Dina Temple Raston: The Terror Courts: Rough Justice at Guantanamo Bay!

Last month, just minutes into a pretrial hearing for the five men accused of plotting the September 11 attacks, David Nevin, the lead defense attorney, asked the judge to stop the proceedings. His concern: A third party, possibly the CIA, might be listening to privileged conversations between the defense attorneys and their clients. This is not something we made up, Nevin told the judge. This is a genuine concern, that we have, and as officers of the court and as lawyers, we have to get to the bottom of it before we can go forward. Has the allegation been made in a federal court, it would have seemed at best a little paranoid. But in the military commissions at Guantanamo Bay, there is an oasis of space for such accusations. The special terrorist courts, which were originally set up by the Bush administration, to deal with foreign prisoners accused of terrorism, have been fighting allegations of second tier justice and double standards, since their inception. The Supreme Court weighed in, and found the Bush era commissions unconstitutional. Congress has reformed the commissions twice, once in 2006 and again in 2009, making them into a kind of hybrid of military courts, and federal ones. Even so, there is still a general sense, that something is just not right with the courts at Guantanamo Bay. For most Americans, the specific problems are difficult to recall, something about rough interrogations, hearsay evidence and indefinite detention. The details have remained sketchy. Until now, that is, thanks to The Wall Street Journal's Supreme Court reporter, Jess Bravin, whose new book anchors the criticisms in detailed facts. The Terror Courts is a comprehensive accounting of the creation of the commissions, in the months after the 9/11 attacks. It is a book that pulls no punches. It names names, and in so doing, it is a gutsy, finely wrought narrative that explains how a small group of Bush era political appointees managed to develop a parallel justice system, designed to ensure a specific outcome. The ingredients that go into such a system are fairly straight forward, Bravin explains. Strip the defendants of rights. Have an administrator, who is both judge and jury. Be selective about the military commission history, on which the system is based, the Bush administration focused on one outlier case, and then made sure to include the military's lawyers, so that their fealty to the Uniformed Code of Military Justice doesn't get in the way of the mission.  

Eric Boehlert: Debunking the NRA's Utterly and Provably False Claim!

that new gun laws won't save lives. One of the mantras of the American gun lobby, and one repeated constantly by its right wing media allies, is the absolutist view, that new gun restrictions aren't needed, because they won't work. That argument is often quickly joined by the fatalistic view, that there's nothing we can really do, to cut down the number of gun deaths in America, that government regulations, including expanded background checks for all gun purchases, would have no impact. Both views have been on constant display, as President Obama urges Congress to take action, and pass new control measures. Fox News contributor Bill Kristol, last week insisted, he'd seen zero analysis, zero argument, that any of the proposed regulations would make any appreciable difference in reducing gun violence and murders. On CNN, conservative Dana Loesch claimed, we have gun laws already on the books, and that new gun proposals would simply represent redundancies. The companion case to right wing claims, is that gun control regulations won't reduce deaths, is that the only way to achieve that goal, is to have more guns in circulation, which will achieve that goal. Obviously, that argument is false! But the clear flaw in the anti regulation claim is, that new government rules have been credited in recent years, with drastically reducing the number of US fatalities, surrounding another potentially dangerous consumer product: Automobiles! Look at the data: In 2011, the number of people killed in traffic accidents fell to 32,367, the lowest annual US tally since 1949. Automotive deaths peaked in 1972, with 54,589. That decline came despite the fact, that in over the last five plus decades, the number of drivers on American roads has exploded: 62 million then vs 210 million now. More recently, vehicular deaths plummeted 25 percent between 2005 and 2011, according to the Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Those number rose in 2012, ending a seven year decline. What do experts point to for the recent overall reduction in automotive deaths? They credit in part, state and federal efforts, often done in tandem with car manufacturers, which have made the potentially dangerous act of driving much less deadly. Experts attribute the change to a variety of reasons, including changes to cars, such as vehicle rollover protection, and programs to change driver behavior, such as campaigns addressing drunk driving, distracted driving and seat belt use. Laws aimed at young people also likely had an impact, notably older minimum drinking ages, and graduated drivers' licenses.

Jack A. Smith: The Dangers of War, What is Behind the US North Korea Conflict?

Whats happening between the US and North Korea, to produce such headlines this week as Korean Tensions Escalate, and North Korea Threatens US? The New York Times reported March 30: This week, North Korea's young leader, Kim Jung un, ordered his underlings to prepare for a missile attack on the United States. He appeared at a command center in front of a wall map, with the bold, unlikely title, Plans to Attack the Mainland US. Earlier in the month, his generals boated of developing a Korean style nuclear warhead, that could be fitted atop a long range missile. The US is well aware North Korea's statements are not backed up by a sufficient military power, to implement its rhetorical threats, but appears to be escalating tensions all the same. What's up? I'll have to go back a bit to explain the situation. Since the end of the Korean War, 60 years ago, the government of the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK or North Korea) has repeatedly put forward virtually the same four proposals to the United States. They are: 1. A peace treaty to end the Korean War. 2. The reunification of Korea, which has been temporarily divided into North and South since 1945. 3. an end to the US occupation of South Korea, and a discontinuation of annual month long US South Korean war games. 4. Bilateral talks between Washington and Pyongyang, to end tensions on the Korean peninsula. The US and its South Korean protectorate, have rejected each proposal over the years. As a consequence, the peninsula has remained extremely unstable since the 1950s. It has now reached the point, where Washington has used this year's war games, which began in early March, as a vehicle for staging a mock attack on North Korea, by flying two nuclear capable B-2 Stealth bombers over the region March 28. Three days later, the White House ordered F-22 Raptor Stealth fighter jets to South Korea, a further escalation of tensions. Here is what is behind the four proposals.1. The US refuses to sign a peace treaty to end the Korean War. It has only agreed to an armistice. An armistice is a temporary cessation of fighting by mutual consent. The armistice signed July 27, 1953, was supposed to transform into a peace treaty, when a final peaceful settlement is achieved. The lack of a treaty means war could resume at any moment. North Korea does not want a war with the US, history's most powerful military state. It wants a peace treaty. 2. Two Korea's exist as the product of an agreement between the USSR, which bordered Korea, and helped to liberate the northern part of the country from Japan in World War II, and the US, which occupied the southern half.


