Friday, 24 October 2008
by John Pilger
As banks secured in the warmth of the southern spring, Australia is not news. It ought to be. An epic scandal of racism, injustice and brutality is being covered up in the manner of apartheid South Africa. Many Australians conspire in this silence, wishing never to reflect upon the truth about their society's Untermenschen, the Aboriginal people.
The facts are not in dispute: thousands of black Australians never reach the age of 40; an entirely preventable disease, trachoma, blinds black children as epidemics of rheumatic fever ravage their communities; suicide among the despairing young is common. No other developed country has such a record. A pervasive white myth, that Aborigines leech off the state, serves to conceal the disgrace that money the federal government says it spends on indigenous affairs actually goes towards opposing native land rights. In 2006, some A$3bn was underspent "or the result of creative accounting", reported the Sydney Morning Herald. Like the children of apartheid, the Aboriginal children of Thamarrurr in the Northern Territory receive less than half the educational resources allotted to white children.
In 2005, the UN committee on the elimination of racial discrimination described the racism of the Australian state, a distinction afforded no other developed country. This was in the decade-long rule of the conservative coalition of John Howard, whose coterie of white supremacist academics and journalists assaulted the truth of recorded genocide in Australia, especially the horrific separations of Aboriginal children from their families. They deployed arguments not dissimilar to those David Irving used to promote Holocaust denial.
Smear by media as a precursor to the latest round of repression is long familiar to black Australians. In 2006, the flagship current affairs programme of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Lateline, broadcast lurid allegations of "sex slavery" among the Mutitjulu people in the Northern Territory. The programme's source, described as an "anonymous youth worker", was later exposed as a federal government official whose "evidence" was discredited by the Northern Territory chief minister and the police.
The ABC has never retracted its allegations, claiming it has been "exonerated by an internal inquiry". Shortly before last year's election, Howard declared a "national emergency" and sent the army to the Northern Territory to "protect the children" who, said his minister for indigenous affairs, were being abused in "unthinkable numbers".
Last February, with much sentimental fanfare, the new prime minister, Labor's Kevin Rudd, made a formal apology to the first Australians. Australia was said to be finally coming to terms with its rapacious past and present. Was it? "The Rudd government," noted a Sydney Morning Herald editorial, "has moved quickly to clear away this piece of political wreckage in a way that responds to some of its own supporters' emotional needs, yet it changes nothing. It is a shrewd manoeuvre."
In May, barely reported government statistics revealed that of the 7,433 Aboriginal children examined by doctors as part of the "national emergency", 39 had been referred to the authorities for suspected abuse. Of those, a maximum of just four possible cases of abuse were identified. Such were the "unthinkable numbers". They were little different from those of child abuse in white Australia. What was different was that no soldiers invaded the beachside suburbs, no white parents were swept aside, no white welfare was "quarantined". Marion Scrymgour, an Aboriginal minister in the Northern Territory, said: "To see decent, caring [Aboriginal] fathers, uncles, brothers and grandfathers, who are undoubtedly innocent of the horrific charges being bandied about, reduced to helplessness and tears, speaks to me of widespread social damage."
What the doctors found they already knew - children at risk from a spectrum of extreme poverty and the denial of resources in one of the world's richest countries. Having let a few crumbs fall, Rudd is picking up where Howard left off. His indigenous affairs minister, Jenny Macklin, has threatened to withdraw government support from remote communities that are "economically unviable". The Northern Territory is the only region where Aborigines have comprehensive land rights, granted almost by accident 30 years ago. Here lie some of the world's biggest uranium deposits. Canberra wants to mine and sell it.
Foreign governments, especially the US, want the Northern Territory as a toxic dump. The Adelaide to Darwin railway that runs adjacent to Olympic Dam, the world's largest uranium mine, was built with the help of Kellogg, Brown & Root - a subsidiary of American giant Halliburton, the alma mater of Dick Cheney, Howard's "mate". "The land grab of Aboriginal tribal land has nothing to do with child sexual abuse," says the Australian scientist Helen Caldicott, "but all to do with open slather uranium mining and converting the Northern Territory to a global nuclear dump."
What is unique about Australia is not its sun-baked, derivative society, clinging to the sea, but its first people, the oldest on earth, whose skill and courage in surviving invasion, of which the current onslaught is merely the latest, deserve humanity's support.
Thursday, 23 October 2008
The Roman historian Tacitus famously put the following lines in the mouth of a British chieftain opposed to imperial Rome: "They have plundered the world, stripping naked the land in their hunger… they are driven by greed, if their enemy be rich; by ambition, if poor… They ravage, they slaughter, they seize by false pretenses, and all of this they hail as the construction of empire. And when in their wake nothing remains but a desert, they call that peace."
Or, in the case of the Bush administration, post-surge "success." Today, however, success in Iraq seems as elusive as ever for the President. The Iraqi cabinet is now refusing, without further amendment, to pass on to Parliament the status of forces agreement for stationing U.S. troops in the country that it's taken so many months for American and Iraqi negotiators to sort out. Key objections, as Juan Cole points out at his Informed Comment blog, have come from the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, which is [Prime Minister Nouri] al-Maliki's chief political partner, the support of which he would need to get the draft through parliament." That party, Cole adds tellingly, "is close to Tehran, which objects to the agreement." The Iranian veto? Hmmm…
Among Iraqis, according to the Dreyfuss Report, only the Kurds, whose territories house no significant U.S. forces, remain unequivocally in favor of the agreement as written. Frustrated American officials, including Ambassador Ryan Crocker ("Without legal authority to operate, we do not operate… That means no security operations, no logistics, no training, no support for Iraqis on the borders, no nothing…"), Secretary of Defense Robert Gates ("Without a new legal agreement,'we basically stop doing anything' in the country…"), and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Mike Mullen ("We are clearly running out of time…") are huffing and puffing, and threatening -- if the agreement is not passed as is -- to blow the house down.
