Wednesday, September 8, 2010

US takes steps against European-Iranian bank

WASHINGTON — The United States has slapped sanctions on a German-based bank it accuses of helping Iranian institutions involved in illicit nuclear trade.

The Treasury Department announced Tuesday that it had taken steps against Europaeisch-Iranische Handelsbank that would isolate the bank from the U.S. financial system.

Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Stuart Levey calls the bank "a key financial lifeline for Iran" and says it has provided "financial services to Iranian WMD proliferators."

The United States and Europe have been looking for further ways of pressuring Iran since the United Nations' Security Council passed international sanctions this year.

Obama’s Hopeless Speech

MagLev Train

MagLev Train | Not in America

A few days ago, I published an article named Illusions: On the US Government Biased Statistics and DARPA. Among other things it was claimed there that the US government statistics are biased - the country’s economy is just the third or fourth largest in the world – and that the US technologically lags behind other countries, except for mass-murder related technologies. Then, Pete – an American friend – sent an encouraging note and that was pretty much all of it. You can imagine my surprise when the very following day (September 6, 2010), the US President publicly answered me. In a well televised speech he claimed “We used to have the best infrastructure in the world, and we can have it again” while announcing a $50bn infrastructure plan. Truth is that a discrete email from him would have made me happier, but I don’t mind answering him publicly.

The leading line of his speech was so catchy and optimistic that I decided to check out the details. As explained in the abovementioned article, the net value of the new project is quite irrelevant. The actual plans are vastly more important; luckily, also this data was readily accessible. “Over the next six years, we are going to rebuild 150,000 miles of our roads,” “We're going to lay and maintain 4,000 miles of our railways,” and “We're going to restore 150 miles of runways” said Mr. Obama in a Milwaukee event marking the Labor Day holiday in the US. I can’t understand why he is still using Imperial Units, we are well after 1776; even the CIA uses now the metric system. Yet, in the following paragraph I’ll correct for units assuming he referred to “statute miles.”

Numbers, numbers, numbers. Often states present numbers in a way they are hard to evaluate in order to fool the masses. The President did exactly that in this case; finding the reason for this was easy. To avoid claims I am using anti-American data, all the following numbers have been extracted from the CIA website; however, I do warn my readers that those guys are master data-cooks. The USA has 6,465,799 km of roadways; Mr. Obama wants to rebuild roughly 241,400 km of them; that means 3.7% of the total. This last number is more significant than the one quoted by the President. Similarly, the country has 226,427 km of railways; now he proposed to “lay and maintain” 6437 km of them, that means 2.8%. The runways statistics are more difficult to analyze due to the nature of that environment. The US has 5194 airports with paved runways (I assume that’s what the President wants to “restore,” otherwise he would have said “build”). If assuming a modern runway is roughly 1.5 mile long, then 150 miles of runways amount to 100 runways. Assuming only one runway per airport would be restored then only 1.9% of airports would be upgraded.

MagLev Train

MagLev Train | Not in America

The new numbers are easier to grasp. The President wants to fix 3.7% of the roads, 2.8 of the railways and 1.9% of the airports. That’s a number expected of regular maintenance activities. Probably Bolivia, Nepal and Zambia invest similar proportions of work every year.

The bottom line is minor roadwork presented as a new Industrial Revolution. This was a hopeless speech reinforcing the future described in Illusions: On the US Government Biased Statistics and DARPA: the US is slowly but surely sliding into oblivion. Soon it would look as Israel: sunken in violent wars against everybody, targeting its own citizens as enemies and seen by everybody else as a terror state. MagLev Trains won’t connect LA with NY.

”Bite me!” a fat Pentagon general would probably say after reading this article. I won’t bite you, dear general, but, sooner or later, reality will.


WTC7 collapse, Hoboken

Scientists develop fuel cells powered by urine

(NaturalNews) Efforts to develop alternative, renewable forms of energy have taken a whole new direction as researchers from the University of Edinburgh's School of Engineering and Physical Sciences recently announced a strange, almost humorous, new way to develop energy. Shanwen Tao and Rong Lan, two postdoctoral chemists from the university, have developed fuel cell prototypes that they say run on urine, converting it to both electricity and clean water.

According to a Yahoo! India news report, the team's fuel cells utilize a compound in urine called urea, which is an organic chemical waste product that results when the body metabolizes protein. And unlike current hydrogen gas and methanol fuel cell technologies, both of which can be problematic to the environment, urea is non-toxic, rich in useful nitrogen and readily available for use.

Also known as carbamide, urea does not require expensive catalysts like platinum to operate, either. The team was able to develop a simple and relatively inexpensive method with which to convert urea into water, nitrogen, carbon dioxide and electricity -- all at the same time.

The "Carbamide Power System" prototype, as it is being called, has the potential to reduce waste water treatment costs as well because many municipal water systems already spend big bucks removing urea from waste water. So by integrating the technology into existing water systems for the purpose of extracting urea, the fuel cells are a win-win prospect because they have the potential to generate large amounts of electricity cheaply as well as reduce overall costs for utilities.

The project was made possible by a $203,000 grant from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, with the goal of one day utilizing urine fuel cells on remote islands and in deserts and submarines where energy can be difficult to generate. But the potential uses are limitless, if and when such technology is publicly unveiled.

Sources for this story include:

The Mother of All Lies About 9/11 Barbara Olson's "Phone Call" From Flight 77

Copyright Joe Vialls, 27 March 2002

This is a story about a little white lie that bred dozens of other little white lies, then hundreds of bigger white lies and so on, to the point where the first little white lie must be credited as the “Mother of All Lies” about events on 11 September 2001. For this was the little white lie that first activated the American psyche, generated mass loathing, and enabled media manipulation of the global population.

Without this little white lie there would have been no Arab Hijackers, no Osama Bin Laden directing operations from afar, and no “War on Terror” in Afghanistan and occupied Palestine. Clearly the lie was so clever and diabolical in nature, it must have been generated by the “Power Elite” in one of its more earthly manifestations. Perhaps it was the work of the Council on Foreign Relations, or the Trilateral Commission?

No, it was not. Though at the time the little white lie was flagged with a powerful political name, there was and remains no evidence to support the connection. Just like the corrupt and premature Lee Harvey Oswald story in 1963, there are verifiable fatal errors which ultimately prove the little white lie was solely the work of members of the media. Only they had access, and only they had the methods and means.

The little white lie was about Barbara Olson, a conservative commentator for CNN and wife of US Solicitor General Ted Olson. Now deceased, Mrs Olson is alleged to have twice called her husband from an American Airlines Flight 77 seat-telephone, before the aircraft slammed into the Pentagon. This unsubstantiated claim, reported by CNN remarkably quickly at 2.06 am EDT [0606 GMT] on September 12, was the solitary foundation on which the spurious “Hijacker” story was built.

Without the “eminent” Barbara Olson and her alleged emotional telephone calls, there would never be any proof that humans played a role in the hijack and destruction of the four aircraft that day. Lookalike claims surfaced several days later on September 16 about passenger Todd Beamer and others, but it is critically important to remember here that the Barbara Olson story was the only one on September 11 and. 12. It was beyond question the artificial “seed” that started the media snowball rolling down the hill.

And once the snowball started rolling down the hill, it artfully picked up Osama Bin Laden and a host of other “terrorists” on the way. By noon on September 12, every paid glassy-eyed media commentator in America was either spilling his guts about those “Terrible Muslim hijackers”, or liberating hitherto classified information about Osama Bin Laden. “Oh sure, it was Bin Laden,” they said blithely, oblivious to anything apart from their television appearance fees.

The deliberate little white lie was essential. Ask yourself: What would most Americans have been thinking about on September 12, if CNN had not provided this timely fiction? Would anyone anywhere have really believed the insane government story about failed Cessna pilots with box cutters taking over heavy jets, then hurling them expertly around the sky like polished Top Guns from the film of the same name? Of course not! As previously stated there would have been no Osama Bin Laden, and no “War on Terror” in Afghanistan and occupied Palestine.

This report is designed to examine the sequence of the Olson events and lay them bare for public examination. Dates and times are of crucial importance here, so if this report seems tedious try to bear with me. Before moving on to discuss the impossibility of the alleged calls, we first need to examine how CNN managed to “find out” about them, reported here in the September 12 CNN story at 2.06 am EDT:

“Barbara Olson, a conservative commentator and attorney, alerted her husband, Solicitor General Ted Olson, that the plane she was on was being hijacked Tuesday morning, Ted Olson told CNN. Shortly afterwards Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon” … “Ted Olson told CNN that his wife said all passengers and flight personnel, including the pilots, were herded to the back of the plane by armed hijackers. The only weapons she mentioned were knives and cardboard cutters. She felt nobody was in charge and asked her husband to tell the pilot what to do.”