Tara Lohan: Six Things You Need to Know About the Arkansas Oil Spill?

By now, you already know that at least 84,000 gallons of crude spilled from the Exxon Mobil pipeline, swamping an Arkansas subdivision on Friday, and causing the evacuation of 22 homes. In addition to the loss of wildlife, damage to property, and environmental and human health hazards posed by the spill, may have implications for the Keystone XL pipeline currently under consideration by the Obama administration. There is a lot more to the story that's important to understand. Here are the crucial things. Inside Climate News reported shortly after the spill, that an Exxon official confirmed the pipeline was transporting a heavy form of crude from the Canadian tar sands region. Specifically, it has been identified as Wabasca Heavy, Lisa Song writes, which is a type of diluted bitumen, or dilbit, from Alberta's tar sand region, although you won't hear any Exxon folks calling it tar sands. Dilbit is some seriously nasty stuff. She writes about a previous dilbit spill by Enbridge in Michigan's Kalamazoo River in 2010: Dilbit is a mixture of heavy bitumen and diluents, light hydrocarbons used to thin the bitumen, so it can flow through pipelines. While most conventional crude oils will float on water, the bitumen began sinking into the river as the diluents evaporated, leaving a sludge of submerged oil, that defied traditional cleanup methods. Earlier this month, the EPA ordered Enbridge, Inc., the Canadian company that owns the pipeline, to dredge sunken oil from the riverbed. The cleanup has cost more than $820 million to date, and could top $1 billion, once the order is carried out. The Arkansas spill wasn't as big as the Michigan spill, and it was farther from main water bodies, but it's still serious business. If you want to know more about how dangerous tar sands dilbit can be, the Dilbit Disaster is a must read. The Pegasus pipeline, running more than 850 miles between Patoka, Illinois and Nederland Texas, is 20 inches in diameter, and was built in the 1940's, to carry crude from Texas to Illinois. But in 2006, the flow was reversed, in order to help relieve the tar sands crude bottleneck in Cushing, Oklahoma, the same reason given by proponents for the construction of Keystone XL. The pipeline was built to carry 65,000 barrels a day, but Exxon was allowed to expand that to 95,000 barrels a day, just a few years ago. All of these facts bring up some basic questions. What effect does a higher capacity have on the pipeline? And what effect does switching from conventional crude to dilbit have on the pipeline, considering it was built to have a much thinner crude flowing through it? 

Amanda Marcotte: 10 Craziest Things Pat Robertson Has Said!

It's tempting to dismiss Pat Robertson as an unimportant distraction, a living relic whose various kooky opinions might have mattered in the past, but don't matter any longer. That would be a mistake. While many other Christian right leaders have crowded the field in recent years, Robertson still has wide reaching influence through his popular televangelism program "The 700 Club." The show not only airs on Robertson's own Christian Broadcasting Network, but also the supposedly mainstream ABC Family Channel. Nor has Robertson really faded from the world of right wing activism. The university he founded, Regent, continues to crank out hard right politicians and bureaucrats, including Bob McDonnell, the governor of Virginia. The Robertson founded American Center for Law and Justice, which is meant to be a Christian right counterpoint to the ACLU, continues to strike huge blows to human rights in the courts, with a specific eye to dismantling religious freedom, and forcing fundamentalist Christian views on the rest of the country. While all this goes on, Pat Robertson continues to be as loony as ever, using his position as the host of The 700 Club to spout all sorts of silly, bizarre and horrific ideas to his rapt audience, who believes the man has a special relationship with God. His profile in the mainstream media, may have faded in recent years, but his influence over the Christian right, and therefore the Republican Party, doesn't seem to have dimmed much at all. With that in mind, here are 10 of his most recent alarming and disturbing statements. 1) Men with rebellious wives should live where wife beating is legal. When a caller complained, that his wife insults him, and once raised a hand to him, Robertson lamented the end of wife beating: I don't think we condone wife beating these days, but something has got to be done, he whined. After characterizing the wife, as someone who does not understand authority, he jokingly recommended that the husband move to Saudi Arabia, so that he can legally batter her. 2) You should cast demons out of second hand clothes you buy, lest their previous owner's evil infect you. After a 700 Club viewer asked if her mother was right to believe that clothes bought at a resale shop might have demons hiding in them, Robertson recommended praying over them as a precautionary measure. Hey, it ain't going to hurt anything to rebuke any spirits that happened to have attached themselves to those clothes, he said, adding that witches may have cursed the second hand clothes.     

Tomgram: Steve Fraser, A Disaster for All Seasons!

Even if you set aside the man made environmental disaster that is China, at a cost now estimated conservatively at $230 billion annually, ever more expensive disasters seem to be on the rise globally. Moreover, thanks to climate change, that is, the greenhouse gases we've been pumping into the atmosphere at record levels, the distinction between man made catastrophes and natural ones is rapidly blurring. In the United States, we've recently suffered a one two punch, when it comes to extreme weather. 2011now holds the American record for weather disasters, that cost $1 billion dollars or more with 14 of them, and 2012 came in an uncomfortable close second with 11. You can check out the list here. The Swiss Insurance firm Munich Re, points out that nowhere in the world, is the rising number of natural catastrophes more evident than in North America, a dubious honor. And of them all, perhaps the most expensive of recent times, already estimated to have cost more than $50 billion, is the drought that had 60% of the country in its grip last year, and has continued relentlessly into 2013, parching the Southwest, the Midwest, and parts of the West. This, in turn, almost assures another season of "record" wildfires and, according to early predictions, possibly a new round of flooding from late season heavy snowfall in the upper Midwest, and especially along the Red River. In addition, on the billion dollar bad news side of things, scientists now believe that the continuing dramatic loss of ice in Arctic waters, which has been heating up that region, is also changing northern hemisphere weather patterns. It is evidently ensuring more extreme weather in the middle latitudes which helps explain, for instance, Europe's frozen spring of 2013, and will evidently lead to even warmer summers for most of us. And when we're talking about extreme weather, extreme events, and disasters, let's not forget that globally the likelihood of extreme energy events, like BP's massive oil spill in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico, is also on the rise. After all, as Michael Klare has long argued at this site, energy companies are now ever more regularly going after extreme energy, in situations of rising danger. As a result, from the frack zone in the US, and the deep waters of the Atlantic Ocean off Brazil, to the Arctic seas of Alaska, the possibility of distinctly energy company made disasters is now on the rise, as, of course, are record oil company profits. In other words, we're now on a planet, where extreme disaster seems ever more normal and, when it comes to the weather, such extremes can increasingly be considered man made, or at least human influenced.   