Without a mandate to remain, American troops won't leave, of course. At year's end, they will, so American officials insist, simply retreat to their bases and assumedly leave Maliki's government to dangle in the expected gale. Clearly, this is a game of chicken. What's less clear is who's willing to go over the cliff, or who exactly is going to put on the brakes.
In the meantime, the administration that, only four years ago, imposed conditions on Iraq at least as onerous as those nineteenth century colonial powers imposed on their colonies, can no longer get an agreement it desperately needs from its "allies" in Baghdad. Could this, then, be the $700 billion kiss-off? Stay tuned and, in the meantime, consider, as described by TomDispatch regular Michael Schwartz, what the Bush administration did to Iraq these last five years. Imagine it as a preview of the devastation the administration's domestic version of de-Baathification is now doing to the U.S. economy.
Schwartz's striking piece encapsulates a story he's been following closely for years: the everyday economic violence that invasion and occupation brought to Iraq. It's being posted in honor of the just-released latest TomDispatch volume, his War Without End: The Iraq War in Context, beautifully produced by Haymarket Books. Think of this superb new work on the American war in Iraq as Tacitus updated. In it, Schwartz offers a gripping history -- the best we have -- of how (to steal a phrase from the Roman historian), "driven by greed… [and] ambition," the U.S. dismantled Iraq economically. It's a nightmare of a tale, which you can watch Schwartz discuss in a brief video by clicking here. If this be "success," then we truly are wandering in the desert. (By the way, any author profits from the book will go to IVAW, Iraq Veterans Against the War.) TomWrecked Iraq
What the Good News from Iraq Really Means
By Michael Schwartz
As the Smoke Clears in Iraq: Even before the spectacular presidential election campaign became a national obsession, and the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression crowded out other news, coverage of the Iraq War had dwindled to next to nothing. National newspapers had long since discontinued their daily feasts of multiple -- usually front page – reports on the country, replacing them with meager meals of mostly inside-the-fold summary stories. On broadcast and cable TV channels, where violence in Iraq had once been the nightly lead, whole news cycles went by without a mention of the war.
The tone of the coverage also changed. The powerful reports of desperate battles and miserable Iraqis disappeared. There are still occasional stories about high-profile bombings or military campaigns in obscure places, but the bulk of the news is about quiescence in old hot spots, political maneuvering by Iraqi factions, and the newly emerging routines of ordinary life.
A typical "return to normal life" piece appeared October 11th in the New York Times under the headline, "Schools Open, and the First Test is Iraqi Safety." Featured was a Baghdad schoolteacher welcoming her students by assuring them that "security has returned to Baghdad, city of peace."
Even as his report began, though, Times reporter Sam Dagher hedged the "return to normal" theme. Here was his first paragraph in full:
"On the first day of school, 10-year-old Basma Osama looked uneasy standing in formation under an already stifling morning sun. She and dozens of schoolmates listened to a teacher's pep talk -- probably a necessary one, given the barren and garbage-strewn playground."
This glimpse of the degraded conditions at one Baghdad public school, amplified in the body of Dagher's article by other examples, is symptomatic of the larger reality in Iraq. In a sense, the (often exaggerated) decline in violence in that country has allowed foreign reporters to move around enough to report on the real conditions facing Iraqis, and so should have provided U.S. readers with a far fuller picture of the devastation George Bush's war wrought.
In reality, though, since there are far fewer foreign reporters moving around a quieter Iraq, far less news is coming out of that wrecked land. The major newspapers and networks have drastically reduced their staffs there and -- with a relative trickle of exceptions like Dagher's fine report -- what's left is often little more than a collection of pronouncements from the U.S. military, or Iraqi and American political leaders in Baghdad and Washington, framing the American public's image of the situation there.
In addition, the devastation that is now Iraq is not of a kind that can always be easily explained in a short report, nor for that matter is it any longer easily repaired. In many cities, an American reliance on artillery and air power during the worst days of fighting helped devastate the Iraqi infrastructure. Political and economic changes imposed by the American occupation did damage of another kind, often depriving Iraqis not just of their livelihoods but of the very tools they would now need to launch a major reconstruction effort in their own country.
As a consequence, what was once the most advanced Middle Eastern society -- economically, socially, and technologically -- has become an economic basket case, rivaling the most desperate countries in the world. Only the (as yet unfulfilled) promise of oil riches, which probably cannot be effectively accessed or used until U.S. forces withdraw from the country, provides a glimmer of hope that Iraq will someday lift itself out of the abyss into which the U.S. invasion pushed it.
Consider only a small sampling of the devastation.
The Economy: Fundamental to the American occupation was the desire to annihilate Saddam Hussein's Baathist state apparatus and the economic system it commanded. A key aspect of this was the closing down of the vast majority of state-owned economic enterprises (with the exception of those involved in oil extraction and electrical generation).
In all, 192 establishments, adding up to 35% of the Iraqi economy, were shuttered in the summer and fall of 2003. These included basic manufacturing processes like leather tanning and tractor assembly that supplied other sectors, transportation firms that dominated national commerce, and maintenance enterprises that housed virtually all the technicians and engineers qualified to service the electrical, water, oil, and other infrastructural systems in the country.
Justified as the way to bring a modern free-enterprise system to backward Iraq, this draconian program was put in place by the President's proconsul in Baghdad, L. Paul Bremer III. The result? An immediate depression that only deepened in the years to follow.
One measure of this policy's impact can be found in the demise of the leather goods industry, a key pre-invasion sector of Iraq's non-petroleum economy. When a government-owned tanning operation, which all by itself employed 30,000 workers and supplied leather to an entire industry, was shuttered in late 2003, it deprived shoe-makers and other leather goods establishments of their key resource. Within a year, employment in the industry had dropped from 200,000 workers to a mere 20,000.
