batr.org: Iran, Gold and Oil-The Next Banksters War!

Remember the real reason why Moammar Gadhafi is dead. He dared to propose and started creating an alternative currency to the world reserve US Dollar. The lesson learned in Libya is now ready for teaching in Iran. Forget all the noise about going nuclear, the true message is that the bankers rule and nation states serve their ultimate masters. The hype and disinformation that surrounds the push for war is best understood by examining the viewpoint of Iranian MP Kazem Jalali. The Tehran Times quotes him as saying: "The European Union must be aware that it can never compel the Islamic Republic to succumb to their will and undermine the Iranian nation's determination to achieve glory and independence, access to modern technologies, and safeguard its rights, through the intensification of the pressure." "The European Union is seeking to politicize the atmosphere ahead of nuclear talks with Iran and is aware that sanctions on Iran's oil exports cannot be implemented since the world is not limited to a number of European countries!" Many political commentators warn that an embargo is an act of war. Chris Floyd provides this observation of the recent oil embargo against Iran: "This week, the warlords of the West took yet another step toward their long-desired war against Iran, meaning open war, since their covert war has been going on for decades, via subversion, terrorism, and proxies like Saddam Hussein." On Monday, the European Union obediently followed the dictates of its Washington masters by agreeing to impose an embargo on Iranian oil.    

Press TV: US Base Toxic Water Kills Americans

Prolonged fuel leakage and consequent water contamination at the largest US Marine Corps Base in North Carolina has killed many American military personnel and civilians. For decades, the Marine Corps at Camp Lejeune dumped fluids containing toxic chemicals, which leaked into groundwater and eventually contaminated the water distribution system of the base. The camp's water contamination problem existed between 1957 to 1987, during which period the US Marine service members and their families used the contaminated tap water for drinking and bathing. This is while the US military camp did not study the health risks of its water after toxic chemicals were discovered in the early 1980s. The Marine base has also failed to notify Marines and their families, arguing that contacting the 750,000 to 1 million military personnel and civilians who lived at Camp Lejeune during those decades would not be easy. An undetermined number of former base residents later developed cancer or similar serious health problems, which are believed to have been caused by the contaminated drinking water. The victims accuse the US Marine Corps of concealing the information and knowledge about the contamination and failing to act on the issue and notify the former residents of the base of probable health risks. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) is currently studying the effects of toxic exposure on former residents of Camp Lejeune, who lived or worked at the Marine base before 1986, and is expected to release its findings in early 2014!   

Tom Engelhardt: Iranian Commando Team Operating Near US!!h

The Fars News Agency has confirmed with the Republican Guard's North American Operations Command that a new elite Iranian commando team is operating in the US-Mexican border region. The primary day-to-day mission of the team, known as the Joint Special Operations Gulf of Mexico Task Force, or JSOG-MTF, is to mentor Mexican military units in the border areas in their war with the deadly drug cartels. The task force provides "highly trained personnel that excel in uncertain environments," Maj. Amir Arastoo, a spokesman for Republican Guard special operations forces in North America, tells Fars, and "seeks to confront irregular threats." The unit began its existence in mid-2009, around the time that Washington rejected the Iranian leadership's wish for a new diplomatic dialogue. But whatever the task force does about the Unites States, or might do in the future, is a sensitive subject with the Republican Guard: "It would be inappropriate to discuss operational plans regarding any particular nation," Arastoo says about the US. Okay, so I made that up. Sue me. But first admit that, a line or two in, you knew it was fiction. After all, despite the talk about American decline, we are still on a one-way imperial planet. Yes, there is a new US special operations team known as Joint Special Operations Task Force-Gulf Cooperation Council, or JSOTF-GCC, at work near Iran and, according to Wired magazine's Danger Room blog, we really don't know quite know what it's tasked with doing, other than helping train the forces of such allies as Bahrain and Saudi Arabia!


The Economist: Pollution in China, Visible from Space!