Robert Scheer: It Wasn't David Stockman Who Wrecked the Economy!

Why is David Stockman driving everyone crazy? The shoot the messenger frenzy, that has greeted Sunday's New York Times op-ed by Ronald Reagan's former budget director, leaves one searching for the message that has so unhinged his critics. I borrowed that word "unhinged" from more than one of Stockman's critics, upset over his rant, bemoaning the loss of the gold standard, and the statist economics practiced by just about every American president, from Franklin Roosevelt through Ronald Reagan, on to the current inhabitant of the White House. The only exception were a few golden years of fiscal responsibility under Dwight Eisenhower, who, like Stockman, was possessed of prudent Midwestern economic values. Stockman remains some kind of naive libertarian, actually convinced that a free market ought to be free of control by the financial cartels, and the cronies they purchase in government. What's all the outrage about? What's wrong with putting the great Wall Street banks out in the cold, to compete as at risk free enterprises, without access to cheap Fed loans or deposit insurance? That's the same cold world in which the rest of us live. The headline on Stockman's piece, "State Wrecked: The Corruption of Capitalism in America" is unquestionably accurate. Actually, the title of his just released book, "The Great Deformation: The Corruption of Capitalism in America" is a bit softer, but you get the point. What his critics find so disturbing, is not a quaint argument about the purity of monetary policy, but rather the bold assertion that the overall American system of crony capitalism is in fact wrecked. This is a contention, that most Americans might readily agree with, in terms of their daily experience, but one that the hardly suffering pundit class would rather not contemplate. For all of the strident attacks on Stockman's column, I have yet to read a serious critique of his most brazen claim, that the bailouts and quantitative easing, that have saved Wall Street, and brought the stock market back to historic heights, represent class warfare, with the vast majority of Americans on the losing side: "Since the S&P 500 first reached its current level, in March 2000, the mad money printers at the Federal Reserve have expanded their balance sheet sixfold, to $3.2 trillion from $500 billion. Yet during that stretch, economic output has grown by an average of 1.7 percent a year, the slowest since the Civil War, real business investment has crawled forward at only 0.8 percent per year, and the payroll job count has crept up at a negligible 0.1 percent annually.       

Prof Michel Chossudovsky: The Confiscation of Bank Savings to "Save the Banks".

The Diabolical Bank Bail In Proposal. Is the Cyprus Bank Bail in a dress rehearsal  for things to come? Is a Savings Heist in the European Union and North America envisaged, which could result in the outright confiscation of bank deposits? In Cyprus, the entire payments system has been disrupted, leading to the demise of the real economy. Pensions and wages are no longer paid. Purchasing power has collapsed. The population is impoverished. Small and medium sized enterprises are spearheaded into bankruptcy. Cyprus is a country with a population of one million. What would happen, if similar 'hair cut"procedures were to be applied in the US or the European Union? According to the Washington based Institute of International Finance, which represents the consensus of the global financial establishment, "the Cyprus approach of hitting depositors and creditors when banks fail, would likely become a model for dealing with collapses elsewhere in Europe." Economic Times, March 27, 2013. It should be understood, that prior to the Cyprus onslaught, the confiscation of bank deposits had been contemplated in several countries. Moreover, the powerful financial actors, who triggered the bank crisis in Cyprus, are also the architects of the socially devastating austerity measures imposed in the European Union and North America. Does Cyprus constitute a model, or scenario? Are there lessons to be learned by these powerful financial actors, to be applied elsewhere at some later stage, in the Eurozone's banking landscape? According to the Institute of International Finance, hitting depositors could become the new normal of this diabolical project, serving the interests of the global financial conglomerates. The new normal is endorsed by the IMF and the European Central Bank. According to the IIF, which constitutes the banking elites mouthpiece, Investors would be well advised to see the outcome of Cyprus, as a reflection of how future stresses will be handled. What is at stake, is a process of financial cleansing, whereby the too big to fail banks in Europe and North America displace and destroy lesser financial institutions, with a view to eventually taking over the entire banking landscape. The underlying tendency at the national and global levels, is towards the centralization and concentration of bank power, while leading to the dramatic slump of the real economy. Bail ins have been envisaged in numerous countries. In New Zealand a hair cut plan was envisaged as early as 1997, coinciding with Asian financial crises.  

Benjamin Fulford: What is going on with North Korea is not what it seems!