By the time Bremer left Iraq in the spring of 2004, the inhabitants of many cities faced 60% unemployment. Meanwhile, the country's agriculture, a key component of its economy, was also victimized by the dismantling of government establishments and services. The lush farming areas between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers suffered badly. The once-thriving date palm industry was a typical casualty. It suffered deadly infestations of pests when the occupation eliminated a government-run insecticide spraying program. Even oil refinery-based industrial towns like Baiji became cities of slums when plants devoted to non-petroleum activities were shuttered.
This economic devastation fueled the insurgency by generating desperation, anger, and willing recruits. The explosion of resistance, in turn, tended to obscure -- at least for western news services -- the desperate circumstances under which ordinary Iraqis labored.
As violence has subsided in Baghdad and elsewhere, demands for relief have come to the fore. These are not easily answered by a still largely non-functional central government in Baghdad whose administrative and economic apparatus was long ago dismantled, and many of whose key technical personnel had fled into exile. Meanwhile, in early 2006, the American occupation declared that further reconstruction work would be the responsibility of Iraqis. It is not clear into what channels the growing discontent over an economy that remains largely in the tank and a government that still cannot deliver ordinary services will flow.
Electricity: A critical factor in Iraq's collapse has been its decaying electrical grid. In areas where the insurgency raged, facilities involved in producing and transmitting electricity were targeted, both by the insurgents and U.S. forces, each trying to deprive the other of needed resources. In addition, Bremer eliminated the government-owned maintenance and engineering enterprises that had been holding the electrical system together ever since the U.N. sanctions regime after the 1991 Gulf War deprived Iraq of material needed to repair and upgrade its facilities. Maintenance and replacement contracts were given instead to multinational companies with little knowledge of the existing system and -- due to cost-plus contracting -- every incentive to replace facilities with their own proprietary technology. In the meantime, many Iraqi technicians left the country.
The successor Iraqi governments, deprived of the capacity to manage the system's reconstruction, continued the U.S. occupation policy of contracting with foreign companies. Even in areas of the country relatively unaffected by the fighting, those companies did the lucrative thing, replacing entire sections of the electric grid, often with inappropriate but exquisitely expensive equipment and technology.
A combination of factors -- including pressure from the insurgency, the soaring costs of security, and an almost unparalleled record of endemic waste and corruption -- led to costs well beyond those originally offered for the already overpriced projects. Many were then abandoned before completion as funding ran out. Completed projects were often shabbily done and just as often proved incompatible with existing facilities, introducing new inefficiencies.
In one altogether-too-typical case, Bechtel installed 26 natural gas turbines in areas where no natural gas was available. The turbines were then converted to oil, which reduced their capacity by 50% and led to a rapid sludge build-up in the equipment requiring expensive maintenance no Iraqi technicians had been trained to perform. In location after location, the turbines became inoperative.
Even before the invasion, the decrepit electrical system could not meet national demand. No province had uninterrupted service and certain areas had far less than 12 hours of service per day. The vast investments by the occupation and its successor regimes have increased electrical capacity since the invasion of 2003, but these gains have not come close to keeping up with skyrocketing demand created by the presence of hundreds of thousands of troops, private security personnel, and occupation officials, as well as by the introduction of all manner of electronic devices and products in the post-invasion period. Recent U.N. reports indicate that, in the last year, electrical capacity has slipped to less than half of demand. With priority going to military and government operations, many Baghdad neighborhoods experience less than two hours of publicly provided electricity a day, forcing citizens and business enterprises to utilize expensive and polluting gasoline generators.
In spring of this year, 81% of Iraqis reported that they had experienced inadequate electricity in the previous month. During the heat of summer and the cold of winter, these shortages create real health emergencies.
In 2004, the U.N. estimated that $20 billion in reconstruction funds would be needed for a fully operative electrical grid. The estimates now range from $40 billion to $80 billion.
Water: The Tigris and Euphrates rivers, which flow through the country from the northwest to the southeast, have since time immemorial irrigated the rich farming land that lay between them, nurtured the fish that are a staple of the Iraqi diet, and provided water for animal and human consumption. American-style warfare, with its reliance on tank, artillery, and air power, often resulted in the cratering of streets in upstream Sunni cities like Tal Afar, Falluja, and Samarra where the insurgency was strongest. One result was the wrecking of already weakened underground sewage systems. In the Sadr City section of Baghdad, for instance, where much fighting has taken place and American air power was called in regularly, there is now a lake of sewage clearly visible on satellite photographs.
The ultimate destination of significant parts of the filth from devastated sewage systems was the two rivers. Five years worth of such waste flowing through the streets and into those rivers has left them thoroughly contaminated. Their water can no longer be safely drunk by humans or animals, the remaining fish cannot be safely eaten, and the contaminated water reportedly withers the crops it irrigates.
Iraq's never-adequate water purification system has proven woefully insufficient to handle this massive flow of contamination, while inadequate electric supplies insure that the country's few functional purification plants are less than effective.
In many cities, the sewage system must be entirely reconstructed, but repairs cannot even begin without a viable electrical system, a reinvigorated engineering and construction sector, and a government capable of marshalling these resources. None of these prerequisites currently exist.
Schools: Education has been a victim of all the various pathologies current in Iraqi society. During the initial invasion, the U.S. military often commandeered schools as forward bases, attracted by their well-defined perimeters, open spaces for vehicles, and many rooms for offices and barracks. Two incidents in which American gunfire from an occupied elementary school killed Iraqi civilians in the conservative Sunni city of Falluja may have been the literal sparks that started the insurgency. Many schools would subsequently be rendered uninhabitable by destructive battles fought in or near them.
