Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Taliban Strike Deep In Kabul

Militants Regaining The Initiative

STRATFOR
September 13, 2011

A team of as many as 10 Afghan Taliban militants armed with automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades mounted an assault Sept. 13 in a high-security zone in the capital Kabul against the U.S. Embassy among other targets. At least four of the attackers were likely suicide bombers and detonated themselves during the attack. The attack began at 1:30 p.m. local time and has been underway for close to two hours. The militants took over a building in an area near Abdul Haq Chowk Square, a location in close proximity to Afghan government and Western security installations, including NATO headquarters.

     While there have been many attacks in Kabul, this incident is one of the rare occasions that militants have demonstrated the capability to get extremely close to the heart of the Western military and intelligence presence in the Afghan capital. The ability to get numerous operatives armed with explosives and heavy guns into this area could not have been possible without the Taliban obtaining aid from Afghan security personnel posted in high-security areas.

Taliban:  Obtaining better equipment with U.S. money?
 The attackers are unlikely to succeed in doing much damage, and they will likely be overpowered by coalition forces — a fact the planners of the attack knew in advance. The light weapons the attackers were armed with simply could not cause significant damage to a hardened facility such as the U.S. Embassy. Therefore, the attack was meant to be more of a psychological operation than a physical one. This attack, likely the work of the Haqqani network, is designed to undermine U.S. efforts to negotiate with the senior leadership of the Afghan Taliban movement.


Taliban Strike Deep In Kabul is republished with permission of STRATFOR.

The Crisis of Europe and European Nationalism

Once Again, Europe Shaken To The Core


STRATFOR
By George Friedman
September 13, 2011 | 0856 GMT

When I visited Europe in 2008 and before, the idea that Europe was not going to emerge as one united political entity was regarded as heresy by many leaders. The European enterprise was seen as a work in progress moving inevitably toward unification — a group of nations committed to a common fate. What was a core vision in 2008 is now gone. What was inconceivable — the primacy of the traditional nation-state — is now commonly discussed, and steps to devolve Europe in part or in whole (such as ejecting Greece from the eurozone) are being contemplated. This is not a trivial event.

Before 1492, Europe was a backwater of small nationalities struggling over a relatively small piece of cold, rainy land. But one technological change made Europe the center of the international system: deep-water navigation.

    The ability to engage in long-range shipping safely allowed businesses on the Continent’s various navigable rivers to interact easily with each other, magnifying the rivers’ capital-generation capacity. Deep-water navigation also allowed many of the European nations to conquer vast extra-European empires. And the close proximity of those nations combined with ever more wealth allowed for technological innovation and advancement at a pace theretofore unheard of anywhere on the planet. As a whole, Europe became very rich, became engaged in very far-flung empire-building that redefined the human condition and became very good at making war. In short order, Europe went from being a cultural and economic backwater to being the engine of the world.
 
    At home, Europe’s growing economic development was exceeded only by the growing ferocity of its conflicts. Abroad, Europe had achieved the ability to apply military force to achieve economic aims — and vice-versa. The brutal exploitation of wealth from some places (South America in particular) and the thorough subjugation and imposed trading systems in others (East and South Asia in particular) created the foundation of the modern order. Such alternations of traditional systems increased the wealth of Europe dramatically.

    But “engine” does not mean “united,” and Europe’s wealth was not spread evenly. Whichever country was benefitting had a decided advantage in that it had greater resources to devote to military power and could incentivize other countries to ally with it. The result ought to have been that the leading global empire would unite Europe under its flag. It never happened, although it was attempted repeatedly. Europe remained divided and at war with itself at the same time it was dominating and reshaping the world.

Trafalgar
The reasons for this paradox are complex. For me, the key has always been the English Channel. Domination of Europe requires a massive land force. Domination of the world requires a navy heavily oriented toward maritime trade. No European power was optimized to cross the channel, defeat England and force it into Europe. The Spanish Armada, the French navy at Trafalgar and the Luftwaffe over Britain all failed to create the conditions for invasion and subjugation. Whatever happened in continental Europe, the English remained an independent force with a powerful navy of its own, able to manipulate the balance of power in Europe to keep European powers focused on each other and not on England (most of the time). And after the defeat of Napoleon, the Royal Navy created the most powerful empire Europe had seen, but it could not, by itself, dominate the Continent. (Other European geographic features obviously make unification of Europe difficult, but all of them have, at one point or another, been overcome. Except for the channel.)

Underlying Tensions

    The tensions underlying Europe were bought to a head by German unification in 1871 and the need to accommodate Germany in the European system, of which Germany was both an integral and indigestible part. The result was two catastrophic general wars in Europe that began in 1914 and ended in 1945 with the occupation of Europe by the United States and the Soviet Union and the collapse of the European imperial system. Its economy shattered and its public plunged into a crisis of morale and a lack of confidence in the elites, Europe had neither the interest in nor appetite for empire.

