The Pentagon unveiled a 2013 budget plan that would cut $487billion in spending over the next decade by eliminating nearly 100,000 ground troops, mothballing ships and trimming air squadrons in a bid to create a smaller, agile force with a new strategic focus. The funding request, which includes painful cuts that will be felt across the country, comes at a historic turning point for the military as it winds down 10 years of war in Afghanistan and Iraq and shifts its strategic focus to the Asia-Pacific region and the Middle East. The budget plan, sharply criticized by some lawmakers, sets the stage for a new struggle between President Barack Obama's administration and Congress over how much the Pentagon should spend on national security as the country tries to curb its trillion-dollar budget deficits. "Make no mistake, the savings that we are proposing will impact 50 states and many districts, congressional districts across America," Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told a news conference at the Pentagon on Thursday. "This will be a test of whether reducing the deficit is about talk or action." Panetta, previewing a budget to be made public February 13, said he would ask for a $525 billion base budget for the 2013 fiscal year, the first time since the September 11, 2001, attacks that the Pentagon has asked for less than the previous year. Panetta said he would seek $88.4 billion to support overseas combat operations, primarily in Afghanistan, down from $115 billion in 2012 largely due to the end of the war in Iraq and the withdrawal of US forces there at the end of last year.
The casino company run by the principal financial backer of Newt Gingrich's presidential bid, Sheldon Adelson, has been under criminal investigation for the last year by the Department of Justice and the Securities Exchange Commission for alleged bribery of foreign officials, according to corporate documents. In a separate civil lawsuit, a former executive of the company has alleged that Adelson ordered him to keep quiet about sensitive issues at the Sands casinos on the Chinese Island of Macau, including the casinos' alleged "involvement with Chinese organized crime groups, known as Triads, connected to the junket business." The triads, Chinese organized crime syndicates, are allegedly involved in organizing high stakes gambling junkets for wealthy Chinese travelers. In its filings with the SEC, Adelson's company says it became aware of the investigation in February 2011, when it received a subpoena from the SEC requesting "documents relating to its compliance with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act." The company said it "intends to cooperate with the investigation," which it said may have been triggered by the allegations in the lawsuit by Steven C. Jacobs, a former Sands executive who says he helped run the Macau operation. The federal investigation was first reported last year by Las Vegas newspapers and the financial press.
Iran is unlikely to move towards building a nuclear weapon in 2012, because it cannot yet produce enough weapon-grade uranium and is being deterred by sanctions and the prospect of an Israeli attack, according to a draft report by the Institute for Science and International Security (Isis). The report by the Institute founded by nuclear expert David Albright offers a more temperate view of Iran's nuclear program than some of the heated rhetoric that has surfaced since the United States and its allies stepped up sanctions on Teheran. The Isis analysis is revealed after a prediction that Israel will attack Iran in 2012 to try and stop any nuclear bomb program. "Iran is unlikely to decide to dash toward making nuclear weapons as long as its uranium enrichment capability remains as limited as it is today," the report said. The US and Iran are engaged in a war of words over sanctions, with Tehran threatening to retaliate by blocking oil shipping traffic through the Strait of Hormuz. The United States has said it will not allow that to happen. There are concerns the situation might spiral into a military confrontation that neither side wants. The Isis report, financed by a grant from the United States Institute of Peace, says Iran had not made a decision to build a nuclear bomb. USIP is an independent, non-partisan center created by the US Congress in 1984 that receives federal government funding. "Iran is unlikely to break out in 2012, in great part because it is deterred from doing so," says the Isis report, which has not yet been publicly released.
The United States is no longer the shining light leading the rest of the world in regards to freedom and liberty. The President signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) under the radar late on New Years Eve of 2011. The new law takes away American basic constitutional rights. The new law now in effect robs all Americans of our due process of law, which nullifies many principles and rights afforded all Americans in our Constitution and Bill of Rights guaranteed by our Founding Fathers. These rights were given to us by our founding fathers, and many Americans have given their lives to protect these basic and fundamental rights. President Obama has just stated a policy that he can have any American citizen killed without any charge, without any review, except his own. If he is satisfied that you are a terrorist, he says that he can kill you anywhere in the world, including on American soil, anywhere in the United States. Americans can be arrested and taken to jail without the right of a phone call, right to a lawyer, and without being charged with any crime. With this new law in place, law enforcement can break down your door at your home without warrant, and take you and any member of your family into custody, whisking you off to jail without any charge. He can imprison you in a foreign country and keep you locked up forever, totally without any due process. By this law, enforcement is granted the right to torture American citizens without charge, creating a Guantanamo Prison Style detention for anyone deemed a threat by American authorities. This new law explicitly creates a police state in America.
