Thursday, January 31, 2008
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
LAst week a news came to the public that a spy satellite know as USA 193 could crash on earth this is truth they lost communications and control so it might crash on february polluting large areas with berilium and other substances, this USA 193 is the size of a bus, it was used to give precious information for the WAr on Terror
Monday, January 28, 2008
Within the next month, the Pentagon will submit its 2009 budget to Congress and it's a fair bet that it will be even larger than the staggering 2008 one. Like the Army and the Marines, the Pentagon itself is overstretched and under strain -- and like the two services, which are expected to add 92,000 new troops over the next five years (at an estimated cost of $1.2 billion per 10,000), the Pentagon's response is never to cut back, but always to expand, always to demand more.
After all, there are those disastrous Afghan and Iraqi wars still eating taxpayer dollars as if there were no tomorrow. Then there's what enthusiasts like to call "the next war" to think about, which means all those big-ticket weapons, all those jets, ships, and armored vehicles for the future. And don't forget the still-popular, Rumsfeld-style "netcentric warfare" systems (robots, drones, communications satellites, and the like), not to speak of the killer space toys being developed; and then there's all that ruined equipment out of Iraq and Afghanistan to be massively replaced -- and all those ruined human beings to take care of.
You'll get the gist of this from a recent editorial in the trade magazine Aviation Week & Space Technology:
"The fact Washington must face is that nearly five years of war have left U.S. forces worse off than they have been in a generation, yes, since Vietnam, and restoring them will take budget-building unlike any in the past."
Even on the rare occasion when -- as in the case of Boeing's C-17 cargo plane -- the Pentagon decides to cancel a project, there's Congress to remember. Contracts and subcontracts for weapons systems, carefully doled out to as many states as possible, mean jobs, and so Congress often balks at such cuts. (Fifty-five House members recently warned the Pentagon of a "strong negative response" if funding for the C-17 is excised from the 2009 budget.) All in all, it adds up to a defense menu for a glutton.
Already, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has said that 2009 funding is "largely locked into place." The giant military-industrial combines -- Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Boeing, Raytheon -- have been watching their stocks rise in otherwise treacherous times. They are hopeful. As Ronald Sugar, Northrop CEO, put it: "A great global power like the United States needs a great navy and a great navy needs an adequate number of ships, and they have to be modern and capable" -- and guess which company is the Navy's largest shipbuilder?
There should be nothing surprising in all this, especially for those of us who have read Chalmers Johnson's Nemesis, The Last Days of the American Republic, the final volume of his Blowback Trilogy. Published in 2007, it is already a classic on what imperial overstretch means for the rest of us. The paperback of Nemesis is officially out today, just as global stock markets tumble. It is simply a must-read (and if you've already read it, then get a copy for a friend). In the meantime, hunker in for Johnson's latest magisterial account of how the mightiest guns the Pentagon can muster threaten to sink our own country. (For those interested, click here to view a clip from a new film, "Chalmers Johnson on American Hegemony," in Cinema Libre Studios' Speaking Freely series in which he discusses military Keynesianism and imperial bankruptcy.) Tom
Going BankruptWhy the Debt Crisis Is Now the Greatest Threat to the American Republic
By Chalmers Johnson
The military adventurers of the Bush administration have much in common with the corporate leaders of the defunct energy company Enron. Both groups of men thought that they were the "smartest guys in the room," the title of Alex Gibney's prize-winning film on what went wrong at Enron. The neoconservatives in the White House and the Pentagon outsmarted themselves. They failed even to address the problem of how to finance their schemes of imperialist wars and global domination.
As a result, going into 2008, the United States finds itself in the anomalous position of being unable to pay for its own elevated living standards or its wasteful, overly large military establishment. Its government no longer even attempts to reduce the ruinous expenses of maintaining huge standing armies, replacing the equipment that seven years of wars have destroyed or worn out, or preparing for a war in outer space against unknown adversaries. Instead, the Bush administration puts off these costs for future generations to pay -- or repudiate. This utter fiscal irresponsibility has been disguised through many manipulative financial schemes (such as causing poorer countries to lend us unprecedented sums of money), but the time of reckoning is fast approaching.
There are three broad aspects to our debt crisis. First, in the current fiscal year (2008) we are spending insane amounts of money on "defense" projects that bear no relationship to the national security of the United States. Simultaneously, we are keeping the income tax burdens on the richest segments of the American population at strikingly low levels.
Second, we continue to believe that we can compensate for the accelerating erosion of our manufacturing base and our loss of jobs to foreign countries through massive military expenditures -- so-called "military Keynesianism," which I discuss in detail in my book Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic. By military Keynesianism, I mean the mistaken belief that public policies focused on frequent wars, huge expenditures on weapons and munitions, and large standing armies can indefinitely sustain a wealthy capitalist economy. The opposite is actually true.
