Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Iraqis unable to defend their borders as US exits


Obama may still see last Americans evacuated by helicopter from U.S. embassy roof

Associated Press
By Robert H. Reid
12/14/2011



After billions of dollars and nearly nine years of training, American troops are leaving behind an Iraqi security force arguably capable of providing internal security but unprepared to defend the nation against foreign threats at a time of rising tensions throughout the Middle East.

    Building up an Iraqi military and police able to protect the country became a key goal of the United States and its allies after they defeated and then disbanded the Saddam Hussein-era force in 2003. As America's role in Iraq fades, the results appear at best incomplete.

Iraqi forces — currently about 700,000 strong — have been largely responsible for security in Baghdad and other cities since 2009, carrying out their own raids and other combat operations against insurgents.

More than 10,000 Iraqi soldiers and police have been killed since the new force was established — more than double the number of American military deaths. Few if any military forces in the Arab world have as much combat experience within the ranks.

    "They can kick a door in and knock out a network's leadership as good as anybody I've seen," said U.S. Lt. Gen. Robert Caslen, commander of the NATO training mission, which will soon be disbanded. "I would say that they have the discipline and the tenacity to fight as well as anybody I've ever seen."

    Nevertheless, Iraqi forces have their work cut out for them. They will be operating in a country which, although quieter than a few years ago, saw more people killed, wounded and kidnapped last year than in Afghanistan, according to U.S. figures.

    The departure of American forces this month also leaves Iraq vulnerable to threats from its neighbors — Iran to the east, Turkey to the north and Syria to the west. A major Arab country of about 30 million people with some of the world's largest proven petroleum reserves is incapable of defending its borders in one of the most unstable parts of the world.

The Iraqi military chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Babaker Zebari, has said it would take until at least 2020 for Iraq to defend its airspace. Without a well-trained and equipped air force, Iraqi ground forces would be hard-pressed to defend against incursions across borders with few natural barriers and little cover from vegetation.

   "An army without an air force is exposed," Zebari was quoted as saying in a report last October by the U.S. agency responsible for overseeing Iraqi reconstruction.

   Even though a full-scale ground invasion from its neighbors may seem remote, the possibility of incursions from Turkey against Kurdish rebels, or Iranians along disputed border stretches or even from a Syria facing an internal revolt cannot be ruled out, especially at a time when the Arab Spring and the looming showdown between the West and Iran are raising tensions throughout the region.

   External defense seemed a low priority in the early years of the Iraq war, when tens of thousands of American troops, tanks, planes and artillery served as a deterrent.

   During those years, the main threat was posed by Shiite and Sunni extremists, including al-Qaida in Iraq, who were battling the Americans and their allies in the streets of Baghdad and other major cities. Iraqi forces were organized and trained primarily to augment the U.S.-led force, using the American military as a rough model.

Soon, Iraqi commanders were giving power-point briefings, and their generals were handing out specially made coins emblazoned with their names and units as souvenirs. Iraqi soldiers at street checkpoints were wearing kneepads slouched down around their ankles, again just like their American counterparts.

   But there wasn't enough time to develop the full package — logistics, intelligence, medical services and a fully integrated command structure — for the Iraqis to operate as effectively without U.S. support. A budget crisis in 2009 and a lengthy political stalemate the following year "crippled both the qualitative development of Iraq's forces and its ability to implement its own development plan," wrote analyst Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

     The head of Iraqi military intelligence, Hatem al-Magsousi, said it takes the Iraqis a week to plan and carry out a military operation that they could execute in a day with American help.

     Such delays could be costly if al-Qaida — as expected — takes advantage of a security vacuum to reconstitute itself following major defeats on the battlefield in the final years of the war."Unless the Iraqi security forces continue to put pressure on al-Qaida, they could regenerate capability and come back in an even worse way than they have in the past," said a U.S. military spokesman, Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan.

    Another key concern is keeping the security forces free of any political pressure or sectarian interference. For over a year now, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has effectively controlled the Ministries of Interior and Defense while conflicts between Sunni and Shiite political blocs have delayed the appointments of permanent ministers.

    That leaves both key ministries leaderless and without direction at a crucial time.

     It also has allowed al-Maliki to pack some units with members of his tribe and appoint political favorites to command positions with no effective checks and balances.

"That means Maliki is making all these senior officer decisions, and that's not a healthy modus operandi for a vibrant democracy," said retired Lt. Gen. James Dubik, who was in charge of training Iraqi forces in 2007 and 2008.

The role of al-Maliki, who spent years abroad as a leader of the Shiite underground resistance to Saddam's Sunni-dominated regime, also threatens to worsen sectarian tensions in the ranks. Those tensions nearly tore the country apart in the dark days of intense communal fighting in 2006 and 2007.

    Both the Iraqi Army and police are dominated by Shiites, not surprising in a country where Shiites make up 60 to 65 percent of the population. But Shiite domination still alarms the Sunnis: They remember the years when Interior Ministry paramilitary police, whose ranks included veterans of Iran-based Shiite militias, were accused of some of the most vicious sectarian crimes.

   Many people in Sunni-dominated provinces such as Salahuddin and Anbar already complain of Shiite-led forces coming in from outside the province to make arrests without informing local officials.

    Public trust is further undermined by corruption, including selling fuel for military vehicles on the black market or pocketing the salaries of nonexistent soldiers.