The obsession of the American foreign policy community, as well as most American and a good many international politicians, by the myth of Iran's "existential" threat to Israel, brings the world steadily closer to another war in the Middle East. The debate over Iran takes for granted that the country soon will have nuclear weapons and would use them. The debate back in 2002-03 over Saddam Hussein's alleged possession of nuclear weapons did the same. After the United States had gone to war against Iraq, no such weapons were found to exist. The actual winner of the war that followed the American invasion of Iraq was Israel, which saw Iraq, its principal regional rival destroyed at no cost to itself. The military victor of the war, but politico-strategic loser, was the United States, which destroyed Iraq, a country in no position to harm the United States, at a trillion-dollar cost, enormous human suffering and waste, and the effective transfer of Iraq to Iran's zone of military and strategic influence. The present debate over Iran's nuclear program, like the pre-2003 debate concerning Iraq's nonexistent WMD program, has never extended to the most important question in the matter: What difference would it make if Iran did have nuclear weapons? What would it do with them, considering the nuclear deterrent force possessed by Israel, generally thought to be the fifth or sixth largest nuclear power in the world? Between the start of the nuclear era to the end of the Cold War, tens if not thousands of earnest scholars, strategists, pacifist activists, journalistic commentators, politicians and prospective victims of nuclear war brooded over how nuclear weapons might be used in war. They cannot stop aggression, but they will exact a serious penalty for it!
Speaking to state television, Mr Ahmadinejad declared: "Once our trade with Europe was around 90 percent, but now it has reached to 10 percent, and we are NOT seeking this 10 percent. Experience has shown that the Iranian nation will NOT be hurt." "For the past 30 years the Americans have not been buying oil from us. Our central bank has no relations with you," he added. Mr Ahmadinejad however reiterated that the Islamic republic is ready to sit down with world powers for talks on its nuclear program. "They have this excuse that Iran is dodging negotiations, while this is not the case," he said. "Why should we run away from the negotiations?" The EU voted on Monday to ban new oil contracts, and to end existing contracts by July 1. Iran has threatened to to retaliate by blocking the Strait of Hormuz, the main export route for supplies of about 17mbpd from the Middle East. On Sunday, the HMS Argyll was part of a flotilla of warships that entered the Strait. Meanwhile a draft report by the Institute for Science and International Security said Iran is unlikely to move toward building a nuclear weapon this year because it does not yet have the capability to produce enough weapon-grade uranium. The report by the institute founded by nuclear expert David Albright offered a more temperate view of Iran's nuclear program than some of the heated rhetoric that has surfaced since the United States and its allies stepped up sanctions on Tehran.
When Patty Tegeler looks out the window of her home overlooking the Appalachian Mountains in southwestern Virginia, she sees trouble on the horizon. 'In an instant, anything can happen,' she told Reuters. 'And I firmly believe that you have to be prepared.' Ms Tegeler is among a growing subculture of Americans who refer to themselves informally as 'preppers.' Some are driven by fear of imminent societal collapse, others are worried about terrorism, and many have a vague concern that an escalating series of natural disasters is leading to some type of environmental cataclysm. They are following in the footsteps of hippies in the 1960s who set up communes to separate themselves from what they saw as a materialistic society, and the survivalists in the 1990s who were hoping to escape the dictates of what they perceived as an increasingly secular and oppressive government. Preppers, though are worried about no government. Ms Tegeler, 57, has turned her home in rural Virginia into a 'survival center,' complete with a large generator, portable heaters, water tanks, and a two-year supply of freeze-dried food that her sister recently gave her as a birthday present. She says that in case of emergency, she could survive indefinitely in her home, and she thinks that emergency could come soon. 'I think this economy is about to fall apart,' she said. A wide range of vendors market products to preppers, mainly online. They sell everything from water tanks to guns to survival skills. Conservative talk radio host Glenn Beck seems to preach preppers' message when he tells listeners: 'It's never too late to prepare for the end of the world as we know it.'