Third, in our devotion to militarism (despite our limited resources), we are failing to invest in our social infrastructure and other requirements for the long-term health of our country. These are what economists call "opportunity costs," things not done because we spent our money on something else. Our public education system has deteriorated alarmingly. We have failed to provide health care to all our citizens and neglected our responsibilities as the world's number one polluter. Most important, we have lost our competitiveness as a manufacturer for civilian needs -- an infinitely more efficient use of scarce resources than arms manufacturing. Let me discuss each of these.
The Current Fiscal Disaster
It is virtually impossible to overstate the profligacy of what our government spends on the military. The Department of Defense's planned expenditures for fiscal year 2008 are larger than all other nations' military budgets combined. The supplementary budget to pay for the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, not part of the official defense budget, is itself larger than the combined military budgets of Russia and China. Defense-related spending for fiscal 2008 will exceed $1 trillion for the first time in history. The United States has become the largest single salesman of arms and munitions to other nations on Earth. Leaving out of account President Bush's two on-going wars, defense spending has doubled since the mid-1990s. The defense budget for fiscal 2008 is the largest since World War II.
Before we try to break down and analyze this gargantuan sum, there is one important caveat. Figures on defense spending are notoriously unreliable. The numbers released by the Congressional Reference Service and the Congressional Budget Office do not agree with each other. Robert Higgs, senior fellow for political economy at the Independent Institute, says: "A well-founded rule of thumb is to take the Pentagon's (always well publicized) basic budget total and double it." Even a cursory reading of newspaper articles about the Department of Defense will turn up major differences in statistics about its expenses. Some 30-40% of the defense budget is "black," meaning that these sections contain hidden expenditures for classified projects. There is no possible way to know what they include or whether their total amounts are accurate.
There are many reasons for this budgetary sleight-of-hand -- including a desire for secrecy on the part of the president, the secretary of defense, and the military-industrial complex -- but the chief one is that members of Congress, who profit enormously from defense jobs and pork-barrel projects in their districts, have a political interest in supporting the Department of Defense. In 1996, in an attempt to bring accounting standards within the executive branch somewhat closer to those of the civilian economy, Congress passed the Federal Financial Management Improvement Act. It required all federal agencies to hire outside auditors to review their books and release the results to the public. Neither the Department of Defense, nor the Department of Homeland Security has ever complied. Congress has complained, but not penalized either department for ignoring the law. The result is that all numbers released by the Pentagon should be regarded as suspect.
In discussing the fiscal 2008 defense budget, as released to the press on February 7, 2007, I have been guided by two experienced and reliable analysts: William D. Hartung of the New America Foundation's Arms and Security Initiative and Fred Kaplan, defense correspondent for Slate.org. They agree that the Department of Defense requested $481.4 billion for salaries, operations (except in Iraq and Afghanistan), and equipment. They also agree on a figure of $141.7 billion for the "supplemental" budget to fight the "global war on terrorism" -- that is, the two on-going wars that the general public may think are actually covered by the basic Pentagon budget. The Department of Defense also asked for an extra $93.4 billion to pay for hitherto unmentioned war costs in the remainder of 2007 and, most creatively, an additional "allowance" (a new term in defense budget documents) of $50 billion to be charged to fiscal year 2009. This comes to a total spending request by the Department of Defense of $766.5 billion.
But there is much more. In an attempt to disguise the true size of the American military empire, the government has long hidden major military-related expenditures in departments other than Defense. For example, $23.4 billion for the Department of Energy goes toward developing and maintaining nuclear warheads; and $25.3 billion in the Department of State budget is spent on foreign military assistance (primarily for Israel, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, the United Arab Republic, Egypt, and Pakistan). Another $1.03 billion outside the official Department of Defense budget is now needed for recruitment and reenlistment incentives for the overstretched U.S. military itself, up from a mere $174 million in 2003, the year the war in Iraq began. The Department of Veterans Affairs currently gets at least $75.7 billion, 50% of which goes for the long-term care of the grievously injured among the at least 28,870 soldiers so far wounded in Iraq and another 1,708 in Afghanistan. The amount is universally derided as inadequate. Another $46.4 billion goes to the Department of Homeland Security.
Missing as well from this compilation is $1.9 billion to the Department of Justice for the paramilitary activities of the FBI; $38.5 billion to the Department of the Treasury for the Military Retirement Fund; $7.6 billion for the military-related activities of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration; and well over $200 billion in interest for past debt-financed defense outlays. This brings U.S. spending for its military establishment during the current fiscal year (2008), conservatively calculated, to at least $1.1 trillion.
