Presidential candidate Mitt Romney found himself in an awkward line of questioning yesterday, when reporters wanted to know if he would really slash funding to FEMA, the federal government agency in charge of Hurricane Sandy relief efforts. Rather than fall back on his tried and true model of flip flopping his position to fit the latest poll, he opted for a bold new strategy, entirely ignore the question. "Governor, you've been asked 14 times. Why are you refusing to answer the question?" One journalist complained at Romney's press conference yesterday in Ohio. But still, not a word from the man who just may, but probably not, find himself in the position to be making such decisions. Meanwhile, his aides scrambled to assure the journalists that he wouldn't kill the disaster relief agency, although their boss's silence spoke far louder than their words. Romney's past platforms have indicated that the candidate would, in fact, push to splinter and then privatize the agency, although their boss's silence spoke far louder than their words. Romney's past platforms have indicated that the candidate would, in fact, push to splinter and then privatize the agency, which is designed to provide rapid, federal assistance in crisis situations, particularly after natural disasters. "Every time you have an occasion to take something from the federal government and send it back to the states, that's the right direction," Romney said during a CNN debate in June 2011, and if you can get even further and send it back to the states, that's the right direction," Romney said during a CNN debate in June 2011. "And if you can go even further and send it back to the private sector, that's even better."
Let's look at the bright side of this interminable and and essentially superficial election process. I'm hoping that, even if Mitt Romney wins, the upside will be that I get to be taxed at the same rate he has enjoyed as one of the nation's most skillful hedge fund hustlers. I'm not asking for the super low rate that he probably paid during the many many years of tax returns he has refused to publicly disclosed. Nothing that extreme, I can't afford his ingenious accountants. But I am hoping that Romney will set the top rate at the 14 percent that he was willing to admit to having paid on his $13.7 million in income in 2011, when he knew his tax records would have to be revealed to the public, because he was running for tax collector in chief. If Romney would just commit to granting all of us the same deal that he gets from his hedge fund and capital gains tax breaks and offshore accounts, I might be tempted to join the ranks of terminally shortsighted white males who seemed poised to vote him into office. Of course, he has to make good on his promise in Florida that none of us senior citizens will ever lose a penny of what the GOP denigrates as our retirement "entitlements," and that all of his anti socialist budget balancing cuts will be exclusively at the expense of younger folks. It's only socialism when government benefits are extended to people other than us. I am down with the tea party types who demand that the government keep its clammy hands off our Social Security and Medicare programs. Yes, as long as Medicare remains a for profit, free market program, we seniors won't have to contend with death panels like under Obama-care. What we need instead of that socialist claptrap with which Obama has enslaved us is the insurance coverage that Romney required people in Massachusetts to purchase. Oh yes, true Obama-care is exactly modeled on Romney care, but just consider the source. When Romney mandated that citizens in his state be required to to buy health insurance, it was an extension of the free market, but when Obama gets the same requirement passed for the rest of us, you just know how dark his motives are. At least we non Kenyan white males do!
US Dumps Syrian National Council, Focus Exclusively on Arming Al Qaeda in Syria. The Washington Post in its recent article, "US looks to build alternative Syrian opposition leadership," claims: The Obama administration has spent the past several months in secret diplomatic negotiations aimed at building a new Syrian opposition leadership structure that it hopes can win the support of minority groups still backing President Bashar al Assad. The strategy, to be unveiled at a Syrian opposition meeting next week in Qatar, amounts to a last ditch effort to prevent extremists from gaining the upper hand within the opposition and to stop the Syrian crisis from boiling over into the greater Middle East. The Post also indicates that the de facto "administrative zones" are being set up along the Turkish Syrian border with "nonlethal" assistance provided by the United States, France and "other like minded governments." The so called "Syrian National Council" is being discarded, as it is wholly seen as illegitimate by both Syrians and the world at large. The Washington Post would also quote Secretary Clinton: The SNC, Clinton said, should no longer be considered the visible leader of the opposition. There has to be a representation of those who are on the front lines, fighting and dying today to obtain their freedom, she said during an unrelated visit to the Balkan states. And we also need an opposition that will be on record strongly resisting the efforts by extremists to hijack the Syrian revolution. It is clear that both the West's political proxies, and its armed militant proxies have been compromised, and the narrative that tentatively worked against Libya, is now unraveling and failing against Syria. While the US attempts to portray this latest move as an attempt to "prevent extremist elements from gaining the upper hand within the opposition," it must be remembered that as early as 2007, US officials had admitted that efforts to overthrow the governments of Syria and Iran would include primarily US, Israeli, and Saudi armed extremists drawn from across the Arab world, and sent into Syria to create the very sectarian bloodbath now unfolding. Rhetoric of "freedom" and "democracy" serve merely as cover within which foreign military aggression is couched.
