Thursday, May 26, 2011

House Wrestles Over War-on-Terror Measure

Thursday, May 26, 2011 by
by Josh Gerstein and Charles Hoskinson

House Republican leaders will attempt Thursday to beat back an effort by Democrats and at least a few GOP lawmakers to defeat a legislative proposal that critics contend will expand and indefinitely extend the war on terror.

The update to the Authorization for Use of Military Force — passed three days after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 — is part of the annual defense policy bill that the House Armed Services Committee approved 60-1 earlier this month.

The fate of the new use-of-force provision could signal whether the U.S. intends to press on with a largely military approach to the war on terror in the wake of Osama bin Laden’s death, or whether lawmakers are prepared to gradually rein in the conflict.

Democrats on the panel didn’t put up much of a fight in committee, but since then they have introduced a series of amendments aimed at nixing both the updated use-of-force authorization, which they argue is too broad and open-ended, and other language that limits President Barack Obama’s power to release Guantanamo prisoners abroad or bring war-on-terror prisoners to the U.S. for trial.

GOP lawmakers who drafted the use-of-force update say it’s a needed revision and affirmation as the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks approaches, since the connection between those strikes and the terrorists the United States is now fighting is becoming less obvious.

“I don’t think anyone can legitimately argue it does not need to be updated,” Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) said in an interview Tuesday. “What this language does is make clear the authority for what we are doing right now.”

The language in the defense bill also explicitly endorses the president’s right to take prisoners and hold them “until the termination of hostilities.” It could also support military action against terrorists not directly related to Sept. 11.

But a coalition of civil liberties and human rights groups led by the American Civil Liberties Union opposes the revamped measure.

“This monumental legislation — with a large-scale and practically irrevocable delegation of war power from Congress to the President — could commit the United States to a worldwide war without clear enemies, without any geographical boundaries (the use of military force within the United States could be permitted), and without any boundary relating to time or specific objective to be achieved,” the coalition wrote Wednesday in a letter to House members.

Opponents got a boost Tuesday when the White House threatened to veto the defense bill if it clears Congress with provisions that “challenge critical executive branch authority.” A statement of administration policy identified those provisions as the ones that relate to detainees. The administration’s official position paper said it “strongly” opposes the reauthorization because it would “effectively recharacterize [the conflict’s] scope and would risk creating confusion regarding applicable standards.”

Advocates said Tuesday’s statement was the first official veto threat by the administration against legislation that would limit its authority to handle detainees.

It was not entirely clear from the White House statement whether the veto threat applies to the use-of-force provision or solely to the detainee-related language. A White House spokesman said Tuesday he is not permitted to expand on or clarify the written statement.

However, one administration official familiar with the deliberations said officials are concerned that the proposed language could have unforeseen implications.

“The bill was rushed through,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. It “sounds reasonable, but when you look at the consequences that emerge, the more you look, the worse it gets.”

The official said the proposal could be read to authorize military action against any country or individual who supported Al Qaeda or affiliated groups in any way. “Who does it end up with?” the official asked, noting that even when the U.S. was at war in Korea and Vietnam, America did not declare war against all communist governments and sympathizers worldwide.

An amendment to strip out the measure passed the House on a preliminary voice vote Wednesday night, but a formal roll call vote on the issue is expected as soon as Thursday morning.

The chief sponsor of the amendment, freshman Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), warned that the bill’s language amounts to “perhaps the broadest authority for the use of military force Congress has ever considered.”

Amash said it would permit military action not just against Al Qaeda and the Taliban, but an undefined category of “associated forces [that] don’t need to be connected to 9/11, associated forces don’t need to have fought against the United States and associated forces may even include American citizens.”

But House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) said the bill’s definition of which entities the U.S. is engaged in armed conflict with came directly from one the Obama administration has advocated in court.

“This section does not alter the way the war on terror is currently being fought,” McKeon said during a floor debate Wednesday night. “While the courts have accepted the administration’s position, that could change any day. I’m not willing to take that chance.”

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), the only lawmaker to vote against the measure in 2001, said the language in the new defense bill “goes even beyond that original authorization and amounts to a declaration of war without end anywhere in the world.” She called it “an entire checkbook of blank checks.”

Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.), who like Amash is a tea party favorite, spoke out against stripping the provision from the bill. “If we allow an amendment such as this to go forward, it would have precluded us from going in and killing the world’s No. 1 terrorist, Osama bin Laden. If this amendment passes, we will not be able to go after [Anwar] Al-Awlaki,” said West, referring to a leader of the Yemen-based Al Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula who has reportedly been the focus of U.S. drone attacks.

Amash countered that bin Laden was killed when the original, narrower language was in effect.

The top Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, Rep. Adam Smith of Washington, said Congress should update the measure but that the implications of the GOP language could be significant. “When you put in ‘associated forces’ and you don’t have any end date, it does confer on the president the potential for a great deal of power over a long period of time,” Smith said.

One expert said the administration’s 42-word official explanation of its opposition is confusing because the language in the bill is so similar to what lawyers for the administration have argued in court.

“They cannot possibly be strongly opposed to writing their litigating positions into law. To the extent they are strongly opposed to that, they risk grossly undermining their litigating positions,” said Benjamin Wittes of the Brookings Institution.

Wittes said the administration opposition might be a tactical decision to increase the president’s chances of removing other provisions he objects to in the bill, such as continuing limits on transferring prisoners from Guantanamo to the United States for trial or detention.

He said the administration should negotiate with McKeon to craft mutually acceptable language. “They have a real allergy to dealing with the Hill on these issues. … Their mistrust of the Hill is legion and they take it too far, though they have good reason to be suspicious,” Wittes said.

The administration source acknowledged that the veto threat is undermined somewhat by Obama’s decision last year to sign legislation that limited his ability to release detainees abroad and to bring them to the U.S. for trial.

“We should have picked this fight last December but, okay, we can pick it now,” the official said. “It’s fair to hit the Obama administration for not speaking out earlier, but you’ve got to give us credit for speaking out now.”

Two other detainee-related amendments were debated Wednesday and are expected to receive roll call votes Thursday. Smith put forward language that would restore Obama’s ability to bring detainees to the United States for trial in criminal courts. And Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.) offered an amendment that would make military commissions the only trial option for all foreigners who allegedly engage in terrorist acts in the United States or against U.S. personnel abroad.

Thornberry predicted that “you will see at the end of the day a pretty big bipartisan majority to pass the bill. I hope there’s not a pressure from [the Democrats’] leadership to make it otherwise.”

New Leak Feared at Stricken Japan Nuclear Plant

by Kiyoshi Takenaka and Yoko Nishikawa 
TOKYO - Radioactive water appears to be leaking from a waste disposal building at Japan's Fukushima nuclear complex, operator Tokyo Electric Power said on Thursday, in a new setback to the battle to contain radiation from the crippled power plant.

The disclosure by Tepco raises the stakes in a race to complete by next month a system to decontaminate a massive pool of radioactive water at the site that critics see as a growing risk to both the nearby Pacific and groundwater.

A magnitude 9.0 earthquake and the massive tsunami that followed killed about 24,000 people and knocked out the Fukushima plant on March 11, triggering the world's worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl.

