Thursday, December 08, 2011

US Republicans urge covert ops against Iran, Syria


Madmen calling for madness; insanity, treason rule both houses of congress, White house

Agence France-Presse
By Oliver Knox
12/08/2011

Republican US presidential candidates have redoubled their public calls for "covert" operations against Iran and Syria, including sabotage, assassination and aid to opposition forces.

    Former House speaker Newt Gingrich, who has led the calls for secret war, told a gathering of party activists on Wednesday he would use "covert capability" to bring about "regime replacement" in Tehran.

Mitt "Mittens" Romney:  Intellectual
"They only have one very, very large refinery. I would be focused on how to covertly sabotage it every day," he told the Republican Jewish Coalition, a group highly critical of President Barack Obama's handling of ties to Israel.

Gingrich said US policy towards Syria must be to "replace" President Bashar al-Assad and "do everything we can, indirectly and covertly -- but without American forces -- to help" the opposition topple his government.

    Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, who recently lost to Gingrich the mantle of front-runner for the party's nomination to take on Obama in November 2012, called for Washington to secretly help dissidents in Iran.

   "We should also have covert and overt activities to encourage voices of dissent within the country. 
Ultimately regime change is what's going to be necessary in that setting," he told the group.

    One of their long-shot rivals, former senator Rick Santorum, told the same audience he hoped US assets were behind a recent deadly explosion at a missile base in Iran and vowed to put the world on notice of secret US operations.

    "We need to say very clearly that we will be conducting covert activity to do everything we can to stop their nuclear program. And that means using covert activity like may have occurred at the missile site," he said.

    "We need to be very clear: Any foreign scientists working in Iran on this nuclear program will be termed an enemy combatant and will be subject -- like any other enemy combatant, like Osama bin Laden -- to being taken out by the United States government as a threat to this country," he said.

Gingrich:  Psycho narcissist, drunk, power mad traitor
In the same breath, Santorum pointed to the May raid in Pakistan in which US commandos killed bin Laden to accuse Obama of "not being able to keep a secret of anything good that he did for even more than 24 hours."

Gingrich proposed at a November 12 debate that Washington kill Iranian scientists and disrupt Tehran's suspect nuclear program -- "all of it covertly, all of it deniable."

    In that same forum, Santorum said the United States must do "whatever it takes to make sure" Iran does not develop a nuclear program -- then wondered whether Washington may already be heavily involved in doing just that.

    "There have been scientists turning up dead in Russia and in Iran. There have been computer viruses. There have been problems at their facility. 

    "I hope that the United States has been involved with that," he said.

    "I hope that we have been doing everything we can, covertly, to make sure that that program doesn't proceed," he said.

   Texas Governor Rick Perry suggested at a November 22 debate that Washington had many ways to put pressure on Assad's regime -- "overt, covert, economic sanctions."

    "This is the time for us to use not only sanctions, but covert actions within Syria, to get regime change there," said Romney.

    "There are people in the military that are shifting over, that are becoming part of the rebel effort. We should support those efforts," he added.

Rick Perry:  Doofus coke snorter, walking biohazard
The pronouncements of the Republican presidential hopefuls have raised eyebrows among some career national security officials.

"The chances of success go down dramatically when you tell the world that is the major tool in your foreign policy bag of tricks," one former senior official in Republican president George W. Bush's White House told AFP.

    The official said Bush's team "took a lot of heat for keeping secrets."

   The official praised Obama's "very strong national security team," and urged Republicans not to view covert operations as "some kind of magic elixir that will cure all of the problems."

   "Yes, the Obama victory dance after the Bin Laden raid cost us the opportunity to take full advantage of the information gathered; but do you think it would have been different with a GOP administration? Please," said the official, who requested anonymity in order to speak candidly.

 Opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The 5th Estate.

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Clinton: Biological attacks ‘are serious security challenge’


Remember the LAST time:   Obama orders up  plague and nobody shows; has Ft. Detrick or Kobe Japan finally got the H5N1-H1N1 weaponized virus right?

Agence France-Presse
12/07/2011

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sought on Wednesday to rally international efforts against the threat of a biological attack, saying the warning signs were “too serious to ignore”.

    Clinton spoke at a meeting on the Biological Weapons Convention, a decades-old ban on bio-weapons currently under review at a three-week conference in Geneva.

H5N1:  Are Obama, Clinton trying to desensitize U.S. Public
“I am here today because we view the risk of a bio-weapons attack as both a serious national security challenge and a foreign policy priority,” Clinton said.

“In an age when people and diseases cross borders with growing ease, bio-weapons are a transnational threat.

    “We can only protect against them with transnational action.”

    Scientific advances may have made it possible to prevent and cure more diseases but they have also made it easier for terrorists to develop biological weapons, Clinton warned.

    “Even as it becomes easier to develop these weapons, it remains extremely difficult to detect them, because almost any biological research can serve dual purposes.

    “The same equipment and technical knowledge used for legitimate research to save lives can also be used to manufacture deadly diseases.”

    The most high-profile delegate at the review meeting, Clinton said halting the spread of weapons of mass destruction was a “top goal” of the Obama administration.

    The United States does not underestimate the risk of a mass biological attack or major outbreak, doubted by some in the international community, Clinton said.

    “The United States has made no such conclusions. The warning signs are too serious to ignore,” she said.
Clinton:  psychotic, deluded, dangerous
Clinton, currently on a European tour, urged more transparency from member states to boost confidence that signatories were living up to their obligations under the 1975 treaty.