"The widespread practice of buying command appointments is particularly destructive because it places corrupt officers at the head of divisions, brigades and battalions. Such commanders then commit theft and fraud to recoup their 'investment' in the job," wrote Iraq analyst Michael Knights in a report this summer for The Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

    Despite the U.S. military withdrawal, Iraq and the United States will still maintain a security relationship. Gen. Caslen is in charge of a $10 billion weapons sales program that will be run out of the U.S. Embassy next year with nearly 160 military personnel. Hundreds of civilian contractors will train Iraqi troops on equipment they've bought from American companies, including 18 F-16 fighter jets which Baghdad ordered this year.

That will give Washington some leverage with the Iraqis — but hardly to the degree it enjoyed when there were nearly 170,000 U.S. troops on Iraqi soil.

What remains unclear is whether without the Americans, the Iraqi military will continue the transition to a well-oiled professional force, free of political influence and capable of integrating their various weapons systems and units into an effective machine capable of defending the nation.

   "Left to their own devices, the transition does not occur," Dubik said.

   Lt. Gen. Frank Helmick, deputy commander of U.S. Forces-Iraq, told reporters last week that there is a "question mark right now for external security, but for the internal security we've done all we can do."

    "We really don't know what's going to happen," Helmick said.

Reid, who reported from Cairo, Egypt, covered the Iraq war from 2003 until 2009. Associated Press writers Sameer N. Yacoub and Qassim Abdul-Zahra in Baghdad contributed to this report. 

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Pakistan police rescue chained "students" from madrasa "school"


Hell-hole "schools" also happy hunting ground for little boys, add anal sex to curriculum of brain-washing, terrorism

Los Angeles Times

12/13/2011

Reporting from Islamabad, Pakistan, and New Delhi— 
Pakistani police rescued about 68 students from an Islamic seminary in Karachi, several of whom were reportedly chained in a basement, denied food and pressured to join the Taliban, officials said Tuesday.

     It wasn't immediately clear why the students, some as young as 12 and some in their 40s, were subjected to such treatment. But police, who conducted the raid late Monday after a tip from neighbors, told local news media that some of the students were drug addicts sent there by parents or other relatives unaware of the horrible conditions.

As in U.S., pedophiles prey on institutionalized boys
TV reports showed boys and men constrained by heavy chains on their ankles. Other shots showed several celebrating after being freed.

"They gave us jihad training," one of the students told television reporters. "They warned us if we ever tried to escape, we would be severely punished."


     At least two staff members at the Madrasa Zakarya were arrested, although the leader of the seminary in Karachi's Sohrab Goth neighborhood reportedly escaped. The Interior Ministry has ordered an investigation.

     "These young people were chained," Interior Minister Rehman Malik told reporters. "They were brainwashed. The aggression these people felt toward society, other people, you can't expect them to feel particularly positive."

Shell-shocked boys react to police
Government statistics suggest there are more than 15,000 madrasas, or religious schools, in Pakistan educating about 2 million students. 
Most parents who send their children to madrasas, some of which have a reputation for fomenting extremism, do so because they generally cost less than other schools, provide meals and have teachers who show up.

Nazish Brohi, a sociologist and women's rights activist in Karachi, said corporal punishment and abuse happen in mainstream schools as well as madrasas, even though such conduct is illegal.

     "The problem is that all efforts at regulating madrasas have failed," she said, adding that the government isn't very strong on oversight over all sorts of institutions.

     Although there has been slight improvement in madrasa oversight — largely focused on trying to prevent them from sending their students to Afghanistan or Pakistani tribal areas to become fighters — it hasn't extended to the curriculum or the quality of education, experts said.

     "This isn't the first time they've found students chained, although it may be the first time it's been running live on TV," Brohi said. "My concern, with the shock and horror of this case, is that people will focus on this one incident rather than the wider issue of oversight."

mark.magnier@latimes.com

Special correspondent Khan reported from Islamabad and Times staff writer Magnier from New Delhi.
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US Troops Surround Syria on the Eve of Invasion?


Merry Christmas from Obama and Netanyahu

Russia Today
12/13/2011

A former official from within the ranks of the Federal Bureau of Investigation is reporting that US and NATO forces have landed outside of Syria and are training militants to overthrow the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

Russian sub launched Bulava ICBM
Whistleblower Sibel Edmonds, formerly a translator with the FBI, wrote over the weekend that American soldiers are among the NATO troops that have mysteriously and suddenly, landed on the Jordanian-Syrian border.

According to her, several sources internationally have confirmed the news, although the US media has been instructed to temporarily censor itself from reporting the news.

   Additionally, Edmonds says that American and NATO forces are training Turkish troops as well, to possibly launch a strike from the north of Syria.

    Edmonds writes that an Iraqi journalist based out of London has confirmed that US forces that vacated the Ain al-Assad Air Base in Iraq last week did in fact leave the country as part of President Obama’s drawdown of troops, but rather than return home, the soldiers were transferred into Jordan during the late hours of Thursday evening. Another source, writes Edmonds, informs her that “soldiers who speak languages other than Arabic” have been moving through Jordan mere miles from the country’s border with Syria. Troops believed to be NATO/American-affiliated have been spotted between the King Hussein Air Base in al-Mafraq and the Jordanian village of Albaej and its vicinity.

Nizar Nayouf, a correspondent for Edmond’s Boiling Frog Post whistleblower site, says an employee of the London-based offices of Royal Jordanian Airlines has further confirmed that at least one US aircraft transporting military personnel has brought American troops into Jordan in recent days. Nayouf, the former editor-in-chief of Sawt al-Democratiyya (Democracy's Vote), had previously been sentenced to a decade behind bars for critiquing the Syrian government. He later won several human rights awards and the 2000 UNISCO prize for press freedom.