The crisis, which has displaced some 80,000 residents from around the plant, prompted a review of Japan's energy policy and growing calls for efforts to step up health monitoring for a crisis now in its 11th week.

Experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency began an inspection on Thursday of equipment damaged by the tsunami at a second nuclear plant, the Tokai complex about 120 km (75 miles) north of Tokyo, as part of an investigation prompted by the Fukushima accident.
A poll by the Asahi newspaper published on Thursday showed that 42 percent of Japanese people opposed nuclear power, up from 18 percent before the disaster.

The survey underscored the public's deepening concerns about nuclear safety and criticism of the way the government and Tepco initially responded to the crisis and how they appeared to have been repeatedly slow in admitting the gravity of the situation.

Although many outside experts had concluded that uranium fuel in three Fukushima reactors had melted down within days of the crisis, Tepco only announced that conclusion this week.
"We have to take seriously the criticism that we haven't done enough to provide and circulate information," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said at a news conference. "But we have never covered up information that we had."

The effort to regain control of the plant relies on pumping massive quantities of water to cool the three reactors that suffered meltdowns and storing the contaminated water in an improvised storage facility. Tepco officials said, however, that the water level in the storage facility had dropped, suggesting a leak.

Environmental groups have focussed on the threat to sea and ground water from the accident. Greenpeace said earlier this month it had collected samples of fish, seaweed and shellfish along the Fukushima coast that showed radiation levels above Japanese safety limits.

Residents of the town of Futaba, forced to evacuate along with others inside a 20-kilometre (12-mile) zone around the plant, were allowed to return briefly to their homes on Wednesday.
A day earlier, residents of the nearby town of Minami Soma had been allowed back to their homes for a two-hour visit wearing hooded white protective suits, masks and goggles.

Video shot by a couple returning home and broadcast on Japanese television showed a ghost town with weeds overrunning a garden and a stray dog barking in the distance.

"It didn't even feel like my own home," one woman told Nippon Television. "I thought I was prepared for that, but I wasn't."

Judge Strikes Down Walker's Anti-Union Law

By Julianne Escobedo Shepherd | Sourced from AlterNet
May 26, 2011
Judge MaryAnn Sumi of Dane County has issued an injunction against WI Gov Scott Walker's union-busting collective bargaining law effective immediately. The WI State Journal:
Sumi's decision said there was "clear and convincing evidence" that Republicans who control the Legislature violated the state's open meetings laws. And she said that means the law is void.
So for now, public employees still have their collective bargaining rights -- that is, until June 6, when the WI Supreme Court decides if it wants to take up the case.
If so, that's when it might get tangled up again... Walker flunky David T. Prosser was just declared the winner in Supreme Court seat recount, after an extremely close race against union favorite JoAnne Kloppenburg, which tips the Supreme Court scales back in Walker's favor.

Meanwhile, Kloppenburg has until May 31 to decide if she wants to sue to contest the election. We'll be updating this story as more news unfolds.

Spending, post-Citizens United

What's Wrong with This Picture?

John Lithgow Performs Gingrich Press Release

Slow Boil...

Third Depression Watch

May 25, 2011 by Paul Krugman, NY Times

Last year I warned that we seemed to be heading into the “Third Depression” — by which I meant a prolonged period of economic weakness:
Neither the Long Depression of the 19th century nor the Great Depression of the 20th was an era of nonstop decline — on the contrary, both included periods when the economy grew. But these episodes of improvement were never enough to undo the damage from the initial slump, and were followed by relapses.
We are now, I fear, in the early stages of a third depression. It will probably look more like the Long Depression than the much more severe Great Depression. But the cost — to the world economy and, above all, to the millions of lives blighted by the absence of jobs — will nonetheless be immense.
Brad DeLong points us to Macro Advisers, which has now downgraded its estimates for second-quarter growth. As Brad says, these estimates now suggest that we have now gone through a year and a half of “recovery” that has failed to make any progress toward closing the gap between what the economy should be producing and what it’s actually producing.

And nobody in power cares!


Krugman: “Third Depression Watch”

It should not surprise any folks that have been closely following our economy (at least those following it with any degree of objectivity) when they read Paul Krugman’s Wednesday blog post, “Third Depression Watch,” as he references economist Brad DeLong’s commentary and notes:
…[G.D.P.] estimates now suggest that we have now gone through a year and a half of “recovery” that has failed to make any progress toward closing the gap between what the economy should be producing and what it’s actually producing.
An editorial in Wednesday’s NY Times pretty much sums it all up in the headline: “As Housing Goes, So Goes the Economy.” If that doesn’t convince you of where our economy is right now, perhaps a read of my post from early Tuesday -- where I discuss the inconvenient reality that roughly half of our nation’s mortgageholders will be underwater by year’s end — will.

While many Democrats parrot the now-totally-distorted Bureau of Labor Statistics’ U.3 Index numbers, the truth is the BLS’ U.5 Index provides us with a more accurate, apples-to-apples comparison between jobless measurements now versus publicized statistics from just two or three decades ago. And, the U.5 Index is currently at 10.4%, which is just a half-point less than it was a year ago.

With oil projected to remain relatively high from this point forward, as we segue into true peak oil over the next few years, the truth is that it’s highly unlikely that this country will be (net) exporting its way out of this economic downturn anytime soon.

And, last but not least, any manufacturing renaissance in America (where manufacturing accounts for a paltry 13.5% of our—primarily--services-driven economy) will, IMHO, take a decade or more to come to fruition, as well (if that ever happens, at all).

American Dream "American nightmare"

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Dallas Mavericks Are Back in the NBA Finals; Dispatch Oklahoma City 4-1 in West Finals

OKC:  27 | 28 | 21 | 20 | 96
  DAL: 26 | 26 | 20 | 28 | 100

Dallas wins series 4-1

Dallas Mavericks, Western Conference Champions 2010-2011

DALLAS -- Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd and the Dallas Mavericks are going back to the NBA finals.

Nowitzki swished a go-ahead 3-pointer with 1:14 left and Shawn Marion followed with a three-point play off a steal, the pivotal plays in yet another fourth-quarter comeback, this one sending the Mavericks to a 100-96 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday night that closed out the Western Conference finals in five games.

After clawing back from down 15 with 5:04 left in Game 4, the Mavericks were down by six with 4:37 left in this one when they rallied again, outscoring the Thunder 14-4 the rest of the way.

Dallas has never won a championship, and neither has any of its players. Nowitzki and Jason Terry were part of the only Mavericks team to make the finals, in 2006. They were up 2-0 and leading late in Game 3, but lost the series to the Miami Heat in six games.

Dallas could get another crack at the Heat.  (Bring 'em on! We want the Heat!--jef)

LeBron James and Miami lead the Chicago Bulls 3-1 in the Eastern Conference finals. If the Heat win Thursday night, the finals will begin Tuesday in Miami. If the Bulls win Thursday night, the finals will begin next Thursday in the East winner's city.

"All I can tell everybody is, we ain't done yet," Mavs owner Mark Cuban said during the on-court trophy presentation ceremony. Seconds later, fans began chanting, "Beat the Heat," drowning out coach Rick Carlisle's on-court interview.

Nowitzki and Marion each scored 26 points, and were at their best in the fourth quarter.

Nowitzki scored nine in the final period, and Marion had 15. J.J. Barea added 14 and Terry scored 12 in a victory that set off the biggest on-court celebration in franchise history.