This could be achieved through a review of the annual reporting system, she suggested.

Clinton also called for improved international coordination to detect and respond to bio-outbreaks.
 “Finally, we need thoughtful international dialogue about ways to maximise the benefits of scientific research and minimise the risks that it will be turned against us,” Clinton said.

   Delegates from the 165 signatory states are taking part in the five-yearly review conference which runs until December 22.

    Members will consider updating the convention and discuss the implications of scientific developments, secretary general of the conference Richard Lennane said. 
Opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The 5th Estate.

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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.




Jakarta braces for heavy floods


Dredging needs to be considered

Press TV
12/08/2011

Officials in Jakarta have been implementing a citywide flood mitigation program, hoping to reduce potential flooding in scale, a Press TV correspondent reported on Wednesday.

To control the flow of water after heavy rains, they have also taken action to improve the capital's drainage system and dredge canals, while moving to create lakes and reservoirs in the highlands surrounding the city. 

Estimations have raised the concern that flooding in January and February next year could be of a similar scale to the previous devastating floods, which have hit Jakarta.

    Sedimentation of rivers and canals, poor drainage, urbanization of the land along the riverbanks, and low flood defenses are among the factors contributing to flooding in Jakarta. 

    Jakarta has been facing serious flooding roughly every five years.


    The last floods occurred respectively in 1996, 2002, and 2007. The ones in 2007 coincided with significant flooding in the Thai capital of Bangkok.
 
MAB/HN

Opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The 5th Estate.

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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.






Wary U.S. uncertain of Israel's Iran plans


This propaganda piece is evidence that Israel does not need any more U.S. "financial aid;" Obama squirms, lies as Israel goes ahead with plans to bomb Iran, knows exactly when

Reuters
By Mark Hosenball and Phil Stewart
12/08/2011

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - 
 
The Obama administration does not know Israel's intentions regarding potential military action against Iran, and the uncertainty is stoking concern in Washington, where the preferred course for now is sanctions and diplomatic pressure.

     Although Israel remains one of the United States' closest allies and the two countries' officials are in regular contact, U.S. officials have a "sense of opacity" regarding what might prompt an Israeli military strike on Iranian nuclear sites, and about when such an attack might occur, according to a senior U.S. national security official.

Iranian Silkworm:  Can sink a carrier
Two key U.S. senators acknowledged on Tuesday that there are gaps in U.S. knowledge about Israeli leaders' thinking and intentions.

"I don't think the administration knows what Israel is going to do. I'm not sure Israel knows what Israel is going to do ... That's why they want to keep the other guys guessing. Keep the bad guys guessing," said Democratic Senator Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

     Senator John McCain, the senior Republican on the committee, echoed Levin's view: "I'm sure (administration officials) don't know what the Israelis are going to do. They didn't know when the Israelis hit the reactor in Syria. But the Israelis usually know what we're going to do."

     In one way, the ambiguity is an advantage for the United States, because Washington could claim it had no foreknowledge of any Israeli attack, which would almost certainly increase anti-American sentiment among many Muslims in the Middle East.
 
    Israeli leaders have not suggested an attack on Iran's suspected nuclear weapons sites is imminent. But neither have they - or U.S. President Barack Obama, for that matter - ruled it out.

     Israel, widely believed to have the only nuclear arsenal in the Middle East, says a nuclear-armed Iran would threaten its existence. Iran says its nuclear program is entirely peaceful and denies Western accusations it is seeking an atomic bomb.

'UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES'

     The uncertainty comes amid extraordinarily sharp public warnings in the last few weeks by U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta about the potential "unintended consequences" of military action against Iran.

     Panetta told a forum in Washington last week that an attack on Iran would risk "an escalation" that could "consume the Middle East in confrontation and conflict that we would regret." 
 
Coward Clown Panetta freaks out, begs Israel to "come to table"
It could disrupt the fragile economies of the United States and Europe, spark a popular backlash in Iran bolstering its rulers and put U.S. forces in the region in the firing line, he said. "The United States would obviously be blamed and we could possibly be the target of retaliation from Iran, striking our ships, striking our military bases," Panetta said.

     General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. military's Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Reuters in an interview he did not know whether the Jewish state would give the United States notice ahead of time if it decided to act.

     An Israeli government official said, "Israel and the United States are in close and continuous communication on the threat posed to world security by the Iranian nuclear program. We appreciate President Obama's determination to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon." The official declined to comment further.

     At the same time, however, Obama's relations with Israeli leaders have not been particularly warm. He has not visited the country as president.

     A former U.S. government official said: "There are plenty of instances when the Israelis have undertaken action without informing the United States first. So not always should we assume a level of coordination (between Washington and Israel) in advance on all issues."

REPEAT PERFORMANCE?

    Bruce Riedel, a former senior CIA expert on the Middle East who has advised Obama, said, "Israel has a long history of conducting military operations from Baghdad to Tunis without giving Washington advance notice."

Obama getting his marching orders from "Uncle Bibi"
Riedel said the White House wants to send Israel a strong message that the United States does not expect to be blindsided by its ally. "Obama wants Bibi to understand unequivocally he does not want a repeat performance in Iran," he said, referring to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by his nickname.