If some recent polls are correct, a plurality of Americans are planning to vote for Mitt Romney, even though he may be the most persistent and professional liar to run for the US presidency in recent memory, which is saying something. But what has attracted very little media attention is the question: Why does Romney lie? There have been some suggestions that Romney's mendacity is an outgrowth of his business experience as a corporate takeover artist who tells investors and other stakeholders pretty much anything to close a deal. But that misses the reality of the business world, where a reputation as a chronic liar can be lethal to long term success. No, Romney's lying, most recently revealed in his false claim about General Motors and Chrysler shifting US auto jobs to China, appears connected to something deeper in his personality, psyche or life experience. One theory is that Romney is consumed by a blind ambition, obsessed with claiming the office of President that was denied his father, because he was too honest, while his Republican rival, Richard Nixon, was anything but. Another possibility is that Romney has surrendered whatever ethics he had to the longstanding Republican political strategy of winning at all cost, ironically a playbook inherited from Nixon. A third possible explanation is tied to Romney's Mormon religion which was founded in the 19th Century by a notorious conman, Joseph Smith Jr. who as a youth used a "seer stone" to advise people where to hunt for buried treasure. He later expanded on his supposed visions to start his own religion, Mormonism. Smith, aided by a few collaborators, created the Book of Mormon, which Smith claimed was delivered to him in 1827 by an angel Moroni via golden plates buried in upstate New York. Smith supposedly translated the plates, which told a truly unbelievable tale about ancient Israelites coming to the Americas.
Economic Austerity for the Poor. Offshore banking is the elephant in the global economic room, which the political and financial elite is trying to hide from the public view. While imposing austerity measures on hard working citizens, they are well aware that astronomical amounts of money are secretly held in offshore banks, thus lost in taxes. Where is that money from? What is it for? Drug cartels, fraud, tax evasion and money laundering are common answers to those questions. Despite this reality and even in this era of fiscal austerity, the question world leaders avoid is: Why is secret banking still allowed? Are they capable of putting a term to it, but unwilling to do it because of the benefits it provides? Clearly. Every once in a while a robber baron will serve as a scapegoat to give a pale illusion of justice to the common man. Although they deserve to be penalized, the corrupt banking system which allowed to operate remains inviolate and its flaws are never questioned . Offshore banking is not a parallel banking structure. It is at the heart of the banking system. All major banks have offshore subsidiaries. R Allen Stanford is one of the white collar criminals serving time for running a massive Ponzi scheme camouflaged as a bank, that sold some $7 billion in self styled certificates of deposit and $1.2 billion in mutual funds: SIBs chief financial officer James Davis told the Justice Department that his boss had been stealing from investors for decades, while paying bribes to regulators and even performing blood oaths never to reveal his secrets. And with connections and generous pay outs to US politicians going back more than a decade, 65% of which went to Democrats, including our change president, Allen Stanford was plugged in. Evidence also suggests he may have gotten an assist, covering his tracks from regulators and US secret state agencies, including the CIA. Allen Stanford did business the American way, he swindled depositors and then siphoned off the proceeds into a spiders web of offshore accounts.
If we wish to end the Israeli Palestinian conflict, we need to know who created Israel and why. In 1917 British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour penned a letter to Zionist Second Lord Lionel Walter Rothschild, in which he expressed support for a Jewish homeland on Palestinian controlled lands in the Middle East. This Balfour Declaration justified the brutal seizure of Palestinian lands for the post WWII establishment of Israel. Israel would serve, not as some high minded"Jewish homeland" but as lynchpin in Rothschild Eight Families control over the world's oil supply. Baron Edmond de Rothschild built the first oil pipeline from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean to bring BP Iranian oil to Israel. He founded Israeli General Bank and Paz Oil, and is considered the father of modern Israel. The Rothschild's are the planet's wealthiest clan, worth an estimated $100 trillion. They control Royal Dutch Shell, BP, Anglo - American, BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto, Bank of America and scores of other global corporations and banks. They are the largest shareholders in the Bank of England, the Federal Reserve and most every private central bank in the world. They needed a footprint in the Middle East to protect their new oil concessions, which they procured through Four Horsemen fronts like the Iranian Consortium, Iraqi Petroleum Company and Saudi ARAMCO. Rothschild's Shell and BP formed these cartels with the Rockefeller half of the Four Horsemen Exxon Mobil and Chevron Texaco. This new alliance required a "special relationship" between Great Britain and the US, which still exists today. Rothschild and other wealthy European shareholders could now utilize the United States military as a "Hessianized" mercenary force, deployed to protect their oil interests and paid for by US taxpayers. Israel would serve the same purpose in closer proximity to the oilfields. The Israeli Mossad is less a national intelligence agency than it is a Rothschild Rockefeller family security force. The Rothschild's exert political control through the secretive Business Roundtable, which they created in 1909 with the help of Lord