The only other time the Mavs made the finals, they won in Phoenix. This time, the home folks got to enjoy it, including franchise founder Don Carter, who traded his signature white cowboy hat -- the one that used to be featured in the team's logo -- for a black hat that read "The Finals 2011" with a Mavs logo and the championship trophy. Fans roared again when the overhead video board showed Nowitzki wearing the hat.

Russell Westbrook scored 31 points and seemed to be on a mission to force the series back to Oklahoma City. But he had two crucial turnovers during the furious finish.

Kevin Durant and James Harden finished with 23 points apiece for the Thunder, a young team whose future is bright but who at this point still has a lot to learn about closing out big games.

Area 51 Declassified

Nasa picks deep-space astronaut ship

(Thanks to Adam for the share...--jef)

 By Jonathan Amos BBC science correspondent

The MPCV will take humans beyond the ISS, to destinations such as Mars

Nasa has confirmed that the vehicle it will use to send astronauts to places like asteroids will be based on its Orion capsule concept.

Orion was the ship being built to return America to the Moon before the project was cancelled last year by President Barack Obama.

The US space agency says the financial investment and the engineering lessons learned should not be wasted.

It wants the new Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV) to benefit from that heritage.

Mr Obama has said he would like humans to visit a space rock in the 2020s. The MPCV would be the ship that takes them there. It would also have a role in any human mission to Mars - the destination Nasa is aiming to reach in perhaps the 2030s.

Orion vehicle 
Orion was conceived as a high-spec vehicle that could visit the ISS and do deep-space destinations
Lockheed Martin was the American company leading the development of Orion. It will keep the prime contractor role on the new ship.

"We are committed to human exploration beyond low-Earth orbit and look forward to developing the next generation of systems to take us there," said Nasa Administrator Charles Bolden in a statement.

The MPCV will be capable of carrying four astronauts on 21-day missions. It would start those journeys by launching on the top of an as-yet-undefined big rocket and end them by splashing down in the Pacific off California.

Nasa says the 23-ton spacecraft would have a pressurized volume of 19.5 cubic metres (690 cu ft), just over nine cubic metres (300 cu ft) of which would be habitable.

On missions longer than 21 days, the MPCV would be attached to other modules.

"During these missions to asteroids or Mars, or to the moons of Mars, this vehicle would be just maintained in more dormant mode while the crew would be in another volume which would have longer-term consumables and capability to support them," explained Doug Cooke, associate administrator for the agency's Exploration Systems Mission Directorate in Washington.

"In terms of deep space exploration, we hope to have test flights obviously in this decade. We're not exactly sure when, but certainly as early as possible. Those would be missions beyond low-Earth orbit."

Orion/MPCV ground test article (Nasa) 
Investment in Orion has already topped $5bn
Orion was one of the centrepieces of former President George W Bush's Constellation programme, which sought to return Americans to the Moon using two new rockets and a high-spec capsule.

But the initiative was cancelled by his successor because of its burgeoning cost - $9bn at the time Mr Obama ordered it be shut down. Investment in Orion alone to date is put at slightly more than $5bn.

Many commentators expected elements of Constellation to re-surface in whatever programme replaced it, and some sort of Orion derivative was an obvious prospect.

But Nasa moved swiftly on Tuesday to correct the idea that the adoption of the MPCV was somehow a move on the part of the agency to protect "old ways" of doing business.

Mr Cooke said the Orion government and industry team had shown exceptional creativity in finding ways to push costs down.

However, he could not say what the final development bill would be or how much the recurring costs would be on operational MPCVs.

Nasa will also need at some stage to define a heavy-lift rocket to put in orbit the MPCV and any associated exploration equipment.

Dragon capsule artist impression  
The SpaceX company claims its Dragon capsule will also be a highly capable vehicle
The US Congress, through the Nasa Authorisation Act 2010, has mandated that this rocket should be launching by the end of 2016, although the agency has previously stated that it views this timeline as challenging. It promises more details on the launcher "in the coming weeks".

Nasa's current fleet of space vehicles - the shuttles - are being retired, with the Atlantis orbiter set to end their operation for good with a final flight in July.

America will then rely on Russian Soyuz vehicles to get its astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) until a new wave of US commercial carriers enter service around the middle of the decade.

In the main, these crew carriers will be substantially cheaper to build and operate than the MPCV, and will not be capable of venturing beyond low-Earth orbit where the ISS resides.
However, the SpaceX company claims the Dragon capsule it is developing for journeys to the ISS will eventually be able to match any task given to the Lockheed Martin ship, and do it at a greatly reduced price.

Why the Rich Love High Unemployment

Tuesday 24 May 2011by: Mark Provost, Truthout

In the last installment of this three-part series, Mark Provost again examines the myths perpetuated by the ruling class to frame massive transfers of wealth to the rich as well-intentioned economic "recovery" policies. Parts 1 and 2 appeared on Truthout in December 2010 and January 2011. - TO

Christina Romer, former member of President Obama's Council of Economic Advisors, accuses the administration of "shamefully ignoring" the unemployed. Paul Krugman echoes her concerns, observing that Washington has lost interest in "the forgotten millions." 

America's unemployed have been ignored and forgotten, but they are far from superfluous. Over the last two years, out-of-work Americans have played a critical role in helping the richest one percent recover trillions in financial wealth.

Obama's advisers often congratulate themselves for avoiding another Great Depression - an assertion not amenable to serious analysis or debate. A better way to evaluate their claims is to compare the US economy to other rich countries over the last few years.

On the basis of sustaining economic growth, the United States is doing better than nearly all advanced economies. From the first quarter of 2008 to the end of 2010, US gross domestic product (GDP) growth outperformed every G-7 country except Canada.

But when it comes to jobs, US policymakers fall short of their rosy self-evaluations. Despite the second-highest economic growth, Paul Wiseman of the Associated Press (AP) reports: "the U.S. job market remains the group's weakest. There are still 5.4 percent fewer American jobs than in December 2007. That's a much sharper drop than in any other G-7 country." According to an important study by Andrew Sum and Joseph McLaughlin, the US boasted one of the lowest unemployment rates in the rich world before the housing crash - now, it's the highest.[1]

The gap between economic growth and job creation reflects three separate but mutually reinforcing factors: US corporate governance, Obama's economic policies and the deregulation of US labor markets.

Old economic models assume that companies merely react to external changes in demand - lacking independent agency or power. While executives must adapt to falling demand, they retain a fair amount of discretion in how they will respond and who will bear the brunt of the pain. Corporate culture and organization vary from country to country.

In the boardrooms of corporate America, profits aren't everything - they are the only thing. A JPMorgan research report concludes that the current corporate profit recovery is more dependent on falling unit-labor costs than during any previous expansion. At some level, corporate executives are aware that they are lowering workers' living standards, but their decisions are neither coordinated nor intentionally harmful. Call it the "paradox of profitability." Executives are acting in their own and their shareholders' best interest: maximizing profit margins in the face of weak demand by extensive layoffs and pay cuts. But what has been good for every company's income statement has been a disaster for working families and their communities.

Obama's lopsided recovery also reflects lopsided government intervention. Apart from all the talk about jobs, the Obama administration never supported a concrete employment plan. The stimulus provided relief, but it was too small and did not focus on job creation.