    Since the uprising of rebel forces opposing al-Assad’s regime over Syria nearly a year ago, American officials have been critical of the country’s government but insist that they have otherwise distanced themselves from becoming involved in the protests. Following the deaths of dozens of protesters in the spring of 2011, the United States imposed strict sanctions against the official government of Syria.

Syrian SCUD capable of carrying chemical warheads
Navi Pillay, the United Nations’ high commissioner for human rights, revealed this week that the uprising in Syria has caused over 5,000 deaths since it began in early 2011. In the case of the crackdown against former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s regime, NATO involvement began only one month into the uprising. Nine months later, the total death toll of the Libyan Civil War is estimated to be close to 30,000.

    In her report, Edmonds says that NATO troops have been training soldiers just outside of Syria since as early as May, and that US media is prohibited from reporting on it until today. The Turkish paper Milliyet also reports that defected Syrian colonel Riad al-Assad is preparing troops to take over the Syrian government as well. 

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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.






US units exiting Iraq deployed in Jordan to "forestall Syrian attack"


That U.S. military in Iraq not going home is a fact military families have to live with; Jordan partnering with Obama huge mistake

DEBKA 
12/13/2011

As the US completes its final withdrawal from Iraq, American special forces troops have been diverted to positions in Jordan opposite a Syrian tank concentration building up across the kingdom's northern border, debkafile's military and intelligence sources report. 

    As of last Thursday, military convoys, air transports and helicopters have been lifting US troops across the border from Iraq. They have been deployed in position to ward off a possible Syrian invasion in the light of President Bashar Assad's warning that he would set the entire Middle East on fire if the pressure on his regime to step down persisted.

Most U.S. soldiers knew they were not going home
Syria's other neighbors have taken precautions against this contingency but this is the first time US boots have hit the ground directly opposite Assad's army.

The incoming US contingents are disclosed by our sources as having been housed at the King Hussein Air Base of al-Mafraq, 10 kilometers from the Syrian border. US troops were sighted Monday, Dec. 12, building surveillance towers and army posts in the Jordanian villages of Albaej, Zubaydiah and al-Nahdah al-Houshah as well as near the Sarham dam of the Yarmoukh River which runs down the international border between Syria and Jordan.

    Three months ago, the Syrian ruler cautioned Jordan's King Abdullah II to stop granting asylum to Syrian military deserters and allowing his country to serve as a conduit for pumping arms to the opposition.

    The king was not deterred by this threat. Seen from Damascus, Jordan would be easier to take on militarily that either Turkey or Israel. Saturday, Dec. 10, Jordanian surveillance units confirmed that Syrian armored units were gathering opposite the Jordanian town of Bura Al Hariri.

Obama still lying about actual U.S. dead and wounded in Iraq
Iraqi sources report that the American units came from the big Iraqi Ain al-Assad air base in the western province of Al Anbar opposite the Jordanian border. This base is in the process of evacuation as the US military drawdown in Iraq approaches completion. Most of the troops are flown to US bases in the Persian Gulf and Europe.

     Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, when he met US President Barack Obama at the White House Monday, approved the transfer of American contingents from Iraq to Jordan across their common border. Obama was therefore able to state after their talks: "We share the view that when the Syrian people are being killed or are unable to express themselves that's a problem. There's no disagreement there."

     By this comment, the White House sought to stress that the Baghdad government is not letting Tehran twist its arms on the Syrian question.

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Blockade on NATO will last until U.S. leaves, bombing of innocents stops


Pakistan will cut Obama, Clinton, Panetta and NATO off at knees

Asia Times
12/14/2011

Pakistani Prime Minister Yusaf Raza Gilani says his country's blockade of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) supply lines into Afghanistan - ordered in retaliation for a deadly NATO helicopter attack in Pakistan - is likely to stay in place for weeks.

     In a December 11 interview with the BBC, Gilani admitted Pakistan was using the blockades on the supply routes as a bargaining chip to get Washington to write new "rules of engagement" for NATO attacks in Pakistan's border region.

Pakistanis want NATO, U.S. permanently out of Pakistan
Gilani said Pakistan could take further retaliatory action, including the possibility of closing its airspace to the United States - a move that would further complicate the supply of NATO forces in Afghanistan.

Gilani also told the BBC that neither Pakistan nor the United States trusted each other in the fight against Islamic militancy, and that Islamabad would keep its blockades in place at border crossings into Afghanistan until new rules of engagement were written.

    "Yes, there is a credibility gap [between Pakistan and the United States]. We are working together and still we don't trust each other," Gilani said. "I think we have to improve our relationship so that, for better results, we should have more confidence in each other."
 
Disputed border attack

     Pakistan's already fragile relations with the United States were shaken further in May when US forces killed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden near a Pakistani military academy without first notifying Islamabad or Pakistani military authorities.

     But relations fell to a new low on November 26, when two NATO helicopter strikes killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in what Pakistan's military has called a deliberate attack.

U.S. Apache gunships
Washington has expressed regret about the strikes on the two Pakistani border posts, but says there will be no apology until an investigation determines exactly what the Pakistani soldiers were doing when the air strikes were called in by nearby NATO ground troops in Afghanistan.

     Within hours of the helicopter attacks, Pakistan cut the two main routes in its territory for transporting NATO supplies into Afghanistan - the Khyber Pass that goes from the border town of Torkham to Kabul and a route through Pakistan's Balochistan province that passes from the border town of Chaman on to Kandahar.

     Those two routes account for about one-third of all cargo that the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) ships into Afghanistan.

Northern route gains importance

    Another one-third of NATO's supplies are flown directly into Afghanistan, while the remaining cargo goes overland along the so-called "northern distribution network", which passes through Central Asia from the Caucasus or Russia.