Under the U.S. occupation's de-Baathification policy, thousands of teachers who belonged to the Baath Party were fired, leaving hundreds of thousands of students teacherless. In addition, the shuttering of government enterprises deprived the schools of supplies -- including books and teaching materials -- as well as urgently needed maintenance.
The American solution, as with the electric grid, was to hire multinational firms to repair the schools and rehabilitate school systems. The result was an orgy of corruption accompanied by very little practical aid. Local school officials complained that facilities with no windows, heating, or toilet facilities were repainted and declared fit for use.
The dwindling central government presence made schools inviting arenas for sectarian conflict, with administrators, teachers, and especially college professors removed, kidnapped, or assassinated for ideological reasons. This, in turn, stimulated a mass exodus of teachers, intellectuals, and scientists from the country, removing precious human capital essential for future reconstruction.
Finally, in Baghdad, the U.S. military began installing ten-foot tall cement walls around scores of communities and neighborhoods to wall off participants in the sectarian violence. As a result, schoolchildren were often separated from their schools, reducing attendance at the few intact facilities to those students who happened to live within the imprisoning walls.
This fall, as some of these walls were dismantled, residents discovered that many of the schools were virtually unusable. The Times's Dagher offered a vivid description, for instance, of a school in the Dolaie neighborhood which "is falling apart, and overwhelmed by the children of almost 4,000 Shiite refugee families who have settled in the Chukouk camp nearby. The roof is caving in, classroom floors and hallways are stripped bare, and in the playground a pile of burnt trash was smoldering."
The Dysfunctional Society: Much has been made in the U.S. presidential campaign of the $70 billion oil surplus the Iraqi government built up in these last years as oil prices soared. In actuality, most of it is currently being held in American financial institutions, with various American politicians threatening to confiscate it if it is not constructively spent. Yet even this bounty reflects the devastation of the war.
De-Baathification and subsequent chaos rendered the Iraqi government incapable of effectively administering projects that lay outside the fortified, American-controlled Green Zone in the heart of Baghdad. A vast flight of the educated class to Syria, Jordan, and other countries also deprived it of the managers and technicians needed to undertake serious reconstruction on a large scale.
As a consequence, less than 25% of the funds budgeted for facility construction and reconstruction last year were even spent. Some government ministries spent less than 1% of their allocations. In the meantime, the large oil surpluses have become magnets for massive governmental corruption, further infuriating frustrated citizens who, after five years, still often lack the most basic services. Transparency International's 2008 "corruption perceptions index" listed Iraq as tied for 178th place among the 180 countries evaluated.
The Iraq that has emerged from the American invasion and occupation is now a thoroughly wrecked land, housing a largely dysfunctional society. More than a million Iraqis may have died; millions have fled their homes; many millions of others have been scarred by war, insurgency and counterinsurgency operations, extreme sectarian violence, and soaring levels of common criminality. Education and medical systems have essentially collapsed and, even today, with every kind of violence in decline, Iraq remains one of the most dangerous societies on earth.
As its crisis deepened, the various areas of social and technical devastation became ever more entwined, reinforcing one another. The country's degraded sewage and water systems, for example, have spawned two consecutive years of widespread cholera. It seems likely that this year, the disease will only subside when the cold weather makes further contagion impossible, but this "solution" also guarantees its reoccurrence each year until water purification systems are rebuilt.
In the meantime, cholera victims cannot rely on Iraq's once vaunted medical system, since two-thirds of the country's doctors have fled, its hospitals are often in a state of advanced decay and disrepair, drugs remain scarce, and equipment, if available at all, is outdated. The rebuilding of the water and medical systems, however, cannot get fully underway unless the electrical system is restored to reasonable shape. Repair of the electrical grid awaits a reliable oil and gas pipeline system to provide fuel for generators, and this cannot be constructed without the expertise of technicians who have left the country, or newly trained specialists that the educational system is now incapable of producing. And so it goes.
On a daily basis, this cauldron of misery renews powerful feelings of discontent, which explains why American military leaders regularly insist that the country's current relative quiescence is, at best, "fragile." They believe only the most minimal reductions in U.S. forces in Iraq (still hovering at close to 150,000 troops) are advisable.
Even if Washington prefers to ignore Iraqi realities, military officials working close to the ground know that the country's state of disrepair, and an inability to deal with it in any reasonably prompt way, leaves a population in steaming discontent. At any moment, this could explode in further sectarian violence or yet another violent effort to expel the U.S. forces from the country.
Michael Schwartz's new book, War Without End: The Iraq War in Context (Haymarket, 2008), has just been released. It explains just how the militarized geopolitics of oil led the U.S. to dismantle the Iraqi state and economy while fueling sectarian civil war inside that country. A professor of sociology at Stony Brook State University, Schwartz has written extensively on popular protest and insurgency. His work on Iraq has appeared in numerous outlets, including TomDispatch, Asia Times, Mother Jones, and Contexts. A video of him discussing "wrecked Iraq" can be seen by clicking here. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
The health of hundreds of millions of people is affected and millions die because of preventable pollution problems like toxic waste, air pollution, ground and surface water contamination, metal smelting and processing, used car battery recycling and artisanal gold mining, the "Top Ten" report found.
"The global health burden from pollution is astonishing, and mainly affects women and children," said Richard Fuller, director of the New York- based Blacksmith Institute, a independent environmental group that released the list Tuesday in partnership with Green Cross Switzerland.
"The world community needs to wake up to this fact," Fuller told IPS.
In previous years, the Blacksmith Institute has released a Top Ten list of toxic sites. The Institute continues to compile a detailed database with over 600 toxic sites and will release the world's first detailed global inventory in a couple of years.
