Aug 312011
 
The Examiner
William Heuisler

Today Attorney General Eric Holder began the cover up for the Fast and Furious gun smuggling scheme that was the proximate cause of the murder of Tucson District Border Agent, Brian Terry.

Acting director Kenneth Melson of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) was demoted to a senior adviser in Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of Legal Policy. Supposedly, he will be advising the Attorney General (AG) on legal matters. Note: Melson was transferred, not fired and released from DOJ aegis.

Minnesota U.S. Attorney, Todd Jones will take over as acting ATF director.

Melson has become the first Obama Administration sacrifice to Congress’s investigation of ATF’s disastrous gun-walking scheme – born as Operation Gunrunner – called Fast and Furious in Arizona. ATF’s Fast and Furious initiated and carried out sales of thousands of firearms to straw purchasers who transferred them to Mexican drug cartels.

The Fast and Furious investigation began after ATF whistleblowers advised Congress they had been ordered to monitor sales of thousands of guns in Arizona and trace them to Mexican drug cartels. But agents said the weapons were just allowed to disappear. Last December, two of these Gunrunner/Fast and Furious weapons were found at the Arizona murder scene of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry

Today Attorney General Eric Holder began the cover up for the Fast and Furious gun smuggling scheme that was the proximate cause of the murder of Tucson District Border Agent, Brian Terry.

Acting director Kenneth Melson of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) was demoted to a senior adviser in Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of Legal Policy. Supposedly, he will be advising the Attorney General (AG) on legal matters. Note: Melson was transferred, not fired and released from DOJ aegis.

Minnesota U.S. Attorney, Todd Jones will take over as acting ATF director.

Melson has become the first Obama Administration sacrifice to Congress’s investigation of ATF’s disastrous gun-walking scheme – born as Operation Gunrunner – called Fast and Furious in Arizona. ATF’s Fast and Furious initiated and carried out sales of thousands of firearms to straw purchasers who transferred them to Mexican drug cartels.

The Fast and Furious investigation began after ATF whistleblowers advised Congress they had been ordered to monitor sales of thousands of guns in Arizona and trace them to Mexican drug cartels. But agents said the weapons were just allowed to disappear. Last December, two of these Gunrunner/Fast and Furious weapons were found at the Arizona murder scene of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.

 
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Congressman Darrell Issa, Chairman of the Government Oversight Committee, let it be known that Melson was just the first. “While the reckless disregard for safety that took place in Operation Fast and Furious certainly merits changes within the Department of Justice, the Oversight and Government Reform Committee will continue its investigation to ensure that blame isn’t offloaded on just a few individuals for a matter that involved much higher levels of the Justice Department,” Issa said. (Yager, 2011)

To clarify Congress’ future intentions, Issa continued, “There are still many questions to be answered about what happened in Operation Fast and Furious and who else bears responsibility, but these changes are warranted and offer an opportunity for the Justice Department to explain the role other officials and offices played in the infamous efforts to allow weapons to flow to Mexican drug cartels.”

AG Holder said, “As a seasoned prosecutor and former military judge advocate, U.S. Attorney Jones is a demonstrated leader who brings a wealth of experience to this position.”

It is not over, but two questions come to mind: Why would a seasoned prosecutor and US Attorney take such a job? When will AG Holder be forced to take responsibility?

Yager, J. (2011). The Hill. ATF head removed by DOJ after Fast and Furious controversy. http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/178735-atf-head-removed-after-fast-and-furious-controversy


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Aug 312011
 
The Atlantic
Conor Friedersdorf

The American people should be allowed to know the legal reasoning offered to justify warrantless surveillance during the Bush Administration

What was Bush Administration lawyer John Yoo thinking when he wrote various legal memos declaring that the president has the power to spy on American citizens without getting a warrant or telling anyone about it?

The Obama Administration isn’t telling:

The Obama administration has refused to declassify a secret memo from the George W. Bush presidency that justified the warrantless spying conducted by the National Security Agency (NSA).

Matthew Aid, a writer who’s covered the NSA and surveillance policy, requested a copy of a 2001 Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) opinion by John Yoo that discussed the legal grounds for electronic spying without permission from a special federal court. The Department of Justice mostly denied Aid’s Freedom of Information Act request, saying the redacted information in the OLC opinion was “classified, covered by non-disclosure provisions contained in other federal statutes, and is protected by the deliberative process privilege.”

They did release 8 sentences from a 21 page memo.

Said John Yoo: “Intelligence gathering in direct support of military operations does not trigger constitutional rights against illegal searches and seizures.”

In contrast, the 4th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states the following: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

It’s no wonder that, evaluating other memos Yoo wrote, the ethics lawyers in the Office of Professional Responsibility concluded that he was guilty of “professional misconduct,” a judgment he escaped when a higher up concluded that his reasoning was “flawed” and “extreme” but sincerely held. By keeping Yoo’s legal reasoning secret, the Obama Administration is once again siding with the Bush Administration and against the innocent Americans it victimized. When the executive branch takes an unprecedented action, in secret, that is later deemed illegal, the American people have an obvious, legitimate interest in understanding how it happened. Shame on the Obama Administration for standing in the way of transparency.


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Aug 312011
 
Financial Post
Lawrence Solomon

New, convincing evidence indicates global warming is caused by cosmic rays and the sun — not humans

The science is now all-but-settled on global warming, convincing new evidence demonstrates, but Al Gore, the IPCC and other global warming doomsayers won’t be celebrating. The new findings point to cosmic rays and the sun — not human activities — as the dominant controller of climate on Earth.

The research, published with little fanfare this week in the prestigious journal Nature, comes from über-prestigious CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, one of the world’s largest centres for scientific research involving 60 countries and 8,000 scientists at more than 600 universities and national laboratories. CERN is the organization that invented the World Wide Web, that built the multi-billion dollar Large Hadron Collider, and that has now built a pristinely clean stainless steel chamber that precisely recreated the Earth’s atmosphere.