     The Obama administration suspects that Israeli leaders have marked out for themselves certain "red lines" related to Iranian nuclear progress which could trigger Israeli military action if they are crossed, one U.S. official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

     But Obama administration policymakers are plagued by a "sense of opacity" in their understanding of where the Israeli red lines are drawn, the official added.
 
Is America ready for more - a lot more - of this?
Two other U.S. officials, also speaking on condition they not be named, said Washington is deeply concerned Israel, unconvinced sanctions and diplomatic pressure will halt Iran's nuclear program, could eventually decide to take action on its own.
 
    By the same token, one of the U.S. officials said, speeches and statements by Israeli leaders, like an address by Netanyahu on Sunday in which he talked about making "the right decision at the right moment" even if allies object, could be politically motivated.

     Under this interpretation, Netanyahu and other Israeli officials may be playing to domestic audiences or trying to put pressure on the international community to do more on Iran.

Additional reporting by Susan Cornwell and Andrew Quinn; editing by Mohammad Zargham.

Opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The 5th Estate.

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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.



Birth defects, rubble still scar Iraq's Falluja


Falluja testing ground for nefarious U.S. war crimes machines microwave and sound; DU, other chemical birth defects soar

The Star
By Waleed Ibrahim
12/07/2011

FALLUJA, Iraq (Reuters) -

As U.S. forces pull out of Iraq, residents and officials in Falluja say they leave behind bullet-riddled homes, destroyed infrastructure and a worrying increase in birth defects and maladies in a city polluted by weapons and war chemicals.

    Amir Hussain and Awfa Abdullah got married in Falluja in 2004 but their lives were turned upside by the birth of their two babies.

Falluja showcased worst examples of Marine Corps leadership
Their first child, a baby boy born in 2006, had brain damage and died last year. The second, a baby girl who was born in 2007, suffers from severe skin rashes and has one leg longer than the other.

"We've decided to stop having babies. We don't want any more, because it means new suffering and a new battle against new diseases," Hussain said. "It is our bad luck. Maybe because we got married in the wrong time and in the wrong place."

    Falluja, in the desert province of Anbar, served as a base for Iraqi fighters after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, and witnessed two major conflicts in 2004. U.S. troops used overwhelming force, tanks, fighter jets and helicopter gunships to crush insurgents there.

   Falluja's residents await the U.S. withdrawal by year-end with a mixture of relief and fear that al Qaeda militants might return. Some are still seeking compensation for the suffering they endured.

    At Falluja Hospital, pediatrician Samira al-Ani said the most insidious legacy of the war is seen every day in a startling increase in deformed newborns since 2005.

Falluja was bombed back to the Stone Age
"Unfortunately, we don't have documentation. But before the war, we used to receive two or three cases in a week," said Ani, who has worked at the hospital since 1997. "On October 11 alone, we had 12 different types of deformed births."

    Fallujans tend to blame U.S. weapons for ailments that were not seen in the city before 2004. U.S. forces have admitted using white phosphorous, a chemical that can cause severe burns but is not legally considered a chemical weapon.

WHAT CRIME HAVE WE COMMITTED?


    "At last they are leaving," said English teacher Thar Abdulkhaleq, 39, as he smoked shisha in a cafe. "For all these long years, I have asked myself the question: 'What crime have we committed in Falluja to suffer such an ordeal?'"

    U.S. troops withdrew from all urban centers in the summer of 2009 and redeployed to bases outside, including one in the province near Falluja.

Falluja DU baby
In April, Iraqi lawmakers debated whether the U.S.-led battles in the city constituted genocide, but resolutions calling for prosecution went nowhere.

Compensation is still very much on the minds of Fallujans, though their views differ and the issue is a touchy one.

    "What compensation could be paid to those who lost their loved ones? Let them go, we want nothing, just let them go," Abdulkhaleq said.

   Abdullah Muhammad, a 45-year-old tailor, reacted angrily to those comments. "What U.S. forces did in Falluja can never be forgotten. They must compensate Falluja," he said.

    In late 2004 U.S. and Iraqi officials launched a compensation campaign for the city. Fawzi Mudhen, deputy head of the reconstruction committee formed at the time, said the compensation to residents was "almost fair," though it overlooked the extensive damage caused to the city's infrastructure.

Falluja burn victim
Of the $1 billion (640 million pounds) allocated for compensation, Mudhen said, half of the 500 million destined to affected homeowners was paid, while only $100 million out of $500 million for infrastructure was spent.

   The showpiece rebuilding projects were a water purification plant and a wastewater treatment project launched in 2004. But seven years later, the sewage system is not finished, he said.

    "The project's future is uncertain," said Mudhen.

REVENGE?

     From a peak of 170,000 troops and 505 bases in Iraq, U.S. forces are down to 10,000 on just a few bases. A steady stream of troops, trucks and tanks are headed for the Kuwait border, leaving security firmly in the hands of Iraqi forces.

    Although many are glad to see the Americans leaving, some residents in places like Falluja also fear a wave of revenge killings if al Qaeda and other militants return.

    "Anything is possible. Insurgents and al Qaeda were defeated when the Americans were here. Now they are leaving. Will they (insurgents) return? Maybe. Why not?" said Ayman Ali, 26, a seller in a tea kiosk.
Another Falluja DU baby
The formation of the government-supported Sunni Sahwa militia, insurgent fighters who switched sides and took up the battle alongside U.S. forces against al Qaeda, helped turn the tide of the war. Sahwa are frequently targeted by a still-lethal Sunni insurgency, and Fallujans fear it could get worse.