Alfred Milner and Cecil Rhodes, whose Rhodes Scholarship is granted by Cambridge University, out of which oil industry propagandist Cambridge Energy Research Associates operates. Rhodes founded De Beers and Standard Chartered Bank. The Roundtable takes its name from the legendary knight King Arthur, whose tale of the Holy Grail is synonymous with the Illuminati notion that the Eight Families possess Sangreal or holy blood, a justification for their lording over the people and resources of the planet. According to former British Intelligence officer John Coleman, who wrote Committee of 300, "Round Tablers armed with immense wealth from gold, diamond and drug monopolies fanned out throughout the world to take control of fiscal and monetary policies and political leadership in all countries where they operated." Rhodes and Oppenheimer deployed to South Africa to launch the Anglo American conglomerate. Kuhn and Loeb were off to re-colonize America with Morgan and Rockefeller. Rudyard Kipling was sent to India. Schiff and Warburg manhandled Russia. Rothschild, Lazard and Israel Moses Seif pushed into the Middle East. At Princeton, the Round Table founded the Institute for Advanced Studies (IAS) as partner to its All Souls College at Oxford. IAS was funded by the Rockefeller's General Education Board. IAS members Robert Oppenheimer, Neils Bohr and Albert Einstein created the atomic bomb. In 1919 Rothschild's Business Roundtable spawned the Royal Institute of International Affairs (RIIA) in London. The RIIA sponsored sister organizations around the globe, including the US Council on Foreign Relations. The RIIA is a registered charity of the Queen and, according to its annual reports, is funded largely by the Four Horsemen. Former British Foreign Secretary and Kissinger Associates co founder Lord Carrington is president of both the RIIA and the Bilderbergers. The inner circle at RIIA is dominated by Knights of St John Jerusalem, Knights of Malta, Knights Templar and 33rd Degree Scottish Rite Freemasons. The Knights of St John were founded in 1070 and answer directly to the British House of Windsor. Their leading bloodline is the Villiers dynasty, which the Hog Kong Matheson family owners of the HSBC opium laundry married into. The Lytton family also married into the Villiers gang.
The 14th Regiment Armory was built for the National Guard in 1893. The massive Brooklyn structure was supposed to mimic the castles of Europe, brick towers and fortifications of previous centuries. Now a YMCA, the Armory today is a shelter, filled to capacity with nursing home evacuees from Hurricane Sandy. The metaphor: What was built originally to protect us, has to be repurposed for a new type of foe. Wall Street, in Lower Manhattan, in the 1600's was an actual wall. The settlers of New Amsterdam built a northern border to guard themselves against the English and Native American encroachers. In recent times it could be re named Barricade Street. It's a militarized zone with checkpoints and barriers to presumably thwart an attack on the stock market. Those precautions did little when Wall Street was flooded, under water, during Sandy. The markets were closed for a third time in their history. The first being the blizzard of 1888, and the second being the attacks of September 11, 2001. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney says he "will preserve a military that is so strong, no nation would ever dare to test it." Romney wants to build more ships instead of building infrastructure so we don't need ships to get down Canal Street. As I write, this part of Manhattan is still dark. Crews are still searching for missing family members on Staten Island. The final death toll has not been tallied. The victims not yet buried. We've been shortsighted. We've marginalized those who warned us. We've treated environmentalism as an irksome fad. We've given cadence to non-troversies and called it balance. We've spent trillions to protect ourselves against terrorists and done nothing to keep our biggest cities above water in a storm. "One of the very important security threats we face is climate change." said Senator Barbara Boxer in a 2007 cable interview.
By eerie coincidence, the final seven days of the 2012 race to the White House began on Halloween. Even beyond the "Franken storm", there's something chilling that haunts these final days: the Ghost of the 2000 Election. What's scary is not just that the margin of victory once again figures to be razor thin, or that the outcome of the popular vote may differ from the tally in the Electoral College, as it did in 2000. Nor is it even that all the machinations to disenfranchise voters by requiring them to produce picture ids and clamp down on early voting, are likely to set off a wave of voter challenges, leading to litigation that could once again see the Supreme Court settle the outcome strictly on partisan lines and forever cloud the legitimacy of the process. No, for 2012, the scariest thing about 2000 is the evidence that a flood of highly concentrated Republican money in the very last week of that campaign gave GW Bush a decisive edge in the battleground states, and that contrary to reports in the national media, there are signs that history may be about to repeat itself. The little known 2000 story is meticulously laid out in a study by Richard Johnston, Michael G Hagen, and Kathleen Hall Jamieson, The 2000 Presidential Election and the Foundation of Party Politics. Trailing in the final weeks of the campaign, Al Gore began aggressively attacking Bush on Social Security. Helped along by news trends in the "free"mass media that the three scholars carefully track, and matching or even sometimes exceeding the Bush campaign's ad buys, Gore rallied. He started climbing in the polls. But in the final week of the campaign, Bush' Golden Horde of campaign contributors unrolled their mighty bankroll, sinking most of the money into "battleground" states. As the three scholars observe, the result was a natural experiment, in which part of the country was saturated with political money, while the rest was only lightly sprinkled.