Such expenditures are not only morally obscene, they are fiscally unsustainable. Many neoconservatives and poorly informed patriotic Americans believe that, even though our defense budget is huge, we can afford it because we are the richest country on Earth. Unfortunately, that statement is no longer true. The world's richest political entity, according to the CIA's "World Factbook," is the European Union. The EU's 2006 GDP (gross domestic product -- all goods and services produced domestically) was estimated to be slightly larger than that of the U.S. However, China's 2006 GDP was only slightly smaller than that of the U.S., and Japan was the world's fourth richest nation.
A more telling comparison that reveals just how much worse we're doing can be found among the "current accounts" of various nations. The current account measures the net trade surplus or deficit of a country plus cross-border payments of interest, royalties, dividends, capital gains, foreign aid, and other income. For example, in order for Japan to manufacture anything, it must import all required raw materials. Even after this incredible expense is met, it still has an $88 billion per year trade surplus with the United States and enjoys the world's second highest current account balance. (China is number one.) The United States, by contrast, is number 163 -- dead last on the list, worse than countries like Australia and the United Kingdom that also have large trade deficits. Its 2006 current account deficit was $811.5 billion; second worst was Spain at $106.4 billion. This is what is unsustainable.
It's not just that our tastes for foreign goods, including imported oil, vastly exceed our ability to pay for them. We are financing them through massive borrowing. On November 7, 2007, the U.S. Treasury announced that the national debt had breached $9 trillion for the first time ever. This was just five weeks after Congress raised the so-called debt ceiling to $9.815 trillion. If you begin in 1789, at the moment the Constitution became the supreme law of the land, the debt accumulated by the federal government did not top $1 trillion until 1981. When George Bush became president in January 2001, it stood at approximately $5.7 trillion. Since then, it has increased by 45%. This huge debt can be largely explained by our defense expenditures in comparison with the rest of the world.
The world's top 10 military spenders and the approximate amounts each country currently budgets for its military establishment are:
1. United States (FY08 budget), $623 billion
2. China (2004), $65 billion
3. Russia, $50 billion
4. France (2005), $45 billion
5. United Kingdom, $42.8 billion
6. Japan (2007), $41.75 billion
7. Germany (2003), $35.1 billion
8. Italy (2003), $28.2 billion
9. South Korea (2003), $21.1 billion
10. India (2005 est.), $19 billion
World total military expenditures (2004 est.), $1,100 billion
World total (minus the United States), $500 billion
Our excessive military expenditures did not occur over just a few short years or simply because of the Bush administration's policies. They have been going on for a very long time in accordance with a superficially plausible ideology and have now become entrenched in our democratic political system where they are starting to wreak havoc. This ideology I call "military Keynesianism" -- the determination to maintain a permanent war economy and to treat military output as an ordinary economic product, even though it makes no contribution to either production or consumption.
This ideology goes back to the first years of the Cold War. During the late 1940s, the U.S. was haunted by economic anxieties. The Great Depression of the 1930s had been overcome only by the war production boom of World War II. With peace and demobilization, there was a pervasive fear that the Depression would return. During 1949, alarmed by the Soviet Union's detonation of an atomic bomb, the looming communist victory in the Chinese civil war, a domestic recession, and the lowering of the Iron Curtain around the USSR's European satellites, the U.S. sought to draft basic strategy for the emerging cold war. The result was the militaristic National Security Council Report 68 (NSC-68) drafted under the supervision of Paul Nitze, then head of the Policy Planning Staff in the State Department. Dated April 14, 1950, and signed by President Harry S. Truman on September 30, 1950, it laid out the basic public economic policies that the United States pursues to the present day.
In its conclusions, NSC-68 asserted: "One of the most significant lessons of our World War II experience was that the American economy, when it operates at a level approaching full efficiency, can provide enormous resources for purposes other than civilian consumption while simultaneously providing a high standard of living."
With this understanding, American strategists began to build up a massive munitions industry, both to counter the military might of the Soviet Union (which they consistently overstated) and also to maintain full employment as well as ward off a possible return of the Depression. The result was that, under Pentagon leadership, entire new industries were created to manufacture large aircraft, nuclear-powered submarines, nuclear warheads, intercontinental ballistic missiles, and surveillance and communications satellites. This led to what President Eisenhower warned against in his farewell address of February 6, 1961: "The conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience" -- that is, the military-industrial complex.