NATO supply trucks burn on Pakistan/Afghanistan border
With some supplies for Afghanistan's fledgling security forces also passing through Pakistan, a sustained blockade by Islamabad could threaten efforts by the United States and its allies to build up the Afghan armed forces ahead of the planned 2014 withdrawal of international forces from the country.

     Gilani's threat to keep the blockade in place on NATO deliveries through Pakistan also raises the importance of the alternative route through Central Asia.

     That could lead to further negotiations between NATO and Central Asian states, as well as Russia and Caucasus transit countries like Azerbaijan, that would allow greater amounts of cargo or the inclusion of weapons and ammunition along the northern distribution network.

Seeking end to Pakistan reliance

    Before 2009, most supplies for the 140,000 International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) troops in Afghanistan were shipped to the port of Karachi in Pakistan and then transported by truck into Afghanistan.
 
Pakistan Prime Minister Yusaf Raza Gilani
But after a series of ambushes against its supply trucks in Pakistan in 2009, NATO began to negotiate transit rights with Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. Those negotiations took almost a year to complete.

Germany and the United States have been allowed to use the northern route through Central Asia to receive non-lethal supplies. But that route had been closed to NATO forces as a whole, as well as for delivering weapons, ammunition, or other combat supplies to Afghanistan.


       Even before Islamabad imposed its blockade, ISAF forces and the US military had decided to push supply networks away from their reliance on Pakistan. In July, more than half of all ground-transported supplies arrived in Afghanistan through Khyber or Chaman.

    Since then, the United States has been trying to reduce its supply transit through Pakistan to about 25 percent of overland cargo.

     ISAF said the move was aimed at "reducing reliance on any single line of communication to avoid any unnecessary vulnerabilities should that network become unavailable".

       Pakistan has briefly closed supply routes through its territory on two earlier occasions - once after crossborder NATO air strikes in the autumn of 2010 that killed three Pakistani soldiers and again in April when thousands of Pakistanis demonstrated against NATO drone strikes by rallying on a key highway.

The routes through Pakistan are also vulnerable to attacks by insurgents. Since the blockade was imposed, militants have carried out several attacks on NATO supply trucks that have been backed up in Pakistan near the border. The latest such attack, which killed one driver and destroyed several NATO supply trucks, happened early on December 12.

    Afghanistan also has a border with Turkmenistan to the northwest and Tajikistan to the north, as well as a small remote border with China in mountainous territory in the far northeast. But the border with China is too remote and high-altitude to create a major transit route.

      A convenient and relatively cheap link through Iran's port of Chabahar into western Afghanistan is ruled out because of hostile relations between Tehran and Washington.

Clinton:  Dangerous, deluded, power-mad old hag
United States forces early on December 12 completed their withdrawal from the remote Shamsi Air Field in southern Pakistan. The withdrawal from that air field, used mostly as a maintenance and refueling base for unmanned US drone aircraft, began on December 5 after talks by telephone between Gilani and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

But that withdrawal is expected to have little impact on the drone campaign because most drone attacks in the Afghan-Pakistani border region originate from air fields in Afghanistan.

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U.S. Loser In Asia Push

The World is done with U.S., Obama bullying it's way around globe carrying out assassinations, plotting coups and "regime change" against sovereign nations and rulers

Asia Times
By Tanaka Sakai
Translation by Hase Michiko 12/14/2011

In his remarks to the Australian parliament on November 17, President Barack Obama declared that the United States was making the Asia-Pacific region a top priority. While promising a continued US military presence in the region, Obama also expressed his intention to strengthen US-China cooperation.

This declaration, however, was made at the same time as Obama announced a series of anti-China measures: to station US forces permanently in Australia for the first time, to promote the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) - a multilateral trade agreement that excludes China - and to discuss the South China Sea Islands at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit, to Beijing's displeasure. Therefore, the Japanese media view Obama's emphasis on Asia as strengthening an anti-China containment ring.

In Japan, there is heightened expectation for Obama's new policy, which is thought to signal that the US is finally treating China as an enemy. However, the "awkward timing" of the US announcement doesn't sit well with me. Since the late-1990s, US-China relations have seen China's ascension and America's decline, especially in the economic arena. An anti-China policy of the United States would inevitably involve pro-US Asian countries like Japan, South Korea, and ASEAN.

Those Asian nations, however, cannot afford to antagonize China because it has replaced the US as their biggest trading partner. The same is true for the United States: it cannot go too far in antagonizing China, the largest holder of US treasury bonds, because if China sold them, US finance and the dollar would collapse.

If the US intended to treat China as an enemy and fortify its anti-China containment as a national strategy, it should have started sooner. From the perspective of the interests of both the Asian nations and the United States, it is absurd for the US to adopt an anti-China policy in Asia at a time when China has become the most important country in the economic arena.

Give Asia priority - abandon UK and Israel

If one puts the issue in a global, rather than Asian, perspective, one begins to see another meaning of the US declaration to give Asia top priority. The flip side of an emphasis on Asia is putting less emphasis on the Middle East and Europe, the regions that previously received top US priority.

In the Middle East, Israel has dictated US world strategies since the1970s, but Israel now needs US support more than ever. Until the invasion of Iraq in 2003, US domination in the Middle East had served Israel well. After the 9.11 attacks in 2001, US world strategy so focused on the Middle East that some said it had become a Middle-Eastern country, while US allies in Asia, including Japan, were close to being ignored.