"If that happens, security will deteriorate in Falluja," Ali said. "Regrettably, our security forces cannot stop them."
 

Additional reporting by Fadhel al-Badrani in Falluja; Editing by Jim Loney, Alessandra Rizzo and Sonya Hepinstall.

Opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The 5th Estate.

Images:  Google royalty free unless otherwise attributed.


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.





Israel Brandishes Drones Amid Reports Of Impending Attack On Iran?


With the Obama criminal regime taking orders from Netanyahu, war in Middle East likely

Xinhua News Agency
By Gur Saloman
12/07/2011

[There are] unconfirmed reports that Israel also deploys missile-launching drones and kamikaze craft that explode upon impact. But independent experts said Israel has used such hardware on numerous occasions, including for striking targets far beyond its borders.

    Israel, a powerhouse of UAV technology, has already sold drones to some 30 militaries worldwide, many of whom dot the skies over Afghanistan, Iraq and other U.S.-led operational theaters.

    Three weeks ago, a huge explosion that destroyed a major missile-testing site near Tehran was attributed to a weapon possibly fired from a drone loitering overhead. Israeli and U.S. intelligence officials said the incident, in which the chief of Iran's missile program was killed, was a major setback for the Islamic Republic's nuclear program.

Palmachim Air Base, Israel

    In an unusual move, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) on Monday invited media for a briefing on its secret drone program, allowing a rare glimpse of one squadron that deploys some of the most sophisticated surveillance technology available.

    The tour of the seaside air base, south of Tel Aviv, comes against the backdrop of local media reports in recent weeks that Israel is poised to strike Iran's nuclear sites.

   Major Gil, deputy commander of the 200th Squadron, flatly declined to discuss Iran specifically.

    "All I can say is that we can get anywhere we want and need to, " he told reporters who assembled at the squadron's headquarters.

Israeli UAV
Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), commonly referred to as drones, officially entered service with the IAF in 1971, making Israel's military the world's first operator of pilotless aircraft for gathering real-time battlefield intelligence.

Since then, the IAF's drones, all of them locally produced, have evolved into a refined fleet of long-range surveillance platforms that are ever-present in the skies over Israel's borders.

    Though outfitted with sophisticated hardware ranging from smart bombs to satellites, the Israeli military presently relies on no technology more heavily than the drones of the 200th Squadron.

   Gil said that drones have been shouldering the bulk of the IAF's reconnaissance missions over the past decade, logging more flight hours annually than all of its manned aircraft combined.

    The 200th Squadron's pilots, whose full names cannot be divulged due to censorship regulations, would only provide scarce details of the craft they guide from innocuous, windowless, metal sheds. The operators fly the Heron 1, a drone with a cruising altitude of 30,000 feet that can stay airborne for up to 45 hours. Another squadron based here operates the Hermes 450, a medium- altitude aircraft.

Israeli 200th Squadron drone
Last February, the IAF inaugurated its flagship drone, the Heron TP II. Developed by Israel Aerospace Industries, the all- weather TP II can reach 45,000 feet high, carry a maximum payload of 1 ton, and remain aloft for 36 hours.

    The number of IAF drone squadrons, the range of the aircraft and most other technical specifics are closely guarded secrets.

   If Israel were to attack Iran's suspected nuclear facilities, the drones at Palmachim, some of whom are said to be equipped with stealth technology, would be sent well ahead of bomber pilots, transmitting back images of the designated target areas, and would subsequently assess the damage caused by the strike.

    While such plans are still confined to the drawing board, remotely controlled drone aircraft are heavily used by the Israeli army in daily operations.

    Gil said that his drones' main mission is to provide support to ground troops by relaying bird's-eye views of a combat zone to field commanders.

IAI-designed Heron TP can reach altitudes of over 41,000 feet
Mission specialists said there is no ground encounter without a UAV flying overhead. Gil also briefly described how drones often "paint" targets for strikes by manned aircraft.

In the 2006 Lebanon war, for instance, UAVs flying from Palmachim scoured the ravines and villages in southern Lebanon, constituting a critical element in the IAF's efforts to destroy Hezbollah's rocket launchers and to evacuate injured troops.

  Outfitted with cameras that can transmit high-resolution images in total darkness, drones have also proved indispensable in the Israeli military's operations against Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip in recent years. They are regularly tasked with overflying the coastal territory to hunt for rocket and mortar launchers and lead helicopter gunships to the locations of hidden arms caches, and they are also reportedly involved in the periodic targeted killings of militants.

    Like all the drone operators here, many of whom began their military service in the IAF's prestigious flight academy, Gil wears flight overalls with sewed-on squadron patches.

    He declined to comment on the unconfirmed reports that Israel also deploys missile-launching drones and kamikaze craft that explode upon impact. But independent experts said Israel has used such hardware on numerous occasions, including for striking targets far beyond its borders.

    Israel, a powerhouse of UAV technology, has already sold drones to some 30 militaries worldwide, many of whom dot the skies over Afghanistan, Iraq and other U.S.-led operational theaters.

    On Sunday, Iran claimed to have shot down an advanced American RQ-170 spy drone in an eastern province...

    Three weeks ago, a huge explosion that destroyed a major missile-testing site near Tehran was attributed to a weapon possibly fired from a drone loitering overhead. Israeli and U.S. intelligence officials said the incident, in which the chief of Iran's missile program was killed, was a major setback for the Islamic Republic's nuclear program.