At no point in the above report does CNN quote Ted Olson directly. If the report was authentic and 100% attributable, it would have been phrased quite differently. Instead of “Ted Olson told CNN that his wife said all passengers and flight personnel…”, the passage would read approximately:- Mr Olson told CNN, “My wife said all passengers and flight personnel…” Whoever wrote this story was certainly not in direct contact with US Solicitor General Ted Olson.

Think about it, people! If you knew or suspected your spouse’s aircraft had just fireballed inside the Pentagon building, how would you spend the rest of the day? Initially you would certainly be in deep shock and unwilling to believe the reports. Then you would start to gather your wits together, a slow process in itself. After that and depending on individual personality, you might drive over to the Pentagon on the off chance your spouse survived the horrific crash, or you might go home and wait for emergency services to bring you the inevitable bad news. As a matter of record, Ted Olson did not return to work until six days later.

About the last thing on your mind [especially if you happened to be the US Solicitor General], would be to pick up a telephone and call the CNN Atlanta news desk in order to give them a “scoop”. As a seasoned politician you would already know that all matters involving national security must first be vetted by the National Security Council. Under the extraordinary circumstances and security overkill existing on September 11, this vetting process would have taken a minimum of two days, and more likely three.

The timing of the CNN news release about Barbara Olson, is therefore as impossible as the New Zealand press release back in 1963 about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. As reported independently by Colonel Fletcher Prouty USAF (Retired), whoever set Kennedy up, accidentally launched a full international newswire biography on obscure “killer” Lee Harvey Oswald, without first taking the trouble to check his world clock.

It was still “yesterday” in New Zealand on the other side of the International Date Line when the biography was wired from New York, enabling the Christchurch Star newspaper was able to print a story about Oswald as the prime suspect in its morning edition, several hours before he was first accused of the crime by Dallas police.

If the CNN story about Ted Olson had been correct, and he really had called them about Barbara on September 11, then he would most surely have followed the telephone call up a few days later with a tasteful “one-on-one” television interview, telling the hushed and respectful interviewer about how badly he missed his wife, and about the sheer horror of it all.

There is no record of any such interview in the CNN or other archives. Indeed, if you key “Barbara Olson” into the CNN search engine, it returns only two related articles. The first is the creative invention on September 12 at 2.06 am EDT [0606 GMT], and the second is on December 12, about President Bush, who led a White House memorial that began at 8:46 a.m. EST, the moment the first hijacked plane hit the World Trade Center three months before. CNN includes this comment about Ted Olson:

“In a poignant remembrance at the Justice Department, U.S. Solicitor General Theodore Olson referred to "the sufferings we have all experienced." He made no direct reference to the death of his wife, Barbara Olson, who was a passenger aboard the American Airlines flight that crashed into the Pentagon…”

Regarding the same event, Fox News reports that, extraordinarily, Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson then said Barbara Olson's call, made "in the midst of terrible danger and turmoil swirling around her," was a "clarion call that awakened our nation's leaders to the true nature of the events of Sept. 11."

So Ted Olson avoided making any direct personal reference to the death of his wife. Clearly this was not good enough for someone somewhere. By the sixth month anniversary of the attack, Ted Olson was allegedly interviewed by London Telegraph reporter Toby Harnden, with his exclusive story “She Asked Me How To Stop The Plane” appearing in that London newspaper on March 5, thereafter renamed and syndicated around dozens of western countries as “Revenge Of The Spitfire”, finally appearing in the West Australian newspaper on Saturday March 23, 2002.

I have diligently tried to find a copy of this story in an American newspaper but have so far failed. The reasons for this rather perverse “external” publication of Ted Olson’s story are not yet clear, but it seems fair to observe that if he is ever challenged by a Senate Select Committee about the veracity of his claims, the story could not be used against him because it was published outside American sovereign territory.

Regardless of the real reason or reasons for its publication, the story seems to have matured a lot since the first decoy news release by CNN early on September 12, 2001. Here we have considerably more detail, some of which is frankly impossible. In the alleged words of US Solicitor General Theodore Olson:

“She [Barbara] had trouble getting through, because she wasn’t using her cell phone – she was using the phone in the passengers’ seats,” said Mr Olson. “I guess she didn’t have her purse, because she was calling collect, and she was trying to get through to the Department of Justice, which is never very easy.” … “She wanted to know ‘What can I tell the pilot? What can I do? How can I stop this?’ ”
"What Can I tell the pilot?" Yes indeed! The forged Barbara Olson telephone call claims that the flight deck crew were with her at the back of the aircraft, presumably politely ushered down there by the box cutter-wielding Muslim maniacs, who for some bizarre reason decided not to cut their throats on the flight deck. Have you ever heard anything quite so ridiculous?

But it is at this juncture that we finally have the terminal error. Though the American Airlines Boeing 757 is fitted with individual telephones at each seat position, they are not of the variety where you can simply pick up the handset and ask for an operator. On many aircraft you can talk from one seat to another in the aircraft free of charge, but if you wish to access the outside world you must first swipe your credit card through the telephone. By Ted Olson’s own admission, Barbara did not have a credit card with her.

It gets worse. On American Airlines there is a telephone "setup" charge of US$2.50 which can only be paid by credit card, then a US$2.50 (sometimes US$5.00) charge per minute of speech thereafter. The setup charge is the crucial element. Without paying it in advance by swiping your credit card you cannot access the external telephone network. Under these circumstances the passengers’ seat phone on a Boeing 757 is a much use as a plastic toy.

Perhaps Ted Olson made a mistake and Barbara managed to borrow a credit card from a fellow passenger? Not a chance. If Barbara had done so, once swiped through the phone, the credit card would have enabled her to call whoever she wanted to for as long as she liked, negating any requirement to call collect.

Sadly perhaps, the Olson telephone call claim is proved untrue. Any American official wishing to challenge this has only to subpoena the telephone company and Justice Department records. There will be no charge originating from American Airlines 77 to the US Solicitor General.

Even without this hard proof, the chances of meaningfully using a seat-telephone on Flight 77 were nil. We know from the intermittent glimpses of the aircraft the air traffic controllers had on the radar scopes, that Flight 77 was travelling at extreme speed at very low level, pulling high “G’ turns in the process.

Under these circumstances it would be difficult even reaching a phone, much less using it. Finally, the phones on the Boeing 757 rely on either ground cell phone towers or satellite bounce in order to maintain a stable connection. At very low altitude and extreme speed, the violent changes in aircraft attitude would render the normal telephone links completely unusable.

Exactly the same applies with United Airlines Flight 93 that crashed before reaching any targets. The aircraft was all over the place at extreme speed on radar, but as with Flight 77 we are asked to believe that the “hijackers” allowed a passenger called Todd Beamer to place a thirteen minute telephone call. Very considerate of them. The Pittsburg Channel put it this way in a story first posted at 1.38 pm EDT on September 16, 2001:

“Todd Beamer placed a call on one of the Boeing 757's on-board telephones and spoke for 13 minutes with GTE operator Lisa D. Jefferson, Beamer's wife said. He provided detailed information about the hijacking and -- after the operator told him about the morning's World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks - said he and others on the plane were planning to act against the terrorists aboard.” Note here that Mrs Lisa Beamer did not receive a telephone call from Todd personally, but was later “told” by an operator that her husband had allegedly called. Just another unfortunate media con job for the trash can.

As previously stated it is the Barbara Olson story that really counts, a view reinforced by the recent antics of the London print media. The photo at the top of this page is a copy of that printed in the West Australian newspaper. You only have to study it closely for a second to realize its full subliminal potential.

Here is a studious and obviously very honest man. The US Solicitor General sits in front of a wall lined with leather-bound volumes of Supreme Court Arguments, with a photo of his dead wife displayed prominently in front of him. Does anyone out there seriously believe that this man, a bastion of US law, would tell even a minor lie on a matter as grave as national security?

Theodore Olson’s own words indicate that he would be prepared to do rather more than that On March 21, 2002 on its page A35, the Washington Post newspaper printed an article titled “The Limits of Lying” by Jim Hoagland, who writes that a statement by Solicitor General Theodore Olson in the Supreme Court has the ring of perverse honesty.