Nat Rothschild, one of Britain's wealthiest men, has launched a High Court action after he was accused of being the "puppet-master" behind a controversial deal involving Lord Mandelson and the Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska. Billionaire financier Mr Rothschild, 40, who is now based in Switzerland, is demanding "very substantial" damages after a story appeared in the Daily Mail in May 2010, accusing him of arranging a meeting at which a $500 million aluminium deal was struck. According to the article, Mr Rothschild, who was educated at Eton and Oxford and is heir to to the Rothschild banking dynasty, deliberately used Lord Mandelson in order to impress Mr Deripaska. Mr Rothschild's counsel, Hugh Tomlinson QC, said the story was extremely damaging to his client's reputation as a leading figure in the business world. He told the judge, Mr Justice Tugendhat, who was hearing the case at London's High Court without a jury, that while Lord Mandelson had been the main focus of the article, it portrayed Mr Rothschild in a very negative light. The suggestion was, he explained, that his client had acted as a kind of "puppet-master" who deliberately engineered a meeting at a Moscow restaurant in order to help the deal to go through.
Singer Tolis Voskopoulos and retired basketball player Michael Misounof among 4,000 citizens identified. Prospects of Greece securing a debt deal that might save the eurozone from further turmoil were eclipsed on Monday by the news that some of the nation's leading celebrities have been hoodwinking the taxman for years. As the world frets over the country's increasingly unmanageable debt burden, the finance ministry has revealed that 4,151 Greeks owe C14.nbn to the state, more tha the C14.5bn bond repayment Athens has to make in March. The list includes the singer Tolis Voskopoulos, a former basketball star, Michael Misounof and high-profile entrepreneurs, many of them behind bars. Fifteen offenders owed more than C100m each in back taxes with one man, an accountant serving several life sentences, owing C952m. Greece is estimated to have lost about C15bn in unpaid taxes according to an EU report released in November. The nearly C152bn owed by those named and shamed on Monday is the equivalent of 0.7% of the country's gross economic output. The dodgers had gone to extraordinary lengths to hide earnings, often stashing their money in offshore accounts. Tax evasion is seen as the single biggest drain on revenues with EU and IMF officials, blaming the country's missed budget targets on this dodge. With ordinary citizens hard hit by rising inflation, deepening recession and repeated wage and pension cuts, Athens' ten-week-old interim government has moved speedily to prosecute tax evaders with culprits being arrested and charged for the first time. "It is no longer easy to be a tax evader in Greece," said George Pagoulatus, a senior adviser to prime minister Lucas Papademos.
Tony Hayward, the former chief executive of BP, has been accused of giving untruthful evidence to US Congress, by plaintiffs suing for damages over the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. In court filings, lawyers argue that Mr Hayward "at best, has a unique view of the truth", citing his congressional testimony from June 2010, in which they claim he was untruthful over the the scope of BP's internal investigation into the disaster. The allegations were made in response to BP's attempts to preclude parts of Mr Hayward's deposition, when he was questioned by the plaintiff's lawyers in preparation for the court case, from being used in evidence at the trial on the grounds that he was asked "improper questions". In a 'motion in limine', BP's lawyers argue that Mr Hayward faced "questions posed in bad faith or aimed at unreasonably annoying, embarrassing, or oppressing the deponent and queries seeking opinions and conclusions about BP's legal responsibilities". Lawyers for the claimants responded with the allegations that Mr Hayward had been untruthful before Congress, claiming it was therefore "proper to question his veracity". BP said some of the issues raised in the deposition had been consistent with official investigations. Mr Hayward declined to comment.