For at least the past four decades, the American election process has been controlled by corporations and agents connected to the Republican Party. This year's contest is no different. Voter suppression campaigns have been underway across America, by Republican operatives. Nothing is being done to stop it. Mitt Romney has direct ties to voting machines. His son, Tagg Romney, who wanted to punch Barack Obama in the face, and a cadre of former Bain Capital business partners are owners of Hart Intercivic, whose voting machines are used in all fifty states. And this is just one of the many companies with ties to the right wing, which include Diebold, ES&S, and Sequoia. In 2004, Diebolds Walden ODell promised to deliver votes to George W Bush. His machines did, stealing what should have been a John Kerry win. To this day, American democracy remains privatized and hackable. Nothing has been done about it. Theft continues unabated. Backlash and cover up: The few investigators who keep bringing exhaustive factual evidence of vote fraud to light have been attacked as conspiracy theorists by corporate media gatekeepers, and ignored by officials. These same accusers have refused to lift a finger to verify any of the facts. The progressive establishment Left has joined in this cover up. The Democratic Party affiliated Center for American Progress, and its site Think-Progress, recently attacked reporter Brad Freeman for raising questions about Romney's ties to voting machines. Why is the establishment Left dissuading their own constituents from waking up? Going back to the days of "COINTELPRO" and Operation Mockingbird, the Left gate keeping apparatus has long operated as a system of controlled dissent, offering channels to express certain ideas, but smashing down factual truths that deemed truly threatening to their agenda. The notion that American democracy, the vote, is thoroughly corrupted is such a threat. Unfortunately, it is the fact.
Mitt Romney's suggestion that emergency management is best left up to the states is not just a silly, ideologically informed bit of campaign rhetoric. It represents a radical departure from what most people think it means to be an American, a view that has been litigated in our past, and consigned to the dustbin of history, only to re-emerge in the Reagan era. While Romney has been a chameleon, with a dazzling array of ever changing positions, he has been quite consistent in one area: He and running mate Paul Ryan would turn vast swaths of our already threadbare social safety net over to the states to administer, while making deep cuts to their funding in the process. As a result, people living in "blue" and "red" states would effectively become citizens of different countries. The poor and working class in those red states would become eligible for far fewer public benefits. The disparities that exist in funding education, job training and the like would become far more pronounced. We would no longer be citizens of the United States, who happen to live an Alabama or Vermont, we would become Alabamians and Vermonters, citizens of states with very different philosophies of government. It is already the case that residents of "red states" "tend to be poorer, have less education, higher rates of uninsured. On average, they have greater problems with substance abuse, and higher levels of income inequality. These differences would broaden dramatically if more safety net programs were left up to the states. No longer would Americans enjoy the same minimum standards of health and well being, the quality of public services would vary, depending on where you live, much more than they do today.
Arab spring has left US friendly rulers in the region nervous about the possible impact of an Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear program. US military commanders have warned their Israeli counterparts that any action against Iran would severely limit the ability of American forces in the region to mount their own operations against the Iranian nuclear program, by cutting off vital logistical support from Gulf Arab allies. US, naval, air and ground forces are depended for bases, refuelling and supplies on Gulf Arab rulers, who are deeply concerned about the progress Iran has made in its nuclear program, but also about the rising challenge to their regimes posed by the Arab spring, and the galvanising impact on popular unrest of an Israeli attack on Iran. The US Fifth Fleet is headquartered in Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates and Oman. Senior US officers believe the one case in which they could not rely fully on those bases for military operations against Iranian installations would be if Israel acted first. "The Gulf states' one great fear is Iran going nuclear, The other is a regional war that would destabilize them," said a source in the region. "They might support a massive war against Iran, but they are not going to get that, and they know a limited strike is not worth it, as it will not destroy the program and only make Iran angrier." Israeli leaders had hinted they might take military action to set back the Iranian program, but that threat receded in September, when the prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, told the United Nations general assembly that Iran's advances in uranium enrichment would only breach Israel's "red line" in spring or summer next year. Israel's defense minister, Ehud Barak, said this week in London that it was the Iranian decision this year to convert a third of the country's stock of 20% enriched uranium into fuel, making it harder to convert to weapons grade material if Iran decided to make a weapon, that had bought another "eight to 10 months".
Thomas Jefferson: "If people let government decide what foods they eat, and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny." The lessons of history clearly demonstrate that dictatorial regimes, whether they be Socialists, Communists and Marxists will not hesitate to use food as a weapon against their own people in order to solidify power and impose absolute autocratic control. Food can be withheld from the masses by preventing it from being grown and harvested, by contaminating it and rendering it unfit for human consumption, or by simply preventing food from being distributed to a targeted population. The two most notable examples of dictators using food as a weapon in order to destroy the free will of their people comes from the regimes of Stalin and Hitler. Joseph Stalin engaged in his own Soviet style Holocaust when, in 1932 and 1933, estimated six to 20 million people in the Ukraine died from starvation when Stalin implemented his prescription of "hope and change" policies in order to eliminate the Ukrainian's desire for becoming their own nation state. Upon assuming power, the Stalinist Communist regime nationalized the food industry, and forced all of the region's farms into collectives. Thus, Stalin's vision of the Holocaust came to fruition in what history has dubbed the "Holdomor," in which millions perished in only a two year period, when the Soviet government began to exterminate the Ukrainian population by taking control of food and food production. Hitler proclaimed that food could be used as a tool "to discipline the masses"and he did not hesitate to use the control of food as a type of carrot and stick, in which he would reward accomplishment, and punish failure, as well as to ferment preferential class distinctions, in which his armed forces received the largest food ration cards.