By 1990, the value of the weapons, equipment, and factories devoted to the Department of Defense was 83% of the value of all plants and equipment in American manufacturing. From 1947 to 1990, the combined U.S. military budgets amounted to $8.7 trillion. Even though the Soviet Union no longer exists, U.S. reliance on military Keynesianism has, if anything, ratcheted up, thanks to the massive vested interests that have become entrenched around the military establishment. Over time, a commitment to both guns and butter has proven an unstable configuration. Military industries crowd out the civilian economy and lead to severe economic weaknesses. Devotion to military Keynesianism is, in fact, a form of slow economic suicide.
On May 1, 2007, the Center for Economic and Policy Research of Washington, D.C., released a study prepared by the global forecasting company Global Insight on the long-term economic impact of increased military spending. Guided by economist Dean Baker, this research showed that, after an initial demand stimulus, by about the sixth year the effect of increased military spending turns negative. Needless to say, the U.S. economy has had to cope with growing defense spending for more than 60 years. He found that, after 10 years of higher defense spending, there would be 464,000 fewer jobs than in a baseline scenario that involved lower defense spending.
"It is often believed that wars and military spending increases are good for the economy. In fact, most economic models show that military spending diverts resources from productive uses, such as consumption and investment, and ultimately slows economic growth and reduces employment."
These are only some of the many deleterious effects of military Keynesianism.
Hollowing Out the American Economy
It was believed that the U.S. could afford both a massive military establishment and a high standard of living, and that it needed both to maintain full employment. But it did not work out that way. By the 1960s, it was becoming apparent that turning over the nation's largest manufacturing enterprises to the Department of Defense and producing goods without any investment or consumption value was starting to crowd out civilian economic activities. The historian Thomas E. Woods, Jr., observes that, during the 1950s and 1960s, between one-third and two-thirds of all American research talent was siphoned off into the military sector. It is, of course, impossible to know what innovations never appeared as a result of this diversion of resources and brainpower into the service of the military, but it was during the 1960s that we first began to notice Japan was outpacing us in the design and quality of a range of consumer goods, including household electronics and automobiles.
Nuclear weapons furnish a striking illustration of these anomalies. Between the 1940s and 1996, the United States spent at least $5.8 trillion on the development, testing, and construction of nuclear bombs. By 1967, the peak year of its nuclear stockpile, the United States possessed some 32,500 deliverable atomic and hydrogen bombs, none of which, thankfully, was ever used. They perfectly illustrate the Keynesian principle that the government can provide make-work jobs to keep people employed. Nuclear weapons were not just America's secret weapon, but also its secret economic weapon. As of 2006, we still had 9,960 of them. There is today no sane use for them, while the trillions spent on them could have been used to solve the problems of social security and health care, quality education and access to higher education for all, not to speak of the retention of highly skilled jobs within the American economy.
The pioneer in analyzing what has been lost as a result of military Keynesianism was the late Seymour Melman (1917-2004), a professor of industrial engineering and operations research at Columbia University. His 1970 book, Pentagon Capitalism: The Political Economy of War, was a prescient analysis of the unintended consequences of the American preoccupation with its armed forces and their weaponry since the onset of the Cold War. Melman wrote (pp. 2-3):
"From 1946 to 1969, the United States government spent over $1,000 billion on the military, more than half of this under the Kennedy and Johnson administrations -- the period during which the [Pentagon-dominated] state management was established as a formal institution. This sum of staggering size (try to visualize a billion of something) does not express the cost of the military establishment to the nation as a whole. The true cost is measured by what has been foregone, by the accumulated deterioration in many facets of life by the inability to alleviate human wretchedness of long duration."
In an important exegesis on Melman's relevance to the current American economic situation, Thomas Woods writes:
"According to the U.S. Department of Defense, during the four decades from 1947 through 1987 it used (in 1982 dollars) $7.62 trillion in capital resources. In 1985, the Department of Commerce estimated the value of the nation's plant and equipment, and infrastructure, at just over $7.29 trillion. In other words, the amount spent over that period could have doubled the American capital stock or modernized and replaced its existing stock."
The fact that we did not modernize or replace our capital assets is one of the main reasons why, by the turn of the twenty-first century, our manufacturing base had all but evaporated. Machine tools -- an industry on which Melman was an authority -- are a particularly important symptom. In November 1968, a five-year inventory disclosed (p. 186) "that 64 percent of the metalworking machine tools used in U.S. industry were ten years old or older. The age of this industrial equipment (drills, lathes, etc.) marks the United States' machine tool stock as the oldest among all major industrial nations, and it marks the continuation of a deterioration process that began with the end of the Second World War. This deterioration at the base of the industrial system certifies to the continuous debilitating and depleting effect that the military use of capital and research and development talent has had on American industry."