German fw190-F
Europe was exhausted not only by war but also by the internal psychosis of two of its major components. Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s Soviet Union might well have externally behaved according to predictable laws of geopolitics. Internally, these two countries went mad, slaughtering both their own citizens and citizens of countries they occupied for reasons that were barely comprehensible, let alone rationally explicable. From my point of view, the pressure and slaughter inflicted by two world wars on both countries created a collective mental breakdown.

    I realize this is a woefully inadequate answer. But consider Europe after World War II. First, it had gone through about 450 years of global adventure and increasingly murderous wars, in the end squandering ********** it had won. Internally, Europe watched a country like Germany — in some ways the highest expression of European civilization — plunge to levels of unprecedented barbarism. Finally, Europe saw the United States move from the edges of history to assume the role of an occupying force. The United States became the envy of the Europeans: stable, wealthy, unified and able to impose its economic, political and military will on major powers on a different continent. (The Russians were part of Europe and could be explained within the European paradigm. So while the Europeans may have disdained the Russians, the Russians were still viewed as poor cousins, part of the family playing by more or less European rules.) New and unprecedented, the United States towered over Europe, which went from dominance to psychosis to military, political and cultural subjugation in a twinkling of history’s eye.

Russian Great Famine
Paradoxically, it was the United States that gave the first shape to Europe’s future, beginning with Western Europe. World War II’s outcome brought the United States and Soviet Union to the center of Germany, dividing it. A new war was possible, and the reality and risks of the Cold War were obvious. The United States needed a united Western Europe to contain the Soviets. It created NATO to integrate Europe and the United States politically and militarily. This created the principle of transnational organizations integrating Europe. The United States also encouraged economic cooperation both within Europe and between North America and Europe — in stark contrast to the mercantilist imperiums of recent history — giving rise to the European Union’s precursors. Over the decades of the Cold War, the Europeans committed themselves to a transnational project to create a united Europe of some sort in a way not fully defined.

    There were two reasons for this thrust for unification. The first was the Cold War and collective defense. But the deeper reason was a hope for a European resurrection from the horrors of the 20th century. It was understood that German unification in 1871 created the conflicts and that the division of Germany in 1945 re-stabilized Europe. At the same time, Europe did not want to remain occupied or caught in an ongoing near-war situation. The Europeans were searching for a way to overcome their history.

    One problem was the status of Germany. The deeper problem was nationalism. Not only had Europe failed to unite under a single flag via conquest but also World War I had shattered the major empires, creating a series of smaller states that had been fighting to be free. The argument was that it was nationalism, and not just German nationalism, that had created the 20th century. Europe’s task was therefore to overcome nationalism and create a structure in which Europe united and retained unique nations as cultural phenomena and not political or economic entities. At the same time, by embedding Germany in this process, the German problem would be solved as well.

A Means of Redemption

    The European Union was designed not simply to be a useful economic tool but also to be a means of European redemption. The focus on economics was essential. It did not want to be a military alliance, since such alliances were the foundation of Europe’s tragedy. By focusing on economic matters while allowing military affairs to be linked to NATO and the United States, and by not creating a meaningful joint-European force, the Europeans avoided the part of their history that terrified them while pursuing the part that enticed them: economic prosperity. The idea was that free trade regulated by a central bureaucracy would suppress nationalism and create prosperity without abolishing national identity. The common currency — the euro — is the ultimate expression of this hope. The Europeans hoped that the existence of some Pan-European structure could grant wealth without surrendering the core of what it means to be French or Dutch or Italian.

EU Fracturing
Yet even during the post-World War II era of security and prosperity, some Europeans recoiled from the idea of a transfer of sovereignty. The consensus that many in the long line of supporters of European unification believed existed simply didn’t. And today’s euro crisis is the first serious crisis that Europe has faced in the years since, with nationalism beginning to re-emerge in full force.

    In the end, Germans are Germans and Greeks are Greeks. Germany and Greece are different countries in different places with different value systems and interests. The idea of sacrificing for each other is a dubious concept. The idea of sacrificing for the European Union is a meaningless concept. The European Union has no moral claim on Europe beyond promising prosperity and offering a path to avoid conflict. These are not insignificant goals, but when the prosperity stops, a large part of the justification evaporates and the aversion to conflict (at least political discord) begins to dissolve.

Greek Riots
Germany and Greece each have explanations for why the other is responsible for what has happened. For the Germans, it was the irresponsibility of the Greek government in buying political power with money it didn’t have to the point of falsifying economic data to obtain eurozone membership. For the Greeks, the problem is the hijacking of Europe by the Germans. Germany controls the eurozone’s monetary policy and has built a regulatory system that provides unfair privileges, so the Greeks believe, for Germany’s exports, economic structure and financial system. Each nation believes the other is taking advantage of the situation.
    Political leaders are seeking accommodation, but their ability to accommodate each other is increasingly limited by public opinion growing more hostile not only to the particulars of the deal but to the principle of accommodation. The most important issue is not that Germany and Greece disagree (although they do, strongly) but that their publics are increasingly viewing each other as nationals of a foreign power who are pursuing their own selfish interests. Both sides say they want “more Europe,” but only if “more Europe” means more of what they want from the other.