Is Hurricane Sandy capable of altering the election result? The presidential candidates are hunkering down and trying to avoid looking partisan as this big, wet storm heads for the eastern seaboard. But any number of calculations are being made by the campaigns. Plausible arguments are flying, explaining why this storm is bad news, or is it good news, for both sides. In a conference call with reporters on Monday morning, bosses at the campaign headquarters of Barack Obama in Chicago stressed that the president is focused "on the storm and governing the country", and noted that he had cancelled events in storm hit states from Florida to Wisconsin. A well handled disaster can strengthen an incumbent president, just as a Katrina level bungle is a political, as well as a human disaster. Mitt Romney cancelled events planned for Monday night and Tuesday, citing the need to avoid putting supporters in danger or tying up emergency services. In Virginia, the Romney campaign bus will be delivering storm relief supplies. The Romney campaign also sent out a notice that it had suspended fundraising emails to the District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Virginia. To be brutal, a certain amount of bad weather on election day helps conservatives in every democracy. In crude terms, car driving conservative retirees still turn out in driving rain, when bus taking lower income workers just back from a night shift are more likely to give rain soaked polls a miss. School closures are a particular problem for low income families or single mothers scrambling to find child care. In this case, the weather is supposed to clear up well ahead of election day, but the impact could be felt in the turnout of early voters. Democrats will perceive that as bad news. The Obama campaign has pinned big hopes on increasing turnout among Obama supporting "sporadic voters", the sort of voters who give mid term elections a miss but may turn out in presidential years. According to Michael McDonald, an elections expert at George Mason University, whom I spoke to last week, this is the precise moment in the election cycle, when sporadic voters are most likely to turn out.
Who lost Libya? Indeed, who lost the entire Middle East? Those are the questions lurking behind the endless stream of headlines about "Benghazi gate." Here's the question we should really ask though: How did a tragic but isolated incident at a US consulate, in a place few Americans has ever heard of, get blown up into a pivotal issue in a too close to call presidential contest? My short answer: The enduring power of a foreign policy myth that will not die, the decades old idea that America has an inalienable right to "own" the world and control every place in it. I mean, you can't lose what you never had. This campaign season teaches us how little has changed since the early Cold War days, when Republican stalwarts screamed, "Who lost China?" More than six decades later, it's still surprisingly easy to fill the political air with anxiety by charging that we've"lost" a country or, worse yet, a whole region that we were somehow supposed to "have." The "Who lost?" formula is something like a magic trick. there are no ways to grasp how it works until you take your eyes away from those who are shouting alarms and look at what's going on behind the scenes. Who's in Charge Here? The curious case of the incident in Benghazi was full of surprises from the beginning. It was the rare pundit who didn't assure us that voters wouldn't care a whit about foreign affairs this year. It was the rare pundit who didn't assure us that voters wouldn't care a whit about foreign affairs this year. It was all going to be "the economy, stupid," 24/7, and if foreign issues did create a brief stir, surely the questions would be about Afghanistan, Pakistan, or China. Yet for weeks, the deaths of the Ambassador to Libya, J. Christopher Stevens, and three other Americans became the rallying cry of the campaign to unseat Barack Obama.
Since mid 2009, the US has been enjoying a virtual recovery, courtesy of a rigged inflation measure that understates inflation. The financial Presstitutes spoon out the governments propaganda that prices are rising less than 2%. But anyone who purchases food, fuel, medical care or anything else knows that low inflation is no more real than Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction or Ghadhafi's alleged attacks on Libyan protesters or Iran's nuclear weapons. Everything is a lie to serve the power brokers. During the Clinton administration, Republican economists pushed through a change in the way the CPI is measured in order to save money by depriving Social Security retirees of their cost of living adjustment. Previously, the CPI measured the change in the cost of a constant standard of living. The new measure assumes that consumers adjust to price increases by lowering their standard of living by substituting lower quality, lower priced items. If the price, for example, of New York strip steak goes up, consumers are assumed to substitute the lower quality round steak. In other words, the new measure of inflation keeps inflation down by reflecting a lowered standard of living. Statistician John Williams, who closely follows the collecting and reporting of official US economic statistics, reports that consumer inflation, as measured by the 1990 official government methodology has been running at about 9%. The 9% figure is more consistent with people's experience in grocery stores. Officially, the recession that began in 2007 ended in June 2009 after 18 months, making the Bush Recession the longest recession since World War II. However, John Williams says that the recession has not ended. He says that only the GDP reporting, distorted by an erroneous measurement of inflation, shows a recovery. Other, more reliable measures of economic activity, show no recovery. Williams reports that the economy began turning down in 2006, falling lower in 2008 and 2009, and bottom bouncing ever since.