"PM2.5" seems an odd term for the blogosphere to take up, but that is precisely what has happened in China in recent weeks. It refers to the smallest solid particles in the atmosphere, those less than 2.5 microns across. Such dust can get deep into people's lungs, far deeper than rated as PM10. Yet until recently China's authorities have revealed measurements only for PM10. When people realized this, an online revolt broke out. Such was the public pressure that authorities caved in, and PM2.5 data are noe being published for Beijing and a handful of other cities. What about the rest of China? At the moment, only PM10 data are available, but the government's hand may soon be forced here too. Though pollution data are best collected near the ground, a plausible estimate may be made from the vantage point of a satellite by measuring how much light is blocked by particles' chemical composition the likely distribution of their sizes, and a report prepared for The Economist by a team led by Angel Hsu of Yale University does just that, drawing on data from American satellites to map out PM2.5 pollution across the entire country. World Health Organization guidelines suggest that PM2.5 levels above ten micrograms per cubic meter are unsafe.

Dr. Mahboob A. Khawaja: Obama's Endless Global Warfare!

A New Strategy for Securing the Realm exposes the key authors, America's sadistic neo-cons Richard Perle, David Wumser and Douglas Feith. A decade later, the authors of that study are gone in name, but their spirit of unending wars is alive and well within the Obama Administration's recently announced "Defense Strategic Guidance" as part of "Sustaining US Global Leadership: Priorities for 21st Century Defense." Where Clean Break offered what was then a radical Middle East military strategy, Obama's DSG identifies US military priorities for the 21st century to "confront and defeat aggression anywhere in the world" with an emphasis on the Middle East and Asia-Pacific region as the "greatest challenges for the future." Neither the president nor Panetta felt any need to articulate a credible global threat that requires eternal armed vigilance as the country continues to dismantle its People Programs and as its infrastructure continues to dismantle its People Programs and as its infrastructure continues to crumble, nor did the American people with a thoughtful rationale for who, why, when, where and how. After the president's departure, Panetta, once known as a liberal House Democrat from California, began to morph into a gnarl-faced Dr. Strangelove with every utterance of war, enemies, threats, death and destruction as he touted US military dominance and its ability to "decisively prevail in any conflict." "The US government is so full of self-righteousness that it has become a caricature of hypocrisy. Leon Panetta, a former congressman whom Obama appointed CIA director and now head of the Pentagon, just told the sailors on the USS Enterprise, an aircrafy carrier, that the US is maintaining a fleet of 11 aircraft carriers in order to project sea power against Iran and to convince Iran that "it's better for them to try to deal with us through diplomacy." Washington has kept America at war for ten years while millions of Americans lost their jobs and their homes.    

Michel Chossudovsky: The Globalization of War

The Pentagon's global military design is one of world conquest. The military deployment of US-NATO forces is occurring in several regions of the world simultaneously. The concept of the "Long War" has characterized US military doctrine since the end of World War II. The broader objective of global military dominance in support of an imperial project was first formulated under the Truman administration in the late 1940's at the outset of the Cold War. In September 1990, some five weeks after Saddam Hussein's Iraq invaded Kuweit, US President and Commander in Chief George Herbert Walker Bush delivered a historical address to a joint session of the US Congress and the Senate in which he proclaimed a New World Order emerging from the rubble of the Berlin Wall and the demise of the Soviet Union. Bush Senior had envisaged a world of "peaceful international co-operation", one which was no longer locked into the confrontation between competing super powers, under the shadow of the doctrine of "Mutually Assured Destruction" (MAD) which had characterized the Cold War era. Bush declared emphatically at the outset of what became known as "the post-Cold War era" that: "a new partnership of nations has begun, and we stand today at a unique and extraordinary moment. The crisis in the Persian Gulf, as grave as it is, also offers a rare opportunity to move toward on historic period of cooperation. Out of these troubled times a new world order can emerge: A new era freer from the threat of terror, stronger in the pursuit of justice and more secure in the quest for peace. An era in which the nations of the world, east and west, north and south, can prosper and live in harmony."


Mac Slavo: Massive US Military Buildup Around Iran.