Addressing the Supreme Court of the United States of America, US Solicitor General Theodore Olson said it is "easy to imagine an infinite number of situations . . . where government officials might quite legitimately have reasons to give false information out."

Will Americans Pay to Bailout Yet Another Foreign Bank ... in Afghanistan?

As I have repeatedly pointed out, American taxpayers have been bailing out foreign banks for years.

For example, I noted in May:

As the Wall Street Journal points out, the Federal Reserve might open up its "swap lines" again to bail out the Europeans:

The Fed is considering whether to reopen a lending program put in place during the financial crisis in which it shipped dollars overseas through foreign central banks like the European Central Bank, Swiss National Bank and Bank of England.


At a crescendo in the crisis in December 2008, the Fed had shipped $583 billion overseas in the form of these swaps.

As the BBC's Robert Peston writes:

There is talk of the ECB providing some kind of one year repo facility (where government bonds are swapped for 12-month loans) in collaboration with the US Federal Reserve.

See this for more information on swap lines.

Indeed, the Federal Reserve has been helping to bail out foreign central banks and private banks for years.

For example, $40 billion in bailout money given to AIG went to foreign banks. Indeed, even AIG's former chief said that the government used AIG "to funnel money to other Institutions, including foreign banks".

As the Telegraph wrote in September 2008:

The Fed has also just offered another $125bn of liquidity to banks outside the US that are desperate for dollars and can't access America's frozen credit markets.
Congressman Grayson said that the Fed secretly "stuffed" half a trillion dollars in foreign pockets.

(Of course, the Fed won't tell Congress or the TARP overseer - let alone the American people - who got the cash).

And as I pointed out the same month:
A Fact Sheet from the U.S. Treasury says:

Participating financial institutions must have significant operations in the U.S., unless the Secretary makes a determination, in consultation with the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, that broader eligibility is necessary to effectively stabilize financial markets.

An article from today in Politico explains

"In a change from the original proposal sent to Capitol Hill, foreign-based banks with big U.S. operations could qualify for the Treasury Department’s mortgage bailout, according to the fine print of an administration statement Saturday night."
Of course, even much of the bailout money which went to American banks ended up being shuttled abroad. As I wrote in March 2009:

Moreover, bailout money that went to Citigroup was loaned to Dubai, bailout money that went to Bank of America China was invested in China, and bailout money given to JP Morgan was invested in India.

And the government is in the process of providing billions more - along with trillions more in guarantees of worthless assets - to sovereign wealth funds and hedge funds.

So not only are Americans bailing out our own too big to fail banks, but we're bailing out foreign mega-banks as well.

Even though bailing out Europe might make sense if America was flush with cash, things are different now. As Congressmen Kucinich and Filner wrote last June:
Our country and this body cannot afford to spend American tax payer dollars to bail out private European banks.

In addition, the U.S. is - of course - also contributing tens of billions of dollars towards the Greek bailout through its contributions to the International Monetary Fund. Some allege that the U.S. will secretly help bailout of all of Europe. See this and this.

As Tyler Durden pointed out last week, the IMF has now abandoned any cap on the bailouts it gives, and the U.S. is the largest funder of the IMF.

Now, the New York Times says that the U.S. is going to bail out Afghanistan's biggest bank:

Details of the deal, including how much each government would contribute, were still being worked out on Saturday between the Central Bank of Afghanistan and the United States Treasury Department, officials said...

Top officials at Kabul Bank and a senior leader at the Central Bank declined to comment publicly on the proposed bailout, which was still being negotiated. However a manager at the Central Bank and a senior American official confirmed what the American official called an "intervention."

Not surprisingly, there have been numerous allegations of corruption at the Kabul Bank.

Update: The New York Times has updated their story with comments from U.S. Treasury officials insisting that no American money will be used to recapitalize the Kabul Bank:

"No American taxpayer funds will be used to support Kabul Bank," said Jenni LeCompte, a Treasury Department spokeswoman.

Of course, the IMF, World Bank or a foreign country could funnel the bailout moneys and then the U.S. could print more money to "repay" them later. Accounting shenanigans and under-the-table deals can work wonders to hide the truth from angry American serfs taxpayers.

Scientists develop fuel cells powered by urine

(NaturalNews) Efforts to develop alternative, renewable forms of energy have taken a whole new direction as researchers from the University of Edinburgh's School of Engineering and Physical Sciences recently announced a strange, almost humorous, new way to develop energy. Shanwen Tao and Rong Lan, two postdoctoral chemists from the university, have developed fuel cell prototypes that they say run on urine, converting it to both electricity and clean water.

According to a Yahoo! India news report, the team's fuel cells utilize a compound in urine called urea, which is an organic chemical waste product that results when the body metabolizes protein. And unlike current hydrogen gas and methanol fuel cell technologies, both of which can be problematic to the environment, urea is non-toxic, rich in useful nitrogen and readily available for use.

Also known as carbamide, urea does not require expensive catalysts like platinum to operate, either. The team was able to develop a simple and relatively inexpensive method with which to convert urea into water, nitrogen, carbon dioxide and electricity -- all at the same time.

The "Carbamide Power System" prototype, as it is being called, has the potential to reduce waste water treatment costs as well because many municipal water systems already spend big bucks removing urea from waste water. So by integrating the technology into existing water systems for the purpose of extracting urea, the fuel cells are a win-win prospect because they have the potential to generate large amounts of electricity cheaply as well as reduce overall costs for utilities.

The project was made possible by a $203,000 grant from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, with the goal of one day utilizing urine fuel cells on remote islands and in deserts and submarines where energy can be difficult to generate. But the potential uses are limitless, if and when such technology is publicly unveiled.

Sources for this story include:

Smoke from base of WTC, NBC, 9/11, 09:56

Phone call Flight93, explosion&smoke, NBC, 12:24, 9/11

Eugenics: The Real Reason for Legalized Abortion

For almost 40 years, we’ve been told that the legalization of abortion was about “reproductive freedom” and “women’s rights” and “choice.” Now, an explosive new documentary is exposing this rhetoric as nothing more than marketing hype designed to conceal a nasty hidden agenda.

With a mountain of documentation, Maafa 21, is proving to audiences all across America that the real motivation behind the legalization of abortion was eugenics and racial genocide. In just over two hours, the documentary shows that the legalization of abortion was part of a campaign that had been created, promoted, and financed by a small cartel of ultra-wealthy elitists.

Most frightening of all, Maafa 21 shows that this effort continues today with massive financial and political backing from a new generation of ultra-wealthy elitists.

Viewers are also stunned to learn that it was the American eugenics movement that gave rise to the Nazi effort to create “racial purity” and that this effort was in large measure funded with dollars from American corporations. They also learn that the first anti-abortion organizations in America were radical civil-rights groups of the 1960s whose leaders had seen that eugenics and black genocide were the driving forces behind the call for legalized abortion.

Hey Buddy, You want to Buy a Watch?

Dog Poet Transmitting…….

It is true that we should probably be more concerned with “who put the bomp in the bomp she bomp she bomp and who put the ram in the rama lama ding dong or… even more trenchantly “who wrote the book of love”. I don’t think it was these guys. Yes, the mosque at the WTC site is not at the WTC site and Zio-Nazi, Pamela Geller is not going to be played by Pam Grier in the made for TV movie but you can still watch “Machete” if you want to.

Little Georgie Sorrows; shit! I keep misspelling his name; Soros, that’s it. He gave a bunch of money to ‘the’ Human Rights watch. You won’t hear about the behind the scenes fighting between Cartier and Rolex about the rights to make the watch but you couldn’t afford one anyway. So what are you doing here? I don’t appreciate having to do this every day when you still want to know what time it is and All Along the Watchtower is not playing at a theater near you. It’s time to wake the fuck up but that’s just my version. Everybody is talking about “seven come November” and “baby needs a new pair of shoes”. Keep rolling them dice people, sooner or later you are going to get ‘snake-eyes’. September marks the fall. November is an addendum.

It’s not like we need a schedule. These things tend to repeat themselves, while weird, inexplicable shit keeps right on happening. Let’s see, major earthquake and nobody dies… okay and moving right along. Where was I? Who am I? No one will be seated during the last ten minutes of their life. Maybe Paris Hilton will break into The Wax Museum and drive an ice hammer into the head of the display dummy at the Trotsky exhibit. Yes, you can count on it getting even weirder than that. I’m in the unenviable position of having something to do with it and being one of those guys that asks, “What are all those dials for”?