    Iran's state-run media dismissed the reports of suspected sabotage, declaring the explosion an accident.

    While drone pilots are spared the dangers of a real battlefield, their workload remains among the heaviest in the IAF. Gil said the fact is unlikely to change in the near future.

    "I can't tell you how many drones we operate, but I can say that we don't have enough of them," he said.

 Opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The 5th Estate.

Images:  Google royalty free unless otherwise attributed.


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.

A New Cold War in Asia? Obama Threatens China


Any war will do for Obama, Clinton and other World leaders that have robbed their treasuries and purposely trashed their economies; "mainstream" media should be asking question:  Where did the money go?

Global Research
By Michael Klare
12/07/2011

When it comes to China policy, is the Obama administration leaping from the frying pan directly into the fire? In an attempt to turn the page on two disastrous wars in the Greater Middle East, it may have just launched a new Cold War in Asia -- once again, viewing oil as the key to global supremacy.

    The new policy was signaled by President Obama himself on November 17th in an address to the Australian Parliament in which he laid out an audacious -- and extremely dangerous -- geopolitical vision. Instead of focusing on the Greater Middle East, as has been the case for the last decade, the United States will now concentrate its power in Asia and the Pacific. “My guidance is clear,” he declared in Canberra. “As we plan and budget for the future, we will allocate the resources necessary to maintain our strong military presence in this region.” While administration officials insist that this new policy is not aimed specifically at China, the implication is clear enough: from now on, the primary focus of American military strategy will not be counterterrorism, but the containment of that economically booming land -- at whatever risk or cost.

The Planet’s New Center of Gravity

    The new emphasis on Asia and the containment of China is necessary, top officials insist, because the Asia-Pacific region now constitutes the “center of gravity” of world economic activity. While the United States was bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan, the argument goes, China had the leeway to expand its influence in the region. For the first time since the end of World War II, Washington is no longer the dominant economic actor there. If the United States is to retain its title as the world’s paramount power, it must, this thinking goes, restore its primacy in the region and roll back Chinese influence. In the coming decades, no foreign policy task will, it is claimed, be more important than this.

Insane Obama forgets China owns America financially
In line with its new strategy, the administration has undertaken a number of moves intended to bolster American power in Asia, and so put China on the defensive. These include a decision to deploy an initial 250 U.S. Marines -- someday to be upped to 2,500 -- to an Australian air base in Darwin on that country’s north coast, and the adoption on November 18th of “the Manila Declaration,” a pledge of closer U.S. military ties with the Philippines.

    At the same time, the White House announced the sale of 24 F-16 fighter jets to Indonesia and a visit by Hillary Clinton to isolated Burma, long a Chinese ally -- the first there by a secretary of state in 56 years. Clinton has also spoken of increased diplomatic and military ties with Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam -- all countries surrounding China or overlooking key trade routes that China relies on for importing raw materials and exporting manufactured goods.

   As portrayed by administration officials, such moves are intended to maximize America’s advantages in the diplomatic and military realm at a time when China dominates the economic realm regionally. In a recent article in Foreign Policy magazine, Clinton revealingly suggested that an economically weakened United States can no longer hope to prevail in multiple regions simultaneously. It must choose its battlefields carefully and deploy its limited assets -- most of them of a military nature -- to maximum advantage. Given Asia’s strategic centrality to global power, this means concentrating resources there.

    “Over the last 10 years,” she writes, “we have allocated immense resources to [Iraq and Afghanistan]. In the next 10 years, we need to be smart and systematic about where we invest time and energy, so that we put ourselves in the best position to sustain our leadership [and] secure our interests... One of the most important tasks of American statecraft over the next decade will therefore be to lock in a substantially increased investment -- diplomatic, economic, strategic, and otherwise -- in the Asia-Pacific region.”

Clinton:  power mad, narcissistic, delusions of grandeur
Such thinking, with its distinctly military focus, appears dangerously provocative. The steps announced entail an increased military presence in waters bordering China and enhanced military ties with that country’s neighbors -- moves certain to arouse alarm in Beijing and strengthen the hand of those in the ruling circle (especially in the Chinese military leadership) who favor a more activist, militarized response to U.S. incursions. Whatever forms that takes, one thing is certain: the leadership of the globe’s number two economic power is not going to let itself appear weak and indecisive in the face of an American buildup on the periphery of its country. This, in turn, means that we may be sowing the seeds of a new Cold War in Asia in 2011.

    The U.S. military buildup and the potential for a powerful Chinese counter-thrust have already been the subject of discussion in the American and Asian press. But one crucial dimension of this incipient struggle has received no attention at all: the degree to which Washington’s sudden moves have been dictated by a fresh analysis of the global energy equation, revealing (as the Obama administration sees it) increased vulnerabilities for the Chinese side and new advantages for Washington.

The New Energy Equation

    For decades, the United States has been heavily dependent on imported oil, much of it obtained from the Middle East and Africa, while China was largely self-sufficient in oil output. In 2001, the United States consumed 19.6 million barrels of oil per day, while producing only nine million barrels itself. The dependency on foreign suppliers for that 10.6 million-barrel shortfall proved a source of enormous concern for Washington policymakers. They responded by forging ever closer, more militarized ties with Middle Eastern oil producers and going to war on occasion to ensure the safety of U.S. supply lines.