At least two major New Jersey nuclear power plants are likely to shut on Monday as Hurricane Sandy makes landfall as a Category 1 storm, and more plants could reduce power as the storm triggers precautionary safety measures. Sandy, centered over the Atlantic Ocean about 310 miles southeast of New York City, was expected to hit near Delaware and south New Jersey in about 12 hours as a Category 1 hurricane, with winds of up to 90 miles per hour. The nuclear reactors in Sandy's current path include units at Public Service Enterprise Group Inc's 2,332 megawatt (MW) Salem and 1,161 MW Hope Creek plants in New Jersey, which were likely to bear the brunt of the storm before it moves inland. Those plants combined would account for about 19 percent of the state's total electricity capacity, although New Jersey also draws supplies from the whole Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland power region. PJM is the biggest power grid in the United States, serving more than 60 million people in 13 US Mid Atlantic and Midwest states and the District of Columbia. Electricity traders said if Sandy continues on her expected path, it was likely PSEG would have to shut the Salem and Hope Creek reactors later Monday, but they were mixed on whether the storm's winds would still be strong enough to force the shutdown reactors in Pennsylvania and Maryland, crossing near Constellation Nuclear Energy Group's 1,705 MW Calvert Cliffs nuclear plant Maryland, Exelon Corp's 2,244 MW Peach Bottom, 805-MW Three Mile Island and 2,264 MW Limerick in Pennsylvania, and PPL Corp's 2,450 2,450 MW Susquehanna in Pennsylvania. All US reactors have procedures that require operators to shut the units when hurricane force winds reach their siies, or when flood-waters reach certain levels. Nuclear power represents about 18 percent of the generating capacity in the US Mid Atlantic region. One megawatt powers about 1,000 homes. A few reactors in the area were already shut down for refueling or other maintenance, including Exelon's Oyster Creek in New Jersey, and PPL's Susquehanna in Pennsylvania.
In Vietnam, Agent Orange was dropped by the US to poison a foreign population. In Iraq and the former Yugoslavia, depleted uranium was used. In Western countries, things are a bit more complicated, because various states have tended to avoid using direct forms of physical violence to quell their own populations, unless you belong to some marginalized group or hit a raw nerve, as did the Occupy Movement last year. The pretence of democracy and individual rights has to be maintained. One option has been to use South American crack cocaine to dope up potential troublesome sections of the population. Its worked wonders: Highly lucrative for the drug running intelligence agencies and banks awash with drug money, while at the same time serving to dampen political dissent in the most economically and socially deprived areas. Another tactic has of course been the massive ever increasing growth of the surveillance industry to monitor ordinary citizens. But drugs, surveillance and direct violence are kind of a last resort to keep a population in check. Notwithstanding baton charges, tear gas and the use of rubber bullets on the European mainland and that the US Government is not ruling out the use of violence on its own people, ideology via the media has, and continues to be the choice of method for population control in Western countries. Whether its through the paranoia induced by the fear of terrorism or more general propaganda spewed out by the mainstream news channels, political agendas and modes of thought are encouraged which seek to guarantee subservience and integration, rather than forms of critical thought or action that may lead to a direct questioning of, or a challenge to prevailing forms of institutionalized power. From trade unions to political parties, oppositional groups are infiltrated, deradicalised and incorporated into the system, and critical stances are stifled, ridiculed or marginalized. Consensus is manufactured both in cultural and political terms.
Is Hurricane Sandy capable of altering the election result? The presidential candidates are hunkering down and trying to avoid looking partisan as this big, wet storm heads for the eastern seabord. But any number of calculations are being made by the campaigns. Plausible arguments are flying, explaining why this storm is bad news, or is it good news, for both sides. In a conference call with reporters on Monday morning, bosses at the campaign headquarters of Barack Obama in Chicago stressed that the president is focused on the storm and governing the country, and noted that he had cancelled events in storm hit states from Florida to Wisconsin. A well handled disaster can strengthen an incumbent president, just as Katrina-level bungle is a political, as well as human disaster. Mitt Romney cancelled events planned for Monday night and Tuesday, citing the need to avoid putting supporters in danger or tying up emergency services. In Virginia,,the Romney campaign also sent out a notice that it had suspended fundraising emails to the District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Virginia. To be brutal, a certain amount of bad weather on election day helps conservatives in every democracy. In crude terms, car driving conservative retirees still turn out in driving rain, when bus taking lower income workers just back from a night shift are more likely to give rain soaked polls a miss. School closures are a particular problem for low income families or single mothers scrambling to find childcare. In this case, the weather is supposed to clear up well ahead of election day, but the impact could be felt in the turnout of early voters. Democrats will perceive that as bad news. The Obama campaign has pinned big hopes on increasing turnout among Obama supporting "sporadic voters", the sort of voters who give mid term elections a miss, but may turn out in presidential years.