Since then, however, there has been a backlash against the extreme anti-Islam policy of the United States in the form of an anti-US , anti-Israel Islamist movement; since the revolution in Egypt last spring, Islamism has been accelerating under the rubric of democratization. Previously pro-Israel Egypt and Turkey have since turned anti-Israel, and the Palestinian Authority, once a puppet of the US and Israel, is increasingly defiant in its attempt to gain United Nations membership. Even in formerly secular Tunisia and Morocco, the Islamists are rising in the elections.

Photo by Robert S. Finnegan
The United States has not changed its pro-Israel policy. US politics is still under the thumb of right-wing Israelis. However, the US followed the wishes of the Israeli right-ring in carrying out "democratization" as a way to overturn the government, and as a result anti-American, anti-Israel Islamism has risen.

For this reason, it has now become impossible for Israel to press the US to change the current situation in ways more favorable to Israel. Besides, US military forces are scheduled to pull out of Iraq by the end of the year. US military influence in the Middle East will decrease dramatically.

At the very time that all this was happening, the Obama administration launched its policy of giving Asia top priority. The US government will maintain the appearance of being at Israel's beck and call, but in practice it is about to abandon Israel surrounded by its enemies. The Muslim Brotherhood is overjoyed. From a Middle-Eastern perspective, Obama's emphasis on Asia means the "abandonment of Israel".

US global policy-making has also been dictated not only by Israel but by the United Kingdom. To the UK, the 40-year-long Cold War was a long-term strategy to fortify its alliance with the US with the objective of confronting the Soviet Union. After the Cold War, the US-UK alliance controlled the world through financial markets. Today, however, as the US-UK financial system continues to break down, Obama's emphasis on Asia means a shift to prioritizing Asia over the US-UK alliance, and this is not good news for the UK.

The European Union is in the midst of a euro crisis. American and British speculators are trying to crush the euro, their potential rival, to protect the US dollar as the key international currency. Financial integration of the euro zone, which would strengthen the EU, is needed to stave off the ongoing crises.

The EU, centering on Germany, has been battered by the US and UK in this crisis. Therefore, after the current crisis the EU will reduce its dependency on the US and strengthen its collaboration with countries like Russia, which are anti-US and geopolitically important to the EU. Just as Europe was going through this transition, Obama unleashed his "Asia First" announcement, which is virtually a declaration of a "Europe Second" policy.

The United States was traditionally an "Atlantic country". This time, the US has announced that "we are a Pacific country". To Europe, this means that the US will not emphasize Europe as before. American speculators caused the bond crisis, hurting the EU; the EU in turn is likely to think: "If the US is not going to emphasize Europe, we won't emphasize the US , either."

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the Europe-US military alliance, will lose its importance, too. The end of the NATO mission in Afghanistan in 2014 will likely be a turning point.

US -China strategy not transformed


Let's turn to Asia again. The most important question left unanswered in Obama's Asia-first announcement is "whether the US is going to treat China as an enemy in earnest." "Does the US consider China an enemy or a future ally?"

Obama, U.S. have betrayed China
The question itself and the ambiguity surrounding it existed 100 years ago, when the United States supported Sun Yat-sen's Nationalist Revolution. The United States considered China a prospective ally until the Korean War in 1950 (which is why the US made China a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council after World War II even though it was then a divided and weak country).

Between the Korean War and president Richard Nixon's visit to China in 1972, the United States was dominated by the Cold-War camp (the military-industrial-British complex) and tended to view China as an enemy. Nixon's China visit transformed the situation, and the United States has since had the mixed policy of viewing China both as an enemy and as a prospective ally.

In US politics under the powerful influence of the military-industrial complex supported by the UK and Israel, previous US administrations deliberately left ambiguous the question of whether China was an enemy or an ally. Although the ambiguity lingers, since the 1990s when it lifted the economic sanctions that it had imposed after the Tiananmen Square incident, the US has gradually been treating China more as a prospective ally in the situation in which it began to develop as an economic superpower.

The strongest recent expression of the US embrace of China as a prospective ally was the proposal for a "US -China G2", recognizing China as "a responsible superpower (-to-be, along with the US ) during the former George W Bush administration.

If Obama's "Asia First" declaration was a clear indication of "China as an enemy", that would be a reversal of the China strategy that the US had maintained until the end of the Bush administration. But it is unclear whether Obama's Asia-first policy is a policy to treat China as an enemy. This vagueness is a continuation of the deliberate ambiguity in the US strategy toward China since Nixon's visit to China. The conclusion drawn from the foregoing analysis is that Obama has not reversed the previous course of US strategy toward China.

The interests of the military-industrial complex, which pushed the US to treat China as an enemy, have been paralyzed by the failure of the wars on terror. Large US companies, including financial interests, are making profits in China and would not want to be driven out of the Chinese market as a result of worsening US-China relations. I do not think that there are many at the center of power in the US who wish to promote "an anti-China policy that goes beyond campaign rhetoric".

Recently, even the military-industrial complex has refrained from promoting an overt anti-China agenda. The Department of Defense is said to be working on a military strategy called "Air-Sea Battle" to contain China. At a recent Pentagon press conference, however, the discussion remained opaque, only revealing that "it is a not a strategy, not a concept of operations, ... and is not directed at any particular country". [1]

One explanation that is circulating is that the Air-Sea Battle concept involves a shift from the old way of attacking an enemy (China) by launching planes from huge aircraft carriers to one of launching unmanned fighters and short-range missiles from smaller warships. But the Pentagon has not clarified the strategy.
The Bush administration, too, tended to keep the goals of "transformation" secret, but the main goals were to upgrade US military technology, to make the military smaller and lighter, and to ensure profits for the military-industrial complex by pouring in huge development funds. The true aim of Air-Sea Battle, too, may be to increase profits for the military-industrial complex while suggesting that it is a strategy to counter China's growing military power.