Managing Sacrifice

    Nationalism is the belief that your fate is bound up with your nation and your fellow citizens and you have an indifference to the fate of others. What the Europeanists tried to do was create institutions that made choosing between your own and others unnecessary. But they did this not with martial spirit or European myth, which horrified them. They made the argument prudently: You will like Europe because it will be prosperous, and with all of Europe prosperous there will be no need to choose between your nation and other nations. Their greatest claim was that Europe would not require sacrifice. To a people who lived through the 20th century, the absence of sacrifice was enormously seductive.

Anti-European Union Riots
But, of course, prosperity comes and goes, and as it goes sacrifice is needed. And sacrifice — like wealth — is always unevenly distributed. That uneven distribution is determined not only by necessity but also by those who have power and control over institutions. From a national point of view, it is Germany and France that have the power, with the British happy to be out of the main fray. The weak are the rest of Europe, those who surrendered core sovereignty to the Germans and French and now face the burdens of managing sacrifice.

    In the end, Europe will remain an enormously prosperous place. The net worth of Europe — its economic base, its intellectual capital, its organizational capabilities — is stunning. Those qualities do not evaporate. But crisis reshapes how they are managed, operated and distributed. This is now in question. Obviously, the future of the euro is now widely discussed. So the future of the free-trade zone will come to the fore. Germany is a massive economy by itself, exporting more per year than the gross domestic products of most of the world’s other nation-states. Does Greece or Portugal really want to give Germany a blank check to export what it wants with it, or would they prefer managed trade under their control? Play this forward past the euro crisis and the foundations of a unified Europe become questionable.


This is the stuff that banks and politicians need to worry about. The deeper worry is nationalism. European nationalism has always had a deeper engine than simply love of one’s own. It is also rooted in resentment of others. Europe is not necessarily unique in this, but it has experienced some of the greatest catastrophes in history because of it. Historically, the Europeans have hated well. We are very early in the process of accumulating grievances and remembering how to hate, but we have entered the process. How this is played out, how the politicians, financiers and media interpret these grievances, will have great implications for Europe. Out of it may come a broader sense of national betrayal, which was just what the European Union was supposed to prevent.

"The Crisis of Europe and European Nationalism is republished with permission of STRATFOR."

<a href="http://www.stratfor.com/weekly/20110912-crisis-europe-and-european-nationalism">The Crisis of Europe and European Nationalism</a> is republished with permission of STRATFOR.

Death industry reaps grim profit as Japan dies

Japan/World Still In Dark As Government Continues To Lie About Deaths, Radiation Releases, Fukoshima Melt-Downs

Reuters
TOKYO | Mon Sep 12, 2011 5:51am EDT

Across from a noodle shop in a Yokohama suburb, Hisayoshi Teramura's inn looks much like any other small lodging that dots the port city. Occasionally, it's even mistaken for a love hotel by couples hankering for some time beneath the sheets.

    But Teramura's place is neither a love nest nor a pit stop for tired travellers. The white and grey tiled building is a corpse hotel, its 18 deceased guests tucked up in refrigerated coffins.

   "We tell them we only have cold rooms," Teramura quips when asked how his staff respond to unwary lovers looking for a room.


Lastel Corpse Hotel in Yokohama/Reuters
The daily rate at Lastel, as it is known, is 12,000 yen. For that fee, bereaved families can check in their dead while they wait their turn in the queue for one of the city's overworked crematoriums.

Death is a rare booming market in stagnant Japan and Teramura's new venture is just one example of how businessmen are trying to tap it.

    In 2010, according to government records, 1.2 million people passed away, giving the country and annual death rate of 0.95 percent versus 0.84 percent in the United States, which is also the global average.

    The rate of deaths is on the increase. Last year, there were an extra 55,000 dead and over the past decade, an average of 23,000 more people have died each year in Japan.

    Annual deaths are expected to peak at 1.66 million in 2040 as the bulk of the nation's baby boomer generation expires. By then, Japan's population will have shrunk by around 20 million people, an unprecedented die off for a nation neither at war or blighted by famine.

    Although two decades of economic malaise has weighed on incomes, a tradition on splashing out on ceremonies means the Japanese still pay an average of 1.2 million yen on flowers, urns, coffins and other funeral expenses. It adds up to a market worth a whopping $21 billion a year, or twice what Americans spend annually on funerals.


Japanese Tsunami and cremation of bodies
"There's been a rush into the market," says Teramura, who founded cemetery developer company Nichiryoku (7578.OS) 45 years ago. Even Japan's second biggest retail chain, Aeon (8267.T), rail companies and the nation's biggest farmers association, Japan Agriculture are getting into the business, he notes.