Myth: The US was forced to declare war on Japan after a totally unexpected Japanese attack on the American naval base in Hawaii on December 7, 1941. On account of Japan's alliance with Nazi Germany, this aggression automatically brought the US into the war against Germany. Reality: The Roosevelt administration had been eager for some time to wage war against Japan and sought to unleash such a war by means of the institution of an oil embargo and other provocations. Having deciphered Japanese codes, Washington knew a Japanese fleet was on its way to Pearl Harbor, but welcomed the attack, since a Japanese aggression would make it possible to sell the war to the overwhelmingly anti war American public. An attack by Japan, was supposed to avoid a declaration of war by Japan's ally, Germany, which was treaty bound to help only if Japan was attacked. However, for reasons which have nothing to do with Japan or the US but everything with the failure of Germany's lightning war against the Soviet Union, Hitler himself declared war on the US a few days after Pearl Harbor, on December 11, 1941. Fall 1941. The US, then as now, was ruled by a Power Elite of industrialists, owners and managers of the country's leading corporations and banks, constituting only a tiny fraction of its population. Then as now, these industrialists and financiers, Corporate America, had close connections with the highest ranks of the army, the warlords, as Columbia University sociologist C Wright Mills, who coined the term power elite, has called them, and for whom a few years later a big HQ, known as the Pentagon, would be erected on the banks of the Potomac River. Indeed, the military industrial complex had already existed for many decades when, at the end of his career as President, and having served it most assiduously, Eisenhower gave it that name. Talking about presidents: In the 1930's and 1940's, again then as now, the Power Elite kindly allowed the American people every four years to choose between two of the elites own members, one labelled Republican, the other Democrat, but few people know the difference, to reside in the White House in order to formulate and administer national and international policies.
Romnography. Where's the Persian Gulf? Syria is Iran's only ally in the Arab world. It's the route to the sea. It's the route for them to arm Hezbollah in Lebanon, which threatens, of course, our ally, Israel. According to Mitt Romney, presidential debate, October 23, 2012, seeing Syria remove Assad is a very high priority for us. The Islamic Republic of Iran has an extensive maritime coastline bordering onto the Persian Gulf, the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Sea. Iran is an ally of Syria but dopes not have a border with Syria. For Iran's commodity trade to reach the Mediterranean by land through Syria would require transit through Iraq, presently under US military occupation, and /or Turkey, a US ally and NATO stronghold. D+ Romney has a degree from Harvard. So much for University standards. But let us analyze a more serious issue: What are the potential geopolitical consequences of Mitt Romney's sheer ignorance were he to become President and Commander in Chief of the United States of America? One recalls that George W Bush at the height of his election campaign in 2000 thought the Taliban were a "rock group". When a Glamor correspondent asked Governor Bush what he thought about the Taliban, he just shrugged his shoulders, bemused. It took a bit of prompting from the journalist ("discrimination against women in Afghanistan") for Bush to rouse himself. Taliban in Afghanistan! for Bush to rouse himself! Taliban in Afghanistan! Absolutely. Reprisals. I thought you were talking about some rock group. That's how well informed about the outside world the prospective US president is. Even about very important present day developments that are on everyone's lips, that is, everyone with the slightest pretensions to culture, developments that he, if elected, will have to deal with. The next president of the US will have to make some fundamental decisions of a diplomatic, strategic and military nature with regard to Iran, which require an understanding of both geography and geopolitics.
On Monday night, Barack Obama won a decisive victory over Mitt Romney in a debate that's unlikely to swing a lot of votes. The CBS snap poll, which had given Romney a 24 point margin of victory in the first debate, found Obama winning the third and final contest by 30 points. Public Policy Polling's survey of swing state voters found Obama winning 53-42 among that group. CNN scored it for Obama by 8, and Fox News pundits declared the debate a draw, which suggests that Obama's win was difficult to deny. But the two candidates battled over foreign policy, ranked low on voters' list of issues, and they did so going up against both Monday Night Football and the deciding game of the National League Championship series. One can be pretty confident that Monday's debate was watched by far fewer people than the first two, at a time when far fewer voters remain on the fence. Coming into the debate, Obama enjoyed the advantage of incumbency, having a foreign policy record to run on, that is seen as strong by the rather narrow standards of the Beltway media. According to Gallup,, as the evening began, Obama led on the question of who voters trust to handle foreign affairs by a 12 point margin. He pressed that advantage, taking credit for ending the American military's active involvement in Iraq, promising to fulfill his pledge to complete the transition to Afghan security forces by the end of 2014, touting the number of unfair trade complaints he'd filed against China and, of course, reminding voters that he'd ordered the raid that finally got Osama Bin Laden. Romney enjoys an advantage from the debate format itself. He's able to furiously shake his etch a sketch, and in real time, the average voter has little way of knowing how far his rhetoric is straying from the positions he'd staked out for much of the campaign. Romney did exactly that on Monday, portraying himself as a candidate dedicated first and foremost to promoting global peace, a dubious claim, given that he has assembled a foreign policy team that includes some of the most belligerent veterans of the Bush administration, people like John Bolton and Eliot Cohen. In one notable exchange, Romney said, "we can't kill our way out of this mess. We're going to have to put in place a very comprehensive and robust strategy to help the world of Islam and other parts of the world, reject this radical violent extremism."