    In 2001, China, on the other hand, consumed only five million barrels per day and so, with a domestic output of 3.3 million barrels, needed to import only 1.7 million barrels. Those cold, hard numbers made its leadership far less concerned about the reliability of the country’s major overseas providers -- and so it did not need to duplicate the same sort of foreign policy entanglements that Washington had long been involved in.

China long ago outstripped the U.S. in industry, owns U.S. debt
Now, so the Obama administration has concluded, the tables are beginning to turn. As a result of China’s booming economy and the emergence of a sizeable and growing middle class (many of whom have already bought their first cars), the country’s oil consumption is exploding. Running at about 7.8 million barrels per day in 2008, it will, according to recent projections by the U.S. Department of Energy, reach 13.6 million barrels in 2020, and 16.9 million in 2035. Domestic oil production, on the other hand, is expected to grow from 4.0 million barrels per day in 2008 to 5.3 million in 2035. Not surprisingly, then, Chinese imports are expected to skyrocket from 3.8 million barrels per day in 2008 to a projected 11.6 million in 2035 -- at which time they will exceed those of the United States.

    The U.S., meanwhile, can look forward to an improved energy situation. Thanks to increased production in “tough oil” areas of the United States, including the Arctic seas off Alaska, the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico, and shale formations in Montana, North Dakota, and Texas, future imports are expected to decline, even as energy consumption rises. In addition, more oil is likely to be available from the Western Hemisphere rather than the Middle East or Africa. Again, this will be thanks to the exploitation of yet more “tough oil” areas, including the Athabasca tar sands of Canada, Brazilian oil fields in the deep Atlantic, and increasingly pacified energy-rich regions of previously war-torn Colombia. According to the Department of Energy, combined production in the United States, Canada, and Brazil is expected to climb by 10.6 million barrels per day between 2009 and 2035 -- an enormous jump, considering that most areas of the world are expecting declining output.

Whose Sea Lanes Are These Anyway?


    From a geopolitical perspective, all this seems to confer a genuine advantage on the United States, even as China becomes ever more vulnerable to the vagaries of events in, or along, the sea lanes to distant lands. It means Washington will be able to contemplate a gradual loosening of its military and political ties to the Middle Eastern oil states that have dominated its foreign policy for so long and have led to those costly, devastating wars.

BP's Deepwater Horizon burns in the Gulf of Mexico
Indeed, as President Obama said in Canberra, the U.S. is now in a position to begin to refocus its military capabilities elsewhere. “After a decade in which we fought two wars that cost us dearly,” he declared, “the United States is turning our attention to the vast potential of the Asia-Pacific region.”

    For China, all this spells potential strategic impairment. Although some of China’s imported oil will travel overland through pipelines from Kazakhstan and Russia, the great majority of it will still come by tanker from the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America over sea lanes policed by the U.S. Navy. Indeed, almost every tanker bringing oil to China travels across the South China Sea, a body of water the Obama administration is now seeking to place under effective naval control.

    By securing naval dominance of the South China Sea and adjacent waters, the Obama administration evidently aims to acquire the twenty-first century energy equivalent of twentieth-century nuclear blackmail. Push us too far, the policy implies, and we’ll bring your economy to its knees by blocking your flow of vital energy supplies. Of course, nothing like this will ever be said in public, but it is inconceivable that senior administration officials are not thinking along just these lines, and there is ample evidence that the Chinese are deeply worried about the risk -- as indicated, for example, by their frantic efforts to build staggeringly expensive pipelines across the entire expanse of Asia to the Caspian Sea basin.

    As the underlying nature of the new Obama strategic blueprint becomes clearer, there can be no question that the Chinese leadership will, in response, take steps to ensure the safety of China’s energy lifelines. Some of these moves will undoubtedly be economic and diplomatic, including, for example, efforts to court regional players like Vietnam and Indonesia as well as major oil suppliers like Angola, Nigeria, and Saudi Arabia. Make no mistake, however: others will be of a military nature. A significant buildup of the Chinese navy -- still small and backward when compared to the fleets of the United States and its principal allies -- would seem all but inevitable. Likewise, closer military ties between China and Russia, as well as with the Central Asian member states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan), are assured.

    In addition, Washington could now be sparking the beginnings of a genuine Cold-War-style arms race in Asia, which neither country can, in the long run, afford. All of this is likely to lead to greater tension and a heightened risk of inadvertent escalation arising out of future incidents involving U.S., Chinese, and allied vessels -- like the one that occurred in March 2009 when a flotilla of Chinese naval vessels surrounded a U.S. anti-submarine warfare surveillance ship, the Impeccable, and almost precipitated a shooting incident. As more warships circulate through these waters in an increasingly provocative fashion, the risk that such an incident will result in something far more explosive can only grow.

Chinese almost blew Impeccable out of the water
Nor will the potential risks and costs of such a military-first policy aimed at China be restricted to Asia. In the drive to promote greater U.S. self-sufficiency in energy output, the Obama administration is giving its approval to production techniques -- Arctic drilling, deep-offshore drilling, and hydraulic fracturing -- that are guaranteed to lead to further Deepwater Horizon-style environmental catastrophe at home. Greater reliance on Canadian tar sands, the “dirtiest” of energies, will result in increased greenhouse gas emissions and a multitude of other environmental hazards, while deep Atlantic oil production off the Brazilian coast and elsewhere has its own set of grim dangers.