The administration's problem is not a question of economics, but a matter of values and priorities. In the first Great Depression, President Roosevelt created an alphabet soup of institutions - the Works Progress Administration (WPA), the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) - to directly relieve the unemployment problem, a crisis the private sector was unable and unwilling to solve. In the current crisis, banks were handed bottomless bowls of alphabet soup - the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), the Public-Private Investment Program (PPIP) and the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility (TALF) - while politicians dithered over extending inadequate unemployment benefits.

The unemployment crisis has its origins in the housing crash, but the prior deregulation of the labor market made the fallout more severe. Like other changes to economic policy in recent decades, the deregulation of the labor market tilts the balance of power in favor of business and against workers. Unlike financial system reform, the deregulation of the labor market is not on President Obama's agenda and has escaped much commentary.

Labor-market deregulation boils down to three things: weak unions, weak worker protection laws and weak overall employment. In addition to protecting wages and benefits, unions also protect jobs. Union contracts prevent management from indiscriminately firing workers and shifting the burden onto remaining employees. After decades of imposed decline, the United States currently has the fourth-lowest private sector union membership in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

America's low rate of union membership partly explains why unemployment rose so fast and, - thanks to hectic productivity growth - hiring has been so slow.

Proponents of labor-market flexibility argue that it's easier for the private sector to create jobs when the transactional costs associated with hiring and firing are reduced. Perhaps fortunately, legal protections for American workers cannot get any lower: US labor laws make it the easiest place in the word to fire or replace employees, according to the OECD.

Another consequence of labor-market flexibility has been the shift from full-time jobs to temporary positions. In 2010, 26 percent of all news jobs were temporary - compared with less than 11 percent in the early 1990's recovery and just 7.1 percent in the early 2000's.

The American model of high productivity and low pay has friends in high places. Former Obama adviser and General Motors (GM) car czar Steven Rattner argues that America's unemployment crisis is a sign of strength:
Perversely, the nagging high jobless rate reflects two of the most promising attributes of the American economy: its flexibility and its productivity. Eliminating jobs - with all the wrenching human costs - raises productivity and, thereby, competitiveness.

Unusually, US productivity grew right through the recession; normally, companies can't reduce costs fast enough to keep productivity from falling.

That kind of efficiency is perhaps our most precious economic asset. However tempting it may be, we need to resist tinkering with the labor market. Policy proposals aimed too directly at raising employment may well collaterally end up dragging on productivity.
Rattner comes dangerously close to articulating a full-unemployment policy. He suggests unemployed workers don't merit the same massive government intervention that served GM and the banks so well. When Wall Street was on the ropes, both administrations sensibly argued, "doing nothing is not an option." For the long-term unemployed, doing nothing appears to be Washington's preferred policy.

The unemployment crisis has been a godsend for America's superrich, who own the vast majority of financial assets - stocks, bonds, currency and commodities.

Persistent unemployment and weak unions have changed the American workforce into a buyers' market - job seekers and workers are now "price takers" rather than "price makers." Obama's recovery shares with Reagan's early years the distinction of being the only two post-war expansions where wage concessions have been the rule rather than the exception. The year 2009 marked the slowest wage growth on record, followed by the second slowest in 2010.[2]

America's labor market depression propels asset price appreciation. In the last two years, US corporate profits and share prices rose at the fastest pace in history - and the fastest in the G-7. Considering the source of profits, the soaring stock market appears less a beacon of prosperity than a reliable proxy for America's new misery index. Mark Whitehouse of The Wall Street Journal describes Obama's hamster wheel recovery:
From mid-2009 through the end of 2010, output per hour at U.S. nonfarm businesses rose 5.2% as companies found ways to squeeze more from their existing workers. But the lion's share of that gain went to shareholders in the form of record profits, rather than to workers in the form of raises. Hourly wages, adjusted for inflation, rose only 0.3%, according to the Labor Department. In other words, companies shared only 6% of productivity gains with their workers. That compares to 58% since records began in 1947.
Workers' wages and salaries represent roughly two-thirds of production costs and drive inflation. High inflation is a bondholders' worst enemy because bonds are fixed-income securities. For example, if a bond yields a fixed five percent and inflation is running at four percent, the bond's real return is reduced to one percent. High unemployment constrains labor costs and, thus, also functions as an anchor on inflation and inflation expectations - protecting bondholders' real return and principal. Thanks to the absence of real wage growth and inflation over the last two years, bond funds have attracted record inflows and investors have profited immensely.

The Federal Reserve has played the leading role in sustaining the recovery, but monetary policies work indirectly and disproportionately favor the wealthy. Low interest rates have helped banks recapitalize, allowed businesses and households to refinance debt and provided Wall Street with a tsunami of liquidity - but its impact on employment and wage growth has been negligible.

CNBC's Jim Cramer provides insight into the counterintuitive link between a rotten economy and soaring asset prices:
"We are and have been in the longest 'bad news is good news' moment that I have ever come across in my 31 years of trading. That means the bad news keeps producing the low interest rates that make stocks, particularly stocks with decent dividend protection, more attractive than their fixed income alternatives." 
In other words, the longer Ben Bernanke's policies fail to lower unemployment, the longer Wall Street enjoys a free ride.

Out-of-work Americans deserve more than unemployment checks - they deserve dividends. The rich would never have recovered without them.
1. The Massive Shedding of Jobs in America. Andrew Sum and Joseph McLaughlin. Challenge, 2010, vol. 53, issue 6, pages 62-76.

2. David Wessel, Wall Street Journal, January 30, 2010. "Wage and Benefit Growth Hits Historic Low"; Chris Farrell, Bloomberg Businessweek, February 5, 2010.

The Triumph of the Bankers

In spite of its success in bestowing wealth on some men while funding an unnecessary war, [1] the National Banking System proved unsatisfactory to financial leaders. Even with laws discouraging or restricting redemption, crises still occurred, and banks had to contract and deflate to survive. They were unable to inflate their way out of recession because they lacked a centralized lender who could provide them emergency funding.
In addition, people, especially those who kept their savings outside the banking system, generally saw the notes that circulated as mere substitutes for the real thing, which financier Jay Cooke disparaged as a “musty [relic] of a bygone age,” a sentiment no doubt shared by a certain Scottish adventurer of the early 18th Century. [2] Even if the system had a centralized lender, it would still be subject to market retribution because it could not arbitrarily create gold or silver coin. Money was still the most marketable commodity, rather than tickets or digits a centralized lender could issue at will, as the Fed does today. [3]

Another problem the national banks faced was the growing competition of private and state banks, neither of which had the national system’s high capital requirements. After 1873, total bank deposits were shifting in favor of non-national banks, as were clearings outside of New York. Furthermore, in 1887, St. Louis and Chicago bumped New York from its monopoly position as the base of the National Banking System’s inverted pyramid, and the two newcomers gained an alarming share of the percentage of total deposits of all three cities from 1880 to 1912. [4]
For bankers and government alike, the ideal monetary situation would seem to be a permanent state of specie suspension; even better would be a world in which everyone thought of money as only paper or deposits redeemable in paper, with specie relegated to the status of a collector’s item. The ideal in banking would be a government-enforced banking cartel that would ensure a uniform rate of monetary inflation to prevent currency drains and bank runs. With this power, it could inflate its way out of recessions and bail out the big commercial banks as an emergency lender. And for its part, the government would have a reliable market for its debt in peacetime and war.