With the polls showing a tightening race, a Mitt Romney presidency is becoming a real possibility. As I write, New York Times polling guru Nate Silver gives the Republican a 29 percent chance of emerging victorious when the votes are cast in just under two weeks. The Romney Ryan campaign has offered a bewildering and often contradictory array of positions on the issues, which makes predicting what a Romney agenda might look like exceptionally difficult. What's more, we'd see a very different Romney administration if Democrats retain control of the Senate. Silver gives them an 88 percent chance of doing so, projecting Dems to hold 52.4 seats in the next Congress - it's highly unlikely they'll win the House. 1. The Romney Ryan Budget Let's assume for a moment, that the Republicans take the Senate. Mitt Romney has at times embraced Paul Ryan's "road-map" and he's also distanced himself from it, but there will be quite a bit of pressure from conservative activists and the Republican House to enact something along the lines of the road-map. There are two things to understand about Paul Ryan's budget. First, it has been carefully written, so that most of its provisions can be passed under a process known as budget reconciliation, which requires only a simple majority of votes in the Senate. Second, it is a right wing fantasy that, if enacted as written, would trigger a major drop in employment, and send the economy into a tailspin. It cuts are so deep, and would effect so many constituents, that it would have to be modified. It's one thing to campaign on such a plan, and another to govern with it. What does it do? According to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, by 2050, most of the federal government aside from Social Security, Medicaid, the the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and interest payments to just 3.75 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) by 2050. Since, as CBO notes, "spending for defense alone has not been lower than 3 percent of GDP in any year since World War II" and Ryan seeks a high level of defense spending, he increases defense funding by $228 billion over the next ten years above the pre sequestration baseline, the rest of government would largely have to disappear. That includes everything from veterans' programs to medical and scientific research, highways, education, nearly all programs for low income families and individuals other than Medicaid, national parks, border patrols, protection of food safety and the water supply, law enforcement, and the like.
The Australian parliament building reeks of floor polish. The wooden floors shine so virtuously they reflect the cartoon like portraits of prime ministers, bewigged judges and viceroys. Along the gleaming white, hushed corridors, the walls are hung with Aboriginal art, one painting after another as in a monolithic gallery, divorced from their origins, the irony brutal. The poorest, sickest, most incarcerated people on earth provide a facade for those who oversee the theft of their land and its plunder. Australia has 40% of the world's uranium, all of it on indigenous land. Prime Minister Julia Gillard has just been to India to sell uranium to a government that refuses to sign the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and whose enemy, Pakistan, is also a non signatory. The threat of nuclear war between them is constant. Uranium is an essential ingredient of nuclear weapons. Gillard's deal in Delhi formally ends the Australian Labor Party's long standing policy of denying uranium to countries that reject the NPT's obligation "to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament". Like the people of Japan, Australian Aborigines have experienced the horror of nuclear weapons. During the 1950's the British government tested atomic bombs at Maralinga in South Australia. The Aboriginal population was not consulted and received scant or no warning, and still suffer the effects. Yami Lester was a boy when he saw the nuclear flash and subsequently went blind. The enduring struggle of Aboriginal people for recognition as human beings has been a fight not only for their land but for what lies beneath it. Since they were granted a status higher than that of sheep, up to 1971, unlike the sheep, they were not counted. Many of their modest land rights have been subverted or diminished by governments in Canberra. In 2007, prime minister John Howard used the army to launch an emergency intervention in Aboriginal communities in the resource rich Northern Territory. Lurid and fraudulent stories of paedophile rings were the cover. Indigenous people were told they would not receive basic services if they did not surrender the leasehold of their land. Gillard's minister of indigenous affairs has since given this Orwellian title of "Stronger Futures". The tactics include driving people into hub towns and denying decent housing to those forced to live up to a dozen in one room. The removal of Aboriginal children has reached the level of the infamous "Stolen Generation" of the last century. Many may never see their families again. Once the intervention had got under way, hundreds of licences were granted to companies exploring for minerals, including uranium. Contemporary politics in Australia is often defined by the power of the mining companies. When the previous Labor prime minister, Kevin Rudd, proposed a tax on record mining profits, he was deposed by a backroom party cabal, including Gillard, who reduced the tax. Diplomatic cables obtained by WikiLeaks reveal that two of the plotters against Rudd were informants of the US embassy, which Rudd had angered by not following to the letter US plans to encircle China and to release uranium for sale to US clients such as India. Gillard has since returned Australia to its historic relationship with Washington, similar to that of an east European satellite of the Soviet Union. The day before Barack Obama arrived in Canberra last year to declare China the new enemy of the free world, Gillard announced the end of her party's ban on uranium sales. Washington's other post cold war obsessions demand the services of Australia. These include the intimidation of Iran and destruction of that country's independence, the undermining of the NPT and prevention of nuclear free zones that threaten the the nuclear armed dominance of the US and Israel. Unlike Iran, a founding signatory of the NPT and supporter of a nuclear free zone Middle East, the US and Israel ban independent inspections, and both are currently threatening to attack Iran which, as the combined agencies of US intelligence confirmed, has no nuclear weapons.