CREMATORIUM QUEUE

    Teramura, 71, decided a decade ago to widen his business beyond graves to funerals and he opened Lastel last year.

    Behind its flower box framed windows, hidden away from mourners, is an automated storage system. It stores and chills encoffined corpses, delivering them through hatches and into a viewing room, day or night, whenever friends and family come to pay their respects.

    Building new urban crematoriums to deal with the surge in bodies is near to impossible because nobody wants the furnaces in their back yard, explains Teramura. That not-in-my-backyard crowd is forcing cities to make do with the facilities they have, even as the body count mounts.


Tsunami mass cremations
 In Yokohama, the average wait for an oven is more than four days, driving up demand for half-way morgues such as Lastel.

"Otherwise people have to keep the bodies at home where there isn't much space," says Teramura. It also provides a captive audience to which he can market his other funeral services and wares.

FREE FOR ALL

    Joining Teramura in the funeral rush are a slew of new entrants, some of them refugees from a shrinking wedding industry.

    Entry to the industry is easy. There are no licenses or mandatory qualifications. All any wannabe funeral director needs is an office and a telephone. Flowers or coffins are easy to order and ceremonial halls, hearses and monks are all for hire.

    In the United States, by comparison, most funeral entrepreneurs need to study for three years, including a stint as an apprentice before regulators consider handing out a license.

    In a recent poll of 2,796 funeral industry related firms, Japan's Ministry of Economy Trade and Industry METI.L found that a third have been in business for a decade or less.

    It's becoming a wild west market in some ways, attracting the honest operators and the not so reputable too.

    "People tend to leave things to the funeral director and some people take advantage of that. So instead of a 100,000 yen coffin you may end up with a 1 million yen cask," Teramura says.

    A lack of official oversight and a wealth of cash transactions also makes it a magnet for full fledged mobsters, or yakuza, say some industry players.

    A niche that the yakuza have slipped into is as brokers who introduce funeral homes to hospitals, said one funeral director, who declined to be identified. That role alone can pull in millions of dollars in commissions.
Just how fast the industry is growing is hard to ascertain.

    METI in 2005 said there were 4,107 companies employing 49,079 people. Across the street at the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, officials say there were 6,606 firms in 2006, supporting a workforce of 72,046.

    Yoshiatsu Mitsuhashi, who is in charge of compiling the METI survey, said that growth may even understate the pace, because the ministry changed the way it gathered data.

    "It probably does indicate that the number of operators is rising, but we don't really know," he admits.
Tokyo-based Yano Research Institute said companies positioned to succeed may be former wedding organizers able to respond to growing demand for personalized services on a tighter budget -- changes that have roiled the bridal industry already.

    Yano predicts the funeral market will be worth 1.96 trillion yen by 2015.

BRIDAL REFUGEE

    One former wedding organizer trying his hand at the death industry is Takayuki Nakagawa. In 2002, he founded Urban Funes, which offers customized theme funerals from a converted wedding chapel in a Tokyo suburb.

    For recent events, Nakagawa has asked his staff to collect discarded fruit and vegetable boxes for the funeral of a greengrocer. For another, he asked them to come up with a fitting send off for father and husband who for four decades had blown half his salary on booze and gambling.


State-of-the-art crematorium
"People are less bothered about following customs," says Nakagawa in his offices above the hall where workers were arranging flutes and other memorabilia as part of a final farewell for a middle-aged woman.
 

To make money Nakagawa, who has no qualifications as a funeral director, says he keeps his operation lean, outsourcing whatever he can. Within five years he wants to do 3,000 funerals a year, compared with 900 in the last 12 months.

    "The places that are struggling are those with a lot of facilities," says Nakagawa.

    Those include mutual associations known as gojokai, set up to collect monthly fees from members, meant to pay a chunk of funeral expenses when they pass on. Those funds combined amount to more than 1.7 trillion yen, according to the industry association that most are members of.

    Over-exuberance during Japan's Shangri-La bubble years meant they invested much of that money poorly in golf memberships, event halls and real estate, leaving many teetering on the brink of failure two decades on.
The Japanese government is pushing for the industry to consolidate, cajoling stronger operators to absorb weaker ones. A round of funeral fund failures will allow investors to make at least some money for their distressed assets, Nakagawa reckons.

    "We aren't ordering them to combine, but encouraging them to act in order to avoid problems for consumers," explains an METI official in charge of overseeing the associations. "It's difficult to give a timeline for when this issue will be resolved," he adds.

    As for Lastel's Teramura, he's pushing ahead with expansion plans.

    He pulls out his mobile phone and shows a picture of an office building he just bought in another Yokohama neighbourhood. When he has finished renovating it will be his second Lastel, with room for 40 bodies, more than double the first.

    He refuses to divulge, however, exactly where it is in case any NIMBY neighbors get wind of what he is up to and try to kill his latest corpse hotel.