The biggest eye opener for me, in decades of reporting about North Korea came seven years ago, when a top Chinese government agent in Japan, told me China considered North Korea to be a US colony. The recent so called threats of war by North Korea, being widely reported in the Western press, are in fact cabal efforts to intimidate that country, as it seeks independence from secret US rule. However, recent corporate media coverage of North Korea makes it obvious that very few members of the Western media have a clue about what is really going on there. That is why I have decided to write a basic primer for the benefit of interested readers and policy makers. The first thing people need to understand when looking at North Korea is to realize the country was set up by remnants of the Japanese Army, that was stationed in China during and before World War 2. The regime in North Korea thus closely resembles the war time government of Japan, with the main difference being the God King is named Kim, and not Hirohito. Remember, what is North Korea now, was part of Japan or under Japanese influence from the late 19th century until the middle of the 20th century. The next thing people need to understand is that part way through the post war US occupation of Japan, a fundamental change in US policy took place. Following the murder of President Roosevelt by Nazi sympathizers towards the end of World War 2, a large part of the US intelligence community was gradually taken over by Nazis. In Japan this meant that during the first part of the US occupation, strenuous efforts were made to turn Japan into a pacifist, socialist country. Then, as Nazi influence grew, the fake so called Cold War started, and the policy shifted to fighting the Soviet Union. As part of this new strategy, 50,000 Japanese intelligence and military officers, experts in fighting communism in China,were brought over to Japan from North Korea. This group has, to this day, exerted serious but hidden control over the Japanese political world in the post war era. That is why it is no coincidence, that the headquarters of the unofficial North Korean Embassy in Japan, the Chosen Soren is located next to the Yasukini shrine honoring Japan's war dead. For most of the post war era, the North Korean group in Japan was headed by Yasuhiro Nakasone, and was closely allied to US power brokers like George Bush Sr. and David Rockefeller. For example, until recently the 20,000 strong Inagawa kai yakuza gang prominently displayed a picture of George Bush Senior at its headquarters. However, this cozy relationship started to change during the Bush Jr. regime, when Asian societies found out that SARS was a race specific Nazi bio-weapon spread by the Bush regime with the aim of wiping out much of Asia's population.


Dean Henderson: Annunaki, Iraq and Pearl Harbor!

The process of stealing Iraq's oil began, when the Illuminati bankers, baited Saddam Hussein into invading Iran. While Saddam was preoccupied with the Iranians, the puppet Kuwaiti government, busied itself slowly moving its long disputed border with Iraq northward, into the area containing  the massive Rumaila oilfield, which the Four Horsemen now knew to be one of the richest in the world. There, the Kuwaitis established military installations, farms and oil facilities. The expansion added 900 square miles to Kuweit, and gave them control over the southern portion of Rumaila, which contains the largest portion of its estimated 30 billion barrels of oil. Iraq's oil terminal at Fao, was destroyed during the Iran Iraq War, crippling Iraqi National Oil Company (INOC) production at North Rumaila. Iraq wanted to lease the islands of Warbah and Bubiyan from Kuweit, to serve as deep sea ports, that could replace Fao. The Kuwaitis refused. In 1981, the Kuwait Oil Company (KOC), bought Santa Fe Drilling Corporation, and its high tech engineering subsidiary Braun. Santa Fe was a known CIA front. Braun had devised a new slant drilling technique. Throughout the 1980's KOC used this technology to drill horizontally into the Rumaila oilfield, 90% of which fell into Iraqi territory. The Iraqis said Kuwait stole $10 billion worth of crude oil. After the Gulf War, Santa Fe continued to steal Iraqi oil. In April 1993 Kenneth Beaty, head of exploration for Santa Fe, was arrested by the Iraqi government, when he was found inside Iraq, checking an oil well at Rumaila. He was sentenced to eight years at Abu Ghraib prison on trespassing charges. Estimates of Iraqi crude reserves continue to climb. The current estimate is 112 billion barrels, second only to Saudi Arabia, and up from 97 billion barrels just a decade ago. And much of Iraq remains unexplored. David Mangan Jr., editor of The Oil Daily, later said of the Gulf War, "It is most likely that the US plan, from the beginning was to capture Southern Iraq, because that land holds the richest oil fields on earth. But Iraq contains something more important than oil. Rumaila lies at the heart of what was Mesopotamia, between the Tigres and Euphrates Rivers, that drain into the Persian Gulf. The world's most ancient writings, are etched on Sumerian clay tablets, buried beneath the muck at the estuaries of these great rivers. During biblical times, the are was known as Chaldea. It was here, Annunaki researchers say, where the Nubian intruders chose to land, due to its plentiful supply of fossil fuels.  

Tomgram: Dilip Hiro. How the Pentagon Corrupted Afghanistan!

America's post 9/11 conflicts, have been wars of corruption, a point surprisingly seldom made in the mainstream media. Keep in mind that George W Bush's administration was a monster of privatization. It had its own set of crony corporations, including Halliburton, KBR, Bechtel, and various oil companies, as well as a set of mercenary rent a gun outfits like Blackwater, DynCorp, and Triple Canopy, that came into their own in this period. It took the plunge into Iraq in March 2003, sweeping those corporations and an increasingly privatized military in with it. In the process, Iraq would become an example, not of the free market system, but of a particularly venal form of crony capitalism or, as Naomi Klein has labeled it, "disaster capitalism". Add in another factor: in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, the Bush administration began pouring money into the Pentagon, into, that is, an organization, whose budget has never been able to pass an audit. There was so staggeringly much money to throw around then, and hubris to spare as well. Among the first acts of L Paul Bremer III, the new American proconsul in Baghdad, was the disbanding of Saddam Hussein's army, creating an unemployed potential insurgent class, and the closing down of a whole range of state enterprises, along with the privatization of the economy, creating their unemployed foot soldiers. All of this, in turn, paved the way for a bonanza of reconstruction contracts granted, of course, to the administration's favorite corporations to rebuild the country. There were slush funds aplenty. Money went missing without anyone blinking, and American occupation officials reportedly systematically looted Iraqi funds. In April 2003, when American troops entered Baghdad, it was already aflame, and being looted by its own citizens. As it turned out, the petty looters soon enough went home, and then the real looting of the country began. The occupiers, thanks to the UN, fully controlled Iraq's finances, and no one at the UN or elsewhere, had the slightest ability to exercise any real supervision over what the occupation regime did, or how it spent Iraq's money. Via a document labeled Order 17, Bremer granted every foreigner connected to the occupation enterprise, the full freedom of the land, not to be interfered with in any way, by Iraqis or any Iraqi political or legal institution. He gave them all, that is, an official get out of jail free card. Who would be surprised, then, that the massive corporate attempt to rebuild Iraq would result in a plague of over-billing, remarkable reconstruction effort, that would leave the country with massive unemployment, and without reliable electricity, water, or sewage systems?