In this chamber, 63 CERN scientists from 17 European and American institutes have done what global warming doomsayers said could never be done — demonstrate that cosmic rays promote the formation of molecules that in Earth’s atmosphere can grow and seed clouds, the cloudier and thus cooler it will be. Because the sun’s magnetic field controls how many cosmic rays reach Earth’s atmosphere (the stronger the sun’s magnetic field, the more it shields Earth from incoming cosmic rays from space), the sun determines the temperature on Earth.

The hypothesis that cosmic rays and the sun hold the key to the global warming debate has been Enemy No. 1 to the global warming establishment ever since it was first proposed by two scientists from the Danish Space Research Institute, at a 1996 scientific conference in the U.K. Within one day, the chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Bert Bolin, denounced the theory, saying, “I find the move from this pair scientifically extremely naive and irresponsible.” He then set about discrediting the theory, any journalist that gave the theory cre dence, and most of all the Danes presenting the theory — they soon found themselves vilified, marginalized and starved of funding, despite their impeccable scientific credentials.

The mobilization to rally the press against the Danes worked brilliantly, with one notable exception. Nigel Calder, a former editor of The New Scientist who attended that 1996 conference, would not be cowed. Himself a physicist, Mr. Calder became convinced of the merits of the argument and a year later, following a lecture he gave at a CERN conference, so too did Jasper Kirkby, a CERN scientist in attendance. Mr. Kirkby then convinced the CERN bureaucracy of the theory’s importance and developed a plan to create a cloud chamber — he called it CLOUD, for “Cosmics Leaving OUtdoor Droplets.”

But Mr. Kirkby made the same tactical error that the Danes had — not realizing how politicized the global warming issue was, he candidly shared his views with the scientific community.

“The theory will probably be able to account for somewhere between a half and the whole of the increase in the Earth’s temperature that we have seen in the last century,” Mr. Kirkby told the scientific press in 1998, explaining that global warming may be part of a natural cycle in the Earth’s temperature.

The global warming establishment sprang into action, pressured the Western governments that control CERN, and almost immediately succeeded in suspending CLOUD. It took Mr. Kirkby almost a decade of negotiation with his superiors, and who knows how many compromises and unspoken commitments, to convince the CERN bureaucracy to allow the project to proceed. And years more to create the cloud chamber and convincingly validate the Danes’ groundbreaking theory.

Yet this spectacular success will be largely unrecognized by the general public for years — this column will be the first that most readers have heard of it — because CERN remains too afraid of offending its government masters to admit its success. Weeks ago, CERN formerly decided to muzzle Mr. Kirby and other members of his team to avoid “the highly political arena of the climate change debate,” telling them “to present the results clearly but not interpret them” and to downplay the results by “mak[ing] clear that cosmic radiation is only one of many parameters.” The CERN study and press release is written in bureaucratese and the version of Mr. Kirkby’s study that appears in the print edition of Nature censored the most eye-popping graph — only those who know where to look in an online supplement will see the striking potency of cosmic rays in creating the conditions for seeding clouds.

CERN, and the Danes, have in all likelihood found the path to the Holy Grail of climate science. But the religion of climate science won’t yet permit a celebration of the find.

Financial Post

LawrenceSolomon@nextcity.com

- Lawrence Solomon is executive director of Energy Probe and author of The Deniers: The world-renowned scientists who stood up against global warming hysteria, political persecution, and fraud.

First of two parts. Next week: The end of the global warming debate.

Aug 312011
 
Global Research
Shamus Cook

The health care crisis in the United States is getting worse with no visible end. The popular anger over unattainable or unaffordable health care has been diverted away from corporations by crafty politicians, always seeking to exploit a social disaster for their benefactors. Instead of making health care more affordable for the average person, politicians have successfully switched the messaging. Now, the purpose behind “reform” is to make health care less costly for governments and employers, at the expense of patients and workers.

This was the essence behind Obama’s health care reform. And although Republicans exploited the “individual mandate” in Obamacare to gain populist credentials, they wholeheartedly agree with the deeper philosophy of the plan, which aspires to control health care costs — for corporations and governments — by providing less health care services to those who need it. This agreement to “ration” health care aligns the two parties over the coming cuts to Medicare in Obama’s bi-partisan “Super Congress,” while also binding the two parties’ approach to health care on a state and business level.

Most workers now understand that there is a difference between apparently having health care and actually having health care: if you are technically “insured” but cannot afford doctor visits due to high deductibles and co-pays, you really aren’t insured.

This fact, applied to Medicare, has startling consequences. The New England Journal of Medicine found that, “For every 100 people enrolled in plans that raised co-pays, there were 20 fewer doctor visits, 2 additional hospital admissions and 13 more days spent in the hospital…”

When co-pays and deductibles are raised, people simply stop going to the doctor and use the emergency room as needed.

This dynamic pleased politicians because less Medicare money was being spent on doctors’ visits, but they were upset that hospital stays were more frequent. The answer? Stop paying Medicare payments to hospitals if they re-admit a patient after 30 days, a policy sure to “reduce costs.” And it worked! This aspect of Obama’s Affordable Health Care Act gives hospitals financial incentives not to admit patients and, according to Bloomberg, is a major reason that Medicare costs have dropped significantly in the past year:

“Historically, nearly 20 percent of Medicare patients have been readmitted to a hospital within 30 days of being discharged… The Affordable Care Act included, among other remedies, a modest penalty for hospitals with high readmission rates.” (August 24th, 2011).

The problem here is that re-admissions are usually medically necessary. According to a study by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, only one out of ten hospital re-admissions were preventable. Hospitals are thus encouraged to deny hospital stays to those who need it, something they’ve already started. According to Case Management Monthly, hospital social workers have noticed this disturbing trend accelerate: “Several case managers have recently received readmission denial letters…they are surprised because the readmissions in question were actually appropriate and medically necessary.” (October 1st, 2010).