(Editing by Michael Flaherty and Lincoln Feast)


This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc.  We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes



The wars America doesn’t talk about


2012 Presidential "candidates" Avoid War Talk Like The Plague 
Reuters
By Susan Glasser
09/12/2011

Last month was the deadliest for U.S. troops in Afghanistan in the ten years of the war there, with 67 killed, nearly half of them Navy SEALs in the downing of a Chinook helicopter — the deadliest single incident in this, the longest war in American history. More promisingly, it was also the first month since the American invasion of Iraq in 2003 that not a single U.S. soldier was killed there.

   And yet these startling facts received almost no notice: the president never mentioned them, Congress was silent. When it comes to these drawn-out conflicts, both American political parties are increasingly determined to say nothing at all.

    The silence is especially striking among the Republican political establishment, on whose watch these wars were launched. At last week’s debate of the 2012 presidential candidates at the Ronald Reagan presidential library, Afghanistan rated barely a mention. It came up only twice, once when libertarian Ron Paul complained that it costs “$20 billion a year” to provide air-conditioning for U.S. troops in the wars and demanded that the U.S. pull the plug, and a second time when the Utah politician-turned-diplomat Jon Huntsman urged a complete withdrawal: “This is not about nation-building in Afghanistan. This is about nation-building at home,” he said. “We’ve got to bring those troops home.”

Afghanistan:  Quagmire
The response? Loud applause from the audience, and a brief protest from former senator Rick Santorum. The frontrunners were resolutely silent, including ex-Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney—the same Mitt Romney who as a Republican presidential candidate in 2008 vowed not only to bolster the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan but to wage what amounted to an extensive nation-building campaign as well.

     And Democrats, if anything, are even more resolutely determined both to get out of Afghanistan and Iraq as quickly as possible – and to avoid talking about it before they do. President Obama’s calculation here seems purely political; how else to explain the deadline of September 2012—just a couple months before the presidential election, rather than a couple months after, as his generals recommended–for U.S. troops to officially “end” the surge he began last year to much-disputed effect? In Iraq, a similar calculus seems to be taking effect; Obama, the New York Times reported a few days ago, is now prepared to allow just 3,000 or 4,000 troops to remain after the end of this year, down from the approximately 50,000 still there now—and far below the 10,000 said to be under consideration until recently.

    At the same time that silence reigns over these two long-running conflicts, America’s foreign policy elite is falling in love all over again with a new model of war, one that supposedly beckons with modest investment, no boots on the ground, and a convenient narrative of freedom toppling dictatorship. Yes, I’m talking about Libya.

    For even as dozens of American soldiers were being killed in Afghanistan, August was also the dramatic breakthrough in the nine-month-old, NATO-assisted Libyan revolution, when AK-47-wielding rebels charged into the capital of Tripoli and, aided by precision-guided Western missiles dropped from the sky, toppled the Gaddafi regime that had terrorized and overwhelmed them for the last three decades. Members of Congress, even those who had been criticizing the intervention weeks before, were eager to talk about this war, as was the Obama White House, which touted it as a model of the kind of regime change—without American boots on the ground—it would prefer to undertake.

Newest War:  Libya
“The fact that it is Libyans marching into Tripoli not only provides a basis for legitimacy for this but will also provide contrast to situations when the foreign government is the occupier,” Ben Rhodes, the White House deputy national security adviser, told me and a colleague recently. “While there will be huge challenges ahead, one of the positive aspects here is that the Libyans are the ones who are undertaking the regime change and the ones leading the transition.”

    In other words: Here’s a war that works. And by the way, did we mention how different we are than George W. Bush, pushing regime change at the barrel of an American gun?

    For many liberals, this is a long-awaited vindication of their own deeply held beliefs in the need, at least occasionally, for a form of internationalism that allows for the possibility of armed intervention and a just war. 

    Bush and his neocon-driven foray into Iraq on a false pretext had seemed to discredit, once and for all, the exercise of such American power; Libya, maybe, sort of, brings it back.

    But it’s hard not to see the perils in this way of thinking. “When did you drink the Kool-Aid?” a friend asked a longtime human rights activist, after listening to him make the case for the democratic bona fides of the Libyan rebels, never mind the rounding up of dark-skinned Africans taking place in Tripoli or the other acts of vengeance sure to follow.

THE Cool-Aid:  Come And Get It
I was in both Afghanistan and Iraq in the immediate aftermath of the American invasions that swept tyrannical regimes from power. I remember all too well the initial—but sadly fleeting—euphoria that greeted the disappearance of the police state. I walked through the jail cells and torture chambers of Basra with former prisoners who showed me how they had worked, and listened as a tearful doctor recounted the way Saddam’s men had forced them to cut off the ears of military conscripts who deserted. In Afghanistan, I met brave women who had immediately returned to working in school as teachers after years of whispering their lessons to young girls in underground classrooms banned by the Taliban. These are scenes achingly similar to those playing out today in Libya, ruled by the bizarre dictates of Muammar Gaddafi for nearly four decades. But freedom isn’t the only story there. Ending the war, really ending the war, and making a new peace never happened in either Afghanistan or Iraq – that is the unfinished business that keeps American soldiers there.