Well those people from Dove; I can’t figure out if they make gourmet ice cream or bar call hand soap. I do know that the Holy War thing is ratcheting up. 0.2% of the world’s population is making war on a quarter of the population AND using a third of it to do their work for them. It’s got to be time for another Nobel Peace Prize. Yom Kippur is coming up, right inside the time zone of that critical period I was just talking about over at Reflections in a Petri Dish. Now there’s a rare event, actually linking my own work.

This constipation thing that I’ve been talking about; this waiting thing; is becoming more and more clear. There are a handful of very bad people propping up a dead system and they are doing it the way a male black widow spider goes about its mating ritual. Let’s hope they are unlucky. Of course you can’t hold something up that gains exponentially more weight as it loses value for very long so… look out below!

I don’t know what the Fox-holes are saying but I know there are no atheists in them. However there is a line of true believers that runs around the block and they are “waiting, just anticipating” (as Otis Redding might say) for their big moment in the privacy booth. They got a condom in one hand (scratch the faith angle) and a gun in the other. It was either cooze or food and cooze won.

It literally blows my mind off the hinges, or it would if there were walls and doors containing my mind. I dressed up as a suicide bomber inside my own head, some years ago, and took care of all that window dressing.

Keep cranking them out visible, remember, you’re getting $0.00 a word so it’s got to be adding up. It’s the thrill of engagement, that’s what it is. Yeah somebody told me that the future was dead but me I never believed them, I caught a seat on the inward bound and trailing the future behind me …and so it goes. You can’t pack bullshit beyond the limits of its compression. It will explode into flames and… that’s what we got. As the unreal has to grab more and more air and force it into a smaller and smaller space in order to give the semblance of real to the few bits of inert matter willing to remain, it becomes ever more explosive and combustive as it proceeds. The irony is that most people will think its confetti when it goes.

Well, I’m still trying to sell that watch idea. It only keeps time in the dead zones but that’s where all the action is. That’s where all the things you don’t want to be late for are happening; reason you need a watch. You get one of these watches and the shaved head muscle boys at the velvet ropes will be coming down in person to lead you in; just show them your wrist and tell them you’re with the color revolution. It’s either teal or puce this time. Tell them you’re with Little Georgie Sorrows.

Bo boma, banana Osama, gangbang Obama. Yeah, Rawhide!!! So it goes and t’was ever thus. Our forefathers landed on this yet to be plasticized wilderness and said, “Here is the country of my dreams. I’m going to juice it up with freedom and human rights because that is the only sure guarantee that tyranny will follow. Nobody likes the Teletubbies anyway and they are all that’s going to be left in the end.

There are many crimes against humanity and there must be a pecking order somewhere. I tend to think, ‘in your face hypocrisy’ is at the head of the line and it’s wearing the biggest watch of all. I couldn’t tell you where it’s headed because these are truly uncharted waters and I wouldn’t know a sextant from a gyroscope, except I do know what a gyroscope is. I keep seeing people like Jerry Lewis collecting money for something that I haven’t seen a single cure or benefit for yet and I see Little Georgie Sorrows giving away money. I know there’s going to be all kinds of philanthropic insanities as the hours grow shorter.

It would only stand to reason if that guy they crucified came back the way it was promised, with a kick ass persona and started right in with his biggest most self-professed followers. I don’t know how many good deeds it takes in the final hours to ward off judgment but I expect its more than any of these wonderful humanitarians possesses.

We’re just peering out of the undergrowth because the whole landscape is shaky and getting more tremulous with every moment. The sheer, ever increasing speed of it all, is breathtaking. My idea of going outside is to open the window of my office up here and stick my head out. Last night I was having one of those cosmic conversations and every time something meaningful got said there were great big peals of thunder in accompaniment. You really had to be there. It didn’t happen every time but each time it did happen it sure felt like it was part of the act.

Will Jessica Simpson and Joan Rivers get stuck in an elevator at that appointed moment? Will Barry Manilow be singing during the closing credits? When this whole thing blows there are going to be a lot of people dancing with the stars in a whole new way. I’m hoping I’ve done what I could, even if I don’t get done what I wanted to. I probably won’t be playing “Grand Theft Auto 4” when the trumpet sounds.

All you fine folk out there in the wilderness and pariah land, I want you to know that my heart is with you and if you can get here or I can get there, then one of us probably will. I’m thinking an authentic Japanese Tea House might be the right environment. There would be early morning mists shrouding the evergreens that ascend the mountain and the sound of a nightingale or a whippoorwill. Poetry and redemption will find its way to some of us in the process and I hope it finds me in that tea room, just like I said.

Give it your best shot and give it everything you got. Right now is the time to start if you’re willing and able. Hitch your wagon to a star. You’re a whole lot better than you think you are and… so it goes.

End Transmission…….

Rocks in the Stream

The New Shangri-La

Smoking Mirrors Mirror

America's Empire and Endless Wars Are Destroying the World, and Ruining Our Great Country

For more than 50 years, Washington has subscribed to the absurd notion that America can police the world with military action. All we've managed to do is bankrupt our country.

Andrew Bacevich speaks with a fairly unique mix of experience, authority, passion and wisdom in questioning our nation’s priorities: specifically our willingness to place so much of our national identity, wealth, attention, moral practice, and finally the life and blood of many thousands of our citizens and millions of those of other countries in the hands of our military. A professor of history and international relations at Boston University, Bacevich served twenty-three years in the U.S. Army, retiring with the rank of colonel. He lost his son in Iraq. A graduate of the U. S. Military Academy, he received his Ph. D. in American Diplomatic History from Princeton University. He is the author of several books, including The New American Militarism; The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism; and his newest, Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War.

McNally: Your book, Washington Rules, opens with a moment that you offer as a turning point: could you share that experience?

Bacevich: The moment occurred shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall. I was still in the army at the time. I’d spent a considerable time serving in Germany with my family, but this was the first time we visited Berlin. I wanted to visit the Brandenburg Gate, because for me, it had been for decades this quintessential symbol of international politics in our time. Late on a rainy, very cold winter night, we approached the Gate from the old East Berlin side and found young men huddled between its columns peddling bits and pieces of Soviet military gear: buttons, hats, parts of uniforms. I bought a wristwatch emblazoned with the symbol of the Soviet tank corps, which broke about two weeks later. It was all junk, and the men, who clearly were off-duty Russian soldiers, looked anything but ten feet tall.

At that moment – I’m not going to say my worldview was suddenly transformed – but certain seeds of doubt were planted. I began to wonder if I had misperceived the “other” that I was now confronting for the first time. As I considered that possibility, I began to entertain the possibility that I had misperceived many other things, and so began an intellectual journey that has continued now for about 20 years.

McNally: You set forth on a process of inquiry and self-education to learn what had been obscured to you in the past. You began this process while you were still in the military?

Bacevich: Well, I left the army maybe two years later, and that’s when the questions began to come fast and furious. I came to realize – and it’s not some startling insight – that when you exist inside of an institution, particularly an institution that has an all-encompassing role such as a religious order or the military, it’s very difficult to view that institution critically. It’s very difficult even to understand some of the assumptions that define the institution’s view of truth. It’s only when you’re able to stand apart from the institution, that critical thought becomes possible. When I left the army in 1992, the process of seeking to identify and to answer first order questions really began.

McNally: What do you mean by first order questions?

Bacevich: A couple of the first order questions that have preoccupied me: What exactly drives US policy? What makes us do what we do with regard to the rest of the world?

As a young boy growing up and as a serving officer, I generally accepted the official view that we did what we did because it was necessary to respond to external threat: that our policy in a sense was defensive and reactive. I subsequently came to believe that’s not true. We do what we do largely in response to domestic, political, economic and ideological imperatives, and the motive for US policy emerges from within; it does not come from without.

A second first order question had to do with the nature of war and the efficacy of force. I think most military professionals accept the conviction within their professions that war continues to be an effective instrument of statecraft. Despite my own service in Vietnam – which I recognized had been a disaster – I still largely subscribed to that idea. It was only after I got out of the army -- and in particular after the US embarked upon what seemed to be a never-ending series of interventions abroad, most of which failed to deliver on the promises that had justified them -- that I really began to rethink my view of war itself.

McNally: What to you is the crucial evidence that America’s approach to foreign and military policy is broken, that it doesn’t work?