Cost saving ideas like these are at the heart of Obama’s health care plan — which included massive cuts to Medicare — and further cuts to Medicare can be expected in his Super Congress. Even if the bi-partisan Super Congress is unable to agree to make massive cuts to social programs, cuts to Medicare will be automatically “triggered.” Obama tells us not to worry because the triggered Medicare cuts will affect only providers — hospitals and doctors — not patients, as if the two could be so easily separated. The above example of denied hospital re-admissions is also a case where providers were targeted for cuts but patients were the most affected.

Another way that politicians are saving health care money is by slashing Medicaid, the shared federal-state health care program that serves low-income populations. The states’ budget crises are quickly debilitating this already under-funded program, reducing availability and quality of health care for those low income people who qualify for the program. USA Today reports:

“With a shortage of doctors…[ Medicaid] patients have little choice but to use hospital emergency rooms for more routine care.” (July 5th, 2011).

Higher income workers across the country are also seeing their health care rapidly deteriorate. The shoddy health insurance that includes high deductibles and co-pays are standard to most non-union workers who’ve suffered under this pseudo insurance for years. But even these plans are being shelved. Two studies recently show that employers plan to quit offering health care plans altogether: a survey by Towers Watson showed that one out of ten companies plan to eliminate health care coverage by 2014; while a different study by the McKinsey Company showed that, by 2014, 30 percent of companies will drop their health coverage for workers.

Much of this is due again to, Obama’s Affordable Health Care act: companies were encouraged and given an excuse to drop their health care coverage because everyone would be mandated to buy their own shoddy coverage. Politicians recognized that high health care costs were hurting corporate profits, and they were determined to do something about it.

For those companies with a unionized workforce, Obama’s health care plan took special aim, taxing companies extra that offered so-called Cadillac insurance — coverage that was actually quality health insurance. But no more. This Cadillac tax doesn’t kick in till 2018, but employers are working now to make their health care plans skinny enough to avoid the tax; unions everywhere are being forced to make major concessions in the realm of health care, paying higher monthly premiums, deductibles, and other out-of-pocket costs.

Another trend in the attack on health care for employees involves the implementation of Health Engagement Models (sometimes called Health Promotion Model). This super-invasive insurance plan forces all workers to undergo a health “assessment,” and based on the results (weight, blood pressure, etc.) and health habits, workers will be forced to follow recommendations of a health “coach.” Not following the coach’s orders will result in monthly fines, as will refusing assessments or continuing to smoke or other bad habits. Plans like this are becoming popular among corporate leaders since they openly discriminate against workers who are overweight, or are older, or who smoke, and thus drive down the cost of health care of the employer. This form of plan combined with the above higher costs are quickly turning the once-quality health insurance of union workers into its opposite.

The above trends in health care are not likely to be reversed anytime soon. Some union leaders are arguing for these concessions using outworn logic, assuming that the economic crisis will soon be over, enabling unions to again demand better wages and benefits. No respected mainstream economist believes this. The current recession is expected to be longer and deeper than any since the Great Depression. Labor unions need to adjust their expectations to the facts and revise their tactics based on the changing economic landscape.

This also applies to working people in general, who cannot simply wait for jobs to be created or wages and benefits to regain their past value. Health care is a key component to a worker’s standard of living, and it is now unreasonable to expect any progressive health care reform from the Democrats or Republicans. The above policies have not improved health care, though they have decreased the cost of health care for corporations and governments, since patients are paying more for fewer services. The above policies have also not increased the number of workers with health insurance. In fact, the number of people without health care continues to grow every year, the most recent figure stands at over 52 million! Obama’s plan to force people to buy crappy insurance they couldn’t afford to actually use — if the law survives the Supreme Court — will do nothing of substance to help.

The above health care policies are the natural result of a health care system based on the principles of private profit. Corporate profits demand that companies provide the least amount of health care services at a minimal cost. From this vantage point, health care is a commodity that is bought by those who can afford it, instead of it being the human right of every person, as the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights asserts. Europe has already proved that a nationwide, single payer system is vastly superior when it comes to quality, cost, availability, and results.

The single payer system did not come into existence from the benevolence of kind governments, but from the demands of people in the street. Organized workers must fight to maintain their benefits; unorganized workers must organize to fight for better insurance; and older workers/retirees must fight to maintain and expand Medicare. The logical end to such struggles would be to demand a Medicare For All system, financed by taxing the wealthy and corporations.

Shamus Cooke is a social service worker, trade unionist and writer for Workers Action (www.workerscompass.org)


http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2010-01-29-medicare-copays_N.htm


http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-08-24/medicare-spending-slows-as-hospitals-improve-care-peter-orszag.html

http://www.hcpro.com/CAS-258829-2278/News-One-in-ten-hospital-admissions-is-preventable.html

http://www.hcpro.com/CAS-255722-2311/Dispute-inappropriately-denied-readmissions.html


http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2011-07-05-SC-cuts-medicaid_n.htm

http://www.towerswatson.com/research/1935

http://www.mckinsey.com/us_employer_healthcare_survey.aspx


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Aug 302011
 
972MAG
Joeseph Dana

The horrific terror attacks in Oslo some weeks ago provided a valuable lesson for journalists. Almost as soon as the attacks took place, journalists throughout the world rushed to place blame on Al Qaeda.

Jennifer Rubin, a conservative blogger at the Washington Post known for her extreme views on Israeli politics, wrote that the attacks were committed by Al-Qaeda terrorists and used them to attack President Barak Obama’s foreign policy objectives in Iraq and Afghanistan. Her piece was left unchanged on the Washington Post website for a full 24 hours despite evidence that the perpetrator of the attack was, in fact, a right wing Christian fanatic not connected to Al-Qaeda.