Robert Scheer: It wasn't David Stockman Who Wrecked the Economy!

Why is David Stockman driving everyone crazy? The shoot the messenger frenzy, that has greeted Sunday's New York Times, op ed by Ronald Reagan's former budget director, leaves one searching for the message that has unhinged his critics. I borrowed that word unhinged, from more than one of Stockman's critics, upset over his rant, bemoaning the loss of the gold standard, and the statist economics practiced by just about every American president, from Franklin Roosevelt, through Ronald Reagan on to the current inhabitant of the White House. The only exception was a few golden years of fiscal responsibility under Dwight Eisenhower, who, like Stockman, was possessed of prudent Midwestern economic values. Stockman remains some kind of naive libertarian, actually convinced that a free market ought ti o be free of control by the financial cartels, and the cronies they purchase in government. What's all the outrage about? What's wrong with putting the great Wall Street banks out in the cold, to compete as at risk free enterprises, without access to cheap Fed loans or deposit insurance? That's the same cold world in which the rest of us live. The headline on Stockman's piece, State Wrecked: The Corruption of Capitalism in America is unquestionably accurate. Actually, the title of his just released book, The Great Deformation: The Corruption of Capitalism in America, is a bit softer, but you get the point. What his critics find so disturbing, is not a quant argument about the purity of monetary policy, but rather the bold assertion, that the overall American system of crony capitalism is in fact wrecked. This is a contention that most Americans might readily agree with, in terms of their daily experience, but one that the hardly suffering pundit class would rather not contemplate. For all the strident attacks on Stockman's column, I have yet to read a serious critique of his most brazen claim, that the bailouts and quantitative easing, that have saved Wall Street, and brought the stock market back to historic heights, represent class warfare, with the vast majority of Americans on the losing side: Since the S&P 500 first reached its current level, in March 2000, the mad money printers at the Federal Reserve have expanded their balance sheet sixfold to $3.2 trillion from $500 billion. Yet during that stretch, economic output has grown by an average of 1.7 percent a year, the slowest since the Civil War, real business investment has crawled forward, at only 0.8 percent per year, and the payroll job count has crept up at a negligible 0.1percent annually. Real median family income growth has dropped 8 percent, and the number of full time middle class jobs, 6 percent.     


Felicity Arbuthnot: Liberating Iraqis, Limb by Limb, Life by Life, Home by Home!

Why should we hear about body bags and deaths, I mean, it's not relevant, so why waste my beautiful mind on something like that. Former First Lady, Barbara Bush, Good Morning America, 18th March 2003. In these days of the tenth anniversary of the illegal invasion, and near destruction of Iraq, answers are owed not alone for the dead, but to the cancer stricken, the deformed, to their parents, their siblings and all Iraqis. They were left with a land, poisoned by depleted uranium in 1991, the burden ever building over twelve more years of illegal US and UK bombings, then the enormity of 2003. Fallujah's victims have rightly come under medical and media scrutiny, since the US military onslaught of April and November 2004, but throughout Iraq, there have been no reports of areas unaffected. In context, Dahr Jamail writes from Fallujah, Official Iraqi government statistics show that, prior to the outbreak of the First Gulf War in 1991, the rate of cancer cases in Iraq, was 40 out of 100,000 people. By 1995, it had increased to 40 out of 100,000 people. By 1995, it had increased to 800 out of 100,000 people, and by 2005, it had doubled to at least 1,600 out of 100,000 people. Current estimates show the increasing trend continuing. As shocked as these statistics are, due to a lack of adequate documentation, research and reporting of cases, the actual rate of cancer, and other diseases, is likely to be much higher, than even these figures suggest. He also cites a dramatic jump in miscarriages and premature births, particularly in areas where heavy US military operations occurred, as in Fallujah. Jamail cites the study by Dr Chris Busby, Malak Hamdan and Entesar Ariabi: Cancer, Infant Mortality and Birth Sex Ration in Fallujah, Iraq 2005-2009. Of it, Dr Busby's opinion was, that the Fallujah health crisis represented the highest rate of genetic damage in any population ever studied. There were numerous reports, during the 2004 April and November-December, US assaults on Fallujah of, in addition to DU, three times unanimously designated a weapon of mass destruction by UN Sub Committees, illegal, experimental chemical weapons and napalm being used in the decimation of this city of about three hundred thousand people. After the second assault, Dr Saleh Hussein Iswawi of the Fallujah General Hospital told the BBC, About sixty to seventy percent of homes and buildings, are completely crushed and damaged, and not ready to inhabit.   

Eric Margolis: War Risk Rises Sharply In Korea!