Bacevich: I think that an effective approach to national security is one that will keep us safe, and that will preserve and even enhance our prosperity, thereby enabling citizens to pursue life, liberty and happiness; and it will do all that at a relatively reasonable cost. And I think it’s pretty clear, especially if we look at the post-9/11 period, that the existing approach to national security policy – what I call the Washington Rules – fails on every point. It’s not keeping us safe; it’s certainly depleting our resources; it’s not building our prosperity; and it’s costing a ton of money. The Washington Rules that I try to describe in the book originated in the immediate wake of World War II. They were expressions of a national security consensus that may well have worked at one time, but I would argue strongly that they no longer work at all. This consensus, having outlived its utility, is badly in need of being junked.

McNally: What are those rules? You say they consist of a credo and a trinity of means, right?

Bacevich: The credo asserts a claim, and out of that claim comes a demand that the United States be able to exercise certain prerogatives. The second piece of the Washington Rules I label the sacred trinity, core principles that define the way we conceive of and use our military power. The elements of the sacred trinity are the following: first of all, a demand that the United States exclusively maintain a global military presence; second, the practice of configuring US forces not to defend the country, but so that they can serve as instruments of power projection; and then finally, to combine that global presence with those global power projection capabilities to support a policy of global interventionism.

This sacred trinity is really what distinguishes the United States’ military power. The Brits at one time had a dominant battle fleet; France in the time of Napoleon had a people in arms; what we have is the sacred trinity. And, to emphasize what I think is the key point, it doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do.

McNally: You make the point that all of this consistently goes unquestioned, and that both political parties and the mainstream media begin at second and third order questions.

Bacevich: Exactly right. One of the reasons that I use religiously loaded language -- an American credo and the sacred trinity -- to describe the Washington Rules is that I think this approach to national security policy has ascended to the point that it’s kind of a quasi-religion.

Washington subscribes to these principles as a matter of faith. There is no empirical evidence to suggest that the American credo is valid or is true, but every president, up to and including President Obama, in their speeches and their language repeatedly -- in somewhat different words from one president to the next -- reaffirms the credo. And the policies pursued by the Pentagon, supported by the Congress, and largely endorsed by the mainstream media, reaffirm the elements of the sacred trinity.

McNally: Let me read a piece of Obama’s speech last December when, after the very public period of analysis, he announced that the US would send an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan. “More than any other nation, the United States of America has underwritten global security for over six decades, a time that for all its problems has seen walls come down, markets open, billions lifted from poverty, unparalleled scientific progress, advancing frontiers of human liberty. For unlike the great powers of old, we have not sought world domination. Our union was founded in resistance to oppression. We do not seek to occupy other nations; we will not claim another nation’s resources or target other people because their faith or ethnicity is different from ours. What we have fought for, what we continue to fight for is a better future for our children and grandchildren, and we believe that their lives will be better if other people’s children and grandchildren can live in freedom and access opportunity.”

To me, that very much has that sense – whether he and his speechwriters are aware of it or not – of a credo handed down, untouchable and unquestionable.

Bacevich: It is such a sanitized version of our history in the past five or six decades that it shouldn’t pass the laugh test. Yet I think it’s an excellent example of the way political leaders perpetuate the credo: Obama putting his own stamp of approval on an image of our role in the world that everybody, at least since Franklin Roosevelt, has embraced.

McNally: Again using the religious metaphor, it’s as if someone ascends to the cardinalship, and then publicly pledges allegiance to the credo that’s been handed down to them.

Bacevich: Exactly.

McNally: What are the causes, the history and the culprits? In this book, although you certainly deal with the present predicament, with Iraq and Afghanistan, you also take us back. There are characters I hadn’t read about in quite a while -- Allan Dulles, Curtis Lemay and Maxwell Taylor. How did we get here from the end of WWII?

Bacevich: I think the short version goes like this. When the national security consensus was forged in the wake of WWII and the Washington Rules came into existence, they were not entirely irrational. I think you can make a strong case that American leadership and American military power were necessary in order to try to deal with the wreckage left behind by the war, to help to rebuild the liberal democratic world in order to resist the ambitions of Joseph Stalin. But the world that existed at the end of the 1940s no longer exists today, yet people in Washington tend to act as if the world has not changed at all.

So where did things go wrong? Things went wrong when the institutions -- the Pentagon, the CIA, components of the military industrial complex -- came to value the Washington Rules because they were good for the institutions, and gradually lost sight of the extent to which adhering to this national security consensus was good or not good for the nation itself.

Let’s get specific here. In the wake of WWII, our global military presence first took shape in Western Europe and Japan, and it was probably necessary in the near term. That presence abroad contributed to our safety and our wellbeing. But fast-forward to the post-Cold War period and our increasing military presence in places like the greater Middle East. You’d have to be crazy to think that the American military presence in Saudi Arabia after the first Gulf War, in Iraq after 2003, or in Afghanistan ever since 9/11, contributes to stability and security. That presence abroad actually enhances anti-Americanism and creates greater instability, but the Pentagon, committed to the proposition that we need to maintain this global military presence, is blind to the down side.

McNally: Let’s look at the current situation in Afghanistan. You note that over the years there’s been flexibility in interpretation of the rules. For example, Kennedy comes in, reverses Eisenhower’s stance, and ends up going to Vietnam. Another example, Petraeus at one point seems absolutely against anything that would ever be considered counterinsurgency and later becomes the god of counterinsurgency. There’s flexibility with how we do what we do, but never with why.

Bacevich: Periodically in this roughly six decade long period that the book tries to evaluate, there arises a great desire to create new instruments of military power that will make that power more useable. You cite two very good examples of this tendency.

By the time we get to the end of the 1950s, the end of the Eisenhower era, Ike and those around him had pretty much concluded that war as traditionally conceived had reached a dead end, that nuclear weapons for the most part made war unusable. Eisenhower’s policy was to wave the big stick of massive retaliation to keep the Soviets from doing anything. The people that came into office with Kennedy thought that was inadequate, they wanted to make force useable. They pursued this idea under the rubric of flexible response, one of the defective ideas that put us on the road to Vietnam.

Fast forward to the Iraq war and the aftermath of the 2003 invasion, when the US, thinking that it achieved a great victory, suddenly found itself faced with an insurgency and the prospect of never-ending conflict. Now David Petraeus leads the way, but he’s not alone in trying to revive an approach to warfare that once again would make American military power useful. There is a reoccurring tendency to want to find ways to make force work.

McNally: The Founding Fathers are constantly referred to by the Right, more than the Left, as the source of direction and wisdom. Yet, as you point out, their counsel on foreign policy is absolutely the opposite of where we are now and where we’ve been for the past 50 years. Let me read a quote of yours: “We are headed towards ever greater more difficult economic times that will result in us failing in our most fundamental obligation laid out in the preamble of the Constitution which is to provide the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity. The path on which we have embarked and which we continue to pursue is very much at odds with what the founding purpose of this republic was supposed to be.”

Bacevich: To my mind, the most important word in that quote is “posterity”. The purpose of the Union is not simply to act in ways that will make you and me happy, but we are called upon to pursue a path that will also enable those who follow us to have an opportunity to pursue life, liberty, and happiness. Of course, everybody mouths that cliché, but our failure is becoming increasingly apparent, above all, in the enormous debt that we are piling up -- not entirely due to our misguided national security policy, but in part. I think that we are increasingly approaching the point where it’s going to become impossible for posterity to have the same opportunities that we have, and that is an enormously important reason to take stock of our over-militarized approach to policy.

McNally: Let me remind people: When presidents, who now love to call themselves Commander in Chief, take the oath of office, it is not to defend our shores, our geography, or even our populace, it is to defend our constitution. As you point out, Adams, Washington and others said our role is as an exemplar not as an enforcer.

Bacevich: I think, to the extent that we have a responsibility to the world, it’s time to renew that argument. Should we try to fulfill that responsibility, as we have for the past 60 years, based on expectations of what military power can do? Or is it possible that we can best serve others by demonstrating that liberal values do have value? Could fulfilling the aspirations expressed in the Declaration of Independence and in the Constitution serve at least modestly to help other peoples in other nations to take their own paths toward self-determination -- rather than acting, as we do in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, as if we know best how to determine their futures.

I find it preposterous that President Obama -- someone who I think is a tremendously smart man, someone who basically I respect -- could believe that we have the ability to create a state, create a government, create institutions across the vast cultural divide that separates Afghans from Americans.