Yesterday morning, Israel was rocked by a triple terror attack which left eight people dead and moved the country to a state of high alert. Within hours of the attack, Israel began a series of aggressive airstrikes on targets in the Gaza Strip, claiming that they were reprisal attacks against the Palestinian leadership who gave the order for the Eilat operations. However, Israeli officials and their spokespeople in the media failed to provide factual evidence clearly proving responsibility. The airstrikes killed a number of senior operatives in the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC), a terror group with weak links to Hamas, as well as civilians including at least one child. The speed at which Israel began airstrikes in Gaza without providing factual evidence of PRC’s involvement raises questions concerning the existence of a premeditated Israeli plan to launch a summer offensive against the population of Gaza. For the record, Hamas has publicly stated numerous times in the past 24 hours that it had nothing to do with the terror attacks in Eilat.

Despite uncertainty over those responsible for the attacks yesterday, Israeli journalists were quick to pass on government hearsay as fact. Barak Ravid, diplomatic correspondent for Haaretz, rushed to place responsibility on the PRC for the terror attacks on his Twitter feed. When I asked him to provide factual proof for his claim other than citing anonymous sources, he responded, “This is what I know from my sources. You can choose to believe or not to, like every article I publish in Haaretz.”

Shouldn’t one evaluate Ravid’s reports and claims based on the factual material which he presents? Since when does “belief” play a central role in a reporter’s credibility on specific military issues? Without knowing Ravid’s sources, it is difficult to ‘believe’ and judge them on their credibility. Ravid was not alone in placing blame on PRC as most of the international media outlets adopted the Israeli government line.

In recent months, Ravid has relied on unsubstantiated Israeli government sources for pieces which amount to glorified hearsay without basis in reality. Earlier this summer Ravid wrote a piece propagating Israeli government rumors that activists on board this year’s flotilla “may be bringing chemical substances on the ships to use against Israeli soldiers to prevent them from boarding the ships.”

Oslo should be a warning that rushing to place blame on a group for a horrific terror act without factual proof reflects poor journalistic ethics. In the Israeli context, placing blame on the PRC effectively legitimatizes Israeli airstrikes on Gaza. At the time of this writing there has been no claim of responsibility and the only proof that PRC is behind these terror attacks comes from Israeli government officials who do not cite any specific or verifiable source.  The PRC very well might be behind these attacks but the “shoot first, ask questions later” principle, accepted as mantra in Israel, often results in the loss of innocent life and should not be a fixture of Israeli journalistic ethics.

UPDATE 18:16–

The Jerusalem Post is reporting that the PRC has praised the Eilat terror attack but denied responsibility in carrying it out. Speaking with the AFP, a PRC spokesman in Gaza said, “”The occupation wants to pin this operation on us in order to escape its own internal problems.” Israel maintains that the PRC is responsible for the attacks but has yet to release any verifiable proof connecting the Gaza based group to the attack which has so far claimed eight lives.

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Aug 302011
 
Information Clearing House
Glenn Greenwald

August 29, 2011 “Salon” – - The Los Angeles Times examines the staggering sums of money expended on patently absurd domestic “homeland security” projects: $75 billion per year for things such as a Zodiac boat with side-scan sonar to respond to a potential attack on a lake in tiny Keith County, Nebraska, and hundreds of “9-ton BearCat armored vehicles, complete with turret” to guard against things like an attack on DreamWorks in Los Angeles.  All of that — which is independent of the exponentially greater sums spent on foreign wars, occupations, bombings, and the vast array of weaponry and private contractors to support it all — is in response to this mammoth, existential, the-single-greatest-challenge-of-our-generation threat:

“The number of people worldwide who are killed by Muslim-type terrorists, Al Qaeda wannabes, is maybe a few hundred outside of war zones. It’s basically the same number of people who die drowning in the bathtub each year,” said John Mueller, an Ohio State University professor who has written extensively about the balance between threat and expenditures in fighting terrorism.

Last year, McClatchy characterized this threat in similar terms: ”undoubtedly more American citizens died overseas from traffic accidents or intestinal illnesses than from terrorism.”  The March, 2011, Harper‘s Index expressed the point this way: ”Number of American civilians who died worldwide in terrorist attacks last year: 8 — Minimum number who died after being struck by lightning: 29.”  That’s the threat in the name of which a vast domestic Security State is constructed, wars and other attacks are and continue to be launched, and trillions of dollars are transferred to the private security and defense contracting industry at exactly the time that Americans — even as they face massive wealth inequality — are told that they must sacrifice basic economic security because of budgetary constraints. 

Despite these increasing economic insecurities — actually, precisely because of them — the sprawling domestic Security State continues unabated.  The industry journal National Defense Magazine today trumpets: ”Homeland Security Market ‘Vibrant’ Despite Budget Concerns.”  It details how budget cuts mean “homeland security” growth may not be as robust as once predicted, but “Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, Boeing and Northrop Grumman . . . have been winning more contracts from DHS”; as a Boeing spokesman put it: ”You’ll still continue to see domestically significant investment on the part of the government and leveraging advances in technology to stand up and meet those emerging threats and needs.”

Of course, the key to sustaining this Security State bonanza — profit for private industry and power for Security State officials –  is keeping fear levels among the citizenry as high as possible, as National Defense expressly notes, and that is accomplished by fixating even on minor and failed attacks, each one of which is immediately seized upon to justify greater expenditures, expansion of security measures, and a further erosion of rights:

Polls still show that there is increasing public concern about another terrorist attack. It is this fear and an unrealistic American perception of risk that will continue to propel some aspects of the market, analysts say. . . .
Small-scale attacks, whether successful or not, will continue to prompt additional spending, the market analysts at Homeland Security Research Corp. say. They point to the failed 2009 Christmas plot of a man trying to blow up a flight to Detroit with explosives sewn into his underwear and the attempted car-bombing in Times Square early the next year. Though unsuccessful, these events led to immediate White House intervention, congressional hearings and an airport screening upgrade costing more than $1.6 billion.

The LA Times, while skillfully highlighting these wasteful programs, depicts them as some sort of unintended inefficiencies.  That is exactly what they are not.  None of this is unintended or inefficient but is achieving exactly the purposes for which it is designed.  That’s true for two reasons.