However, this year, rather than focus on places, it wants to bring specific pollution issues to world attention. And in particular highlight the health impacts -- a 2007 Cornell University study that 40 percent of all deaths worldwide are directly attributable to pollution, he said.
Remediation and preventing much of this pollution are not only possible but cost-effective, especially when compared to other international efforts to improve health in developing countries.
Sometimes it is simply a matter of information and alternatives, as Fuller learned on a recent investigation in Dakar, the capital of Senegal, where children had died from lead poisoning. "Women from some poor areas of Dakar were hoping to make some money recycling car batteries and ended up accidentally killing their children," he said.
In the tropics, car batteries only last a year or two and so there is a thriving recycling industry. However, much of this is done by very poor people who break open the batteries with axes and melt them down on open fires. Lead dust fills the air and children playing nearby inhaled the toxic lead dust, and some died.
"It is very difficult to die from lead poisoning, it takes an awful lot of lead," Fuller said.
Fuller and colleagues measured the lead levels in the blood of surviving children and found levels 10 times the maximum allowed in the U.S. Lead is a potent neurotoxin and children are especially sensitive, as it affects their developing nervous systems and brains. "These are now the brain-damaged children of Dakar," he said.
Blacksmith arranged to have the site in Dakar cleaned up but because it is an important source of income for the poor, the batteries are still collected but are now being shipped to proper recycling facilities. The World Health Organisation is trying to treat the affected children, he said.
"There is no simple, universal solution. It has to be solved on step by step, one place at a time basis," Fuller noted.
Another of the biggest overlooked pollution issues comes from artisanal and small-scale mining involving some 15 million miners, including 4.5 million women and 600,000 children, the report finds. As much as 95 percent of the mercury used to recover the gold ends up in the environment. That mercury represents 30 percent of all mercury emitted into the global environment each year from all sources including power plants, according to the U.N. Industrial Development Organisation.
"It's an enormous problem that transcends boundaries. That mercury ends up in the tuna we eat here in North America," Fuller said.
Mercury is another potent neurotoxin and is dangerous in extremely small quantities. Hundreds of kilogrammes are used every day for gold recovery. "Artisanal miners are the poorest of the poor and you can't just tell them to stop," he said.
There are safer and more effective ways of recover gold using a simple tool called a "retort" but education and retraining is required. Blacksmith and its partners have had good success in teaching and then paying a leader in the community to train local miners on the safer technique.
"It doesn't take that much money to solve these pollution problems," he said.
And the pollution that affects the health of nearly a billion people and impairs countries' economy development could be fixed in just 20 to 30 years with a concerted effort by the international community. "Governments are becoming interested in this. I'm cautiously optimistic," Fuller said.
Education and other international development assistance efforts will fail without reducing the pollution burden that affects the mental and physical capacity of so many people. Even with a downturn in the global economy, the argument for cleaning up pollution is so "compelling that it will not stop countries from taking action".
"Clean air, water and soil are human rights," he said.
The World's Worst Pollution Problems list is unranked and includes:
• Indoor air pollution: adverse air conditions in indoor spaces
• Urban air quality: adverse outdoor air conditions in urban areas
• Untreated sewage: untreated waste water
• Groundwater contamination: pollution of underground water sources as a result of human activity
• Contaminated surface water: pollution of rivers or shallow dug wells mainly used for drinking and cooking
• Artisanal gold mining: small scale mining activities that use the most basic methods to extract and process minerals and metals
• Industrial mining activities: larger scale mining activities with excessive mineral wastes
• Metals smelting and other processing: extractive, industrial, and pollutant-emitting processes
• Radioactive waste and uranium mining: pollution resulting from the improper management of uranium mine tailings and nuclear waste
• Used lead acid battery recycling: smelting of batteries used in cars, trucks and back-up power supplies
Wednesday, 22 October 2008
"The (economy's) primary functions are agriculture, manufacture, and transportation. Community life is impossible without them. They hold the world together....The great delusion is that one may change the foundation. The foundations of society are the men and means to grow things, to make things, and to carry things."
Real enterprise producing value. Tangible products. Not casino capitalism. Computerized gambling. The illusion of wealth. Disappearing once liquidity dries up. Or even now when it's abundant. With a keyboard click, or when investors fear an approaching economic storm.
Until recently, and even now, many observers pretend that the US and major world economies will avoid recession. Or at worst experience a mild one with healthy growth resuming in 2009. Slowly and grudgingly, opinions are changing. Output is falling. Unemployment rising. Wages stagnant. Personal consumption falling and so are equity, bond and commodity prices. At the same time, households are way over-indebted and so are businesses, states, cities and the federal government. At issue is how bad things will get. For how long, and what, if any, corrective measures at this stage can stabilize and reverse conditions.
It's effects are broad-reaching. Chicago mayor Richard Daley faces a $469 million budget gap. As a result, he'll shut down "non-safety related city services" for six days over the holidays to save millions of dollars. California "faces the potential of a perfect storm created by the financial crisis effect on liquidity, lower-than-anticipated revenues currently coming into the state, and our late budget," according to governor Schwarzenegger's communication director. Another administration official agreed and said "the (revenue) window is shut, and if it stays shut, we are in deep trouble." The state needs an emergency $7 billion loan. It wants Washington to buy that amount of state bonds that it can't sell in the marketplace due to current conditions.
Other cities like New York are also strapped. With a projected $2.3 billion revenue shortfall in 2009 and gaps of around $5.2 billion in 2010 and 2011. To combat it, Mayor Bloomberg ordered a $1.5 billion spending cut and may raise property taxes by 7%. Other measures will follow as needed.
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reported that 29 or more states (and the District of Columbia) face an estimated $48 billion in total budget shortfalls for FY 2009. Unlike the federal government, states and cities can't run deficits or borrow like Washington for operating expenditures. They can only use available reserves, cut spending or raise taxes. Choosing the latter two will contract their economies further and contribute to a national slowdown.