    Which is why I keep thinking of Tim Heatherington, a journalist who died covering this short Libyan war. A couple years ago, Heatherington made a powerful documentary, “Restrepo.” It offers a harrowing portrait of a team of American soldiers fighting vainly to keep their outpost in Afghanistan’s remote Korengal Valley. At the end of the movie, after all the heart-thumping patrols and bloody mistakes, the dead comrades mourned and the piles of discarded ammunition littering their mountain aerie, a chilling sentence scrolls across the screen: The U.S. military withdrew from the Korengal a year later. In other words, it was all in vain.


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Was Former President Bush Complicit in 9/11?

Many Questions Still Need To Be Answered  

Op-Ed News
By Sherwood Ross
  
Was former President George W. Bush complicit in the 9/11 attacks? That's a question that will not go away on this 10th anniversary of those terrible events.

     If many people continue to wonder about it, perhaps it's because the Bush regime did not call for a prompt investigation into 9/11 and subsequently obstructed its work. There is a fresh report that some information turned up by the FBI in Florida was held back on direct orders from Mr. Bush.

     To begin with, as Philip Shenon reported in The New York Times of July 9, 2003, "The federal commission investigating the Sept. 11 terror attacks said today that its work was being hampered by the failure of the executive branch agencies, especially the Pentagon and the Justice Department, to respond quickly to requests for documents and testimony." 

Bush:  Shock?  Fear?
 He wrote the panel's chair and vice-chair released a statement "declaring that they had received only a small part of the millions of sensitive government documents they had requested from the executive branch."

What's more, Shenon pointed out, the Administration would not allow its officials to be interviewed "without the presence of government colleagues" so that the panel's chairman suggested the situation amounted to "intimidation" of the witnesses. Why?

     There's ample evidence former President Bush didn't want a panel convened in the first place. As David Firestone reported in the Times of Nov. 15, 2002, the White House only yielded "to intense pressure from families of Sept. 11 victims" to create the panel. Firestone wrote that Senator John McCain, the Arizona Republican, "had fought zealously for the commission for months, leveling bitter criticism at the White House for stalling it..."

     Of course, Bush's opposition to the panel is zero proof that he was involved in the 9/11 attacks in any way. He may have only wished to cover up the incompetence of his government's response to them. Writing in The Times on Feb. 4, 2008, Evan Thomas pointed out, "The official ineptitude uncovered by the commission is shocking."

     Questions about Bush's appointments to the 9/11 panel are more than troubling. Bush initially named former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger chairman of the 9/11 probe---a man whose consulting firm it turned out had done work for the bin Laden family! What a coincidence, right?

Kissinger
When Kissinger hurriedly resigned, Bush named former New Jersey Gov. Thomas Kean in his place. Michel Chossudovsky of Global Research pointed out that Kean "sits on the board of directors of a company which has business dealings with financier Khalid bin Mahfouz." Kean, it turns out, was a director of Amerada Hess Corp., involved in a joint venture with Delta Oil of Saudi Arabia, an outfit owned in part by Mahfouz---a man whose sister is married to Osama bin Laden! Another coincidence, of course

     Chossudovsky writes, "Carefully documented by (Washington reporter) Wayne Madsen, George W. Bush also had dealings with Osama's brother-in-law (bin Mahfouz,) when he was in the Texas oil business" and both Bush and bin-Mahfouz were implicated in the Bank of Commerce International scandal."

    Americans are right to be skeptical of Bush's motives when the two chairmen he names to the 9/11 panel are linked to the bin Laden family. They are also right to be skeptical of the 9/11 Commission Report. As David Ray Griffin noted in his "Debunking 9/11 Debunking" (Olive Branch Press), a Zogby poll taken in May, 2006, indicated that 42% of the American people believed that "the U.S. government and its 9/11 Commission concealed...critical evidence that contradicts their official explanation of the September 11th attacks." And a Scripps/Ohio University poll in August, 2006, showed 36% of the public believes "federal officials either participated in the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon or took no action to stop them "because they wanted the United States to go to war in the Middle East."

Kean
A new report in the Miami Herald of September 8, states that "The final 28-page of the (official) Inquiry's report, which deals with "sources of foreign support for some of the Sept. 11 hijackers," was entirely blanked out. It was kept secret from the public on the orders of former President George W. Bush and is still withheld to this day, (former U.S. Senator Bob) Graham (D-Fla.)said. This new information was provided by Anthony Summers, co-author of " The Eleventh Day: The Full Story of 9/11 & Osama bin Laden" and Don Christensen, editor of the online "Broward Bulldog."

     Kept from the public until now is information that a Saudi family who abruptly vacated their Sarasota, Fla., home two weeks before 9/11, "were visited by vehicles used by the hijackers" and who were in telephone communication with those "who carried out the death flights---including leader Mohamed Atta." The information was unearthed by the FBI.  Graham stated further that FBI information unearthed in California linking Saudis to 9/11 was never turned over to the 9/11 Commission , either, until Congressional investigators found it on their own.