McNally: I walked along the beach the afternoon of 9/11, shell-shocked as we all were, and I asked myself what question should we be asking now? And to me it was, “Have we done everything we could to minimize the possibilities of such terrorism?” Of course, security would be part of the answer, but much more it would be whatever we could do to isolate such terrorists as pariahs in their own society. This would be about being an exemplar, perhaps things like Marshall Plans, possibly finding a way to expand education that wouldn’t trample on culture, etc.

July 2010 was the deadliest month for the US military in Afghanistan, 66 deaths, a devastating month for Afghans, more than 270 civilians killed, 600 wounded. Rather than ask you what do you think needs to happen in Afghanistan right now, let me ask a larger question -- what exactly is the threat that the US faces from these radical violent Islamists and what strategy should the US pursue in order to deal with that threat?

Bacevich: That’s an excellent question. First of all, the threat is not Islam or Fascism; the threat is not Nazi Germany in some sort of new guise. Those sorts of notions that were frequently voiced after 9/11, and are still voiced in the more militarized quarters of the right wing, are ludicrous. Violent anti-Western Jihadism does pose a real threat, but the threat falls well short of being existential.

The notion that we should take seriously the ambitions of Osama Bin Laden to create a new caliphate, uniting the entire Islamic world under his control, is preposterous. He’s no more likely to create a new caliphate than I am to become the next pope in Rome. The threat ought to have been categorized, and today should be categorized, as a form of international criminal conspiracy: a kind of Mafia that derives a certain amount of its energy by perverting a religious tradition. And the proper response to an international criminal conspiracy is an international police effort.

Our approach -- President Bush’s approach now continued in Afghanistan by President Obama, which emphasizes invading, occupying and then trying to transform countries -- doesn’t work, costs way too much money, expends far too many American lives, and at the end of the day probably serves more than anything else to simply exacerbate the number of people who see us as infidels and occupiers.

McNally: On the response side, you say treat it as a criminal conspiracy. Countries who have done so, or even the instances where we have done so, have found some success. What should we do in terms of prevention?

Bacevich: Here I suspect I may differ from you. You mentioned things like a Marshall Plan. I’m pretty skeptical about our ability to mobilize resources in ways that can engineer positive change in the Islamic world. My belief would be that the people of the Islamic world are going to have to find their own path to reconciling their religious traditions with the demands of modernity. I don’t mean that we should turn our backs on this dilemma that they are wrestling with. Let’s have exchange programs; let’s bring young people from that part of the world to study in our universities; let’s encourage cultural exchanges. But I don’t believe that in Afghanistan or Iraq or Pakistan or Yemen, that a set of programs put together by the federal government of the US can make anything more than a marginal difference. My own view is that we need to let Islam be Islam. They are going to have to sort out their own future.

What we need to do in the interim is to insulate ourselves from any violence that the internal crisis in the Islamic world may give rise to. To my mind, the most important thing to take from 9/11 is that our federal, state and local agencies charged with defending us, failed. If you leave the front door of your house wide open every night and sooner or later somebody comes in and steals your family silver, well, certainly the crooks need to be pursued and brought to justice, but shame on you for leaving your front door open. In effect that was what the agencies responsible for aviation security had done up until 9/11.

McNally: I realize that some of the thoughts I had on 9/11 have shifted by now. For one, the America that could afford a Marshall Plan after WWII is not the one that we exist in right now.

Bacevich: I think that’s tremendously important. We don’t live in the world that existed when the Marshall Plan was enacted. In 1947 we had the money and we made the stuff that everybody else wanted to buy around the world. We now live in a world in which the Chinese have the money and everybody makes stuff that our never-ending appetite for consumption insists we need to buy -- despite the fact that it just makes us go deeper in debt.

McNally: You go much more into our hunger for consumption and our ignorance of meaning in your previous book, Limits of Power, which I highly recommend.

To return to Petraeus for a moment: You point out that when he reflected on Vietnam, he thought counterinsurgency had no future. He then he writes a reformulation of counterinsurgency and it becomes the solution. What has gone unnoticed or at least unspoken is that the whole notion of the surge is based on the recognition that victory is impossible.

Bacevich: In the wake of Vietnam, the army in particular wanted to run away from counterinsurgency as fast as it possibly could, and return to the business of conventional war. Experiences in Desert Storm in 1991 and in the second Iraq War in 2003 for a time seemed to show that the US military had figured out how to gain a quick and decisive victory. That was an illusion that the insurgencies in Iraq and now in Afghanistan have dispatched. The counterinsurgency doctrine revised by Petraeus in effect declares that there is no such thing as a military solution to conflicts like these, and certainly there is no such thing as military victory. That may not seem odd to many people, but the whole notion that victory is possible forms the basis of the military profession’s claim to have a distinct professional existence.

McNally: -- and value.

Bacevich: Because if we can’t count on the army to win the war quickly and expeditiously, then why would we ever go to war in the first place?

McNally: Right. You need to say, “Wait a minute, we have to consider the tools of soft power and other forms of engagement because military force has enormous cost -- and if it can’t ensure success…”

Bacevich: We’ve spent probably close to a trillion dollars on the Iraq war. Had we instead spent a trillion dollars elsewhere in the Islamic world promoting education programs or economic development or women’s rights, would we have gotten more for our money? Even a skeptic of soft power like me would say, I have no doubt that we would have gotten more.

McNally: In an op-ed in the New York Times, Nick Kristof wrote that at the cost of $1 million per soldier per year in Afghanistan, that same money could open 20 schools.

Based on the fact that counterinsurgency recognizes the unlikelihood of victory, I want you to respond to this statement by Obama: “The United States of America does not quit once it starts on something. You don’t quit. The American armed services does not quit, we keep at it, we persevere and together with our partners we will prevail. I am absolutely confident of that.”

Bacevich: I don’t know why he says things like that. My assumption is that politicians always place politics at the heart of what they say and do, or at least they’re surrounded by advisers who are acutely sensitive to the political considerations.

We have a president who embraced counterinsurgency in Afghanistan, and then proceeded preposterously to establish a deadline of the summer of 2011 to begin withdrawing US forces. The likelihood of being able to successfully prosecute a counterinsurgency over a period of 18 months is not very great. So the president I think, come December of 2011, when political considerations will really be moving to center stage…

McNally: It won’t be Congress he’s worried about, but his own re-election.

Bacevich: Exactly right. How the heck he is going to deal with these “we never quit”, “I know we will prevail” promises if the war is still going badly at that point? I think the President’s going to be in a real fix.

McNally: Let me quote a July article you wrote called Non Believer, in which you contrast George Bush and Barack Obama. You write: “When Bush stands before his maker he will say without fear of contradiction, ‘I did what I thought was right.’ On the other hand, when called upon to account for his presidency, honesty will prevent Obama from making a comparable claim. ‘The problems I inherited were difficult ones,’ he will say. ‘None of the choices were good ones. Things were complicated.’ The question demands to be asked, who is more deserving of contempt: the commander in chief who sends young Americans to die for a cause, however misguided, in which he sincerely believes, or the commander in chief who sends young Americans to die for a cause in which he manifestly does not believe and yet refuses to forsake?”

Bacevich: I think with the Afghanistan decision, the President was trying to finesse a set of problems. At that point, I think he wanted to spend his chips on certain domestic reform propositions: healthcare and economic stimulus. My guess is that he or those around him decided that to take on the Washington Rules would have been very difficult. Indeed it would have been.

My guess is that he decided that the more expedient course was to continue to play along with the Washington Rules in Afghanistan, to make good on his domestic reform plans, and then go back to the war. My belief is that it’s going to be too late; that having become Obama’s war, it is not something that he’s going to be able to easily back away from in 2011. Yet, if he persists in fighting Obama’s war, then many of us who supported him for the presidency in the first place are going to wonder if maybe our votes should go elsewhere.

McNally: At this point let’s turn to the deeper question: we can’t expect you to read the President’s mind, his advisers’ mind, or that of anyone who’s been in power for the last 50 years -- but what is it that keeps the Washington Rules going despite the failure in Vietnam, the fall of the Soviet Union, plus Iraq, Afghanistan, and all of the other adventures? Under Reagan, Bush Sr. and Clinton, the use of force became more frequent and less controversial. Who are they beholden to? What is the calculus that keeps them doing this when it seems to have so much downside?

Bacevich: Well, there’s a downside for the country, but the Washington Rules benefit Washington. They provide enormous profit for the military industrial complex. Out of those profits come campaign contributions to members of Congress, who are always worried about reelection. They justify the budget of the Pentagon and the intelligence community; they provide a source of prerogatives for institutions and for people; they allow ambitious military officers and senior officials to believe that they are engaged in important and historic events; and they create the rush that I think so many journalists seek; nobody gets more excited about war than the press.

