appears to be capped, and looks good for Obama's political purposes, the reality is that the oil leak is not fixed, only shifted away from the well head cameras and the light of the media, where it is hoped Americans will not notice it.

Even as Obama's administration declared the crisis over and 75% of the oil already cleaned up, millions of dead fish started washing up along the coastline in the first days of August.

Evidence is starting to surface that BP has pulled a fast one and has changed the well being shown on TV.

According to documents filed by British Petroleum with the US Minerals Management Service, there are two wells in the area of the spill. The first well, Well "A", was drilled early this year, ran into troubles, and was abandoned. Then Well B was drilled, which resulted in the explosion which destroyed the Deepwater Horizon. ( There is a typo on page 10 of the MMS PDF regarding the Y coordinate for well B. The Y coordinate is correctly printed on page 3 and page 11. You will see that the dyslexic person who typed out the report switched a '1' and a '4' on page 10. Please be aware of this because otherwise it will lead to a lot of confusion!!)

I will allow a reader to explain further about which well we are currently being shown...

Click for larger image

Click for larger image

I put these simple sheets together to show people who don't have time to through my very long blog post the clear side-by-side comparisons of Well A's onscreen ROV coordinates with it's planned location in BP's Initial Exploration Plan for MC252. Under that are three different video captures of Well B spewing oil, and the Plan's coordinates for it. This should be easy enough for even people who haven't been following the story to understand.

BP's own spokeswoman, Sheila Williams, told me this in an email response denying that any work was ever done at site B:

" thank you for your email here is the response to your query

BP ‘s exploration plans for Mississippi Canyon, Block 252, references two possible well locations -- well location "A" and well location "B." But BP eventually sought and received approval to drill only one well -- a well at the "A" location referenced in the exploration plan. This one well is now known as the MC252 (or Macondo) exploratory well. The Transocean Marianas rig started drilling the MC252 exploratory well in October 2009. The Marianas rig was subsequently damaged by Hurricane Ida, so in February 2009 the Transocean Deepwater Horizon was brought in to finish the well.


Sheila Williams
BP Group Press Officer
Tel: (office) + 44 (0)2074964851
Mobile: +44 (0) 07788190449
BP International Limited. Registered office: Chertsey Road, Sunbury on Thames, Middlesex, TW16 7BP. Registered in England and Wales, number 542515. VAT Number GB 243510593."

Here are quotes from an article on the Deepwater Horizon disaster from

"The rig started drilling a well at a water depth of 5,000ft in MC block 252 in February 2010, but exploded during drilling in April 2010. The rig was on fire continuously for three days.

The well was planned to be drilled to 18,000ft, and was to be plugged and abandoned for later completion as a subsea producer.

As per the plan, the rig was supposed to be drilling the second of the two wells planned. But it faced oil spills over two fronts: one at the wellhead and another at the surface offshore. The wells are located in lease G-32306 over the prospect."

So there it is: Deepwater Horizon was drilling at the second site, and BP are lying. Ms. Williams may not have knowingly lied, she may have been told that work was only ever done at one well and that BP only received permission to drill at site A. All you have to do is look at the pictures and coordinates of Well A and Well B to see that there indeed two sites, two wells were constructed, both were leaking BP are now only showing us the nicely capped, clean Well A.

It is my theory that the giant explosion which came up from underground and surged up through the drilling rig, exploding it, was powerful enough that also damaged Well A, which is only about 120 feet away from Well B, the stricken well. There were reports that Well B's blowout preventer had been rocketed miles away from the well site by the force of the blast. So I think both took damage -- B, where Deepwater was drilling, I think is totally gone if the story of the blowout preventer is correct. I believe BP have shown us site A 99.9999% of the time so that they could go through the charade of replacing the cap on that one, which they capped in 2009 ahead of the hurricane which blew through. They accidentally left the public live feeds on the Skandi rovers a couple of times, and luckily people who didn't know what they had on their hands uploaded these to Youtube. I found them -- three videos of oil coming out from a well which BP says it never built.

Well B is still out there if what I fear is correct, still destroyed and so badly that it cannot be capped at the wellhead. And even if it could be, BP itself reported that they had found leaks in the well casing, meaning that even a successful cap on the wellhead would not stop the oil from leaking out of the shattered well casing and from the vents that have formed in the ocean floor. But we are told it does not exist, so I guess it doesn't. Even though these pictures prove the thing is out there.

Goodbye Iraq: Last US combat brigade heads home

Associated Press Writer

KHABARI CROSSING, Kuwait (AP) - A line of heavily armored American military vehicles, their headlights twinkling in the pre-dawn desert, lumbered past the barbed wire and metal gates marking the border between Iraq and Kuwait early Thursday and rolled into history.

For the troops of the 4th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, it was a moment of relief fraught with symbolism but lightened by the whoops and cheers of soldiers one step closer to going home. Seven years and five months after the U.S.-led invasion, the last American combat brigade was leaving Iraq, well ahead of President Barack Obama's Aug. 31 deadline for ending U.S. combat operations there.


EDITOR'S NOTE: The 4th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division was officially designated the last combat brigade to leave Iraq under Obama's plan to end combat operations in Iraq by Aug. 31. Associated Press writer Rebecca Santana joined the troops on their final journey out of the country.