The Obama administration made its "Asia First" announcement simultaneously with announcing plans for the TPP and the US-Korea Free Trade Agreement. The timing suggests a bargain: "Accommodating the wishes of Asian nations like Japan, South Korea and Australia nervous about China's rise, the US will not withdraw its forces from the Asia-Pacific. In exchange, Asian countries, through TPP and FTA, must restructure their economic systems to assure US corporate profits". [2]

Trampling with free trade agreements

In Australia, Obama emphasized that "reductions in US defense spending will not - I repeat, will not - come at the expense of the Asia Pacific". This gives the impression that the US government is increasing its military expenditures in the Asia-Pacific despite overall budget reductions.

New Australian PM, like Howard before, bends over for U.S.
However, there is a 20-year-old pattern in which every time the Japanese government has sought continued US military presence, the US has made it contingent on Japan's increased share of expenditures for US bases in Japan, resulting in a greater financial burden on Japan. If this pattern holds, the Australian government will shoulder part of the cost of building new Marine barracks and other expenditures for having US Marines stationed in Australia.

If some of the US Marines in Okinawa are to be moved to Australia, and if the Australian government is to pay for the transfer, the US only dictates the terms of the exchange. Neither the US nor the Australian government has disclosed anything about cost. But given the dire state of US finances, it is highly possible that Obama announced that "America will give Asia a top priority (as long as Asia bears the cost)." It is reasonable to think that TPP and US military presence come with an expensive price tag.

The US government has announced that it will shape TPP into a free-trade agreement among countries that abide by a rules-based order. The US thinks that China's lack of a rules-based order - it's a party dictatorship - makes it ineligible to join TPP. However, Vietnam, with a one-party rule similar to China's, has been allowed to participate in the negotiations. This suggests that the US treats TPP as part of the anti-China containment ring that excludes China politically.

If TPP is a US -led containment ring directed against China, the question remains whether it is effective. My conclusion is that TPP will not be effective in containing China. To many Asian countries, China is the biggest trading partner, and China's importance will only increase in the future. By contrast, the United States, which was long the greatest trading partner of most Asian nations, has lost its middle classes' spending power and will lose its status as a dominant trading partner.

Given the precedent set by the US-Korea FTA, moreover, participation in TPP would compel Japan to change its economic rules modeled on American ones. The United States in the past few years has been rife with corrupting tendencies, allowing large corporations to change government rules to their liking through lobbying activities. Japan, as a TPP member nation, would be put under constant pressure to reshape its domestic economic institutions to benefit US businesses. The "rules" in the US government's "rules-based order" are those that are prevalent in the US and favor large US businesses.

China and Russia may take over WTO

Asian nations nervous about China's rise are begging the US not to leave Asia. The US government is telling them: "We are not leaving Asia, but you must pay for our base expenditures. In addition, join TPP or the US-Korea FTA and make your domestic systems profitable for US companies."

The United States is not to blame. The dependency of Asian nations like Japan is allowing the US to pursue a crafty strategy.

The more the US publicizes its anti-China containment, the more quickly China will strengthen its military to counter it. The more China strengthens its military, the more fearful Asian countries will become, increasing their dependency on the US , and the United States will take advantage of the dependency to impose a corrupt American-style economic system on Asia.

The corruption of their economic systems will in turn weaken Asian nations, including Japan. China, which is excluded from TPP, will be spared this baptism of corruption. China alone will profit from TPP.



On top of this, the United States will be an unreliable importer of Asian goods while Asian countries will continue to increase their economic dependence on China. The current US strategy toward Asia only reinforces China's superiority. By the time Asian nations give up on a weakened America, their economic systems will be in tatters as a result of TPP, and there will be no choice for them but subservience to an even more powerful China.

The US Asia policy looks to be a "disguised multipolarism (polycentrism)" which actually "strengthens China while pretending to contain it" and "pushes Asian nations toward China while professing to ally with them."

In terms of the international trade system, Russia's accession to the WTO, which is likely to occur by the end of this year, will benefit China. China and Russia are fortifying their strategic ties. Once Russia is admitted to the WTO, China, already a WTO member, will work together with Russia to recruit the other BRIC countries - India and Brazil - and developing countries like South Africa, to transform the WTO politically from a system favoring advanced economies into one favorable to emerging and developing countries. [3]

The Doha round of the WTO has stalled for the past several years. It is possible, however, that by the time the WTO gets moving again, it may have been taken over by emerging countries and may try to dominate the world as a completely transformed body.

Some people may think that China would not want to maintain a free-trade system, but they are wrong. While weak economies tend to lose under a free-trade system, it benefits stronger economies. The economic strengths of BRIC are approaching the level at which it suits their national interests to promote a free-trade system.

Tanaka Sakai is the creator, researcher, writer and editor of Tanaka News (www.tanakanews.com), a Japanese-language news service on Japan and the world. The title of Tanaka Sakai's new book is translated as The Day Japan Breaks with 'Subordination to the US': Amidst the Multipolarizing New World Order.

Hase Michiko taught women's studies at San Jose State University and the University of Colorado at Boulder. She participates in Women for Genuine Security and has served as a translator and interpreter at international meetings.

Notes:

1. Air-Sea Battle: What's It All About, Or Not , AOLDefense, November 10, 2011.

2. See here.

3. See Russiaclears final hurdle for WTO membership, November 10, 2011.

This is a translation of an article that appeared in Tanaka News.

(Republished with permission from Japan Focus.)  

Any 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.