First, this wastefulness is seen as inefficient only if one falsely assumes that its real objective is to combat Terrorist threats.  That is not the purpose of what the U.S. Government does.   As Daniel Weeks explains today, the Congress — contrary to popular opinion — is not “broken”; it is working perfectly for its actual owners.  Or, as he puts it, “Washington isn’t broken — it’s fixed”:

Our problem today is not a broken government but a beholden one: government is more beholden to special-interest shareholders who fund campaigns than it is to ordinary voters. Like any sound investor, the funders seek nothing more and nothing less than a handsome return — deficits be darned — in the form of tax breaks, subsidies and government contracts.

The LA Times, and most people who denounce these spending “inefficiencies,” have the causation backwards: fighting Terrorism isn’t the goal that security spending is supposed to fulfill; the security spending (and power vested by surveillance) is the goal itself, and Terrorism is the pretext for it.  For that reason, whether the spending efficiently addresses a Terrorism threat is totally irrelevant.

Second, while the Security State has little to do with addressing ostensible Terrorist threats, it has much to do with targeting perceived domestic and political threats, especially threats brought about by social unrest from austerity and the growing wealth gap.  This Alternet article by Sarah Jafee, entitled ”How the Surveillance State Protects the Interests Of the Ultra-Rich,” compiles much evidence — including what I offered two weeks ago — demonstrating that the prime aim of the growing Surveillance State is to impose domestic order, preserve prevailing economic prerogatives and stifle dissent and anticipated unrest.

Pointing out disparities between surveillance programs and the Terrorist threat is futile because they’re not aimed at that threat.  The British Government, for instance, is continuing its efforts to restrict social media in the wake of the poverty-fueled riots that plagued that country; as The New York Times reports today, it is secretly meeting with representatives of Twitter, Facebook, and the company that owns Blackberry “to discuss voluntary ways to limit or restrict the use of social media to combat crime and periods of civil unrest.”  That revelation prompted taunting condemnations of British tyranny from China and Iran, both of which have been routinely excoriated for surveillance abuses and Internet suppression of the type increasingly common in the West.

Meanwhile, much of the anti-Terrorism weaponry in the U.S. ends up being deployed for purposes of purely domestic policing.  As the LA Times notes: those aforementioned BearCats are “are now deployed by police across the country; the arrests of methamphetamine dealers and bank robbers these days often look much like a tactical assault on insurgents in Baghdad.”  Drones are used both in the Drug War and to patrol the border.  Surveillance measures originally justified as necessary to fight foreign Terrorists are routinely turned far more often inward, and the NSA — created with a taboo against domestic spying — now does that regularly.

Exaggerating, manipulating and exploiting the Terrorist threat for profit and power has been the biggest scam of the decade; only Wall Street’s ability to make the Government prop it up and profit from the crisis it created at the expense of everyone else can compete for that title.  Nothing has altered the mindset of the American citizenry more than a decade’s worth of fear-mongering  So compelling is fear-based propaganda, so beholden are our government institutions to these private Security State factions, and so unaccountable is the power bestowed by these programs, that even a full decade after the only Terrorist attacks on U.S. soil, its growth continues more or less unabated.



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Aug 302011
 
Michel Chossudovsky
Extensive war crimes have been committed. NATO has blood on its hands. The heads of government and heads of state of NATO member countries are responsible for extensive war crimes

The “pro-democracy” rebels are led by Al Qaeda paramilitary brigades under the supervision of NATO Special Forces. The “Liberation” of  Tripoli was carried out by “former” members of the Libya Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG).

The jihadists and NATO work hand in glove. These “former” Al Qaeda affiliated brigades constitute the backbone of the “pro-democracy” rebellion.

NATO special forces with “boots and the ground” pass unnoticed. Their identity is not known or revealed. They blend into the Libyan rebellion landscape of machine guns and pickup trucks. They are not highlighted in the photo ops.

Special forces composed of  US Navy SEALS, British Special SAS Forces and French legionnaires, disguised in civilian rebel garb, are reported to be behind major operations directed against key government buildings including Gadhafi’s Bab al-Aziziya compound in central Tripoli.

Reports confirm that British SAS were on the ground in Eastern Libya prior to the onset of the air campaign. Special Forces are in close coordination with NATO air operations. “Highly-trained units, known as ‘Smash’ teams for their prowess and destructive ability, have carried out secret reconnaissance missions to provide up-to-date information on the Libyan armed forces.” (SAS ‘Smash’ squads on the ground in Libya to mark targets for coalition jets, Daily Mirror, March 21, 2011) 

NATO special forces and the CIA sponsored Islamic brigades under the command of “former” jihadists constitute the backbone of combat capabilities on the ground, supported by the air campaign, which now includes Apache helicopter raids.

The remainder of the rebel forces include untrained trigger happy gunmen (including teenagers) (see photo below), which serve the function of creating an atmosphere of panic and intimidation.

What we are dealing with is a carefully planned military intelligence operation to invade and occupy a sovereign country.

Zohra Bensemra/REUTERS

Killing the Truth. The Role of the Western Media

The Western media constitutes a major instrument of war. NATO war crimes are obfuscated. Popular resistance to the NATO led invasion is not mentioned.

A narrative of  “liberation” and  “opposition pro-democracy rebel forces” is instilled in the inner consciousness of millions of people. Its called the “NATO Consensus”.

“The NATO Consensus” which upholds the “humanitarian mandate” of the Atlantic alliance cannot be challenged. The bombings of civilian areas as well as the role of a terrorist militia are either trivialised or not mentioned.

Killing the truth is an integral part of the military agenda.

Realities are turned upside down.

The lie becomes the truth.

Its an inquisitorial doctrine. The NATO consensus dwarfs the Spanish Inquisition by a long shot.

The criminal invasion and occupation of Libya is not mentioned. The lives of independent journalists in Tripoli who report on what is actually happening are threatened. The catch words are “Liberation” and “Revolution” with NATO’s mandate limited to R2P (“Responsibility to Protect”).