Ron Paul, among Republican Party Candidates for the 2012 US Presidential elections, is the American for real change. Reminding the world of virtues that had made the USA a model for the world in yester years. Like many Great Americans, he is honest, brave, smart, honorable, generous and futuristic. Ron Paul, a suave politician reminds folks of the American Revolutionary Spirit of 1776. Of the courage to stand up for truth, challenging conventional wisdom and chiseling a pragmatic road map for the future. Cognizant of the fact that a Neo-con led decade of 2000-2010 had ruined America, he advocates Neo atonement and redemption. As a patriotic American, he knows the good hearted people of our USA were again being led astray by the pied pipers cabal of Globalists, Military-Industrial Complex and Neo-con remnants. This time the issue is more serious than declining at home and being over stretched abroad. If the War Lobby-cum Globalists have their way, they may drive our USA into a World War, as a Ron Paul supporter, Benton exclaimed. 'We need another armed conflict, like we need a hole in our heads!' Attacking Iran or Pakistan will be, as Julius Caesar once said: "Crossing the Rubicon". Putin had earlier reportedly told his Generals: "Prepare for Armageddon!" Now, after alleged interference from the west in Russian Politics has been termed as 'an act of war' by some Moscow Quarters. The Chinese Navy was recently put on high alert by Beijing. Russia-China had coordinated their stance on Syria, to block the NATO onslaught. War beyond Syria, into Iran and Pakistan will spiral out of control as a regional Nuclear World War.
Lisette Talate died the other day. I remember a wiry, fiercely intelligent woman who masked her grief with a determination that was a presence. She was the embodiment of people's resistance to the war on democracy. I first glimpsed her in a 1950s Colonial Office film about the Chagos Islanders, a tiny creole nation living midway between Africa and Asia in the Indian Ocean. The camera panned across thriving villages, a church, a school, a hospital, set in a phenomenon of natural beauty and peace. Lisette remembers the producer saying to her and her teenage friends, "Keep smiling girls!"Sitting in her kitchen in Maritius many years later, she said, "I didn't have to be told to smile. I was a happy child, because my roots were deep in the islands, my paradise. My great-grandmother was born there, I made six children there. That's why they couldn't legally throw us out of our homes, they had to terrify us into leaving or force us out. At first, they tried to starve us. The food ships stopped arriving then. They spread rumors we would be bombed, then they turned on our dogs." In the early 1960s the Labor government of Harold Wilson secretly agreed to a demand from Washington that the Chagos archipelago, a British colony, be "swept" and "sanitized" of its 2,500 inhabitants so that a military base could be built on the principal island, Diego Garcia. "They knew we were inseparable from our pets," said Lisette, "When the American soldiers arrived to build the base, they backed their big trucks against the brick shed where we prepared the coconuts. Hundreds of our dogs had been rounded up and imprisoned there. Then they gassed them through tubes from the trucks' exhausts. You could hear them crying."
There is growing apprehension that through miscalculation, deliberate provocation or a staged false flag operation, a US war with Iran is imminent. The dangerous combination of top US officials' public threats, the Pentagon's massive military deployment, continued drone flights and industrial sabotage against Iran provides an ominous warning. The corporate media have been more than willing to cheer industrial sabotage, computer viruses and targeted assassinations. War maneuvers with Israel scheduled for mid-January were suddenly postponed January 15 until May or later. The US Congress overwhelmingly voted to include binding provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act, and President Obama signed the legislation Dec. 31, ordering Iran's economic strangulation. These NDAA provisions demand that every other country in the world join this economic blockade of Iran or face US sanctions themselves. This itself is an act of war. Iran has directly charged the CIA for the January 11 assassination of physicist Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, which has outraged Iranians. Roshan is the fourth scientist killed in five targeted assassinations in two years. Whether or not a war will actually erupt, it is essential to look at the powerful forces that lay the groundwork for such a conflagration. A US war would kill hundreds of thousands of Iranians and create region-wide destabilization. It would cause a wild, speculative hike in oil and gas prices, devastating fragile economies of the poorest countries and unhinging the increasingly shaky euro-zone. Revolutionary Marxists like Fidel Castro, political leaders in China and Russia, and even a hardened Israeli general have joined many political commentators to warn that a US or US-supported Israeli attack on Iran could quickly become a far wider war.