Nothing has been done in the period since 1968 to reverse these trends and it shows today in our massive imports of equipment -- from medical machines like proton accelerators for radiological therapy (made primarily in Belgium, Germany, and Japan) to cars and trucks.
Our short tenure as the world's "lone superpower" has come to an end. As Harvard economics professor Benjamin Friedman has written:
"Again and again it has always been the world's leading lending country that has been the premier country in terms of political influence, diplomatic influence, and cultural influence. It's no accident that we took over the role from the British at the same time that we took over… the job of being the world's leading lending country. Today we are no longer the world's leading lending country. In fact we are now the world's biggest debtor country, and we are continuing to wield influence on the basis of military prowess alone."
Some of the damage done can never be rectified. There are, however, some steps that this country urgently needs to take. These include reversing Bush's 2001 and 2003 tax cuts for the wealthy, beginning to liquidate our global empire of over 800 military bases, cutting from the defense budget all projects that bear no relationship to the national security of the United States, and ceasing to use the defense budget as a Keynesian jobs program. If we do these things we have a chance of squeaking by. If we don't, we face probable national insolvency and a long depression.
Chalmers Johnson is the author of Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic, just published in paperback. It is the final volume of his Blowback Trilogy, which also includes Blowback (2000) and The Sorrows of Empire (2004).
[Note: For those interested, click here to view a clip from a new film, "Chalmers Johnson on American Hegemony," in Cinema Libre Studios' Speaking Freely series in which he discusses "military Keynesianism" and imperial bankruptcy. For sources on global military spending, please see: (1) Global Security Organization, "World Wide Military Expenditures" as well as Glenn Greenwald, "The bipartisan consensus on U.S. military spending"; (2) Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, "Report: China biggest Asian military spender."]
Friday, January 25, 2008
READ THIS ARTICLE
the first government response to America's sinking economy was denial. We were told as recently as a month ago by administration officials and Wall Street charlatans that the economy was robust and that there would not be a recession. Now we are told that the economy is in trouble, but that the government is taking decisive action to shore it up.
We saw how effective the first "decisive" proposal was. Bush announced a plan to give every adult taxpayer (no poor people, thank you) $800 in a tax rebate this April. The stock market responded to this idea by dropping a few percent. The idea, as I wrote in my last column, was stupid to begin with because, with the US no longer producing much of anything, all that bonus borrowed cash would end up getting spent on imported goods anyhow, doing next to nothing for the US economy.
So now the Federal Reserve has weighed in with a 3/4 percent cut in the Federal Funds rate. Even though commercial banks followed suit, lowering the prime lending rate by a similar 3/4 percent, the stock market showed how much good that move would do, dropping almost 300 points at the opening bell today--about what it had been expected to do even without an interest-rate cut.
There was one place where the Fed's action did have an impact though: the exchange value of the dollar in foreign currency markets. No sooner was word of the interest rate cut announced, than the dollar fell against major currencies like the British Pound, the Euro and the Japanese Yen.
And there's the rub. The Fed is in a trap. It cannot cut interest rates much more without causing a collapse in the dollar, which, because of the huge US trade imbalance, and all those consumer goods and raw materials--especially oil--that are imported--would lead to serious and politically dangerous inflation. And there is another constraint: with the current rate cut, the US now has the third lowest interest rates in the world. If the Fed makes another cut, as it has hinted it might in a week or so, only Japan would have a lower interest rate environment than the US. That makes the dollar a very undesirable currency for foreigner investors, which means they won't want to hold dollars, and they won't want to hold US stocks.
Yet if the Fed doesn't cut interest rates even further, the stock market will continue to plunge, which again discourages foreign investors from pouring their money into the U.S., which in turn puts downward pressure on the dollar.
This was all predictable.
An economy that is almost wholly dependent on consumer spending, which is the case in the US, is in big trouble when consumers start to worry about the security of their jobs, and when they see inflation eating away at their disposable income. They naturally just stop spending. And that is happening, too.
So get ready for some hard economic times. The next step will be soaring inflation, as strapped companies in China, India and elsewere start raising their prices for goods shipped to the US and paid for in dollars. Then the Fed will have to respond by raising interest rates again, in an effort to shore up the currency. And with that will come deeper recession and an even lower stock market.
The Bush chickens--endless deficits as far as the eye can see, and a $2-trillion military debacle that has no end in sight and that is sucking money out of the country like a giant industrial vacuum cleaner--are coming home to roost. The President and Vice President clearly hoped that they could pass the wreckage of their eight years in office on to the next president and run off to retirement and senior stateeman status before it all blew up, but their luck ran out. The economic shit has hit the fan. Chances are that the war that they have tried to tuck away in the closet with a "surge" in troops and a brutal campaign of aerial bombardment, will also blow up on them before the year is out.