Liberation or Invasion? By camouflaging the nature of the military operation, not to mention NATO atrocities, the Western media has contributed to providing the Transitional Council with a semblance of legitimacy and international recognition. The latter would not have been forthcoming without the support of the Western media.

NATO special forces and intelligence operatives on the ground are in permanent liaison with military planners involved in coordinating NATO strike sorties and bombing raids on the Libyan capital.
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Intensive Bombing Raids over Tripoli

On August 27, NATO acknowledged the conduct of 20,633 sorties since March 31st, and 7,768 strike sorties. (These figures do not include the intensive bombing raids conducted in the two weeks prior to March 31st). Each fighter jet or bomber carries numerous missiles, rockets, etc. depending on the ordnance specification of the aircraft.

Multiply the number of strike sorties (7768 since March 31) by the average number of missiles or bombs launched by each of the planes and you get a rough idea of the size and magnitude of this military operation. A French Dassault Mirage 2000, for instance, can transport 18 missiles under its wings. America’s B-2 Stealth bombers are equipped with bunker buster bombs

France’s Mirage 2000 used in Operation Odyssey Dawn against Libya,

USAF Stealth B-2 Bomber used in Operation Odyssey Dawn

Pursuant to NATO’s humanitarian mandate, we are informed by the media that these tens of thousands of strikes have not resulted in civilian casualties (with the exception of occasional “collateral damage”).

Not surprisingly, already in mid April, three weeks into bombing campaign, the Atlantic Alliance announced that “NATO planes flying combat missions over Libya are starting to run out of bombs” (UPI, April 16, 2011);

    “The reason we need more capability isn’t because we aren’t hitting what we see — it’s so that we can sustain the ability to do so,” one NATO official told the Post. “One problem is flight time, the other is munitions.” (Ibid)

The bombing raids over Tripoli were intensified in the course of the last two weeks. They were intended to support ground operations led by NATO special forces and the Islamic paramilitary brigades. With limited NATO ground force capabilities, NATO strategists decided to intensify the bombing raids.

Global Research’s Correspondent in Tripoli, whose life is threatened for revealing NATO war crimes described a shift in the pattern of bombing, starting in mid-July, with increasingly intensive air raids leading up to the ground invasion on August: 20th:

    “Until approximately 2:35 a.m EET [July 17], the strident noises of fighter jets over Tripoli could be heard. The bomb blasts triggered an atmosphere of fear and panic over the entire city, a poignant psychological and emotional impact on tens of thousands of people, from the young to the elderly. It also alerted people and brought them out onto their balconies while they witnessed the bombing of their country.

    One of the explosions resulted in a huge mushroom cloud, pointing to the possible use of bunker buster bombs. … There was something unusual in the pattern of this NATO bombing operation.

    The bombings tonight were not like other nights. The sounds were different. The smoke plumes were different. In previous bombings the smoke would usually go up vertically like a fire, but tonight the smoke plumes were horizontal and hovering above Tripoli with a white cloud in the horizon.

    People who were not directly affected by the bombs, within a radius of 15 kilometres experienced burning eyes, lower back pain, headaches.” (Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, NATO Launches Bombing Blitzkrieg over Tripoli hitting Residential Areas , Global Research, July 17, 2011)

The mass killing of civilians in a Blitzkrieg environment as well as the creation of a generalized atmosphere of panic is intended to curtail the population’s resistance to the NATO-led invasion.

The Death Toll

According to sources from our correspondent in Tripoli, the death toll in the course of the last week (20-26 August) is of the order of 3000. The hospitals are in a state of turmoil, unable to come to the rescue of the wounded. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) confirms that medical supplies are in short supply throughout the country.


In recent developments UNICEF has warned of shortages of water due to the NATO bombing of  water infrastructure throughout the country. “This could turn into an unprecedented health epidemic “ said Christian Balslev-Olesen of UNICEF’s Libya Office.

NATO warplanes deliberately targeted the peaceful vigil of tents in front of the Gadhafi compound in a gruesome massacre. The mainstream media acknowledges the massacre, while stating that gun wounds are the cause of death in crossfire between loyalist and rebel forces. The victims are :

    “The identities of the dead were unclear, but they were in all likelihood activists who had set up an impromptu tent city in solidarity with Gadhafi in defiance of the NATO bombing campaign. (Forbes.com, August 25, 2011) 

We are not dealing with collateral damage. Extensive war crimes have been committed. NATO has blood on its hands. The heads of government and heads of state of NATO member countries are war criminals.

The Central Role of Al Qaeda Operatives in the “Liberation of Tripoli”

According to CNN, in a twisted logic, the terrorists have repented:  “former terrorists” are no longer “terrorists”.

The LIFG is said to have been disbanded.

Following their disavowal of violence, these former LIFG leaders created a new political organization called the Islamic Movement for Change, which according to CNN “is committed to working within a future democratic process”.  “The Libyan Islamic Movement for Change (Al-Haraka Al-Islamiya Al Libiya Lit-Tahghir), is made up of former members of the now defunct [CIA supported] Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG)” (Reuters, August 26, 2011)

In a contradictory about turn, former “bad guys” (terrorists) are heralded as “good guys” committed to “combating terrorism”.  The  “former” members of the Libya Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) are now portrayed as “pro-democracy activists” who “have assumed leadership positions in several rebel brigades”.

Labels have been switched: the CIA supported Al Qaeda affiliated LIFG has been transformed into the CIA sponsored Islamic Movement for Change (IMC), which supports the pro-democracy rebellion.

When was the LIFG disbanded?

In a bitter irony, the Libya Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) was listed until June 2011 by the United Nations Security Council as a bona fide terrorist organization. On June 21 2011, The Listing of Terrorist Organizations, conveniently vanished from the UN Security Council website pending the revamping of the website. (See annex below)

                The LIFG entry was included in the (updated March 24, 2011, accessed April 3, 2011) United Nations Security Council “terror list” as follows

                            QE.L.11.01. Name: LIBYAN ISLAMIC FIGHTING GROUP

                            Name (original script):

                            A.k.a.: LIFG F.k.a.: na Address: na Listed on: 6 Oct. 2001 (amended on 5 Mar. 2009)

                    (The LIFG Listing is on p. 70, http://www.un.org/sc/committees/1267/pdf/consolidatedlist.pdf, (accessed April 3, 2011, no longer accessible)

                    Other information: Review pursuant to Security Council resolution 1822 (2008) was concluded on 21 Jun. 2010. The website is down and is currently being revamped

Who Leads Libya’s Islamic Brigades?