To bring this about, the big bankers leveraged the rising tide of Progressive ideology. They began by hiring agents to promote the idea that banking crises were the result of inadequate regulation and an “inelastic” currency. As Rothbard has written, they formed an alliance with trained economists and other opinion-molders, many of whom already favored bureaucratic control of business from their exposure to Bismarckian statism while acquiring their doctorates in Germany. In the U.S., the National Civic Federation, founded in 1900, became the chief forum for promoting the “the new ideals of civic cooperation and social efficiency” for the purpose of “correcting” the rampant individualism of American society.

The academics were eager to use the state to license membership into their own professional organizations and thereby restrict competition and raise members’ incomes. They also saw themselves acquiring lucrative grants and filling vital government posts in running the bureaucracies. The public already had a deep distrust of Wall Street’s enormous concentration of wealth, and the task facing J. P. Morgan and other banking elites was to get opinion-molders to convince everyone that the big bankers needed public-spirited bureaucrats to rein in their power. [5]

Their push for a central bank, initiated by Morgan and Rockefeller forces, began following Republican William McKinley’s defeat of Democrat William Jennings Bryan in 1896 and ended with passage of the Federal Reserve Act in 1913Bryan expunged the laissez-faire heritage of his party with his opposition to sound money and his proposal for a bold inflation of silver, an inflation that circumvented the banking system. In his famous “Cross of Gold” speech, Bryan said his party was “opposing the national bank currency” and stood “against the encroachments of aggregated wealth.” McKinley campaign manager Mark Hannahad no trouble raising a record amount of money from the Morgan-Rockefeller alliance to defeat Bryan.

Though the McKinley victory secured the gold standard, gold served mostly as a camouflage behind which the elite bankers could set up a system of inflation they controlled. [6]

A Banker’s Dream Comes True

When the next fractional-reserve breakdown occurred in 1907, Thomas Woodrow Wilson, then president of Princeton, endeared himself to the banking movement by declaring that “all this trouble could be averted if we appointed a committee of six or seven public-spirited men like J. P. Morgan to handle the affairs of our country.” [7] Colonel Edward Mandell House, a close Morgan associate who served as shadow president when Wilson was elected to the White House, became the “unseen guardian angel of the [banking] bill” that emerged in 1913. [8] Originally drafted at a secret meeting of banking elites at Morgan’s hunting lodge on Jekyll Island, Georgia in November, 1910, the Glass-Owen Bill, as it was finally called, overwhelmingly passed the House and Senate on December 22, 1913 and was signed into law by Wilson the following day. [9] The Fed began operations in November, 1914, with Morgan men occupying key positions.

The new law gave the bankers what they wanted: a monopoly of the note issue. Commercial banks could only issue demand deposits redeemable in Fed notes or nominally in gold. National banks were compelled to join the System but had the legal option of becoming state banks, which were not required to join, though many state banks chose to do so in 1917 when federal regulations were relaxed. [10] Critically, gold coin and bullion were moved further away from the public when member banks shipped their gold to the Fed in exchange for reserves. [11]

The inflationary potential of the system is revealed by its structure: The Fed inflated by pyramiding on its gold, member banks by pyramiding on its reserves at the Fed, and nonmembers by pyramiding on its deposits at member banks. Furthermore, after a few years the Fed began withdrawing fully-backed U.S. Treasury gold certificates from circulation and substituting Federal Reserve Notes instead. With Fed notes requiring only 40 percent backing of gold certificates, more gold was available on which to pyramid reserves. Also, with the advent of the Fed, reserve requirements for demand deposits were cut approximately in half, moving from a 21.1 percent average under the National Banking System to 11.6 percent, then lower still to 9.8 percent in June, 1917, after the U.S. had joined the war. Reserve requirements for time deposits dropped from the same 21.1 percent average to 5 percent, then 3 percent in 1917. Commercial banks developed a policy of shifting borrowers into time deposits to inflate even further. [12]

Thus, the country now had a government-privileged central bank called the Federal Reserve. By hoarding gold as its pyramidal base, the Fed was weaning the public from the use of gold coins, which would make them easier to confiscate later on. Through the Fed, member banks would be inflating at a uniform rate to avoid trouble with redemption demands.

Did this new system bring the big bankers in line? Did the Federal Reserve Act provide “a circulating medium absolutely safe,” as the Report of the Comptroller of the Currency of 1914 stated? How accurate was the report’s claim that:

Under the operation of this law such financial and commercial crises, or "panics," as this country experienced in 1873, in 1893, and again in 1907, with their attendant misfortunes and prostrations, seem to be mathematically impossible. [13]

Imagine, no more crises. Did the people running the banking cartel, almost all of whom were Morgan men, create a better world for most Americans?

They indeed have if you believe wars, depressions, massive debt, depreciating helicopter money, and unaccountable government constitute improvements in our quality of life.


1. See Thomas J. DiLorenzo, The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War, Prima Publishing, Roseville, CA, 2002

2. Murray N. Rothbard, The Mystery of Banking, Mises Institute, Auburn, AL, 2008, p. 230

3. Carl Menger, Principles of Economics, Mises Institute, Auburn, AL, 2007, pp. 257-260; Ludwig von Mises, The Theory of Money and Credit, The Foundation for Economic Education, Inc., Irvington-on-Hudson, New York, 1971, pp. 30-33.

4. Murray N. Rothbard, “The Federal Reserve as a Cartelization Device,” from Money in Crisis: The Federal Reserve, the Economy, and Monetary Reform, edited by Barry N. Siegel, San Francisco, CA: Pacific Institute for Public Policy Analysis, 1984, pp. 91-93

5. Murray N. Rothbard, The Case Against the Fed, Mises Institute, Auburn, AL, 1994, pp. 84-90

6. Murray N. Rothbard, A History of Money and Banking in the United States: The Colonial Era to World War II, Mises Institute, Auburn, AL, 2002, p. 189

7. G. Edward Griffin, The Creature from Jekyll Island: A Second Look at the Federal Reserve, Fourth Edition, American Media, Westlake Village, CA, 2002, p. 448

8. Ibid, p. 459

9. Ibid., p. 468

10. Rothbard, Money in Crisis, p. 112

11. The Case Against the Fed, p. 119

12. Mystery, pp. 238-239

13. Annual Report of the Comptroller of the Currency, December 7, 1914, Vol. 1, p. 10

US Senate opens debate on Patriot Act

By Agence France-Presse
Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The US Senate voted to open a debate on a proposed four-year extension of the Patriot Act, a controversial anti-terrorism law passed after the September 11 attacks.

Key provisions of the law, which gave the government sweeping authority to conduct anti-terrorism investigations over the protests of civil libertarians, are due to expire on Friday.

The Senate voted 74-8 to open debate. A final vote is expected later this week.

In recent months, Congress has debated whether to extend the act temporarily, longer-term or permanently. In February, Congress approved a three-month extension to allow time for negotiations.

In play are provisions allowing authorities to use roving wiretaps to track an individual on several telephones; track a non-US national suspected of being a "lone-wolf" terrorist not tied to an extremist group; and to seize personal or business records or "any tangible thing" seen as critical to an investigation.