While President Obama's supporters hailed his withdrawal of US troops from Iraq as the end of that war in the middle east, behind the scenes the Pentagon has been quietly massing troops and armaments on two islands located just south of the Strait of Hormuz, and within easy striking distance of Iran. In addition to some 50,000 US troops currently in the region waiting for orders, Nobel Peace Prize winner President Barack Obama is deploying an additional 50,000 soldiers to be ready for 'any contingency' by March: President Barack Obama is reported exclusively by Debka-Net-Weekly's military and Washington sources to build up heavy concentrations on two strategic islands: Socotra, which is part of a Yemeni archipelago in the Indian Ocean, and Omani island of Masirah at the southern exit of the Strait of Hormuz. Since 2010, the US has been quietly building giant air force and naval bases on Socotra, with facilities for submarines, intelligence command centers and take-off pads for flying stealth drones, as part of a linked chain of strategic US military facilities in the Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf. The Socotra facilities are so secret that they are never mentioned in any catalog listing US military facilities in this part of the world, which include Jebel Ali and Al Dahfra in the United Arab Emirates, Arifjan in Kuweit, and Al Udeid in Qatar, all within short flying distances from Iran. Additional US forces are also being poured into Camp Justice on the barren, 70-kilometer long Omani island of Masirah, just south of the Hormuz entry point to the Gulf of Oman from the Arabian Sea.

TheEconomist: Reading the Taliban!

THe secret NATO report on the Taliban is full of fascinating stuff, but it mostly confirms what was already known rather than shedding new light on the conflict in Afghanistan. The report, called "The State of the Taliban" and based on interrogations with more than 4,000 Taliban and al-Qaeda detainees is, however, rich in anecdotal evidence about the way that Pakistan's intelligence service, the ISI, controls and sustains the Taliban and other extremist groups in Afghanistan. The semi-comforting belief that only "rogue elements" in the ISI have close connections to the Taliban never had much basis in fact, and it has far less now. A senior al-Qaeda commander in Kunar province, in the wild north-east of the country says: Pakistan knows everything. They control everything. I can't (expletive) on a tree in Kunar without them watching. The Taliban are not Islam. The Taliban are Islamabad. The report also states: "Senior Taliban representatives, such as Nasiruddin Haqqani, maintain residences in the immediate vicinity of ISI headquarters in Islamabad, Pakistan."Nasiruddin, a son of the Haqqani clan's leader, Jalaluddin, and its most prominent fund-raiser, was arrested by Pakistani agents in December 2010 as a sop to American pressure to take action against Taliban leaders in Quetta. If Nasiruddin is indeed free and living in the same neighborhood as the ISI, suspicions that his detention was a sham will be confirmed.     

Ben Schreiner: US Mounts Further Military Build-Up

With the drums of war beating ever louder against Iran, the US military has quickly moved to reestablish a war footing in the Persian Gulf. The preparations for a looming military confrontation thus continue apace. According to the Washington Post, the Pentagon is rushing to send a large floating base for commando teams to the middle east. As the paper reports, the USS Ponce, a 40-year old amphibious transport dock previously set for decommission, will now be converted into a special ops hub, and then likely sent to the Persian Gulf. The Pentagon, the Post reports, is seeking to retrofit the USS Ponce on an accelerated timeline. In fact, the military has gone ahead and waived normal procurement rules because any delay presented a national security risk. At the same time, the Wall Street Journal reports the Pentagon has notified Congress that it will divert an additional $82 million to refine the Massive Ordinance Penetrator (MOP). (The MOP is a 30,000-pound 'bunker-buster' bomb specifically designed to take out the hardened fortifications built by Iran and North Korea to cloak their nuclear programs. The decision to seek an upgrade in the MOP reportedly comes after a series of tests revealed that the ordinance remains incapable of destroying certain Iranian nuclear facilities, such as the enrichment site at Fordow, located near the holy city of Qom. Fordow is buried deep within the mountainside, below 260 feet of rock and soil.


Ron Paul: Failed Fed Policies Prolong the Agony!