Recent reports confirm what was known and documented from the outset of the “rebellion” in mid-March:  The key military command positions of the rebellion are held by the “former” commanders of the Libya Islamic fighting Group (LIFG)”.

The commander of the assault on Tripoli is Abdel Hakim Belhadj, (also known as Abu Abdullah al-Sadeq, Hakim al-Hasidi). He has been entrusted, with NATO’s approval,  of “one of the most powerful rebel brigades in Tripoli [which] took charge of successful rebel efforts earlier this week to storm Gadhafi’s Bab al-Azziziyah compound, further bolstering his prominent position in rebel ranks.” (CNN, op cit)

    “Sadeeq was a well-known figure in the jihadist movement. He fought the Soviet-backed government in Afghanistan and helped found [with the support of the CIA] the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group there.” (Ibidt)

But Saddeeq, according to CNN has repented. He is no longer a terrorist (i.e. a bad guy) “but a powerful voice against Al Qaeda’s terrorism”. (Ibid, emphasis added)

    “In 2009, Sadeeq and other senior LIFG leaders formally repudiated al Qaeda style terrorism and disbanded their campaign to overthrow the Libyan regime.

    The breakthrough was the result of a two-year dialogue with the regime brokered by Benotman [a former LIFG commander now in the employ of  the London based Quilliam Foundation with a mandate in conflict resolution. CNN interviewed leading figures of the LIFG in Abu Salim prison in Tripoli in September 2009, shortly before the group’s leaders were released. Although they were then behind prison bars, the leaders’ disavowal of violence appeared genuine. (Ibid)

According to DebkaFile (Israeli intelligence online report), the “pro-Al Qaeda brigades “led by LIFG Commander Abdel Hakim Belhadj constitute the dominant force of the rebellion, overriding the authority of the Transitional Council. They are in control of strategic buildings including Gadhafi’s compound.

    “The LIFG chief [Abdel Hakim Belhadj] now styles himself “Commander of the Tripoli Military Council.” Asked by our sources whether they plan to hand control of the Libyan capital to the National Transitional Council, which has been recognized in the West, the jihadi fighters made a gesture of dismissal without answering. (Debka, Pro-Al Qaeda brigades control Qaddafi Tripoli strongholds seized by rebels, August 28, 2011 )

Abdul Hakim Belhhadj  received military training in CIA sponsored guerrilla camp in Afghanistan. He constitutes a CIA “intelligence asset” in the Lybian war theater. An earlier report suggests that he  has some 1,000 men under his command. (Libyan rebels at pains to distance themselves from extremists – The Globe and Mail, March 12, 2011)

    The US-NATO coaltion is arming the Jihadists. Weapons are being channelled to the LIFG from Saudi Arabia, which historically, since the outset of the Soviet-Afghan war, has covertly supported Al Qaeda. The Saudis are now providing the rebels, in liaison with Washington and Brussels, with anti-tank rockets and ground-to-air missiles. (See Michel Chossudovsky  “Our Man in Tripoli”: US-NATO Sponsored Islamic Terrorists Integrate Libya’s Pro-Democracy Opposition, Global Research, 3 April 2011)

A “Democracy” run by Terrorists

Reports also confirm that large numbers of  terrorists imprisoned in Abu Salim jail were released by rebel forces. They are now being recruited by the former LIFG Islamic brigades, led by “former” jihadists pro-democracy commanders.

So all ends well in the smooth transition towards a democracy run by terrorists.

NATO’s Islamic Jihad

There is indications that NATO, in coordination with Western intelligence agencies (including Israel’s Mossad), is involved in recruiting Islamist fighters. Israeli intelligence sources confirm that NATO in cooperation with Turkey, is now directly training and recruiting in several Muslim countries a new jihadist generation of  “Freedom Fighters”. The Mujahideen after undergoing training are slated to participate in NATO’s “pro-democracy” “humanitarian” military campaigns. The Israeli report by Debka pertains to Syria, which is next  in line on the NATO military roadmap:

    “Our sources report, is a [NATO] campaign to enlist thousands of Muslim volunteers in Middle East countries and the Muslim world to fight alongside the Syrian rebels… ” (Debka File August 15, 2011  http://www.debka.com/article/21207/ )

The NATO led invasion and occupation of Libya is using Islamic fighters as the backbone of an alleged transition to democracy.

Concluding Remarks

The tragic events of  9/11 have played a key role in developing a massive propaganda campaign geared towards justifying a “war on terrorism” directed against Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda.

In a bitter twist, throughout the Middle East and Central Asia, the Western military alliance is using Islamic brigades, trained and groomed by the CIA, MI6 and Mossad, to wage its “Global War on Terrorism”.

The war on terrorism constitutes a broad consensus instilled in the minds of millions of people, What is not known to Western public opinion is that the West’s holy crusade against Islamic terrorism rather than targeting terrorists actually includes terrorists in his ranks, i.e  Al Qaeda “freedom fighters” have been integrated into the ranks of US-NATO led military operations.

Rest assured, in the case of Libya, the rebels are “the good guys”: they are “former” rather than “active” members of Al Qaeda.

The Western media has not reported on NATO war crimes. It has casually dismissed NATO atrocities: 8000 strike sorties represents more than 50,000  missiles and bombs dropped on the Libyan people.

There are various ways of concealing the truth. From the outset of the air campaign, the media has denied the existence of a war. Its causes and consequences are distorted. In turn, an effective propaganda campaign requires targeting people’s mindset in newspapers, network TV and online.