The publisher of a Jewish newspaper who suggested that Israel assassinate Barack Obama in a weekly column, has apologized. Andrew Adler made the controversial statement in the Atlanta Jewish Times, a paper which serves the Jewish community in Atlanta, US. He claimed ordering an assassination of President Obama could be one of three ways to protect the people of Israel. Mr Adler suggested that attacking Hezbollah and Hamas or ordering the destruction of Iran's nuclear facilities were also a possibility. In the original article, he said: "Yes, you read "three" correctly. Order a hit on a president in order to preserve Israel's existence. "Think about it. If I have thought of this Tom Clancy-type scenario, don't you think that this is an almost unfathomable idea, which has been discussed in Israel's most inner circles? 'Another way of putting "three" in perspective goes something like this: How far would you go to save a nation comprised of seven million lives, Jews, Christians and Arabs alike? 'You have got to believe, like I do, that all options are on the table.' Mr Adler was presenting a hypothetical situation from the perspective of prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu's potentially disastrous conflicts with the Arab world. He claimed he has not received this much reaction about anything he has written since the 1970s. Mr Adler has now issued a formal apology and insisted he only wrote the piece to provoke a reaction from his readers.
Gingrich's faltering presidential campaign was completely resuscitated by a 5 million donation from Las Vegas casino king and super-Zionist Sheldon Adelson. According to Wikipedia, Adelson is currently the 8th wealthiest person in the world, with a net worth of $23.3 billion. Rising from the ashes, Gingrich now has won the South Carolina primary and has a decent chance of becoming the Republican presidential nominee. Adelson has been the major backer of Gingrich for some time. A Washington Post article on the Adelson-Gingrich connection, though kept out of the first section of the paper states: "Perhaps no other major presidential candidate in recent times has had his fortune based so squarely on the contribution of a single donor, as Gingrich has on Adelson, who spent millions in support of Gingrich and his causes over the past five years." As the Washington Post points out, Adelson and his Israeli-born wife, Miriam, have spent time and money lobbying for a bill to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Gingrich has promised that his first executive order as president would be the embassy move. Adelson is an ardent Zionist. Since 2007 the Adelson Family Foundation has made contributions totaling $100 million to Birthright Israel, which finances Jewish youth trips to Israel. Adelson is such a hard-line Zionist that he even stopped supporting AIPAC when it appeared to support a 2007 peace initiative championed by Olmert, President Bush, and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
The best book I've read in a very long time is a new one: "The End of War" by John Horgan. Its conclusions will be vigorously resisted by many, and yet, in a certain light, considered perfectly obvious to some others. The central conclusion, that ending the institution of war is entirely up to us to choose, was, arguably, reached by among many others before and since, John Paul Sartre sitting in a cafe utilizing exactly no research. Horgan is a writer for "Scientific American," and approaches the question of whether war can be ended as a scientist. It's all about research. He concludes that war can be ended, has in various times and places been ended, and is in the process of being ended on the earth right now. The war abolitionists of the 1920s Outlawry movement would have loved this book, would have seen it as a proper extension of the ongoing campaign to rid the world of war. But it is a different book from theirs. It does not preach the immorality of war. That idea, although proved truer than ever by the two world wars, failed to prevent the two world wars. When an idea's time has come and also gone, it becomes necessary to prove to people that the idea wasn't rendered impossible or naive by "human nature" or grand forces of history, or any other specter. Horgan, in exactly the approach required, preaches the scientific observation of the success, albeit incomplete as yet, of preaching the immorality of war.