That's small consolation for all of us who have to live with the ensuing disasters, but at least--if we can't see them properly impeached and indicted, and if the Democrats in Congress don't manage to screw things up further so they can be blamed for the mess too--we'll have the satisfaction of seeing Bush and Cheney run out of town next January on a rail.
Dave Lindorff is the author of Killing Time: an Investigation into the Death Row Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. His n book of CounterPunch columns titled "This Can't be Happening!" is published by Common Courage Press. Lindorff's newest book is "The Case for Impeachment", co-authored by Barbara Olshansky.
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
This past tuesday january 22 NASA release astonish picture of a strange thing that appears to be a Statue of a humanoid just looking somewhere else, its very incredible picture the news was announced by Daily MAil (UK newspaper) take a look
This pictures makes me believe that there were an ancient civilization there
Sunday, January 20, 2008
OTTAWA (Reuters) - 's foreign ministry, responding to pressure from close allies, said on Saturday it would remove the United States and from a watch list of countries where prisoners risk being tortured.
Both nations expressed unhappiness after it emerged they had been listed in a document that formed part of a training course manual on torture awareness given to Canadian diplomats.
Foreign Minister Maxime Bernier said he regretted the embarrassment caused by the public disclosure of the manual, which also classified some U.S. interrogation techniques as torture.
"It contains a list that wrongly includes some of our closest allies. I have directed that the manual be reviewed and rewritten," Bernier said in a statement.
"The manual is neither a policy document nor a statement of policy. As such, it does not convey the government's views or positions."
The document -- made available to Reuters and other media outlets -- embarrassed the minority Conservative government, which is a staunch ally of both the United States and Israel.
U.S.said the listing was absurd, while the Israeli envoy said he wanted his country removed.
Asked why the two countries had been put on the list, a spokesman for Bernier said: "The training manual purposely raised public issues to stimulate discussion and debate in the classroom."
The government mistakenly gave the document toas part of a court case the rights organization has launched against over the treatment of detainees in .
AMPLE EVIDENCE OF ABUSE
, which says it has ample evidence that prisoners are abused both in U.S. and Israeli jails, said it was disappointed by Bernier's announcement.
"When it comes to an issue like torture, the government's main concern should not be embarrassing allies," Alex Neve, the group's secretary-general, told Reuters. The U.S. embassy did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Under "definition of torture," the document lists U.S. interrogation techniques such as forced nudity, isolation, sleep deprivation and blindfolding prisoners.
It also mentions the U.S. detention facility atin , where a Canadian man is being held.
The man,, has been in Guantanamo Bay for five years. He is accused of killing a U.S. soldier during a clash in Afghanistan in 2002, when he was 15.
Other countries on the watch list include, , , Afghanistan, and .
The foreign ministry launched the torture awareness course after Ottawa was criticized for the way it handled the case of Canadian engineer Maher Arar, who was deported from the United States to Syria in 2002.
Arar says he was tortured repeatedly during the year he spent inprisons. An official inquiry into the affair showed Canadian diplomats had not been trained to detect whether detainees might have been abused.
Friday, January 18, 2008
Mischievous 'Filipino Monkey' could have triggered latest US-Iran row
A heckling radio ham known as the Filipino Monkey, who has spent years pestering ships in the Persian Gulf, is being blamed today for sparking a major diplomatic row after American warships almost attacked Iranian patrol boats.
The US navy came within seconds of firing at the Iranian speedboats in the Strait of Hormuz on January 6 after hearing threats that the boats were attacking and were about to explode.
Senior navy officials have admitted that the source of the threats, picked up in international waters, was a mystery.
And now the US navy's journal, Navy Times, has claimed that the threats, which were broadcast last week by the Pentagon, are thought to have come from an infamous radio prankster.
It said the Filipino Monkey, who could be more than one person, listens to ship-to-ship radio traffic and then interrupts, usually with abusive insults.
Rick Hoffman, a retired captain, told the paper: "For 25 years, there's been this mythical guy out there who, hour after hour, shouts obscenities and threats. He used to go all night long. The guy is crazy.
"Could it have been a spurious transmission? Absolutely."
An unnamed civilian mariner told the Navy Times: "They come on and say Filipino Monkey in a strange voice. You're standing watch on bridge and all of a sudden it comes over the radio. It's been a joke out there for years."
Last week, the Iranians and the US issued different video versions of what took place.
On the Pentagon's version, a strange voice, in English, can be heard saying "I am coming to you. You will explode in a few minutes." The voice sounds different from one heard earlier in the recording and there is no background noise that would usually be picked up from a speedboat radio.