People must be distracted from an understanding of the war on Libya. Atrocities committed by NATO with the support of the United Nations is rarely frontpage news. How best to camouflage the truth? By redirecting news coverage on Libya towards a number of trivial “talking points”, including the size of Gadhafi’s swimming pool, his female bodyguards, his cosmetic plastic surgery, etc. The Guardian, August 23, 2011)

Not included in the journalist’s “to do list” is the coverage of the three thousand  men, women and children who lost their lives in the course of a weeklong Blitzkrieg bombing of Tripoli using the most advanced weapons systems in human history.

Against this background of lies and fabrications, the lives of several independent journalists including Global Research’s Correspondent Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya trapped in Tripoli were threatened, for saying the truth.


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Aug 292011
 
The Register
Andrew Orlowski

New atomsmasher research into cloud formation

CERN’s 8,000 scientists may not be able to find the hypothetical Higgs boson, but they have made an important contribution to climate physics, prompting climate models to be revised.

The first results from the lab’s CLOUD (“Cosmics Leaving OUtdoor Droplets”) experiment published in Nature today confirm that cosmic rays spur the formation of clouds through ion-induced nucleation.

Current thinking posits that half of the Earth’s clouds are formed through nucleation. The paper is entitled Role of sulphuric acid, ammonia and galactic cosmic rays in atmospheric aerosol nucleation.
This has significant implications for climate science because water vapour and clouds play a large role in determining global temperatures. Tiny changes in overall cloud cover can result in relatively large temperature changes.

Unsurprisingly, it’s a politically sensitive topic, as it provides support for a “heliocentric” rather than “anthropogenic” approach to climate change: the sun plays a large role in modulating the quantity of cosmic rays reaching the upper atmosphere of the Earth.

CERN’s director-general Rolf-Dieter Heuer warned his scientists “to present the results clearly but not interpret them”. Readers can judge whether CLOUD’s lead physicist Jasper Kirkby has followed his boss’s warning.

“Ion-induced nucleation will manifest itself as a steady production of new particles that is difficult to isolate in atmospheric observations because of other sources of variability but is nevertheless taking place and could be quite large when averaged globally over the troposphere.”

Kirkby is quoted in the accompanying CERN press release:

“We’ve found that cosmic rays significantly enhance the formation of aerosol particles in the mid troposphere and above. These aerosols can eventually grow into the seeds for clouds. However, we’ve found that the vapours previously thought to account for all aerosol formation in the lower atmosphere can only account for a small fraction of the observations – even with the enhancement of cosmic rays.”

The team used the Proton Synchotron accelerator (pictured here with Kirkby) to examine the nucleation using combinations of trace gasses at various temperatures, with precision. These first results confirm that cosmic rays increase the formation of cloud-nuclei by a factor of 10 in the troposphere, but additional trace gasses are needed nearer the surface.

Climate models will have to be revised, confirms CERN in supporting literature (pdf):

“[I]t is clear that the treatment of aerosol formation in climate models will need to be substantially revised, since all models assume that nucleation is caused by these vapours [sulphuric acid and ammonia] and water alone.

The work involves over 60 scientists in 17 countries.

Veteran science editor Nigel Calder, who brought the theory to wide public attention with the book The Chilling Stars, co-authored with the father of the theory Henrik Svensmark, has an explanation and background on his blog, here, and offers possible reasons on why the research, mooted in the late 1990s, has taken so long.

Svensmark, who is no longer involved with the CERN experiment, says he believes the solar-cosmic ray factor is just one of four factors in climate. The other three are: volcanoes, a “regime shift” that took place in 1977, and residual anthropogenic components.

When Dr Kirkby first described the theory in 1998, he suggested cosmic rays “will probably be able to account for somewhere between a half and the whole of the increase in the Earth’s temperature that we have seen in the last century.”

More from CERN here, and a video here


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Aug 292011
 
ProPublica
Lois Becket

With housing prices dropping sharply [1], and foreclosure filings against more than 1 million properties [2] in the first half of this year, the Obama administration is scrambling for ways to help homeowners.

One place they won’t be looking: an estimated $30 billion from the bailout that was slated to help homeowners but is likely to remain unspent.

Instead, Congress has mandated that the leftover money be used to pay down the debt.

Of the $45.6 billion in Trouble Asset Relief Program funds meant to aid homeowners, the most recent numbers available show that only about $2 billion has actually gone out the door.

The low number reflects how little the government’s home loan modification and other programs have actually helped homeowners [3] deal with the foreclosure crisis.

The programs have been marked by poor oversight [4] and consistent under-enrollment [5].

Homeowners have been forced to navigate an often bewildering maze at banks marked by slow communication, lost documents and other mistakes [6].

The amount of money spent is also low because the government pays out its incentive over a number of years. As of July, according to a Treasury spokeswoman, the government is on track to eventually spend $7.2 billion helping homeowners enrolled in its main loan modification program. That number doesn’t factor in other homeowners who may enter the program before it ends in December 2012, but it does assume that all homeowners currently in the program will be able to continue making payments.

In November, the Congressional Budget Office lowered their estimate of the total amount of money the government would spend on its foreclosure relief programs from $22 billion to $12 billion. (The New York Times reported today that the government has “spent or pledged” $22.9 billion of the TARP money so far [7], a figure that’s dramatically higher than ours and that the Treasury spokeswoman said was the Times’ own number.)

According to the original TARP legislation, unused funds should be returned to the Treasury and used to reduce the debt [8]. While Congress has the power to re-route those funds into new programs, Republicans seem unlikely to endorse such a plan [9].

An Obama administration statement noted that they were continuing to look for ways to “ease the burden on struggling homeowners” through new proposals and reconsidering old ones.

The other ideas the administration is looking at have received mixed reviews. Among them: turning foreclosed homes into rental properties [10] or allowing homeowners to refinance their mortgages at today’s lower interest rates, an old idea that may not actually help a large new segment of homeowners [11].

“We have no plans to announce any major new initiatives at this time,” the statement noted.

 


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