The Federal Reserve's interest rate price-setting board, the FOMC, met last week. They will continue to set the federal funds rate at well below 1%, and plan to keep it low until the end of 2014. That's a year and a half longer than they planned when they met just last month. Chairman Bernanke says they are keeping interest rates so low for so long because the economic outlook warrants it. The fallacies in their reasoning would be amusing if they weren't so dangerous. The Fed wants to keep the price of money at essentially zero, in other words 'free" to boost the economy, but the boost they are attempting won't get here for another three years. That's not recovery, and we've already tried this tactic. That's how we got into this mess in the first place, with interest rates artificially low for a very long time. Free money doesn't stimulate growth, as Japan's two lost decades clearly show. Artificially low interest rates only serve to punish saving, distort market signals, and cause further mal-investment. They also do nothing to address the only real solution to our economic woes: liquidation of the bad debt that hangs around the neck of the world's economy, preventing recovery. Artificially low interests merely ensure that we remain a debt-financed consumer economy guaranteed to end up with a weaker economy and higher prices. What baffles me even more is that two decades after the collapse of Soviet planning and decades more since the US economists purportedly rejected the idea of price setting, we find nothing wrong with the Fed setting the price of money. We all agree it is a bad idea to have a board saying the price of wheat should be $250 a ton today, or carpenters wages should be $25ban hour until the end of 2014, but we are perfectly comfortable with having a board set the price of one half of every transaction in our economy, and our markets are supposedly free! The Fed policies of low interest rates, Operation Twist, and rounds of quantitative easing are all attempts to keep the economy alive artificially.

John Grant: A Modest Proposal for Israel and Iran

The State Department has threatened to withdraw the $1.3 billion it sends every year to Egypt, because the Egyptians are holding US citizens connected with pro-democracy groups the Egyptians claim to have instigated the Tahrir Square movement. Specifically, the Egyptian military government prevented a half dozen Americans, including Sam LaHood, director of the US International Republican Institute in Cairo from leaving the country. LaHood is the son of US Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. The State Department's goal in supporting groups like Mr LaHood's is to encourage democracy friendly to the US. Before this incident, President Obama warned Egyptian military strongman Field Marshall Mohamed Hussein Tantawi that the upcoming installment of US military aid was contingent on his playing ball with US interests. The snatching of LaHood and the others turned the situation into a diplomatic incident. LaHood was quoted in The New York Times as wondering whether he would be brought to trial for meddling in Egyptian affairs. "The whole thing is ludicrous," he said. That may be true, but even more ludicrous is the failure to provide a similar warning on the other side of the 1979 peace treaty between Egypt and Israel. That is, according to several recent reports, Israel's top leaders are making it known they feel a massive air attack on Iran by Israel is a manageable thing. 

Jane Stillwater: Why US Troops will Never leave Afghanistan!

I read somewhere that if you want your children to do what you tell them to do, there are only two things that actually work: Threats and bribes. Well, the same thing should be true with regard to international relations, but it's not. Internationally speaking, threats and bribes have obviously gotten American corporatist leaders absolutely nowhere. After decades and decades of administering extremely serious threats and fantastically huge bribes, American corporatists still aren't even close to being obeyed, or even respected, by most other countries on this planet. American corporatists nowadays are just simply being hated. Instead of having other countries instantly obey Washington and Wall Street like they were a bunch of obedient and/or traumatized children, all of these so-called "kids" obviously have become passive-aggressive haters instead, and sometimes not all that passive as well. Take Pakistan for instance. In 1947, shortly after it had become a nation, Pakistan willingly and happily signed on to become one of America's most important allies in the Great Game, and now, as of May 2011, diplomatic ties between Pakistan and America have completely disintegrated, but only after a very long time (60 years-plus) spent with Pakistan being the recipient of a whole laundry list of heavy-duty threats and almost obscene bribes from American corporatists.  


DEBCAfile: US foresees May as Tentative Date for Clash with Iran!