McNally: They love their pictures in a war zone.

Bacevich: The Washington Rules persist partly because we the people are conditioned to think that there are no alternatives, and therefore we’ve lost our ability to think critically. But more importantly, they persist because they deliver a variety of goods to Washington itself.

McNally: Finally, if you could look back from from a decade in the future – It’s 2020, did the US turn things around in this regard? And if your answer is no, what were some of the consequences; if your answer is yes, how did we do it?

Bacevich: My guess is that we will not have turned it around. The only way that we will is if the American people become truly cognizant of the negative effects of persisting in the Washington Rules. Effectively the volunteer army means that most of us don’t really share in the service and sacrifice of perpetual war. The fact that wars are funded through deficit spending means that we don’t even feel them in our pocket book. If there is some further economic calamity, or -- and I obviously don’t want this to happen -- if there is some further 9/11 style calamity, perhaps that would jolt Americans into a recognition that something is fundamentally amiss and something needs to change. My guess, however, is that it’s not all that likely.

Pentagon Ignores Staff Child Porn

'The US Department of Defense has reportedly refused to investigate hundreds of purchases of child pornography by its personnel. According to documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, the Pentagon identified over 260 employees who purchased child porn in 2006, The Upshot news blog reported on Friday.

The purchases were uncovered in a larger civilian investigation conducted by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE). An investigative arm of the United States Department of Defense then cross-checked the names against military databases to generate the list of Defense Department employees.'

US dollar falls into 83 yen range in Tokyo

The dollar fell into the 83 yen range in Tokyo on Tuesday, as investors bought the relatively safer yen due to rekindled concern over the prospects of the world economy.

The dollar at one point plunged to 83.73 yen -- a 15-year-low in Tokyo.

At 5 PM, the US currency changed hands at 83. 89-to-90 yen, down 0.26 yen from the same time on Monday.

The euro also slipped to 107.31-35 yen, 1.23 yen lower than Monday's rate. The single European currency traded at 1.2792-94 dollars.

Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda has stressed that the government will not hesitate to intervene in the money
market if the yen advances too sharply.

Noda called the yen's advance an obviously one-sided move, and said it would affect corporate earnings, employment at small and mid-sized companies and could cause industrial hollowing. He said the ministry will
monitor the market's moves with grave concern and take firm steps when necessary.

He said the government is working hard in tandem with the central bank, whose policy board on Tuesday also
pledged to take necessary steps at the right time.


America has many unsung heroes, some we remember, others are forgotten. One of the latter died this week, a man who helped to try bring ‘change’ to America before it became ‘official policy’.

Marc Emery to be locked up for 5 years in Seattle: Prosecuter agrees American Marijuana laws are dangerous and wrong

I don’t smoke pot. And I pretty much think people who do are idiots.

This certainly includes Marc Emery, the self-styled “Prince of Pot” from Canada whom I indicted in 2005 for peddling marijuana seeds to every man, woman and child with an envelope and a stamp. Emery recently pleaded guilty and will be sentenced this month in Seattle, where he faces five years in federal prison. If changing U.S. marijuana policy was ever Emery’s goal, the best that can be said is that he took the wrong path.

As Emery’s prosecutor and a former federal law-enforcement official, however, I’m not afraid to say out loud what most of my former colleagues know is true: Our marijuana policy is dangerous and wrong and should be changed through the legislative process to better protect the public safety.

More can be read here:

Analysis: Taser-related deaths in US accelerating

The rate of deaths in Taser-related incidents is rising as police forces increasingly adapt the conducted energy weapons, a Raw Story analysis finds.

A 2008 report (PDF) from Amnesty International found 351 Taser-related deaths in the US between June, 2001 and August, 2008, a rate of just slightly above four deaths per month.

A database of Taser-related deaths maintained at the African-American issues blog Electronic Village counts 96 deaths related to the use of Tasers since January, 2009.

Assuming the statistics are correct, that indicates the death rate has increased to an average of five per month.

Electronic Village counts the 96th Taser-linked death as being that of Adam Colliers, a 25-year-old resident of Snohomish County, Washington, who was reportedly "running up and down" a street and causing a disturbance when he was Tased by two officers. He stopped breathing shortly afterwards, and was pronounced dead in hospital a short while later.

Story continues below...
It was the second Taser-related death, and the fifth death in a police encounter, in the Seattle area over the past week.

Truth Not Tasers, which maintains an extensive list of deaths linked to conducted energy weapons going back to the 1980s, says Colliers is the 507th person in the US to die in incidents linked to the weapons.

Electronic Village reports that Tasers "are now deployed in law enforcement agencies in 29 of the 33 largest US cities."

But, the blog notes, "the tide may be turning."

As taser-related deaths and injuries have continued to rise (as well as the amount of Taser litigation), many departments are starting to abandon the weapon in favor of other means of suspect control. Currently, Memphis, Tennessee, San Francisco, California, and Las Vegas, Nevada have opted to ban the use of tasers by law enforcement. Additionally, a federal court has ruled (PDF) that the pain inflicted by the taser gun constitutes excessive force by law enforcement. The courts don't want police to electrocute people with their tasers unless they pose an immediate threat.
Amnesty International notes that efforts to determine the lethality of Tasers are being frustrated by the weapon's manufacturer, Taser International.

"Medical studies so far on the effects of Tasers have either been limited in scope or unduly influenced by the weapons' primary manufacturer," the group states.

"Given the unresolved safety concerns, Amnesty International recommends that police departments either suspend the use of Tasers and stun guns pending further safety research or limit their use to situations where officers would otherwise be justified in resorting to firearms," Amnesty says.

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Peter Grainger Today 10:27 AM

A new Taser International Training Bulletin was quietly released on May 1, 2010 on its website. The language in the new bulletin is much stronger; the meaning more overt, but it is proof positive that for the first time the company is admitting its electronic guns can cause deadly cardiac and metabolic effects.

This is ironic and contradictory, considering the company spent ten days trying to discredit Judge Thomas Braidwood who made the same conclusion in his Inquiry Commission report in Vancouver, Canada. How can TI justify wasting Canadian court time and subverting our system of accountability, while at the same time they are telling their trainers and other insiders that the weapons are more dangerous than they ever admitted before?

How can our police justify the continued use of the devices when they compare what they were told by TI a decade ago, with what the manufacturer now recognizes as very real risks to human health and what could now carry considerable legal liability, if nothing is done to acknowledge this new development?

This new Bulletin goes further than last fall's warning about the avoidance of chest shots. TI said then, that they simply did this, so officers could "avoid the controversy" of having to try to explain why a suspect dies in a Taser-related incident. The controversy was that it can't be proven if their weapons contribute to fatal cardiac events, not that people actually DO die because of Taser shocks. That is a subtle but crucial difference.

The new Training Bulletin is currently on TI's website, although acquiring the details is difficult. It is buried in a 458 Megabyte document! It takes 35-minutes to download! The salient points can be found in the Cardiac section on pages 22 to 30, in the powerpoint presentation on the X-26 model.

Here are some direct quotes I have pulled out from the Bulletin`s powerpoint presentation:

"The risk of an ECD application having a negative effect on a person's heart rate and/or rhythm is not zero." (In other words, cardiac capture CAN happen)

"The risk of an ECD causing cardiac arrest in humans from VENTRICULAR FIBRILLATION is sufficiently remote that making accurate estimates is very difficult."

(Thus, though rare, VF can happen from ECD strikes-- something TI has denied until now)

"Experts have indentified heart-to-dart distance as being a key determining factor in whether an ECD can affect the heart."

(Darts landing closer to the heart can affect it-- possibly adversely!)

"The further an ECD dart is away from the heart, the lower the risk of affecting the heart."

(Again, an admittance that the heart can be affected adversely)

"When possbile avoiding chest shots with ECDs reduces the risk of affecting the heart and avoids the controversy about whether ECDs do or do not affect the human heart."

(Last Fall's red-herring warning about 'controversy' aside, it is now implicit that if you avoid chest shots, you will reduce cardiac dangers.)

"The available human data directly contradicts animal studies and does not reveal evidence of breathing impairment or respiratory acidosis."