While the White House backs extending those powers, the law has drawn fire from an unusual coalition of liberal Democrats and Republicans tied to the archconservative "Tea Party" movement who say it goes too far.

In a statement released before the vote, the White House confirmed its strong support for an extension through 2015, arguing that the provisions are "crucial" for the intelligence and law enforcement communities.

The US House of Representatives must also vote later this week, before it goes to President Barack Obama for his signature.

Toward a Police Reform Movement

An Excerpt from Down With Power
by L. Neil Smith 
Attribute to The Libertarian Enterprise
"We understand that we're all living in a police state. The police are like parents. They're not interested in justice, they just want quiet."
~ L. Neil Smith]
When you see three police cars pulled over at the side of a city street to deal with a single miscreant bicycle rider, you realize that there are too many cops. When all the heroes on television carry badges and a government franchise, you know we're in real trouble as a culture.
Every day we hear of some act of brutality—people beaten and kicked when they're unconscious, or "Tased" until they die—carried out by federal, state, or local "law enforcement" (which is a terrible misnomer, since most of the laws enforced today are unconstitutional, and therefore unlawful in and of themselves) against individuals or groups whose only crime was exercising their unalienable individual, civil, Constitutional, and human rights. "Policemen" at every level of government have become, more than any mere military organization, the "standing army" that was hated and feared by America's Founding Fathers. 

There are reasons for this, foremost among them a shocking failure on the part of those same Founding Fathers to provide for any kind of proper enforcement of the first ten amendments to the Constitution, commonly known as the Bill of Rights. The warning signs were already plain, many years before this century's "Reichstag Fire"—the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001—which gave the government all the excuse it needed to turn the entire country into a prison. 

Today's freedom movement is attempting to identify the causes of America's ills. As long as they are being addressed, there's no harm in ameliorating symptoms, as well. You may get a CAT-scan to see why you suffer migraines, but you also take an aspirin.

Accordingly, we suggest the following steps—many of which libertarians have thought about for decades—to begin dealing with the signs by which we understand that we're all living in a police state. Any one of these measures (or even all of them together), may be pursued by concerned individuals and organizations who find them interesting and worthwhile—without regard to their political ideology—as conventional legislation, constitutional or charter amendments, initiated referenda, or as a part of settlements in lawsuits.

Short term, what's important is to create as much discussion of these matters as possible, so the authorities among us will understand that, if they don't change their ways, their ways will be changed for them.

First, there being no provision whatever in the Constitution for a national police force of any kind—and in compliance with the 9th and 10th Amendments, as well as with Article 1, Section 8—all federal "law enforcement" and investigative agencies must be abolished and their present and former employees subjected to legal scrutiny of their current and past activities for possible criminal behavior and crimes against the Constitution. As "interim" measures, these agencies and their employees will be forbidden to use or carry weapons of any kind (except off duty as ordinary individual citizens), and will be permitted to operate at all only under close supervision by local police. 

All military-style weapons, military vehicles, and military aircraft presently in use by any of these agencies—or by local police—will be surrendered for distribution to those who paid for them.

Independent civilian review boards, perhaps one in each of America's 3088 counties—will be established to insure that federal conduct remains fully consistent with the Bill of Rights. No pleas of secrecy or "national security" will be permitted to impede access to government documents (including routine police reports) or their investigations in general. Willful misunderstanding, for political or any other purposes, of any article of the Bill of Rights on the part of any elected or appointed official will be considered prima facie evidence of an intention to commit a crime or crimes against the Constitution.

All police officers at state, county, and local levels will be required to wear traditional police uniforms on duty and be forbidden to act in a professional capacity when off duty, or wearing civilian clothing. All uniforms must bear individual name patches and badge numbers easily legible from a distance of fifty yards, and it will be unlawful to cover or obscure them in any way. It will also be unlawful for police officers to conceal their facial features with any sort of helmet or mask, or to wear camouflaged or military-style helmets or battledress.

All vehicles employed by local police must be clearly marked and readily identifiable, with highly-visible registration numbers. With the exception of emergency medical and rescue services, agencies at every level of government will be forbidden the use of helicopters, fixed-wing aircraft, or unmanned drones which, in recent years, have more and more become instruments of state terrorism and statist oppression.

It is long past time to demilitarize the police and reintegrate them as individuals into the society they're supposed to protect. To reestablish a proper relationship between them and the people they're supposed to serve, police officers may not possess, carry, or use any weapon prohibited to civilians within their jurisdiction, nor carry a weapon of any kind off duty, concealed or otherwise, until all laws forbidding civilians to do so in exactly the same manner have been repealed.

In general, so they will be dependent once again on the good will of armed civilians, police officers must be limited to the traditional six-shot revolver and four-shot slie or pump shotgun. They must be forbidden to use or carry rifles, Tasers, stunguns, or fully automatic weapons of any kind. Likewise, bullet resistant clothing and equipment—which appear to have engendered an increasingly contemptuous disregard for the lives, property, and rights of civilians—will be forbidden.

Handcuffs or other restraints will not be used gratuitously on anyone arrested for nonviolent crimes—especially for the purpose of a humiliating public display. Arresting officials will be held fully and individually responsible under civil and criminal law for any loss of repute suffered by arrestees treated this way who are later proven innocent.

In "seige" situations (which may not be initiated merely because an individual expresses a wish to be left alone, locks himself in his house, or is known to possess weapons) authorities will be prohibited from interrupting telephone service or other utilities, or restricting free access by the media to the subjects of their operations. No incendiary devices, purposely built or otherwise, may be employed by police.

To avoid conflict of interest and prevent over-zealous enforcement of statues and ordinances, all fines and other traffic revenues will be divided equally between the American Civil Liberties Union and Amnesty International, provided, of course, that these groups adopt a view of the Bill of Rights which is consistent from article to article.

All illegal activity on the part of individual police officers or groups of officers should be treated as felonies and punished accordingly.

Individual members of the military and police must be required to prove themselves at regular intervals by publicly taking an oath to uphold, defend, and enforce—without reservation—each and every separate article of the Bill of Rights, as written and intended by the Founders.

Any individual member of the military or police who refuses to obey an order which he or she considers unconstitutional or unlawful, in good faith, will receive executive clemency and, should the order prove to have been unconstitutional or unlawful, an appropriate reward, promotion, and reinstatement, if necessary, to full pay and benefits.

Like many other such events in history, the attacks of September 11, 2001 have been exploited as an excuse to destroy every value that once made America a unique civilization. If the Bush Administration was correct in saying that "they hate us for our freedom", then the terrorists have won, because the government has destroyed that freedom.

Americans will have their privacy again, whether government and government-chartered corporations want them to or not. In general, owing to a long-established pattern of abuse by police agencies and individual officers, all eavesdropping, wiretapping, Internet surveillance, infrared photography, and other invasions of individual privacy—or any procedure, including taxation, that requires disclosure of private financial information—will be absolutely forbidden.

It was a grave mistake to extend such powers and privileges to government and its surrogates in the first place and now they must be revoked. For the foreseeable future, in order to restore the balance, the Fourth Amendment must be read as if the word "unreasonable" did not appear in it, since it is essentially meaningless. Given the unmistakable injunction of the Second Amendment, possession or use of any device for the detection of personal weapons—by government at any level or by corporations—will be illegal and severely punishable.