A hurried decision not to de-commission the USS Ponce helicopter marine carrier after duty in Libya, but to refit it for deployment by May in the Persian Gulf as a floating base for commando teams, was confirmed by the Pentagon and Navy Sunday, Dec.29. This transportable floating base will expand the commandos' range in coastal areas and support counter-measure against mines which Iran has threatened to plant in reprisal for the US-EU oil embargo. The SEALs will also take on Iran's menacing fleet of military speedboats. Debkafile reports Tehran operates four different kinds of these craft in the Persian Gulf: 1. Small, fast vessels, each armed with a small missile for striking tankers and coastal oil targets around the Gulf region, such as export terminals. Earlier this month, Tehran claimed to have developed stealth cruise missiles capable of disabling aircraft carriers with a single shot. 2. Small, extra-fast boats armed with torpedoes. Iranian publications claim several such boats are capable of stealing up on US aircraft carriers and large warships from several directions without being detected and cause serious damage. 3. Floating bombs for kamikaze missions. These fast boats cannot be deflected after locking in on target, whether on sea or shore, and explode on contact. Iran used these floating missiles piloted by suicide squads to attack oil tankers in the Gulf in November 1987. Since then, their naval tacticians have upgraded this fleet with the technology gained from the British Bladerunner 51, a model of which Iran purchased some years ago. Since early January, the Pentagon has reported four cases of harassment by Iranian military boats sailing close to American warships in the Persian Gulf.    

Michael Zennie: Lawsuit Alleges Gingrich Hushed Possible ties to Chinese Organized Crime!!

The billionaire casino mogul who has breathed new life into Newt Gingrich's presidential campaign with millions of dollars in donations is facing a federal investigation over whether his company violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which prohibits bribing foreign officials. The investigation stems from a lawsuit filed by a former executive at the Sands Macau in China, the company has said. Steven C. Jacobs claims he was told to keep quiet about investigations of local officials and the possible presence of the triads, Chinese organized crime, in the casino. Sheldon Adelson, who founded and runs Las Vegas Sands Corp, one of the largest casino and resort companies in the world, has denied the allegations in the lawsuit, and said the company is cooperating with federal investigators. Adelson has "donated" an estimated $10 million to Gingrich's super PAC 'Winning our Future' and promised to give up to $20 million. Worth an estimated $21 billion, Adelson is the eighth richest man in America and has almost single-handedly financed Gingrich's second campaign surge. The large donation has allowed Gingrich supporters to buy TV ads in key states, helping the former House Speaker to defeat Mitt Romney in the South Carolina Republican primary, but the attention has brought Adelson's business practices into the spotlight. The lawsuit was filed in October 2010 and the company announced the federal inquiry in Match of last year. Adelson addressed the concerns at a public forum last year, saying the investigation is 'not a serious matter.' 

USS Liberty Veteran's Association Files Crime Report Against Israel!

On Friday, June 10 at 1:00 PM, Moe Shafer, board member of the USS Liberty Veterans Association and Rear Admiral Merlin Merlin Staring, USN, Ret. Former Judge Advocate of the Navy who was involved with the initial Court of Inquiry investigating the attack in 1967 will present details of the "Report of War Crimes" brief filed on behalf of the USS Liberty Veteran's Association concerning the 1967 Israeli attack on the USS Liberty. The "Report" was filed with by James R. Gotcher, General Legal Counsel, USS - LVA, with the Secretary of Defense at the Pentagon on June 8, the 38th anniversary of the attack on the USS Liberty. For a complete copy of the brief, go to http://www.usslibertyinquiry.com/Report/Report.pdf for a PDF version of the Report. By establishing prima facie evidence that Israel committed war crimes the Secretary of Defense under existing Dept. Of Defense directives is obligated to initiate an inquiry into the commission of war crimes, an investigation that should have been carried out 38 years ago. Gotcher was an Air Force intelligence officer in Vietnam in 1967, and is one of three intelligence officers who were in different parts of the world at the time. Independent of each other they signed sworn affidavits that they saw intelligence messages saying the USS Liberty was under attack by Israeli aircraft in the Mediterranean. Moe was a 3rd class communications technician on the USS Liberty and survivor of a torpedo attack that killed 25 of his ship mates in the part of the ship where he was stationed. Captain Ward Boston, a JAG Officer involved with the initial inquiry and retired FBI agent examined the original copy of the Court of Inquiry record released under the Freedom of Information Act and declared it a fraud: "It is not the record I certified and submitted in 1967," says Captain Boston. Lloyd Painter, Officer of the Deck on the USS Liberty and retired secret service agent of 24 years testified that his statement mentioned in the report, "that the Israeli torpedo boat crews machine gunned the USS Liberty inflatable life boats" was removed from the final report that was submitted in 1967!       