When 18-year-old Spc. Luke Dill first rolled into Iraq as part of the U.S. invasion, his Humvee was so vulnerable to bombs that the troops lined its floor with flak jackets.

Now 25 and a staff sergeant after two tours of duty, he rode out of Iraq this week in a Stryker, an eight-wheeled behemoth encrusted with armor and add-ons to ward off grenades and other projectiles.

"It's something I'm going to be proud of for the rest of my life - the fact that I came in on the initial push and now I'm leaving with the last of the combat units," he said.

He remembered three straight days of mortar attacks outside the city of Najaf in 2003, so noisy that after the firing ended, the silence kept him awake at night. He recalled the night skies over the northern city of Mosul being lit up by tracer bullets from almost every direction.

Now, waiting for him back in Olympia, Wash., is the Harley-Davidson he purchased from one of the motorcycle company's dealerships at U.S. bases in Iraq - a vivid illustration of how embedded the American presence has become since the invasion of March 20, 2003.

That presence is far from over. Scatterings of troops still await departure, and some 50,000 will stay another year in what is designated as a noncombat role. They will carry weapons to defend themselves and accompany Iraqi troops on missions (but only if asked). Special forces will continue to help Iraqis hunt for terrorists.

So the U.S. death toll - at least 4,415 by Pentagon count as of Wednesday - may not yet be final.

The Stryker brigade, based in Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state and named for the vehicle that delivers troops into and out of battle, has lost 34 troops in Iraq. It was at the forefront of many of the fiercest battles, including operations in eastern Baghdad and Diyala province, an epicenter of the insurgency, during "the surge" of 2007. It evacuated troops at the battle of Tarmiyah, an outpost where 28 out of 34 soldiers were wounded holding off insurgents.

The U.S. military kept a tight lid on security, restricting the media embedded with the U.S. troops from reporting on the brigade's movements until they were almost to the border.

The brigade's leadership volunteered to have half of its 4,000 soldiers depart overland instead of taking the traditional flight out, a decision that allowed the unit to keep 360 Strykers in the country for an extra three weeks. The remainder of the brigade flew out with the last of the troops slated to leave later Thursday.

U.S. commanders say it was the brigade's idea to drive out, not an order from on high. The intent was to keep additional firepower handy through the "period of angst" that followed Iraq's inconclusive March 7 election, said brigade chief, Col. John Norris.

It took months of preparation to move the troops and armor across more than 500 kilometers (300 miles) of desert highway through potentially hostile territory.

The Strykers left the Baghdad area in separate convoys over a four-day period, traveling at night because the U.S.-Iraq security pact - and security worries - limit troop movements by day.

Along the way, phalanxes of American military Humvees sat at overpasses, soldiers patrolled the highways for roadside bombs, and Apache attack helicopters circled overhead as the Strykers refueled alongside the highway.

Chief Warrant Officer 3 Gus McKinney, a brigade intelligence officer, acknowledged that moving the convoys overland put soldiers at risk, but said the danger was less than in past.

The biggest threat was roadside bombs planted by Shiite extremist groups who have a strong foothold in the south, McKinney said.

But except for camels straying into the road, and breakdowns that required some vehicles to be towed, there were no incidents. The last of the Strykers rolled across the border just before 4 a.m. Thursday into Kuwait, honking their horns and waving to the small crowd gathered at the crossing.

The brigade's leadership was on hand to greet the troops after they crossed the border and pulled into a parking lot where they shed their sweaty armor and stumbled out of their Strykers.

"This is powerful. This is exciting for me. As a commander, this means that all of my soldiers are safely inside of Kuwait and getting ready to redeploy back to their families," Norris told The Associated Press.

The worst of the ride was conditions inside the Strykers - sitting for hours in a cramped space - and the temperatures outside that reached 50 Celsius (120 Fahrenheit).

The driver's compartment is called the "hellhole" because it sits over the engine and becomes almost unbearably hot. The vehicle commander and gunner can sit up in hatches to see the outside world. At the tail end are hatches for two gunners. Eight passengers - an infantry squad in combat conditions - can squeeze in the back.

Riding as a passenger felt a bit like being in a World War II-era submarine - a tight fit and no windows. The air conditioning was switched off to save fuel on the long ride south to Kuwait. Men dozed or listened to music on earphones.

Once out of Iraq, there was still work to be done. Vehicles had to be stripped of ammunition and spare tires, and eventually washed and packed for shipment home.

Meanwhile, to the north, insurgents kept up a relentless campaign against the country's institutions and security forces, killing five Iraqi government employees in roadside bombings and other attacks Wednesday. Coming a day after a suicide bomber killed 61 army recruits in central Baghdad, the latest violence highlighted the shaky reality left by the departing U.S. combat force and five months of stalemate over forming Iraq's next government.

For Dill, who reached Kuwait with an earlier convoy, the withdrawal engendered feelings of relief. His mission - to get his squad safely out of Iraq - was accomplished.

Standing alongside a hulking Stryker, his shirt stained with sweat, he acknowledged the men who weren't there to experience the day with him.

"I know that to my brothers in arms who fought and died, this day would probably mean a lot, to finally see us getting out of here," he said.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.