OPINION : America, Israel and Iran - no way out


Obama, Clinton and their criminal administration based on nothing but lies, extortion, doomed to fail as US on direct path to another Middle East war; "on the table," "off the table;" do they understand how stupid they sound?  How about Obama, Clinton "off the table"

Al Jazeera
By Robert Grenier
12/12/2011

OPINION

US Secretary of Defence Leon Panetta made some perhaps unintentionally interesting remarks regarding US policy toward Iran earlier this month, and it is fair to suppose that the venue in which he made them was not accidental.

    Each year, the Brookings Institution, a prominent US think-tank, hosts the Saban Forum, a gathering of US and Israeli officials, along with the usual retinue of journalists, academics and observers, to discuss issues of common interest and concern. This year's theme was "Strategic Challenges in the New Middle East", and participants sought to focus thought and discussion, in the Saban Centre's words, "... on historic shifts... and their implication for US-Israeli security and interests in the Middle East region".

Panetta:  Coward, idiot, deluded, way over his head
Of course, the tacit assumption that US and Israeli interests in the region are somehow mystically conjoined is an increasingly dangerous one, and a fallacy that the Saban Forum, like other such Washington confabs, does much to promote.

Other "strategic challenges" in the Middle East notwithstanding, the threat posed by Iran's apparent pursuit of nuclear weapons hung like an incubus over this year's proceedings, and in addressing those concerns in his keynote speech, Secretary Panetta delivered the sort of mixed message which Israeli officials have come to expect from the Obama administration.

    Standing before huge Israeli and US flags, the secretary delivered prepared remarks in which he strongly asserted that "determination to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons" was one of three "pillars" of US policy in the region. And while he extolled the importance and encouraging efficacy of diplomatic and economic sanctions, and carefully noted that resort to military force must be a last, and not a first option, Panetta also pointedly stressed that the administration had "not taken any options off the table".

   His department, he said, would be charged with preparation of a military option if so requested by the commander in chief, and would not shrink from doing so. All in all, it was a vigorous, straightforward restatement of administration policy, designed to reassure an Israeli audience.

    But in response to questions, the defence secretary said perhaps more than he intended, revealing more of the administration's true thinking than would have passed muster in his cleared remarks. A military strike on Iran, he said, would not destroy Iran's nuclear ambitions, but only delay them - perhaps a year or two at best. The relevant targets, he added "are very difficult to get at".

    Obama wedded to containment?

    And against such limited and tenuous gains, one would have to weigh some daunting unintended consequences: a regional backlash which would end Iran's isolation and generate popular political support for its clerical regime both at home and abroad; attacks against US military assets and interests in the region; and "severe economic consequences" - read: sharply increased oil prices - which would undermine fragile economies in the US and Europe. Finally, he said, initiation of hostilities could produce "an escalation... that would not only involve many lives, but ... could consume the Middle East in a confrontation and a conflict that we would regret (emphasis added)".

    Hardly a ringing call to arms, that.

   William A Galston, a Senior Fellow at Brookings who attended this year's Forum, has written perceptively for The New Republic about Israeli reactions to it. Apparently, the studied ambiguity which the administration is attempting to maintain regarding its willingness to employ military force against Iran is not having the intended effect on its chosen audience - which is not the Iranians, but the Israelis.

    According to Galston, among the many Israelis of differing political stripes with whom he spoke at the conference, no one - not one - believed that the Obama administration would ever exercise a military option to prevent Iranian acquisition of a nuclear weapon. Obama, they have concluded, is wedded to a containment policy; if Iran were nonetheless to acquire a nuclear capability, they are convinced, his administration would reconfigure its containment policy to suit.

    As Galston points out, this is completely unacceptable to the Israelis. For them, a nuclearised Iran poses an existential threat which they - unike the Americans - literally will not tolerate. This fact is recognised within the administration, and particularly within the US Department of Defence, with which potential hostilities with Iran, however initiated, would be its responsibility to deal.

Obama getting his marching orders from Netanyahu
No one really paying attention should be surprised by this. Just days before the Panetta speech at Brookings, General Martin Dempsey, the US chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, gave a notable interview in which he made clear that, while the US sees sanctions and diplomatic pressure as the prudent course to pursue vis-a-vis Iran, "I'm not sure the Israelis share our assessment of that. And because they don't and because to them this is an existential threat, I think probably that it's fair to say that our expectations are different right now."

   Asked whether he thought Israel would inform the US before striking Iran, Dempsey responded, "I don't know." That is political-military speak for "No".

    In short, current US policy, as the Israelis understand it - and as opposed to how it is being articulated by the administration - is unacceptable to Israel. This is no doubt troubling to them, but not a grave concern, for two reasons. First, the Israelis need not rely on the US to initiate hostilities with Iran, if it should come to that. They can do so themselves, confident that the US will then be forced to deal with the consequences, including the Iranian retaliation which Panetta described and all would expect.

Weakened by Rhetoric

   Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, the Israelis know that they can pursue such a course, in extremis, without serious fear of repercussions, including a cutoff of US support - diplomatic, military, or otherwise. They know that, where Israel is concerned, policy is not made in the White House, and still less at the Pentagon. It is made in Congress, which stands in thrall to Israel.

   Remember, this is an administration which thought it could pressure Israel into abandoning its illegal settlement programme and making a just peace with the Palestinians; it has since been taught a political lesson which it is unlikely to forget.

Iran's Al Quds forces:  Well trained, highly motivated, combat ready
And so, in this as in all other instances, the White House, bereft of effective sticks, is reduced to importuning the Israelis, trying to convince them of the seriousness of US purpose in confronting Iran and the effectiveness of its current sanctions policy, while hoping against hope that the Israelis would not take the sort of precipitate action which all would eventually come to regret.