David Blair: Iran EU Sanctions: Q & A!

What sanctions has the European Union imposed on Iran? With immediate effect, no EU member state can sign a contract to import crude oil or refined petroleum from Iran. Existing agreements will be honored until 1 July, after which all imports must cease. In addition, the EU has introduced a range of financial restrictions, including freezing assets held in Europe by the Iranian Central Bank. The EU has imposed sanctions before. Why are these different? Because the oil industry forms the central pillar of Iran's economy, providing most of the country's export earnings and about 55 per cent of the national budget. Oil revenues poured some $90 billion into Iranian government coffers in 2010-11, compared with total expenditure of $165 billion. Iran now faces the loss of sales of almost 600,000 barrels of oil per day to the EU, 24 per cent of total exports. Won't Iran find other customers? Probably yes. But EU sanctions will have the effect of creating an instant buyer's market for Iranian crude. Because Iran will need to find customers for all the oil that once went to the EU, buyers will be able to insist on hefty discounts. China and India, Iran's two biggest customers who imported 860,000 barrels per day last year, are likely to ask for lower prices. Iran may be in no position to refuse. The result will be that it loses billions of dollars of revenues. Can Iran's government take this hit? Not without great difficulties.

Robert Greenwald: Take on the Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America's War Machine

Not many journalists can say they had a hand in getting a commanding general relieved of duty in the middle of a war. But Rolling Stone reporter Michael Hastings did just that when his 2010 story on Stanley McChrystal, then the commander of NATO troops in Afghanistan, sent shock-waves through Washington and resulted in McChrystal being recalled to DC and unceremoniously fired by Barack Obama. Hasting's report, "The Runaway General," detailed how McChrystal and his top officers spoke of their civilian superiors with sneering condescension, and revealed that they didn't genuinely embrace the counterinsurgency strategy being sold to the public at home. The piece was a result of fortuitous circumstances. Hastings had at first been allowed only controlled access to McCrystal, but when European air-traffic was grounded following the eruption of the Eyjafjoell volcano in Iceland, Hastings ended up catching a bus to Berlin with McChrystal and his staff, who let down their guard during the extended ride. The young journo is a veteran war correspondent who covered Iraq as well as Afghanistan. The McChrystal story wasn't Hastings' first significant report, and it wouldn't be his last. In 2011, he broke a story about how David Petraeus, McChrystal's replacement in Afghanistanwas using military psy-ops units to influence visiting United States senators' views of the conflict. Hastings' new book, The Operators: The Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America's War in Afghanistan, draws on his extensive grounds-eye-view reporting from the decade-long conflict.     

John Kozy: The Crisis of Education in America!

How to become a Serf: Man is a pathetic creature, a brute trying to be a god, but traveling in the wrong direction. Educational systems now train workers to fulfill the needs of companies. A society in which people exist for the sake of companies in a society enslaved. But there is a deep problem with the notion that education should equal vocational training. To paraphrase a very famous and renowned person, man does not live by work alone. Indeed, the knowledge and skills needed to earn a living in a capitalist industrial economy are of little use in human relationships are the core of everyone's life. Schools devoted to vocational training provide no venue for teaching cultural differences, for trying to understand the person who lives next door or in another country. Value systems are never evaluated, alternatives are never considered. As a result, although we all live on the same planet, we do not live together. At best, we only live side by side. At worst, we live to kill each other. Education as vocational training reduces everything to ideaology, our devotion to which causes us to reject the stark reality that stares us in the face, because our ideologies color the realities we see and people never get wiser than those of previous generations. People have become nothing but the monkeys of hurdy gurdy grinders, tethered to grinders' organs with tin cups in hands to be filled for the benefit of the grinders, and this is the species we refer to as sapient. What a delusion! For many years, I have been troubled by what I saw as the results of what passes for education in America and perhaps elsewhere too. Why is it, do you suppose, that one generation does not seem to get any smarter than a previous one?  