It is inappropriate for sovereign individuals to be labeled, sorted, and tracked as if they were livestock. Naturally, there is no provision for these activities to be found in the Constitution. Fingerprint records and other identification systems presently maintained by government or its surrogate corporations must be destroyed. Voiceprinting, retinal photography, and the "preventive" collection of DNA samples must be forbidden. Electronic tracking systems must be banned, and government forbidden to use Global Positioning Systems, especially in telephones, to track or find individuals.

To individual members of the police and military, we say the time for denial is over. If these proposed measures anger you, remember that Bill Clinton did it to you. Janet Reno did it to you. Louis Freeh did it to you. Larry Potts did it to you. Lon Horiuchi did it to you. George W. Bush, Richard Cheney and their minions did it to you. And now, Barack Obama, Janet Napolitano, and Eric Holder are doing it to you.

You have let them do it.

Thanks to them, you are despised by the very populace that you're supposed to be protecting. You are feared—and if you enjoy that, there's something deeply wrong with you—and you have forgotten that frightened people are dangerous. Until you are willing to prove the contrary to the those you have sworn to serve, you are no different from the politicians listed above. You're exactly the same as those who:
Firebombed a whole neighborhood out of existence when a group of residents was accused of nothing more serious than disturbing the peace;

Assassinated a harmless old man merely to steal his valuable real estate;

Shot a little boy and his dog to death and then blew his mother's head off with a scoped high-powered rifle as she held her baby in her arms;

Confined, terrorized, gassed, and machinegunned dozens of innocent men, women—and 22 little children—in the church that was their home;

Tortured, intimidated, and tried to dispose of political prisoners—not foreigners overseas, but your fellow Americans—by denying them necessary and lawfully prescribed medication and proper medical assistance;

Threatened and confiscated evidence from independent investigators when they questioned the cover-up of an airliner crash that killed hundreds;

Viciously stomped kittens to death underfoot trying to frighten the innocent victims of a narcotics raid carried out at the wrong address;

Kidnapped, illegally imprisoned, and even tortured individuals never proven in any court of law to represent any kind of threat to anybody;

Committed hundreds of thousands of similar brutal, illegal, and unconstitutional travesties that have inexorably transformed the once free and noble American civilization into a dark, horror-filled dictatorship. 

The Cold War is over. The immensely destructive "War on Drugs", which has done vastly more damage to American society than drugs themselves ever threatened to, was meant from the beginning to replace it, and to destroy the very Constitution you have sworn to uphold and defend. When the "War on Drugs" failed to produce the desired results, it was replaced with the equally fraudulent and destructive "War on Terror".

Don't allow a gang of socialist trash, elected by the mass media and a noisy minority, exploit you as a tool to force illegal, immoral, alien ideas on an unwilling populace. They have stolen your honor. Your one duty, your only goal must be to regain it by enforcing the highest law of the land, the first ten amendments to the Constitution, commonly known as the Bill of Rights. Indeed, that's the only possible justification for what you do, and for the existence of government itself.

Don't let deskbound, overpaid SINOs—"Superiors In Name Only"— tell you what the Bill of Rights means. It wasn't written to be obscure. It wasn't written for them to interpret away. Remember your oath. Don't let corrupt judges and lawyers—who only stand to benefit from eliminating the Bill of Rights—tell you what it means, either. Do what most Americans haven't tried to do for over half a century.

Think for yourself.

Ask yourself this question: if you were one of America's Founders and you'd just surprised the world (and yourself) by winning a war of secession against the most powerful, heavy-handed government on the planet, and the last thing you wanted for yourself, for your children, or for your grandchildren was to fall beneath the heels of its jackboots ever again, what would you want the Bill of Rights to mean?

And if the first act, under martial law, of that powerful, heavy- handed government had been to try to take your guns away at Lexington and Concord (yes, that's what those battles were all about), would you have written a Second Amendment to guarantee government's exclusive "right" to own and carry weapons? Would you have written a Second Amendment that was subject to whatever the whims of government claimed was a reasonable regulation? Or would you have written it strictly to forbid government from having anything to do with your guns, ever again?

Anything whatever.

We say once again, it's time to end the "War on Drugs". Think back: isn't it true that every dime ever spent on it has only made the problem worse, not better? Many decent individuals have come to believe that, from the outset, it was never meant as anything but a war against the people of the United States of America and their freedom. It's time to end it forever, and to abolish the DEA, the FBI, the BATFE, and every other federal agency not specifically mentioned in the Constitution, and which is, for that reason alone, a criminal enterprise.

Likewise, it's time to end the "War on Terror" and abolish those agencies—each and every one illegal—charged with waging it. All laws, regulations, decrees, and promulgations passed in connection with it must be repealed, nullified, or otherwise disposed of, immediately.

All hiring for these illegal agencies must also cease immediately, and those individual officers who manage to survive legal scrutiny of their past activities should be encouraged to find employment in the private economy, or be transferred to the US Marshals Service, given a new assignment—Bill of Rights enforcement—and be turned loose on crooked politicians, bureaucrats, and judges, rather than the American people.

It should have been obvious long ago that the worldview of the typical "law enforcement officer" has become so contaminated and corrupt over the years, so pathologically contemptuous of everyone around him, that, for the sake of public safety, every one of them will have to be removed and replaced by newly-trained personnel with a proper respect for the rights of the individuals they serve. One possible exception may be made in the case of "Oathkeepers" who are trying to stem the tide of brutal authoritarianism in the police and military.

In the long run, provided that care is taken to avoid the election of unapologetic fascists like Maricopa County Arizona's Joe Arpaio, \municipal police forces and their multiple layers of bureaucratic protection must be outlawed and abolished, in favor of local sheriffs who are directly accessible by and accountable to the people. Also, stringent limits must be set on the ratio of officers to the civilian population.

Above and beyond everything, the Founders' hideous, destructive omission must be corrected and the Bill of Rights equipped with a "penalty clause" for politicians, bureaucrats, or policemen who violate its precepts. The point must be made that no portion of the Constitution allows it to be set aside in the case of an "emergency". The Posse Comitatus Act of 1876 must be reinstated in full, and the most Draconian punishments imaginable established for its slightest violation.

US & UK: Next Phase of World Domination?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011 – by Staff Report | The Daily Bell Newswire

US, UK form joint security council. Obama will announce on his first state visit to Britain this week that the White House is to open up its highly secretive National Security Council to Downing Street. The move aims to show the US still values the trans-Atlantic 'special relationship." A joint National Security Strategy Board will be established to co-ordinate senior officials on both sides in dealing with challenges such as terrorism and rogue states. – Sydney Morning Herald

Dominant Social Theme: England and America, perfect together ...

Free-Market Analysis: The British-American relationship is deepening again, or so it is reported. According to the Herald (see above) President Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron will formally present to the press and public a new Service Personnel Joint Task Force when Obama is in Britain on his latest whirlwind, European trip. As of yesterday, he was still in Ireland proclaiming Irish roots.