Mountains of debt and multiple imploding bubbles are the problems. The housing one especially crucial for millions and the states where they live. It hits property tax revenues. Sales taxes from furniture, appliances, construction materials and other housing related products. Incomes taxes also from employment cutbacks at the same time demand for city services is increasing. Instead they're being cut for public health, education, the indigent, the elderly and disabled, and public workforces. All of which makes a bad situation worse. And according to some astute observers, it's only the beginning. The worst is yet to come.
Are We In Recession?
On October 17, the latest housing numbers added extra confirmation. New home construction hit a 17-year low in September. Housing starts fell 6.3% to a seasonally adjusted 817,000 annual rate. The lowest figure since January 1991, and single-family starts dropped 12% to 544,000. The worst showing since February 1982 in the depths of that period's severe recession. Until today called the deepest since the 1930s.
Building permits also fell 8.3% to 786,000. A 27-year low, and for single-family homes they dropped 3.8% to 532,000. The lowest in 26 years. Along with the data, the National Association of Home Builders reported that builder sentiment hit a record low in October and shows no signs of improvement. According to the University of Michigan/Reuters index (on October 17), so did consumer sentiment. Their latest reading fell to 57.5. Its biggest every monthly drop and nearing its all-time low 51.7 figure in May 1980.
Blame it on the housing slump and assets related to it causing a severe economic contraction. According to Merrill Lynch economist David Rosenberg, it will surpass the worst of the 1973 - 1975 one. He also sees huge and growing financial damage. Credit losses already around $600 billion ballooning to two or three times that amount before things stabilize. Economist Martin Feldstein, former US National Bureau of Economic Research head, sees the deepest US recession since WW II. He told CNBC: "The fact is that lenders don't want to lend, (and) asset buyers don't want to buy assets because of this tremendous uncertainty on what mortgage-backed securities are actually worth."
Investor Warren Buffett thinks a sharp downturn is underway, but he showed up in an October 17 New York Times op-ed saying now is a good time to own stocks. So he's buying. Others disagree and say we're in much more than a cyclical slump. The result of an unsustainable house of cards. No one knowing the amount of economic damage. From rampant speculation. Mountains of debt. The housing bubble, and the entire financial unraveling affecting households, businesses, all parts of the economy, and sentiment.
Noted economist Joseph Stiglitz is grim in his outlook. He sees "the most serious problem since the Great Depression (that) in some ways (is) worse in terms of the financial institutions....The reason, in part, is that while some of the same problems that occurred (then and since), such as excessive leverage, pyramid schemes, bubbles, have happened before, the so-called innovation of Wall Street, the financial innovations, that were supposed to manage risk, created a kind of non-transparency that is now so great that no one knows exactly the magnitude of the risk they face. It is particularly bad because our financial institutions are based on trust" that you can get your money out of banks you put it into.
Because of the current unraveling, that trust is fractured. "We are in the midst of micro-economic failure on a grand scale....rather than managing risk, the financial markets created" more of it. "The failure of our financial system to do what it is supposed to do matches in destructive grandeur the macro-economic failures of the Great Depression." The "country as a whole" lost out. What happened to "the American economy was avoidable." Stiglitz sees a protracted downturn, L-shaped at best, and lasting up to 18 months before it ends.
The economy may or may not face another Great Depression, but for many it'll feel like one. According to Yale economist Robert Shiller, it's possible. He devotes an entire chapter of his new book, "EconoPower," to it. He claims that the US economy is no longer "depression proof," and lists three potential scenarios that could threaten the nation's monetary system. The third is most ominous: "a series of unexpected events that could trigger a major financial accident - a run on the dollar, a real estate crisis, a major terrorist attack, or a natural disaster, that could overwhelm the monetary authorities."
Shiller sees the current real estate crisis far from over and so severe that the Fed and Treasury will have to take emergency measures to avoid collapse. Effective tools are available. Interest rates will be cut to zero and much more. Well beyond what's already done. Great Depression-like measures will be crucial to keep the economy afloat. In his judgment, if the right ones are adopted they'll work, but not swiftly or easily.
Others aren't as sure. Last year, even the central bank for central bankers, the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), was worried. It warned that loose Fed monetary policy, speculative finance, and excess household debt, among other factors, could cause another Great Depression. It passed without notice, and here we are today. Easy credit and no oversight brought us to the edge of the abyss. The possibility of a systemic meltdown and economic calamity. The consequences are unimaginable. The human wreckage incalculable. The toll already severe and increasing.
Proposed Bailout "Too Little, Too Late," and Counterproductive
Leading financial expert and investor safety advocate Martin Weiss is very critical of the Paulson plan and gave Congress his views. He called it "too little, too late (and) too much, too soon for the US bond market." It's apparent in rising bond prices and 30-year mortgage rates. Around 6.50% compared to about 5.75% in mid-September.
He recommended reconsidering "a broad bailout for US debts given the wide diversity of mortgage holders" and total outstanding debt in the country. Besides mortgages, over $20 trillion in private-sector consumer and corporate debt and other $2.7 trillion in municipal securities.
Among banks and thrifts with over $5 billion in assets, he estimates 61 banks and 25 thrifts heavily exposed to non-performing mortgages. He urges a greater understanding of the derivatives build-up and the consequences if enough of them sour. He calls established safety nets inadequate. FDIC for depositors. Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC) for brokerage customers, and state guarantee associations for insurance policy holders. If the entire $700 billion was used responsibly (and it won't be), it's "just a drop in the bucket" to address the debt crisis.
He says it's foolhardy to expect the bond market to handle the bailout burden without upward pressure on interest rates. The opposite of what's needed. He sees skyrocketing federal deficits exacerbating things further and "aggravating the very debt crisis that the bailout plan seeks to alleviate."