     If former President Bush was honored for his probity and integrity, one might argue there is no reason today to inquire into suspicions that he was complicit in the 9/11 attacks or concealed vital information about them. Yet, as subsequent events revealed, the man proved to be the worst liar  that ever occupied the Oval Office, a man who lied the nation into destructive wars that killed more than a million people, and a man who confided in a friendly journalist before entering the White House that he planned once president to make war on Iraq's Saddam Hussein---and who later used 9/11 as the excuse to do it.

Was George W. Bush complicit in the 9/11 attacks? That's a question that deserves further investigation.

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc.  We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.


McCotter Plans Further Rip-Off of Social Security

McCotter joins other candidates committing political suicide by attacking social security

Politico
By Juna Summers
9/12/11 1:56 PM EDT

As the presidential race refocuses on Social Security, Thad McCotter is getting in on the action.

    Appearing Monday at the Heritage Foundation, the Michigan congressman and long shot presidential candidate will introduce a bill Monday that he says will save Social Security with the “greatest reduction of government spending and debt in human history.”

    The legislation calls for creating voluntary personal savings accounts for workers ages 50 and under to be funded by cuts in existing spending. Future benefits for workers over the age of 50 and those already retired would be unaffected, while workers age 50 and under could receive more benefits than they would have under the current system.

    McCotter said he would detail spending cuts in a forthcoming bill, and that his plan would result in a consistent reduction of debt in the Social Security system.*

YEE-HA.  Git-Tar Playin' Thad McCotte
 “I think this is absolutely necessary, and it could not be more timely,” McCotter said.

Though McCotter denied that the bill was related to his all-but-ignored White House run, he’s grabbing hold of an issue that’s been the main focal point of the race for the GOP presidential nomination since last week, when Texas Gov. Rick Perry stuck by his characterization of Social Security as a “Ponzi scheme” during the POLITICO/NBC presidential debate. In subsequent days, Mitt Romney’s already attacked his position and Michele Bachmann’s campaign has signaled she’ll pick up the fight herself at Monday night’s debate.

    Still, the Michigan congressman called anyone who would say he’d introduced the bill for political gain “cynical” and said he doesn’t worry about “those types of people.”

    “If people want to look at this bill, come up with something better, I’ll be happy to support it. If I’d have seen some other Republican, I don’t care if they’re a precinct delegate or presidential candidate, come up with something like this I’d support it,” he said. “I’d sing its praises to the highest mountaintops. I wouldn’t let politics get in the way of a good idea. I would hope that the individuals running with me to seek the Republican nomination for the presidency of the United States wouldn’t be that petty. But one never knows.”

    Responding to questions from reporters about the back-and-forth between Perry and Romney over the “Ponzi scheme” language, McCotter said that “everybody knows we have to do something about the system as it currently exists.”

Gun Totin' Rick Perry
“I would hope that I can be a bridge between those two and, rather than talk about what we should call a non sustainable system, we could unite behind a bill that would fix a non sustainable system,” he said.

Though McCotter said he had not yet consulted House leadership about his bill, he said he hoped the congressional debt-cutting supercommittee would pay attention.

    “I think it’ll get a good reception,” he said. “I’m going to work it like any other bill, which is something that I point out only two of my fellow presidential candidates can actually do these days.”

    McCotter will appear at a press conference later today with Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist, who, along with Americans for Prosperity, is supporting the legislation.

*Note to McCotter.  Social Security would be fine and heavily in the black had not politicians like you stolen every penny of if from hard working Americans.  The con job of labeling it an "entitlement program" and should be subjected to "debt reduction" has failed, Americans are not buying it.  Social Security is paid for by payroll deductions from every American's paycheck throughout their working lifetime, and they expect that money to be there when they need it most.  Have fun trying to get elected after this debacle - Ed.


This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc.  We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.


Iraq’s Sadr orders halt to attacks on U.S. troops

Payoff From U.S. Was Late 

By Agence France-Presse
Sunday, September 11th, 2011 

NAJAF, Iraq — Radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr ordered his followers not to launch any attacks on US troops before a year-end deadline for their withdrawal, in a statement seen on Sunday.

    Sadr's remarks came just days after he backtracked on a call for popular anti-government rallies. American forces have accused militias linked to the cleric of largely being behind attacks on its soldiers.

    "In order that Iraq can recover its independence through the withdrawal of the invaders from our territory, I judge it indispensable to halt all armed resistance operations until the complete withdrawal of the occupying forces," Sadr said in the statement originally issued Saturday.

His Holiness Uncle Moqtada
 "If the pullout is completed and there is no longer a single US soldier on our territory, the military operations will end definitively but if that is not the case and Iraq remains in a state of dependency, they will resume with greater vigor," Sadr said.