(Another bit of trickery-- the 'available human data' is biased-- taken from TI's own paid researchers, while the ``animal studies`` (pig studies from Kumar at Uof T and Walters at Cook County Trauma Centre) are derived independently. Also, what about metabolic acidosis? That is conveniently side-stepped).

"The ECD can produce physiologic or metabolic effects."

(Like the aforementioned concern of metabolic acidosis, this is an admittance that lower PH levels in the blood from Taser shocks, can cause the muscles in the chest to stop working-- which can lead to heart failure. The frequency of the Taser waveform causes 'fibrillation', which produces lactic acid, which floods the bloodstream, leading to acidosis, which can be deadly, especially with prolonged 'applications').

"Reasonable effort should be made to minimize the number of ECD exposure and resulting physiologic and metabolic effects."

(That`s because there are consequences of the number and duration of stuns, causing serious and possibly deadly changes to body chemistry; in early promotional material, Taser said, "The rapid work cycle instantly depletes the attacker's blood sugar level by converting it to lactic acid..." That IS metabolic acidosis, something TI later claimed to be impossible. It now appears they have changed their tune again. They didn't pull one vial of blood for acidosis testing with the one pig and five dogs tested before they went to market with the M-26).

"ECD use has not been scientifically tested on pregnant women, the infirm, the elderly, small children and low body-mass index (BMI) persons, ECD Use on these individuals could increase the risk of death or serious injury."

(That risk of death is mentioned again; this warning is a far cry from the company's first promotional material that said Tasers are "non-lethal, with the stopping power of a .38... safe to use... on any attacker").

"Any physiologic or metabolic change may cause or contribute to death or serious injury."

(A chicken-or-egg scenario-- if deadly metabolic change is brought on by Taser shocks, is it the weapons or the metabolic changes that may lead to serious injury or death? IE: It wasn't the snake that killed the man-- it was the effects of venom).

Also in the SAFETY fine print, some oxymorons, and 'washing-of-hands' of liability:

"Disregarding this information could result in death or serious injury..."

(And yet...)

"These warnings are state of the art but cannot address all possible ECD application circumstances or permutations." (User beware!)

"These warnings do not create a standard for care."

"Law enforcement agencies are force tools experts and are solely responsible for their own guidance... Taser has no power or authority to mandate or require guidance, set policy, require training or establish standards of care or conduct."

(Use at your own risk... and the risk of endangering anyone you use it on)

``Incapacitation involves risks that a person may get hurt or die.``

(So Taser stuns can kill!)

``The signal word WARNING indicates a hazardous situation which, if not avoided or heeded, could result in death or serious injury.``

(That seems plain enough)

``The ECD can produce physiologic or metabolic effects, which include changes in: acidosis, adrenergic states, blood pressure... heart rate and rhythm...``

``Risks of severe acidosis & cardiac arrest may exist prior to, during or after law enforcement intervention or ECD use.``

(A bolder admittance-- again in the fine print-- there are risks of cardiac arrest during ECD use... and of course acidosis is generally a delayed response to shock, not instantaneous...)

``Recommend all Phasor ECD users conduct their own research, analysis and evaluation.``

(Above is my personal favorite from page 8 of the X-26 Powerpoint found in the new Training Manual. It is a real cop-out-- as one would think the manufacturer would have conducted all neccessary research before the devices were marketed, and that the user shouldn`t be expected to conduct the research! Verify safety claims-- sure-- but actually DO the research?).

Witness - The Colony

Gawker: Mosque Protesters Now Pointing Old, Rented Missiles at Park51

Fast Company’s Mark Borden tweets this terrifying photo of a rented, decommissioned missile that “Ground Zero” “Mosque” protesters are driving around the proposed Islamic community center site today, and perhaps indefinitely. Take that, “productive interfaith dialogue” prospects!

Osama bin Laden:

A dead nemesis perpetuated by the US government
Osama bin Laden is dead. The news first came from sources in Afghanistan and Pakistan almost six months ago: the fugitive died in December [2001] and was buried in the mountains of southeast Afghanistan. Pakistan's president, Pervez Musharraf, echoed the information. The remnants of Osama's gang, however, have mostly stayed silent, either to keep Osama's ghost alive or because they have no means of communication. Click for full sized image
With an ego the size of Mount Everest, Osama bin Laden would not have, could not have, remained silent for so long if he were still alive. He always liked to take credit even for things he had nothing to do with. Would he remain silent for nine months and not trumpet his own survival? [New York Times. July 11, 2002]

FOX News Report: Bin Laden Already Dead

Usama bin Laden has died a peaceful death due to an untreated lung complication, the Pakistan Observer reported, citing a Taliban leader who allegedly attended the funeral of the Al Qaeda leader.

[Fox News. December 26, 2001]

Bin Laden has often been reported to be in poor health. Some accounts claim that he is suffering from Hepatitis C, and can expect to live for only two more years. According to Le Figaro, last year [2000] he ordered a mobile dialysis machine to be delivered to his base at Kandahar in Afghanistan. [Guardian]

Peter Bergen: Bin Laden has aged 'enormously'

This is a man who was clearly not well. I mean, as you see from these pictures here, he's really, by December [2001] he's looking pretty terrible.

Bin Laden December 27, 2001 video

Healthy bin Laden

But by December, of course, that tape that was aired then, he's barely moving the left side of his body. So he's clearly got diabetes. He has low blood pressure. He's got a wound in his foot. He's apparently got dialysis ... for kidney problems. [CNN]

The [December 27, 2001 video] was dismissed by the Bush administration ... as sick propaganda possibly designed to mask the fact the al-Qa'eda leader was already dead. "He could have made the video and then ordered that it be released in the event of his death," said one White House aide. [Telegraph]

Pakistan's Musharraf: Bin Laden probably dead

Pakistan's president says he thinks Osama bin Laden is most likely dead because the suspected terrorist has been unable to get treatment for his kidney disease.

[A Bush administration official] said U.S. intelligence is that bin Laden needs dialysis every three days and "it is fairly obvious that that could be an issue when you are running from place to place, and facing the idea of needing to generate electricity in a mountain hideout." [CNN]

Renal dialysis -- talking about hemodialysis -- is something that really is reserved for patients in end-stage renal failure. That means their kidneys have just completely shut down. The most common cause of something like that would be something like diabetes and hypertension. Once that's happened, if you're separated from your dialysis machine -- and incidentally, dialysis machines require electricity, they're going to require clean water, they're going to require a sterile setting -- infection is a huge risk with that. If you don't have all those things and a functioning dialysis machine, it's unlikely that you'd survive beyond several days or a week at the most. [CNN]

Karzai: bin Laden 'probably' dead

Osama bin Laden is "probably" dead, but former Taliban leader Mullah Omar is alive, Afghan President Hamid Karzai has said. [CNN]

FBI: Bin Laden 'probably' dead

The US Federal Bureau of Investigation's counter-terrorism chief, Dale Watson, says he thinks Osama bin Laden is "probably" dead. [BBC]

Magazine runs what it calls bin Laden's will

The editor-in-chief of a London-based Arab news magazine said a purported will it published Saturday was written late last year [2001] by Osama bin Laden, and shows "he's dying or he's going to die soon." [CNN]

Usama bin Laden has died a peaceful death due to an untreated lung complication, the Pakistan Observer reported, citing a Taliban leader who allegedly attended the funeral of the Al Qaeda leader. "The Coalition troops are engaged in a mad search operation but they would never be able to fulfill their cherished goal of getting Usama alive or dead," the source said. [FOX News]

Translation of Funeral Article in Egyptian Paper:
al-Wafd, Wednesday, December 26, 2001 Vol 15 No 4633

News of Bin Laden's Death and Funeral 10 days ago

A prominent official in the Afghan Taleban movement announced yesterday the death of Osama bin Laden, the chief of al-Qa'da organization, stating that binLaden suffered serious complications in the lungs and died a natural and quiet death. [Welfare State]

Osama bin who?

Israel does not view bin Laden as a threat. [Janes]

Israeli intelligence: Bin Laden is dead, heir has been chosen

Israeli sources said Israel and the United States assess that Bin Laden probably died in the U.S. military campaign in Afghanistan in December. They said the emergence of new messages by Bin Laden are probably fabrications, Middle East Newsline reported. [World Tribune]

[See also The Fake bin Laden Audio Tape]

[See also Benazir Bhutto says Osama is dead.]

When you hear a threat which is "probably" made by bin Laden, just remember that he's "probably" dead.

Also think about who benefits from your believing he's alive.

"Osama bin Laden"

Fitter than ever in 2004