The United States, and the two feuding Koreas, could blunder into a real war, unless both Pyongyang and Washington cease provoking one another. Last week, two nuclear capable US B-2 stealth bombers flew non stop from America to South Korea, and then home. These invisible aircraft can carry the GBU-43/B MOAB 13,600kg bomb, that is said to be able to blast through 70 meters of reinforced concrete, putting North Korea's underground nuclear facilities, and its leadership's command bunkers under dire threat. Earlier this month, US B-52's heavy bombers staged mock attack runs over South Korea, within minutes of flying time of the North, rekindling memories of the massive US carpet bombing raids, that devastated North Korea during the 1950's Korean War. US South Korean Australian war games, in March, were designed to train for war with the North. The US media ignored these provocative exercises, but, as usual, North Korea went ballistic, foolishly threatening to attack the US with long ranged missiles it does not possess. We have grown jaded over the years, by North Korea's threats, and chest beating, but its recent successful nuclear test, and work on a long ranged missile, have begun to add muscle to Pyongyang's threats. No sooner was the new young  North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, in power than the US, South Korea and Japan began testing him. More important, the US South Korea defense treaty calls on Washington to militarily intervene, if war erupts between North and South Korea. Given present tensions, a border fight on the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), commando raids by North Korea's 110,000 man special forces, air or naval clashes, could quickly lead to full war. North Korea has repeatedly threatened to flatten parts of South Korea's capitol, Seoul, using 11,000 heavy guns, and rocket batteries, hidden in caves along the DMZ. North Korean commandos and missile batteries are tasked with attacking all US airbases, and command headquarters in South Korea. The 28,500 US troops based in South Korea, will also be a primary target. North Korea's medium ranged missiles are aimed at US bases on mainland Japan, Okinawa and Guam. North Korea's tough 1.1 million man army is poised to attack south. Massive US air-power would eventually blunt such an advance, but that would mean moving US warplanes from the Gulf and Afghanistan. The US Air Force's stock of bombs and missiles, are perilously low, and its equipment showing heavy wear and tear. 

Sartre Batr: Private Prisons and the Enslavement Society.

What more time honored practice in the long history of state sponsored servitude, than the institutionalization of prisoners? Incarceration for offenses against government laws is a cornerstone for power and survivability of any regime. Prisons may have been hellholes over the centuries, but seldom has the internment of convicted lawbreakers been a growth industry for private profit. It almost makes one wonder, exactly who are the crooks. While most hard pressed citizens want a safe and secure society, few ever give even a passing thought to the insatiable corporatist criminalization of the criminal justice system. Just how many Americans agree with the proposition, if you did the crime, you need to serve the time. All loyal law and order proponents can take pride in the one area, where the imperium of government discipline still ranks first among nations. A Global Research article, The Prison Industry in the United States: Big Business, or a New Form of Slavery? points out some staggering facts. There are approximately 2 million inmates in state, federal and private prisons throughout the country. According to California Prison Focus, no other society in human history, has imprisoned so many of its own citizens. The figures show, that the United States has locked up more people than any other country, a half million more than China, which has a population five times greater than the US Statistics, reveal that the United States holds 25% of the world's prison population, but only 5% of the world's people. From less than 300,000 inmates in 1972, the jail population grew to 2 million by the year 2000. In 1990, it was one million. Ten years ago, there were only five private prisons in the country, with a population of 2,000 inmates. Now, there are 100, with 62,000 inmates. It is expected that by the coming decade, the number will hit 360,000, according to reports. Just imagine the hidden solution to the high unemployment economy, is staring in our faces, without even a hint of public reaction. The ultimate entrepreneurial partnership, allows for corporate security firms to house government dissenters, or rebellious non conformers. Private prisons are the biggest business in the prison industry complex. About 18 corporations guard 10,000 prisoners in 27 states. The two largest are Correctional Corporation of America (CCA), and Wackenhut, which together control 75%. Private prisons receive a guaranteed amount of money for each prisoner, independent of what it costs to maintain each one.   


Tomgram: Ira Chemus, Obama 's Risky Middle East Fantasy!

Had you searched for Israel, nuclear weapons at Google News in the wake of President Obama's recent trip to the Middle East, you would have gotten a series of headlines like this. Obama: Iran, more than a year away from developing nuclear weapon (CNN), Obama vows to thwart Tehran's nuclear drive, the Times of Israel, Obama: No nuclear weapons for Iran, US, Israel increasingly concerned about construction of Iran's plutonium producing reactor, Obama says there is still time to find diplomatic solution to Iran nuke dispute: Netanyahu hints at impatience, Iran's leader threatens to level cities if Israel attacks, criticizes US nuclear talks. By now, we're so used to such a world of headlines, about Iran's threatening nuclear weapons, and its urge to wipe out Israel, that we simply don't see how strange it is. at the moment, despite one aircraft carrier task force sidelined in Norfolk, Virginia, theoretically because of sequester budget cuts, the US continues to maintain a massive military presence around Iran. That modest sized regional power, run by theocrats, has been hobbled by ever tightening sanctions, its skies filled with US spy drones, its offshore waters with US warship. Its nuclear scientists have been assassinated, assumedly by agents connected to Israel, and its nuclear program attacked by Washington and Tel Aviv, in the first cyber-war in history. As early as 2007, the US Congress was already ponying up hundreds of millions of dollars for a covert program of destabilization that evidently involved cross border activities, assumedly using US special operations forces, and that's only what's known about the pressure being exerted on Iran. With this, and the near apocalyptic language of nuclear fear that surrounds it, has gone a powerful, if not always acknowledged, urge for what earlier in the new century was called regime change. Who can forget the neocon quip of the pre Iraq invasion moment: Everyone want to go to Baghdad, real men want to go to Tehran? And all that of this is due, so we are told, to what remains a fantasy nuclear weapon, one that endangers no one, because it doesn't exist, and most observers don't think that Tehran is n the process of preparing to build one either. In other words, the scariest thing in our world, or at least in the Middle Eastern part of it, if you believe Washington, Tel Aviv, and much reporting on the subject, is a nuclear will o the wisp. In the meantime, curiously enough, months can pass without significant focus on or discussion of Pakistan's expanding nuclear arsenal.         

Richard Hooke: Did George HW Bush Coordinate a JFK Hit Team?