Instead of protecting "imprudent institutions and speculators," he recommends strengthening "existing safety nets" for individuals and savers. Informing the public about significant systemic risks, and explaining how limited government is to contain them. He says savers and investors should avoid risk for safety.
He estimates 1479 FDIC member banks with $2.4 trillion in total assets at risk of failure. Another 158 S&Ls with $756 billion. A total of $3.2 trillion or 41 times the assets of banks on the FDIC's watch list. He notes $51 trillion in interest-bearing debts. Over $12 trillion in residential mortgages on single and multi-family homes. "Fannie, Freddie and GSAs still at risk" after being taken over. They hold $5.4 trillion in residential mortgages, but a government guarantee doesn't prevent them from deteriorating and requiring much larger funding than contemplated.
Private sectors and local governments also own residential mortgages:
-- asset-backed securities issuers - $2.1 trillion;
-- non-bank finance companies - $426 billion;
-- credit unions - $332 billion;
-- state and local governments - $159 billion'
-- life insurance companies - $62 billion; and more in
-- private pension funds, government retirement funds and households.
Commercial mortgages are also at issue and are souring. A total of $2.6 trillion "dispersed widely beyond the banking sector." And mortgages are less than half the problem. Add to them credit cards, auto and student loans, and various other kinds of private-sector debt. Consumer and corporate. Around $20 trillion in total plus nearly $15 trillion in residential and commercial mortgages.
State and local governments are at risk with $2.7 trillion in outstanding municipal securities and huge growing budget shortfalls given the current crisis.
The derivatives problem is especially ominous. At extreme levels and very dangerous. An estimated $180 trillion held by commercial banks alone meaning those with most of it are technically insolvent. JP Morgan Chase holds half of it. An "unprecedented concentration of risk in modern US history." The large counterparty default risk in this market isn't understood. Currently the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) reports credit derivatives exposure (or risk of trading partner default) at $465 billion. Up 159% from 2007. Failure to address the derivatives time bomb "leaves a gaping hole through which financial panic can spread."
In addition, beyond the above lowball figure, no estimates are available of derivatives default amounts or forecasts of more likely in a continuing downturn.
In sum, a monumental problem. Too big to ignore, but precisely what Congress is doing. At enormous risk to the economy, businesses, households, the American way of life, and the nation as the world's economic superpower. Plus the effect on world economies and people everywhere.
Politics, Finance and Consumer Sentiment
With the November 4 election approaching, pocket book issues show up in consumer sentiment polls and have incumbents worried. Especially Republicans seen as mostly to blame. The October 15 Reuters/Zogby Index on the mood of the country plunged from 96.3 in September to 89.7 currently. Approaching a record low 87.7 number. The poll also gave George Bush his lowest ever job approval rating at 21%. Congress scored just above its worst reading at 10%. Zogby called the results "a double-whammy" and compared the public mood to the Great Depression's early years.
An October 6 - 8 Gallup tracking poll showed much the same results. A similarly dramatic difference from the previous month:
-- in September, 38% of respondents rated current conditions poor; in October, the number jumped to 59%;
-- in September, 78% expected conditions to worsen; in October, 90% were negative.
Gallup commented that the polling data trend suggests that "consumer confidence is reaching historic lows." Further, "given the current financial crisis and associated recession, it is likely to take some dramatic efforts to turn consumer confidence around." Gallup numbers vary up and down weekly. However, given the state of things and strong likelihood they'll worsen before improving, expect the trend ahead to stay decidedly negative. Meaning bad news for incumbents being blamed.
Maybe not for the most important job according to investigative journalist Greg Palast. He uncovered convincing evidence that the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections were stolen and now has a new article titled "It's Already Stolen." It follows his joint year-long investigation with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. revealing "a systematic program of 'GOP vote tampering' on a massive scale." They cite:
-- swing-state Colorado Republican Secretaries of State "have quietly purged one in six names from their voter rolls;" a shocking "ten times the average state's rate of removal;"
-- among newly registered voters, "more than 2.7 million have had their registrations REJECTED under new procedures signed into law by George Bush;" individuals affected are largely blacks and Latinos; likely to vote Democrat;
-- "a fired US prosecutor....accus(ed) leaders of his own party, Republicans, with criminal acts in an attempt to block legal voters...."
-- in 2004, a little known practice called "caging" purged 1.1 millions voters; it's used to suppress minority voters by delisting them for failing to answer "do not forward" registered mail sent to homes they're away from for various reasons; Palast predicts far greater "caging" this November; and
-- post-2004, "states used dubious 'list management' rules to scrub at least 10 million voters from their roles."
Palast and Kennedy believe Republicans intend to steal the 2008 presidential election. Much like they did in 2000 and 2004. They state: "Republican operatives - the party's elite commandos of bare-knuckle politics (are) systematically disenfranchis(ing) Democrats. If Democrats are to win (in November), they must not simply beat John McCain...they must beat him by a margin that exceeds the level of GOP vote tampering."
If the latest Pew Research poll numbers are accurate and hold, Obama appears headed to do precisely that, and on November 5 headlines will read: "President-elect Obama." On October 21 (based on October 16 - 19 polling), Pew noted that "Barak Obama's lead over John McCain has steadily increased since mid-September," and he now "enjoys his widest margin yet over McCain among registered voters, at 52% to 38%" with 10% undecided or for other candidates. "When the sample of voters is narrowed to those most likely to vote, Obama leads by 53% to 39%."
Palast and Kennedy are on top of vote tampering whoever wins in November. They released a 24-page full-color comic book called "Steal Back Your Vote." It's available in print or can be downloaded on "StealBackYourVote.org."