In the Iranian version, there is no hint of aggressive behaviour.
The Pentagon said it recorded the film and the sound separately and then edited them together to give a "better idea of what is happening".
But Commander Lydia Robertson, a navy spokeswoman, admitted: "We don't know for sure where they [the threats] came from. It could have been a shore station."
The US lodged a formal complaint with Iran over the incident, and the president, George Bush, warned Tehran of "serious consequences" unless it stopped such aggression.
During the 20-minute incident, five Iranian patrol boats swarmed around three US warships and came within 200 metres, puttingthe ships on alert.
The US navy said its gunners came within seconds of firing on the speedboats.
Monday, January 14, 2008
The next president faces an unenviable task: namely, to fix the national fiscal position after eight years of Republican mismanagement. If they don't make fixing this their top priority, then the US could have an incredibly difficult time when they leave office in either four or eight years.
Let's start with an overview of the last six years. These figures are from the Bureau of Public Debt. They are the total amount of debt outstanding as of the end of the government's fiscal years.
Currently, the total national debt stands at $9,136,418,062,457.29
The Associated Press recently made this observation:
Like a ticking time bomb, the national debt is an explosion waiting to happen. It's expanding by about $1.4 billion a day -- or nearly $1 million a minute.
What's that mean to you?
It means almost $30,000 in debt for each man, woman, child and infant in the United States.
The most widely used calculation of national debt is the debt/GDP ratio.
Using the debt figures above and the third quarter total GDP figures from the Bureau of Economic Analysis we get the following debt/GDP rations.
2007: about 65% (the time frame of the numbers didn't match exactly).
Notice the ratio has consistently increased for the last six years.
Now, we're in the middle of the primary season, so everybody and their brother is making promises. Rudy wants to cut taxes further, Romney wants to make the latest round of tax cuts permanent, and Edwards has announced a spending plan to help the middle class. I'm sure combing through all the speeches and policy pronouncements from all the candidates would reveal they have all without exception made similar promises to people.
Here's the news flash: we can't afford a single new spending plan and we can't afford more tax cuts until we bring the national debt under control. Notice that over the last five years the U.S. has added over $500 billion dollars of net new debt per year each year. In short -- we're issuing debt like it's going out of style. That means the Bush's tax cuts were in fact tax deferments because they'll have to increase in order to pay for the spending for the last six years. It also means that further tax cuts should be off the table. It also means the further spending for new programs are off the table.
Simple put, the U.S. has to go into "let's save the federal government from bankruptcy" mode. If we don't then we're going to have worse trouble then you've ever seen.
Thursday, January 10, 2008
Very good article hope u can read it!
Assassination of prominent political leaders, presumably protected by the best security, is no easy thing. It requires agencies of professional intelligence training to insure that the job is done and that no person is caught alive who can lead to those behind. Typically, from the assassination of Archduke Francis Ferdinand in Sarajevo in July 1914 to JFK, the person pulling the trigger is just an instrument of a far deeper conspiracy. So too in the assassination on December 27th, of Pakistani former Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto. Cui bono?.
What was behind the murder of Bhutto at the moment her PPP party appeared about to win a resounding election victory in the planned January 8 elections, thereby posing a mass-based challenge to the dictatorial rule of President Musharraf?
Musharraf’s government was indecently quick to blame “Al-Qaeda,” the dubious entity allegedly the organization of Osama bin Laden, whom Washington accused for masterminding the September 11 2001 attacks. Musharraf just days after, declared he was “sure” Al Qaeda was the author, even though, on US pressure, he has asked Scotland Yard to come and investigate. "I want to say it with certainty, that these people (Al Qaeda) martyred ... Benazir Bhutto," Musharraf said in a Jan. 3 televised address. He named Baitullah Mehsud, a militant tribal chief fighting the Pakistani Army, who has alleged ties to al-Qaeda and the Afghan Taleban. Mehsud denied the charge. Had he been behind such a dramatic event, the desired propaganda impact among militant islamists would require taking open responsibility instead.
By linking the Bhutto killing to Al Qaeda, Musharraf conveniently gains several goals. First he reinforces the myth of Al Qaeda, something very useful to Washington at this time of growing global skepticism over the real intent of its War on Terrorism, making Musharraf more valuable to Washington. Second it gives Musharraf a plausible scapegoat to blame for the convenient elimination of a serious political rival to his consolidation of one-man rule.