This is not the first time, and surely will not be the last, that George H W Bush, former Director of the CIA, and the 41st President of the United States, has been implicated in the death of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, our 35th president. In an earlier study, for example, Was George HW Bush involved in the assassination of JFK? John Hankey and I both address this question, where he provides a great deal of evidence, supporting a role for GHWB in the Dealy Plaza turkey shoot. In this new study, Richard Hooke substantiates that claim, and advances additional proof of his own. I believe that they are right! That GHWB knew Malcolm Mac Wallace from Yale, is especially stunning. Mac Wallace was LBJ's personal hit man, and murdered as many as a dozen persons for Lyndon, including one of his own sisters, who was talking too much about his business, to allow her to continue to speak. There is substantial proof, that LBJ was involved in the assassination, where his life had been dedicated to becoming the president of all the people. As Phil Nelson, LBJ: Mastermind of JFK's Assassination, was relentless in his pursuit. Madeleine Duncan Brown, Texas in the Morning, 1997, Barr McClellan, Blood, Money & Power, (2003) and Billy Sol Estes, A Texas Legend (2004) have also identified LBJ as the pivotal player, which has been confirmed by E Howard Hunt, Last Confessions (2007), who identified LBJ, Cord Meyer, David Atlee Phillips, William Harvey, and David Sanchez Morales as in "the chain of command". Even Jack Ruby, who was in the position to know, asserted that, if someone else had been Vice President, the assassination would never have occurred. McClellan concluded that Texas oil men, such as Clint Murchison and HL Hunt, had provided financing for the assassination, in order to preserve the oil depletion allowance at 27.5%, which remained unchanged under LBJ. I had over 100 conversations with Madeleine Duncan Brown, who began an affair with Lyndon in 1948, and bore him a son, Steven, in 1950, who was not his only child out of wedlock, but was his only male offspring, who told me about their renderzvous at the Driskill Hotel in Austin, Tx, on New Year's Eve, only six weeks after the assassination, when she confronted him with rumors that he had been involved, since no one stood to gain more personally, where upon Lyndon blew up, and told her, that the CIA and the oil boys had decided that JFK had to be taken out. That Mac Wallace was involved is not in serious doubt!   

MIchael Winship: 40 Years After Watergate, It's Almost

Impossible to hold the Government accountable. At moments, The Lessons of Watergate conference, held a couple of weeks ago in Washington, DC by a citizen's lobby Common Cause, was a little like that two man roadshow, retired baseball players Bill Buckner and Mookie Wilson have been touring. In it, they retell the story of the catastrophic moment, during the bottom of the last inning of game six of the 1986 World Series, when the Mets' Wilson hit an easy ground ball toward Buckner of the Red Sox, who haplessly let it roll between his legs. That notorious error ultimately cost Boston the championship. As The New Yorker magazine's Reeves Wiedeman wrote of the players' joint public appearance, "It is as if Custer and Sitting Bull agreed to deconstruct Little Bighorn." Or those World War II reunions, where aging Army Air Corps men meet the Luftwaffe pilots who tried to shoot them down over Bremen. So, too, in Washington, four decades after the Watergate break in scandal that led to the downfall of President Richard Nixon. Up on stage, was Daniel Ellsberg of Pentagon Papers fame, one of the first victims of Nixon's infamous plumbers, the burglars who went skulking into the night, to attempt illegal break ins, including one at the office of Ellsberg's psychiatrist. I want to add something to the history here, that I've never told, Ellberg said, then asked. Is Alex Butterfield still alive? A voice shouted from a corner of the room, I'm over here. And sure enough, it was Alexander Butterfield, former deputy to Nixon chief of staff HR Bob Haldeman, and a pivotal, if accidental notable in the Watergate saga. In July 1973, Butterfield let slip to the Senate Watergate committee, that Nixon made secret audio tapes of all his meetings at the White House, a revelation that cracked the scandal wide open. We never did hear the story Ellsberg wanted to tell, he decided he needed to clear it with Butterfield before he went public. The Common Cause event was filled with such slightly surreal Moments, kind of like a Comic Con for history buffs and policy wonks. Just moments before Ellsberg spoke, I had been chatting with former Brooklyn Congresswoman Liz Holtzman, when Butterfield walked over, introduced himself, and told Holtzman, I was in love with you, even when I was at the White House. Holtzman was a prominent member of the House Judiciary Committee, that in July 1974 passed three articles of impeachment against Nixon. He resigned less than two weeks later.  

Ellen Brown: It Can Happen Here, The Bank Confiscation Scheme

for US and UK Depositors. Confiscating the customer deposits in Cyprus banks,, it seems, was not a one off, desperate idea of a few Eurozone troika officials, scrambling to salvage their balance sheets. A joint paper by the US Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and the Bank of England, dated December 10, 2012, shows that these plans have been long in the making. That they originated with the G20 Financial Stability Board in Basel, Switzerland, and that the result will be to deliver clear title to the banks of depositor funds. New Zealand has a similar directive, discussed in my last article here, indicating that this isn't just an emergency measure for troubled Eurozone countries. New Zealand's Voxy reported on March 19th. The National Government is pushing a Cyprus style solution to bank failure in New Zealand, which will see small depositors lose some of their savings to fund big bank bailouts. Open Bank Resolution (OBR) is Finance Minister Bill English's favored option dealing with a major bank failure. If a bank fails under OBR, all depositors will have their savings reduced overnight, to fund the banks bail out. Can They Do That? Although few depositors realize it, legally the bank owns the depositors funds, as soon as they are put in the bank. Our money becomes the banks, and we become unsecured creditors, holding IOU's or promises to pay. Until now the bank has been obligated to pay the money back on demand, in the form of cash. Under the FDIC-BOE plan, our IOU's will be converted into bank equity. The bank will get the money, and we will get stock in the bank. With any luck, we may be able to sell the stock to someone else, but when and at what price? Most people keep a deposit account, so they can have ready cash to pay the bills. The 15 page FDIC-BOE document is called Resolving Globally Active. Systematically Important. Financial Institutions. It begins by explaining that the 2008 banking crisis has made it clear, that some other way, besides taxpayer bailouts is needed to maintain financial stability. Evidently anticipating that the next financial collapse will be on a grander scale, than either the taxpayers or Congress is willing to underwrite, the authors state: An efficient path for returning the sound operations of the G-SIFI to the private sector, would be provided, by exchanging or converting a sufficient amount of the unsecured debt, from the original creditors of the failed company, meaning the depositors, into stock.   