I recently recommended a comprehensive Constitutional amendment addressing the corruption of our elections. The largest piece of it, largely inspired by an amendment drafted by Russell Simmons, had not been introduced in Congress, until now. Congressman Dennis Kucinich has just introduced HJRes 100, which proposes this Constitutional Amendment: Section 1. All Campaigns for President and Members of the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate shall be financed entirely with public funds. No contributions shall be permitted to any candidate for Federal office from any other source, including the candidate. Section 2. No expenditures shall be permitted in support of any candidate for Federal office, or in opposition to any candidate for Federal office, from any other source, including the candidate. Nothing in this section shall be construed to abridge the freedom of the press. Section 3. The Congress shall, by statute, provide limitations on the amounts and timing of the expenditures of such public funds. Section 4. The Congress shall, by statute, provide criminal penalties for any violation of this Article. Section 5. The Congress shall have the power to implement and enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
A Georgia judge has refused a demand from Obama to quash a subpoena to appear at a series of administration hearings Jan.26 at which residents of the state are challenging, as allowed under a state law, his name on the 2012 presidential ballot. WND reported this week when Obama outlined a defense strategy for a number of state-level challenges to his candidacy in 2012, which argue that states have nothing to do with the eligibility of presidential candidates. "Presidential electors and Congress, not the state of Georgia, hold the constitutional responsibility for determining the qualifications of presidential candidates," Obama's lawyer argued in a motion to quash a subpoena for him to appear at the hearings in Atlanta Jan. 26. "The election of President Obama by the presidential electors, confirmed by Congress, makes the documents and testimony sought by plaintiff irrelevant," the lawyer said. Judge Michael M. Malihi, however, took a different view. "Defendant argues that 'if enforced, the subpoena requires him to interrupt duties as president of the United States' to attend a hearing in Atlanta, Georgia. However, defendant fails to provide any legal authority to support his motion to quash the subpoena to attend," he wrote in his order, released today!
Every five seconds, a child under 10 dies of hunger. Thirty-five million people die each year from hunger or its immediate aftermath. One billion people are permanently and severely malnourished, and the situation is becoming increasingly catastrophic. In his latest book "Mass Destruction, the Geopolitics of Hunger, Jean Ziegler talks about the current state of the world and the neoliberal politics of starvation of the poor, which has led to a crisis situation amounting to calculated murder. What we are witnessing today is the worst hunger crisis in human history. It is all because of human greed, colossal mismanagement for profit. Professor Ziegler deals in detail with the various causes of the current worldwide hunger disaster, which could have been avoided. This crisis is not determined by fate. The world could perfectly well provide food for 12 million people, almost double of the present population of 7 million. So what made this murderous situation possible, where thousands of people are dying (37,000 every day) from lack of food and clean water. It could have been avoided. It should not be happening: The goals of the agro-industry, Archer Daniels Midland, Cargill and Bunge, et al. is to suck the life out of small farmers all over the world, especially in Africa and southern Asia.
Yes, it really is another Vietnam, and just as in 1972, presidential elections will make no difference. Scarcely a word is heard about foreign affairs amid US election talk, despite the many fires around the world that the US military is either stoking or trying to douse, depending on your point of view. Other than Republican contender Ron Paul, not a serious candidate for the mainstream, no one questions the plans for war on Iran, Israel's continued expansion in the Occupied Territories, or US plans to end the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The problem is that decisions about these vital American policies are not for mere presidents or presidential hopefuls to mull over. The one principled decision that US President Obama made, his first upon coming to office, was to announce that he would close Guantanamo Bay prison within a year. After all, he had voted against his predecessor's ill-fated invasion of Iraq, and it was on this basis that he was able to energize an otherwise an otherwise disillusioned Democratic base and surge past the more acceptable white alternatives Hillary Clinton and John McCain. Obama's record on foreign policy has been shocking in retrospect. His call from Cairo for a new dispensation in the Middle East soon after his vow to close Guantanamo, along with this vow, are now in history's dustbin.
The Taliban government in Afghanistan was fighting against the production of opium and had greatly reduced it. With their collective resources, armies and wisdom of NATO's 40 nations firmly entrenched in the country for over a decade, the findings of the latest UN report are a disgrace. What NATO wanted in Afghanistan we all know, and this was very clear to all, before the Mujaheddin were launched by the FUKUS-Axis (France, UK, US and Israel) in the 1970s to destabilize the only socially progressive government. Afghanistan had provided good governance for all its citizens, including women and children, in an inclusive society devoid of gender-based exclusion. The FUKUS-Axis, as usual, could not have cared less about human rights, women's rights or children's rights, as it launched the Mujaheddin through the Pakistani Madrassah, armed, aided and abetted them and threw them into battle against the Soviet Armed Forces. When the Mujaheddin morphed into the Taliban movement, women's rights were suppressed, but so was the production of opium. Under NATO, the drug barons apparently have a free hand to engage in what they know best, how to produce as much heroin as possible to flood the streets of our cities, enriching the handful who control this evil trade.