Obama will also visit Warsaw and then attend a G8 summit in Deauville, France. But the big deal in London is the new Joint Task Force, which we figure isn't exactly what it's being portrayed as. For one thing, the talks between Obama and Cameron supposedly will deal mainly with Afghanistan. As the article tells us: "The main discussions between Mr. Obama and Mr. Cameron will focus on Afghanistan, on which they have a similar outlook. They both aim to reduce combat troops and recognize that elements of the Taliban will have to be involved in a political settlement."

In fact, Obama told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show bluntly, 'We're not going to militarily solve this problem ... What we can do, I think, is use the efforts that we've made militarily to broker a political settlement that ensures the Afghanistan constitution is abided by, that elections remain free and fair, that human rights including women's rights are respected.'

The Pentagon is alarmed by Cameron's stated intention to draw down British troops, which number about 10,000. About 400, or four percent, are scheduled to leave soon, which is causing the Pentagon anguish. But Obama doesn't appear to have any intention of talking Cameron out of it. The Afghan war, as we have pointed out previously, is increasingly being seen as something of a lost cause.

Anglo-American elites behind the war, having failed for a second time in 100 years to beat the stubborn Pashtun Afghan-Pak nation into a bloody pulp, are apparently regrouping for other fights. Bin Laden's non/death (we believe he probably died 10 years ago) is useful in this regard. We are now detecting at least two ways it is being manipulated. It is allowing the US and NATO to declared victory in order to reduce forces, and it is also putting significant additional pressure on Pakistan's leaders.

This can either lead to an invasion in Pakistan to route out the Taliban, a general war with Pakistan, or even an international realignment in which Pakistan seeks to ally itself with China against the US. This latter evolution would begin to set up China as a military opponent of the US – which the US corporate military-industrial complex may be seeking in order to keep orders moving. As we have pointed out in the past, the war on terror is simply not compelling enough. Something on the scale of a Cold War is necessary to keep the big money flowing to America's military providers.

Of course, Obama is sticking close to the Pentagon line as he always does. He was asked, according to the article, whether the US has plans to speak directly to the Taliban (apparently the US already is) and he replied in the cautious affirmative as follows: 'Ultimately, it means talking to the Taliban, although we've been very clear about the requirements for any kind of serious reconciliation. The Taliban would have to cut all ties to al-Qaeda, renounce violence, and they would have to respect the Afghan constitution. Now those are some fairly bare-bones requirements.'

Obama needs to say something like this because the American generals are having trouble giving up the fight and Obama doesn't really want to get on the wrong side of the US military. But from what we can tell the game is pretty much over. The US may make all sorts of public preconditions about talking to the Taliban, but the war is costing US$100 billion a year and every day more and more hearts and minds are being lost – not won. There is no reason for the US to stay in Afghanistan any longer or at least not from the point of view of a full-fledged military operation. There are other wars to fight.

Yes, the playing field has enlarged considerably. The Anglo-American axis has done some of what it needed to do in Iraq and Iran and now the battles must be waged elsewhere. As we state every now and again, the goal is world domination and has nothing (primarily) to do with oil, gas, pipelines, currency or any other kind of raw material. Those are secondary reasons.

Primarily, Anglosphere elites are intent on influencing CULTURE. The first thing Western occupying forces do when they enter a nation is set up a central bank. The next thing they do (mostly the Americans) is to begin to set up military bases. The central bank secures the ultimate control of the business environment and the bases secure some (enough) control of the political process – which is also reconfigured into a regulatory democracy.

In the case of Afghanistan, the Western elites have not entirely secured their goals, nor will they. The Pashtuns will survive as an independent entity as they have before. In Iraq, the process is more advanced. The government itself is somewhat dependent on the Americans and the political class generally may not want the Americans to leave. But there is a significant Shia population that wants nothing to do with the US. Bombs are beginning to go off in Iraq again and the only group besides a handful of political leaders that wants the Americans to stay is a small, northern Kurdish population.

What will happen to the Afghan and Iraq troops that are drawn down? Well, from our point of view, the Anglosphere has made a tactical decision to use freed-up resources to intimidate the larger Middle East and parts of Africa since it cannot finish the job in Iraq and Afghanistan. Additional troops may be deployed for maximum effect in and around countries such as Syria, Jordan, Egypt and Libya.

The idea is to spread Anglo-American influence throughout the region in order to bring it under far firmer control of the West. Iran and the Palestinians are additional logical additional targets for this next chapter of Western world domination; Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates are already Western proxies. The West even has a compliant media outlet in the Middle East in Al Jazeera from what we can tell, as Al Jazeera was funded by the Western puppet state of Qatar and staffed initially with BBC reporters.

Hillary Clinton held a news conference with her British counterpart yesterday. Much of the news conference consisted of Ms. Clinton warning the leaders of Libya, Syria and other countries that their time was basically up and that the US and Britain were going to dictate the nature and shape of future governments in the region. "Leaders," Ms. Clinton intimated in her droning monotone, "do not step out of line or the UN will sanction you and NATO will invade you."

None of this is preordained in the era of the Internet. The CIA-sponsored youth movements in Egypt and Tunisia have already spiraled out of control. As we have stated many times, the broad manipulations of Money Power in the 20th century are not so effective in the 21st as in the 20th. The West has apparently absorbed a defeat in Afghanistan and Iraq has not been properly reconfigured either.

Conclusion: It is the masses themselves, informed by the 'Net' that will provide the most formidable pushback to the West's Middle Eastern and African consolidation – a process we refer to as the Internet Reformation. The elites know this of course, and are doing what they can to diminish such pushback by imposing economic chaos, high food prices, etc. But understanding the process and doing something to effectively halt it are two different things. History itself may be conspiring against fuller, Western elite control in the 21st century.

Feds threaten to ground Texas airplanes if anti-groping bill becomes law

(The federal govt is being ridiculous. What a surprise...--jef)

By Stephen C. Webster - RAW Story
Wednesday, May 25th, 2011
A bill that would criminalize TSA agents who conduct airport patdown searches was scuttled last night after the federal government threatened to ground all flights out of Texas.

The proposed law would have levied misdemeanor charges against security agents who "intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly [touch] the anus, sexual organ, buttocks, or breast of the other person, including touching through clothing, or touching the other person in a manner that would be offensive to a reasonable person."

An earlier version of House Bill 1937 would have made such action a felony.

"If [the legislation] passes, the federal government would likely seek an emergency stay of the statute," a letter from the Department of Justice explained (PDF). "Unless or until a such a stay were granted, TSA would likely be required to cancel any flight or series of flights for which it could not ensure the safety of passengers and crew."

As a result, the bill's co-sponsor in the Texas Senate withdrew the legislation. It had cleared the Texas House by unanimous vote.

"All that HB 1937 does is require that the TSA abide by the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution," State Rep. David Simpson, the bill's author, fired back in an advisory. "We aren‘t even prohibiting the pat-downs, per se. We're just saying you can't go straight to third base. You have to have a reason -- you have to have probable cause -- before groping someone‘s sexual organs."

Simpson was unavailable for comment at time of this story's publication. He'd previously told Raw Story that if states do not stand up to the TSA on airport security, similar security measures would start appearing at sporting events and even in the general public.

State Sen. Dan Patrick (R) ultimately gave in and withdrew the bill, but only after insisting that he would not "cave" to "heavy handed threats by the federal government."