   In making its case to the Israelis, moreover, the White House' domestic political position is being further weakened by its own rhetoric. The president and senior administration officials know that Iran does not pose an existential threat to Israel, and that the Iranians are anything but impervious to the overwhelming nuclear retaliatory threat which Israel poses.

    In fact, the Iranian drive for a nuclear weapons capability has relatively little to do with Israel, and much to do with the threat posed by Washington, whose ability to intervene at will in the region with overwhelming conventional force has been amply demonstrated three times in the past 20 years.

    The White House dares not say this, however, lest it convey weakness to Iran and a lack of resolve both to Israel and to its political critics in the US. Indeed, Secretary Panetta was back at it in his address to the Saban Forum when, after making reference to Iran's support for terrorists, he asserted that "... a nuclear weapon would be devastating if they had that capability".

    Having hyped the Iranian threat incessantly for the past three years, asserting that an Iranian nuclear weapon would have devastating and unacceptable consequences for US interests, the administration has put itself politically in a position from which it cannot escape on its own.

   The president's Republican adversaries are parroting the same rhetoric, and fairly slavering at the chance to brand him as soft on the Iranian threat; even his Democratic colleagues would quickly abandon him if forced to make a choice, as the recent Senate vote on toughening Iran sanctions, which went considerably further than the administration wanted, has made clear.

    Thus does Obama find himself effectively in a corner.

    He has bet everything on the efficacy of a sanctions policy toward Iran, and while it may succeed, very few experts believe it can. The putatively most powerful man in the world is now hostage to the whims of Israel and Iran, foreign countries neither of which he can control. Unless one of them chooses to release him, there is no way out save moving forward, on a direct path to war.

Robert L Grenier is chairman of ERG Partners, a financial advisory and consulting firm. He retired from the CIA in 2006, following a 27-year career in the CIA's Clandestine Service. Grenier served as Director of the CIA Counter-Terrorism Centre (CTC) from 2004 to 2006, coordinated CIA activities in Iraq from 2002 to 2004 as the Iraq Mission Manager, and was the CIA Chief of Station in Islamabad, Pakistan, before and after the 9/11 attacks.

Previously, he was the deputy National Intelligence Officer for the Near East and South Asia, and also served as the CIA's chief of operational training. He is credited with founding the CIA's Counter-Proliferation Division. Grenier is now a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and speaks and writes frequently on foreign policy issues.



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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.


Patients ingest Bottles, Cell Phones, Buzz Lightyear with wrong orfice


The World we live in:  Proof positive Americans will shove anything up their asses

ABC
By Carrie Gann
12./12/2011

One winter night, Dr. Melissa Barton was the attending physician in the emergency department of the Detroit Medical Center. Making her rounds, she picked up a chart for a new patient and read the woman's chief complaint: "eye in the vagina."

An old favorite:  "Everything goes better with Coke"
The patient told Barton she had been expecting a fight with some neighbors outside her house. Wearing only a sweatshirt and spandex pants, she needed somewhere to stow her prosthetic eye for safe-keeping.

"Those things are pretty expensive and hard to replace," Barton said. "So that's where it went, along with her driver's license."

     Unfortunately, it got stuck.

     Dr. Gary Vilke, a professor of clinical emergency medicine at the University of California San Diego Medical Center, saw a patient who had four Barbie doll heads stuck in his rectum.

     "When you looked at his x-ray, they were looking at you, like a totem pole," Vilke said.

Check out other odd X-rays

     Ask a handful of emergency medicine specialists about cases like these, and you'll get a cascade of stories about patients with strange objects ingested or inserted in unlikely places. Vegetables, light bulbs, tools, even cell phones and reading glasses have wound up illuminated on x-rays or described on medical charts in U.S. emergency departments.

Bad fit:  This was made for another orfice
For many unlucky patients, an inserted or ingested foreign object is the result of a one-in-a-million accident or a single bout of bad judgment or curiosity. Emergency medicine doctors say they see these patients more often than you might think.

Foreign Bodies in the Body There is little data detailing just how many patients wind up in U.S. emergency departments with objects stuck in their orifices, but doctors say it happens pretty frequently.



     "There's usually a good story every week or two, everything from the unique to the bizarre to the gross," said Vilke, who has practiced emergency medicine for 20 years.

    Dr. Rich Dreben, Dr. Murdoc Knight and Dr. Marty Sindhian have heard enough of these stories to fill an entire book, called "Stuck Up! 100 Objects Inserted and Ingested in Places They Shouldn't Be." The three were classmates in medical school and became fascinated by the sheer number of patients they saw who came to the hospital with these problems.

     "As a medical student, these cases actually helped me learn a lot about human anatomy, biology and the doctor-patient relationship," said Dreben, who is now a psychiatrist in California. "These patients really stuck with us. I guess that's a poor choice of words."

Patients with lodged foreign objects usually fall into three categories: those who swallow the objects, those who get things stuck accidentally (think cockroaches crawling into someone's ear while he sleeps), and those who intentionally insert items into their vaginas or rectums – and can't get them out.

     When it comes to swallowed objects, children age 4 and younger account for 75 percent of the cases that doctors treat. On the flip side, patients with objects stuck in the rectum are more likely to be between ages 20 and 40, and far more likely to be male. Some studies have found that men are 28 times more likely to insert objects up their backsides than women are.

     "I think the most common objects I've seen are vegetables," Knight said. "I've never been able to figure that one out."

Any 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.



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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.

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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.

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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

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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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