Tara Lohan: The Coming Crash, Our Addiction to Endless

Growth on a finite planet. If you want to understand how much energy costs, don't look at your electric bill. Instead, get a copy of the new book, Energy, Over-development and the Delusion of Endless Growth. This massive coffee-table book, contains hundreds of arresting images, showing the effects of our energy choices, including oil spills, nuclear accidents, massive solar arrays, tar sands mines, fracking operations, transmission lines, and more. The photos are complemented by essays from leading writers, like Wes Jackson, Wendell Brown, and many others, which put into context our growing energy problems, and what we can do about them. The book is a collaboration of great minds, including editors Tom Butler and George Wuerthner, and contributing author Richard Heinberg. It's also a partnership between the Post Carbon Institute, and the Foundation for Deep Ecology, co-published by PCI and Watershed Media. While the book delves greatly into different energy sources, and their limitations, the heart of the book is really not so much about what kinds of energy we use, but how much. To get a clearer understanding of this, Alter-Net spoke with contributing writer Richard Heinberg, a senior fellow at PCI, and the author of numerous books, including The End of Growth: adapting to our New Economic Reality (June 2011), Blackout: Coal, Climate, and the Last Energy Crisis (2009) and Peak Everything: Waking Up to the Century of Declines (2007). Tara Lohan: How did this book project come about? I know it started out as a book about tar sands, but then it evolved into so much more. Richard Heinberg: The economy is all about energy. Almost all of our environmental issues relate to energy. Almost all of our environmental issues relate to energy in one way or another. Certainly, climate change does. War and peace, it's all about energy. Upping the energy literacy of the American people, and thought leaders is a pretty high priority. Explain a little bit more what you mean by energy literacy, because I know you talk about that in the book as well. RH: Well, surprisingly few people have really looked at or thought about, or studied what energy is. It's in all our lives. We all depend on it for everything we do, but energy is pretty elusive. You can't hold a jar of pure energy in your hands. Useful energy comes to us in various forms.

Shamus Cooke: How Obama Chose War Over Peace in Syria!

With Syria on the brink of national genocide, outside nations have only two options: Help reverse the catastrophe or plunge this torn nation deeper into the abyss. Countries can either work towards a peaceful political solution, or they can continue to pour money, guns, and fighters into the country to ensure a steady gushing into the bloodbath. President Obama will have no talk of peace. He has chosen war, since the very start, and he's sticking to it. A recent New York Times article revealed that President Obama has been lying through his teeth, about the level of US involvement in the Syrian conflict since the beginning. The President recently said, that the US government continues to give only "non-lethal" military aid to the rebels, but the New York Times revealed that the CIA has been actively funneling and distributing massive shipments of weapons to the rebels,over the borders of Jordan and Turkey. This "arms pipeline" of illegal gun trafficking, has been overseen by the US government since January 2012. It has literally been the lifeblood of the Syrian rebels, and thus the cause of the immense bloodshed in Syria. The New York Times reports: "The CIA role in facilitating the weapons shipments gave the United States a degree of influence over the process of weapons distribution. American officials have confirmed, that senior White House officials were regularly briefed on the weapons shipments." The article also explains, that a conservative estimate of the weapons shipment to date is 3,500 tons. So while Obama has repeatedly lied about non lethal military aid, he has been personally involved in overseeing a multi-country flood of weapons into Syria, many of which are given to terrorist organizations. The only effective fighting force for the Syrian rebels has been the terrorist grouping the Al Nusra Front, and now we know exactly where they got their guns. If not for this US sponsored flood of guns, the Syrian rebels, many of them from Saudi Arabia, and other countries, would have been militarily defeated long ago. Tens of thousands of lives would thus have been spared, and a million refugees could have remained in their homes in Syria. The large scale ethnic religious cleansing, initiated by the rebels, would have been preventable. But Obama is so intent on war, that he will not even discuss peace with the Syrian government. He has repeatedly stated, that there are preconditions for peace negotiations, the most important one being the downfall of the Syrian government, ie, regime change. If a toppling of a nation's government is Obama's precondition for peace, then Obama is by definition choosing war!  

Robert Rosebrock: General Shiinseki Ordered yo Surrender

General Eric K. Shinseki, Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, has continuously failed our Military Veterans, including failing to file and execute disability claims in a timely manner, and to provide quality healthcare and housing for disabled homeless Veterans, particularly in Los Angeles, where there's already a National Veterans Home, established 125 years ago, but the buildings are vacant and rat infested, while the land is misappropriated for non Veteran use. It's well documented that nationwide, the VA has a shameful back log of over 900,000 disability claims with Veterans waiting up to 650 days to get necessary health care and disability benefits. During a recent Senate Hearing, members of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, demanded the VA turn over its internal performance data, to give Congressional lawmakers direct insight as to why the agency is so dysfunctional. Consistent with the VA's modus operandi, Allison Hickey, the VA's undersecretary for benefits, was evasive, vague, dismissive, non cooperative, and refused to turn over requested data. Think about it: If the VA openly and defiantly stonewalls the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, and denies them pertinent information, what must it be like for lonely disabled Veterans in the isolated office, of intimidating and confrontational VA bureaucrats? Under General Shinseki's antagonistic command, the VA's willful neglect and bureucratic malice, has compounded the stress of intimidating and confrontational VA bureaucrats? Under General Shinseki's antagonistic command, the VA's willful neglect and bureaucratic malice, has compounded the stress, and depression of disabled Veterans, which can only lead to homelessness. Homelessness can lead to hopelessness and desperation, which can only lead to suicide, as 22 Veterans voluntarily take their lives every day, on average, across the nation. We have found the enemy, and it is the VA. This ruthless war against or nation's disabled Veterans must cease! Thus, it's no longer the days of yore, when we pleaded: "Mr. Secretary, this is to respectfully request that you do the right thing, and resign." Now it's an order! General: Surrender your command, posthaste! That's right General, it's over! You lost the despicable war you and your bureaucrats have been waging against our nation's disabled and homeless Veterans.