He paid tribute to "the resistance for its actions" and said his movement was now working "hand in hand with the government to achieve the liberation of the country and supporting it against US pressure."

In July, Major General Jeffrey Buchanan, spokesman for US forces in Iraq, accused three Shiite militia groups of being behind attacks on US troops.

    He named them as the Promised Day Brigades, formed by Sadr in November 2008, and Ketaeb Hezbollah and Asaib Ahl al-Haq, two splinter groups which broke away from Sadr's former Mahdi Army militia which fought US-led troops from 2004 to 2007.

    The cleric's bloc holds six cabinet posts and has 40 seats in parliament.

   Sadr said in a separate statement on Monday that he was giving Iraq's government a "last chance" to implement reforms, after earlier calling for protests.

    His statement comes as Washington and Baghdad deliberate over the size of a US military training mission to last beyond year-end, after Iraqi leaders said last month they were open to such plans.

    The new US Army chief warned on Thursday against leaving too large a force in Iraq after 2011, saying too many boots on the ground could feed the perception of an American "occupation."

    General Ray Odierno commanded US forces in Iraq until last year and was one of the senior officers who spearheaded the troop "surge" in 2007, which the military believes turned the tide in the war and reduced sectarian violence.

Oderno and "The Boss"
He spoke amid a debate in Washington over the scale of a possible future US military mission in Iraq and after Defence Secretary Leon Panetta endorsed a tentative plan for a force of 3,000-4,000 troops.

Some US lawmakers have criticised that number of soldiers and say senior officers favour a larger force of at least 10,000, which would include a unit deployed in northern Iraq to defuse Arab-Kurdish tensions.

    But Odierno told reporters the United States had to carefully balance how many troops were needed to assist Iraqi forces while scaling back the American profile in a country where anti-US sentiment still runs high.

    "I will say when I was leaving Iraq a year ago, I always felt we had to be careful about leaving too many people in Iraq," said Odierno, who took over as army chief of staff on Wednesday.

   "The larger the force that we leave behind ... (the more) comments of 'occupation force' remain," he added.

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ANDREW KREIG: EXPERTS REJECT FIRE AS CAUSE FOR 9/11 WTC COLLAPSES

The real truth on 9/11 slowly continues to bleed out

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Technical experts are mounting major challenges to official U.S. government accounts of how three World Trade Center skyscrapers collapsed in near-freefall after the 9/11 attacks 15 years ago.

Many researchers are focusing especially on the little-known collapse of

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The Geopolitics Of The United States, Part 1: The Inevitable Empire

The Empire and the inevitable fall of the Obama criminal regime

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STRATFOR Editor’s Note: This installment on the United States, presented in two parts, is the 16th in a series of STRATFOR monographs on the geopolitics of countries influential in world affairs.

Like nearly all of the peoples of North and South America, most Americans are not originally from the territory that became the United States.

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Geopolitics Of The United States Part 2: American Identity And The Threats of Tomorrow

A look back at 2011 predictions for the future in order to put events of today into perspective

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We have already discussed in the first part of this analysis how the American geography dooms whoever controls the territory to being a global power, but there are a number of other outcomes that shape what that power will be like. The first and most critical is the impact of that geography on the American mindset.

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By Robert S. Finnegan

This e-mail outlines and confirms the acts of espionage against Indonesia and Indonesians by Akiko Makino and the others involved both in Kobe University and in AI Lab at University of Airlangga, Surabaya; Bahasa Indonesia original follows English translation...

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UPDATED 01/07/2015 : New Analysis Challenges Tamiflu Efficacy; Hong Kong Corona Virus Outbreak

UPDATED 01/07/2015 : FOX NEWS CORPORATE PHARMA SHILL MEGAN KELLY AND FOX NEWS QUACK DOCTOR NOW PUSHING TAMIFLU FOR PREGNANT WOMEN AND CHILDREN;

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THE 5TH ESTATE UNEQUIVOCALLY WARNS THE PUBLIC NOT TO TAKE OR GIVE THIS PROVEN DANGEROUS, INEFFECTIVE DRUG TO ANYONE

Obama criminals now resulting to biowarfare in quest to destroy Chinese and ASEAN economy; "novel virus substrain" points directly to a Kawaoka / Fouchier / Ernala-Ginting Kobe lab virus weaponized and genetically altered to specifically target and infect the Asian population: Ribavirin...

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The 5th Estate has just purchased a library on H5N1 "Novel" virus pandemics, there are dozens of PDF and Exel documents we feel will assist you in saving lives following intentional releases of the H5N1 and now MERS viruses; we will begin by printing those that appear to be extremely relevant here: H5N1 Kobe-Kawaoka-Ernala series continues soon with more "Smoking Gun" e-mails from Teridah Ernala to The 5th Estate . . .

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By Robert S. Finnegan

On October 12, 2002 the Indonesian island of Bali experienced a terrorist attack that rocked the world. It was unquestionably well-coordinated and executed, the largest in the country's history.

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