    All of this ensures that, environmentally, militarily, and economically, we will find ourselves in a more, not less, perilous world. The desire to turn away from disastrous land wars in the Greater Middle East to deal with key issues now simmering in Asia is understandable, but choosing a strategy that puts such an emphasis on military dominance and provocation is bound to provoke a response in kind. It is hardly a prudent path to head down, nor will it, in the long run, advance America’s interests at a time when global economic cooperation is crucial. Sacrificing the environment to achieve greater energy independence makes no more sense.

    A new Cold War in Asia and a hemispheric energy policy that could endanger the planet: it’s a fatal brew that should be reconsidered before the slide toward confrontation and environmental disaster becomes irreversible. You don’t have to be a seer to know that this is not the definition of good statesmanship, but of the march of folly.

Michael T. Klare is a professor of peace and world security studies at Hampshire College, a TomDispatch regular, and the author, most recently, of Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet. A documentary movie version of his previous book, Blood and Oil, is available from the Media Education Foundation. To listen to Timothy MacBain’s latest Tomcast audio interview in which Klare discusses the American military build-up in the Pacific, click here or download it to your iPod here.

The opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The 5th Estate.

Images:  Google royalty free unless otherwise attributed.


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.

No People No Problem: "The Baltic Tigers" False Prophets of Economic Austerity


Baltic states a lab for future America; Obama, Clinton, corporate CEO's want a country (World) of slaves

Counterpunch
By Prof. Jeffrey Sommers and Prof. Arunas Juska and Prof. Michael Hudson
12/07/2011
The Baltic states have discovered a new way to cut unemployment and cut budgets for social services: emigration. If enough people of working age are forced to leave to find work abroad, unemployment and social service budgets will both drop.

    This simple mathematics explains what the algebra of austerity-plan advocates are applauding today as the “New Baltic Miracle” for Greece, Spain, and Italy to emulate.  The reality, however, is a model predicated on economic shrinkage as a result of wage cuts. In the case of Latvia, this was some 30 percent for Latvian public-sector employees (euphemized as “internal devaluation”). With a set of flat taxes on employment adding up to 59% in Latvia (while property taxes are only 1%), it would seem hard indeed to present this as a success story.

Latvians protest treaty with Russia
But one hears only celebratory praise from the neoliberal lobbyists whose policies have de-industrialized and stripped the Baltic economies of Lithuania and Latvia, leaving them debt-ridden and uncompetitive. It is as if their real estate collapse from bubble-level debt leveraging that left their basic infrastructure in the hands of kleptocrats, is a free market success story.
 
    What then does a neoliberal “free market” mean? After a half-century struggle for independence, the Balts emerged in a world where neoliberal policies were the global fashion, and where the dress code and face control were initially enforced by the world’s international financial institutions--and later even more aggressively internalized by Baltic policymakers themselves.  Twenty years of neoliberal policy after emerging from Soviet rule have left the Baltics a mess.  On the lead up to the 2008 global economic crisis and the world’s biggest collapses the financial press was praising the Baltic Tigers for dutifully imposing rule by bankers.

    Now, after the storm has quieted in the Baltics, Anders Aslund and other apologists are at it again as they promote the Baltic model.  Aslund did so most recently with his Petersen Institute banking industry funded book on Latvia’s “remarkable” rebound.   The only thing he failed to mention was that Latvians were voting with their feet in record numbers.  Latvians were exiting at a rate of roughly 1% of the population per month in an exodus of Biblical proportions. Indeed, Latvian’s census makers were horrified when they discovered that that the country’s population had decreased from 2.3 to 1.9 million people from 2001-2011.

Latvians protest in good old fashion way:  with projectiles
The situation was close or even worse in neighboring Lithuania where a massive outward migration triggered by the start of global economic recession and collapse of the housing bubble in 2008 now threatens the future viability of this nation state. As the economic crisis intensified, unemployment grew from a relatively low level of 4.1% in 2007 to 18.3% in the second quarter of 2010 with a concomitant increase in emigration from 26,600 in 2007 to 83,200 in 2010. This was the highest level of emigration since 1945 and comparable only with the extensive the depopulation of the country during World War II. Since the restoration of independence in 1990, out of a population of some 3.7 million 615,000 had left the country; three fourths were young persons (up to 35 years old), many of them educated and with jobs in Lithuania. By 2008, the emigration rate from Lithuania became the highest among the EU countries (2.3 per 1,000), and double that of the next highest country, Latvia (1.1 per 1,000).

    Forecasts for the period 2008-35 suggest a demographic decline by a further 10.9%, one of the highest rates in the EU (following Bulgaria and Latvia). The 2011 population census seemed only to confirm these grim prognostications. Demographers previously proved to have been too optimistic in their forecasts (the latest issued in 2010) and had overestimated the size of the Lithuanian population by about 200,000. Instead of the forecasted 3.24 million, the census found that by 2011 Lithuania’s population was only just over 3 million (3.054 ml).

In Latvian society, everybody gets a piece of the action
These grim numbers suggest a kind of euthanizing taking place of the small Baltic nations.  This, ironically, after having survived two World Wars, two occupations, and several economic collapses in the 20th century.  Indeed, at the end of the Soviet occupation, Latvians and Lithuanians were replacing themselves through natural reproduction.  By contrast, today, the twin forces of emigration and low births have conspired to create a demographic disaster.