Scott Thill: 3 Ways to Expose Our Rotten Corporate State!

He may no longer be running for president of the United States of South Carolina, but the Colbert Report's hyperreal satirist Stephen Colbert is still educating viewers on America's arcane political machinery, while schooling mainstream journalists on how to properly inform the citizenry. He's participated in the democratic process by recently launching the super PAC, Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow, and campaigning for office in both 2008 and 2012, and he's amassed a well-funded war chest of still unknown size, with which he plans on creating more attack ads to monkey-wrench the electoral status-quo, and perhaps more. Some in Colbert Nation, including this writer, spend much time dreaming that Colbert announces a surprise third-party run for the White House. If only to further illuminate the two-party system at its worst, and at best, to strike a blow for satirists and other culture jammers who would seriously think about local or national politics as a worthy side project. "The Yes Men come the closest to Colbert for using existing rules and structures to expose and satirize their intent," media theorist Douglas Rushkoff told AlterNet. "Of course, Timothy Leary ran for governor of California, and Abbie Hoffman levitated the Pentagon, but Colbert is clearly on a scale that would have been hard to imagine early on."

Donovan Slack: Obama hosts George HW and Jeb Bush at White House

Unbeknownst to the press, President Obama met Friday evening with former president George HW Bush and his son, former Florida governor Jeb Bush in the Oval Office. White House officials did not list the meeting on the president's schedule, but released a photo on Flickr. According to the photo's time stamp, the meeting occurred shortly after 5 PM, about the time the president returned to the White House from a fundraiser. When asked what the men discussed, and why it wasn't on the schedule, the White House released a statement saying, "The three men enjoyed a personal visit in the Oval Office, as they have done on previous occasions when President Bush is in Washington." The Bushes are in town to attend the exclusive Alfalfa Club dinner Saturday, an annual get-together for Washington power brokers that Obama also is scheduled to attend, according to the Associated Press. The meeting came at an interesting time politically, just one day after Obama, in an interview with ABC News, blamed predecessor George W. Bush for policies that brought on the greatest recession since the Great Depression. He also blamed him for initiating the expansion of food stamp rolls. Jeb Bush has also played a critical role in the GOP presidential primary contest in Florida, primarily by saying he wouldn't play a role. His endorsement would have been key in the race, currently neck and neck between Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, but Jeb Bush said last week that he would remain neutral.  

Richard Lightbown: What does Libya tell us about intervention in Syria and Iran?t

As regional war threatens drastic and unforeseen consequences in the Middle East, some commentators claim that humanitarian benefits justify Western intervention in repressive states. This claim is worth considering in the context of the events that have befallen Libya. No one should be under any illusions about the intentions of Western governments in Libya following their activities throughout the 42 years of Muammar Qadafi's rule. During this time there were 39 coup attempts inspired by US, British and French agencies, most of which were centered on Benghazi and the province of Cyrenaica. Many involved an attempt at assassination, as did the US fighter-bomber attack on Tripoli in 1986, in which eight of the 18 aircraft flying from Britain specifically targeted Col Qadafi's private residence. Qadafi's overthrow began as an uprising in Benghazi which followed a Facebook call, from London on 17 February 2011, to commemorate the 2005 massacre at Abu Salim prison. In response to the ensuing fighting, the UN Security Council unanimously approved resolution 1970 on 26 February. Calling for an end to violence, it required all member states to apply an arms embargo, which also prohibited the provision of technical assistance, training, finance and all other assistance related to military activities. It soon became clear that British forces were in breach of the resolution, when six members of the SAS were taken prisoner by rebels in Benghazi on 4 March. What the troop was trying to achieve, and what went wrong with the operation has never been revealed.