Notable also is the fact that the Musharraf regime has rejected making a routine autoposy on Bhutto’s body. Bhutto publicly charged that the Government had refused to make followup inquiry after the October bombing which nearly killed her and did 134 followers near her auto. Bhutto accused Pakistani authorities of not providing her with sufficient security, and hinted that they may have been complicit in the Karachi attack. She also made clear in a UK television interview shortly before her death that she would clean out the Pakistan military and security services of corrupt and islamist elements.
In the same David Frost interview, Bhutto also dropped the explosive news that Osama bin Laden had been murdered by Omar Sheikh Mohammad, a British citizen of Pakistani origin, an ISI Pakistani intelligence operative, who 'confessed' to the killing of Daniel Pearl. He was arrested in February 2002. If Benazir's claim is correct, Omar Sheikh must have killed Osama before he was arrested in February 2002, which makes at least all the Osama messages after that date periodically delivered to western media clear forgeries.
Days after the Bhutto killing, Pakistani authorities published a photo alleged to be of the severed head of the suicide bomber who killed Bhutto. Severed heads, like a dead Lee Harvey Oswald don’t talk or say embarrassing things. Also curious is the fact that Bhutto was killed in Rawalpindi, a garrison town, where every millimeter is controlled by the Army security complex. The murder weapon was a Steyr 9mm, issued only to Pakistani Army Special
It has been known for months that the Bush-Cheney administration has been maneuvering to strengthen their political control of Pakistan, paving the way for the expansion and deepening of the “war on terrorism” across the region.
Who was Bhutto?
The Bhutto family was itself hardly democratic, drawing its core from feudal landowning families, but opposed to the commanding role of the army and ISI intelligence. Succeeding her father as head of the PPP, Benazir declared herself "chairperson for life" — a position she held until her death. Bhutto’s husband, Ali Zardari, “Mr. 10%,” is known in Pakistan for his demanding a 10% cut from letting major government contracts when Benazir was PM. In 2003, Benazir and her husband were convicted in Switzerland of money laundering and taking bribes from Swiss companies as PM. The family is allegedly worth several billions as a result. As prime minister from 1993 to 1996, she advocated a conciliatory policy toward Islamists, especially the Taliban in Afghanistan.
The Harvard educated Benazir had close ties to US and UK intelligence as well. She used the offices of neo-conservative US Congressman Tom Lantos when she was in Washington according to our informed reports, one reason Vice President Cheney backed her as a “safe” way to save his Pakistan strategic alliance in face of growing popular protest against Musharraf’s declaring martial law last year. The ploy was to have Bhutto make a face-saving deal with Musharraf to put a democratic face on the dictatorship, while Washington maintained its strategic control. According to the Washington Post of 28 Dec., “For Benazir Bhutto, the decision to return to Pakistan was sealed during a telephone call from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice just a week before Bhutto flew home in October. The call culminated more than a year of secret diplomacy -- and came only when it became clear that the heir to Pakistan's most powerful political dynasty was the only one who could bail out Washington's key ally in the battle against terrorism. . . .As President Pervez Musharraf's political future began to unravel this year, Bhutto became the only politician who might help keep him in power.”
In November, John Negroponte, former Bush Administration Intelligence Czar and now Deputy Secretary of State was deployed to Islamabad to pressure Musharraf to ease the situation by holding elections and forming a power-sharing with Bhutto. But once in Pakistan, where her supporters were mobilized, Bhutto made clear she would seek an election coalition to openly oppose Musharraf and military rule in the planned elections.
A cynical US-Musharraf deal?
Informed intelligence sources say there was a cynical deal cut behind the scenes between Washington and Musharraf. Musharraf is known to be Cheney’s preferred partner and Cheney we are told is the sole person running US-Pakistan policy today.
Were Musharraf to agree to stationing of US Special Forces inside Pakistan, “Plan B”, the democratic farce with Bhutto could be put aside, in favor of the continued Musharraf sole rule. Washington would “turn a blind eye.”
On Dec. 28, one day after the Bhutto assassination, the Washington Post reported that in early 2008, “US Special Forces are expected to vastly expand their presence in Pakistan as part of an effort to train and support indigenous counter-insurgency forces and clandestine counterterrorism units,” under the US Central Command and US Special Operations Command, a major shift in US Pakistani ties. Until now Musharraf and his military have refused such direct US control, aside from the agreement after September 11, extracted from Musharraf under extreme pressure of possible US bombing, to give the US military direct control of the Pakistan nuclear weapons.
The elimination of Bhutto leaves an opposition vacuum. The country lacks a credible political leader who can command national support, which leaves the military enhanced as an institution, with its willingness to defend Musharraf on the streets. This gives the Pentagon and Washington a chance to consolidate a military opposition to future Chinese economic hegemony—the real geopolitical goal of Washington.