    Enter Anders Aslund again, desperately seeking to resuscitate his reputation after the disastrous failures ensuing from his policy advice in the 1990s in the former USSR.  Just this week on Monday, Aslund rhapsodized about the success of Lithuania’s harsh austerity regime in the EUObserver.  His article had both the upbeat tone of Joseph Stalin’s famous “dizzy with success” speech, while simultaneously reciting a droll set of statistics of a kind of “Five Year Plan achieved in Four” report proving that the economy and country are in better shape than ever.

Latvia has testy relationship with Russia
Let’s look at his most important argument by his own word: that of Lithuania’s “impressive” economic rebound and it high World Bank ease of doing business index rating.  Aslund reports that through harsh medicine and free-markets this Baltic Tiger is back.  Whether by ignorance or intention, let’s assume the former, Aslund gets the facts wrong.  He rightly explains that this Baltic Tiger’s economy crashed by a whopping 14.7% in 2009 (although failing to mention further contractions in 2008 and 2010 on top of that).  But, he asserts that this year’s current annualized growth rate is some 6.6%, thus suggesting this neoliberal country is not on the road to economic perdition. This might sound impressive to some, but Aslund ignores that just last week the massive Lithuanian Snoras bank just presented Lithuania (and Latvia) with an exploding cigar that will wipe out most of Lithuania’s economic growth for this year. Furthermore, even if there was a resumption economic growth, IMF estimates that its rates will remain sluggish at best indicating that probably a decade or more will be needed to return to pre-recession levels of economic activity. Thus, according to IMF projections by 2015 Lithuanian GDP as measured in $US was projected to remain 12% less (as measured in current prices) than in 2008, with unemployment at 8.5%.

    Finally, we need to contrast anemic IMF economic growth forecast for the next 6-8 years with disastrous social consequences of internal devaluation policies. Consider that Lithuania almost tripled its level of unemployment in Lithuania from 5.8% in 2008 to 17.8% in 2010. Although by 2011 unemployment began to decline to 15.6%, this happened not as much because of creation of new jobs, but because of mass outmigration from Lithuania. Public sector wages were cut but 20-30 and pensions by 11 percent, which in combination with growing unemployment let to dramatic increasing in poverty. If in 2008 there were 420 thousand or 12.7% of population living in poverty, by 2009 poverty rate increased to 20.6%. Although by 2010 there was a .4% decrease in the number of poor to 670 thousand, the decrease was caused mostly by downward change in measuring the poverty. Various measures of quality of life and well-being deteriorated even further indicating prevalence of deep pessimism, loss of social solidarity, trust, and atomization of a society.

Like most people in the world today:  Latvians are pissed off
The extremely high social and demographic costs of such policies put the very future of sustainable economic growth in the region into question. Investments in education, infrastructure, and public services that are preconditions of the “high,” knowledge-based and higher productivity based economic development were slashed, while brain drain intensified. Although Prime Minister Kubilius was promoting his administration’s economic development strategy based on knowledge and innovations, the very austerity measures implemented by his government were relegating to Lithuania to the “low road” of economic development based on low standards in salaries and labor conditions.

    The mood on the ground is sour as well.  Lithuanians have emigrated in massive numbers and like their Baltic brethren in Latvia, this has mostly been from people of talent, education, and of childbearing age.  Indeed, like Latvia, Lithuania’s latest census shows a hemorrhaging of people out of the country.  A kind of gallows humor prevails on the ground too.  Recently, a Lithuanian couple in Vilnius reported to the authors: Husband to wife, “we should go back to Norway to work in the canneries.  There, you could leave a thousand euros on the ground, return in a year, and it would be still there.”   Wife, “nah, no way, too many Lithuanians there.”  Their humor is intact, but their sense of desperation grows.

    These people deserve better than to have another failed ideology imposed on them.  Let’s hope they and others liberate themselves from the experiments of ideologues and stop being pawns in their game.  To the rest of Europe, we counsel caution.  Joseph Stalin’s maxim, “no people, no problem” is no way to solve an economic crisis.  Euthanizing larger nations in southern Europe through large-scale emigration would be as undesirable as it is impossible to achieve.  Where would the people go?

Jeffrey Sommers 
is an associate professor of political economy in Africology at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and visiting faculty at the Stockholm School of Economics in Riga.  He publishes regularly in outlets such as Counterpunch and the Guardian, and routinely appears as an expert guest in global news programs, most recently on Peter Lavelle’s CrossTalk.  He can be reached at: Jeffrey.sommers@fulbrightmail.org.
Dr. Arunas Juska is an Associate professor of sociology at East Carolina University, USA. He specializes and writes extensively on the Baltic region, with especial focus on rural development as well as policing in Lithuania.  He can be reached at: JUSKAA@ecu.edu
Michael Hudson is a former Wall Street economist. A Distinguished Research Professor at University of Missouri, Kansas City (UMKC), he is the author of many books, including Super Imperialism: The Economic Strategy of American Empire (new ed., Pluto Press, 2002) and Trade, Development and Foreign Debt: A History of Theories of Polarization v. Convergence in the World Economy. Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, forthcoming from AK Press.  He can be reached via his website, mh@michael-hudson.com

 Global Research Articles by Jeffrey Sommers

 Global Research Articles by Arunas Juska

 Global Research Articles by Michael Hudson


Images:  Google royalty free unless otherwise attributed.


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.




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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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