Dirty politics and fraudulent finance are close bedfellows. Together they explain much about the current economic crisis. Its effect on ordinary people, and what might be expected ahead. Given the current climate (vote tampering notwithstanding), it should be a slam dunk election for Obama. People in distress mostly blame incumbents. It showed in 1932 when Franklin Roosevelt trounced Herbert Hoover carrying 42 of the (then) 48 states. A majority 57.4% to Hoover's 39.7% and 472 Electoral College votes to 59.
Given it was three years after Wall Street crashed. In July that year the Dow average had lost 89% of its peak valuation, and in August unemployment reached 25%. Using realistic figures, it's half that number today. But increasing to where it may reach alarmingly high levels before the current downturn bottoms.
Few today expect the 1930s to repeat, but economic conditions are worsening. Housing, consumption affecting retail sales, and production dropping 2.6% in September. The largest monthly decline since May 1980. The Philadelphia Fed said its manufacturing index plunged at the fastest pace in its 40-year history to a minus 37.5 reading. The sector overall had job cuts every month since July 2006.
It may be 2010 at the earliest before conditions stabilize. Consumer sentiment is near record lows. Millions of homeowners face foreclosure. Loss of income. Jobs and inadequate social safety net protections are in place for backup. People are worried, angry and with good reason. Yet if Palast and Kennedy are right, Republicans may retain the White House given the level of fraud they uncovered. It says much about our faux democracy and offers faint hope for better times in 2009.
Future Prospects - Bleak and Growing Bleaker
Maybe not as bad as Ambrose Evans-Pritchard saw them last month in the UK Telegraph. But who knows. He may be right. His September 22 column was headlined: "Crisis may make 1929 look (like) a walk in the park." He cites meager and fleeting effects from "buckets of liquidity" and quotes economist (92-year old) Anna Schwartz saying "Liquidity doesn't do anything in this situation. It cannot deal with the underlying fear that lots of firms are going bankrupt. The banks and the hedge funds have not fully acknowledged who is in trouble. That is the critical issue."
Schwartz also gave the Wall Street Journal an October 18 interview in which she said Treasury and Fed policies are wrong. She repeated that liquidity isn't the problem. At issue is uncertainty "that the balance sheets of financial firms are credible." As a result, credit spreads haven't budged because you don't know who's solvent and who isn't and too many are in the latter category.
Liquidity was the issue in the 1930s when the money supply contracted sharply. Not today with bank problems on the asset side of their ledgers. "All these exotic securities that the market does not know how to value. They're toxic because you cannot sell them. Your balance sheet is not credible, and the whole market freezes up. We don't know who to lend to because we don't know who is sound." Schwartz is worried that Paulson is trying to save banks, not the system. Insolvent ones and said we shouldn't "be recapitalizing firms that should be shut down." They should be allowed to fail. "Everything works much better when wrong decisions are punished and good (ones) make you rich."
She commented also on what caused the current crisis. Like in the 1920s, it started with a "mania." In every case, it was expansive monetary policy generating an asset boom. She's very critical of Alan Greenspan dropping interest rates to 1%. Seeing the negative effect and doing nothing about it. She's no gentler with Ben Bernanke and accused him of fighting the last war. The result so far is failure. "So my verdict on this present Fed leadership is that they have not really done their job."
As a result, lenders are hoarding cash and economist Peter Spencer said that global authorities have just weeks to make things right. Instead they're making them worse. Unless changed, things may start to implode.
Economists like Nouriel Roubini aren't as dire but nonetheless see grim times ahead. His October 17 commentary echoed them:
-- continued negative economic surprises;
-- "a major surge in corporate default rates;"
-- a weak recovery "as the recession becomes severe" and credit spreads widen;
-- "the risk of a CDS (credit default swap) market blowout as corporate defaults" spike;
-- hundreds of hedge funds collapsing; liquidation of their assets and the toll on financial markets as a result;
-- major insurance companies in trouble;
-- "a slow motion refinancing and insolvency crisis for many toxic LBOs;"
-- "the risk that other systemically important financial institutions are insolvent" and need expensive rescue packages;
-- the continuing vicious circle of falling asset prices; the result of ongoing deleveraging into illiquid financial markets;
-- growing numbers of margin calls as asset prices fall; cascading them lower as a result;
-- the continuing housing slide "pushing over 20 million households into negative equity by 2009;" and
-- the risk of an emerging or developed country experiencing a severe financial crisis; much like Iceland in recent days.
Roubini calls the last factor "crucially important" and cites about 12 or more emerging economies "in serious financial trouble." Especially in Eastern Europe, including Turkey, but also Korea, Indonesia and Pakistan. The risk of contagion is worrisome as even tiny Iceland (population 300,000) sent tremors globally.
Overall, risks and vulnerabilities remain. They're growing, not receding. Not a hint of resolution is in sight and observers expressing near-term optimism need a reality check. The best to hope for is a severe, protracted recession. Most likely globally. Further, inadequate measures are in place, and more corrective ones are needed to avoid an economic meltdown. The longer they're delayed, the worse conditions will get.
Globally we have a severe recession combined with a financial and banking crisis. The result of the largest ever leveraged asset and credit bubbles. Multiple ones in housing, mortgages, credit, equities, bonds, commodities, private equities and hedge funds all simultaneously imploding. There's no simple or easy way out of this and overwhelming risks of something much more serious loom. Unmentioned in daily business news reporting that instead touts a market bottom and a great time to buy stocks. Leaving unexplained the risk of doing it in a very hazardous climate.
People today should be cautious and demand far more from elected officials than they're getting. Critical times like these require radical measures. So far only handouts to Wall Street. To fraudsters through what economist Michael Hudson calls a "con game (and an) unprecedented giveaway of financial wealth." What financial affairs author Ellen Brown brilliantly explains this way:
We seeing "the collapse of a 300 year Ponzi scheme. All the king's men cannot put the private banking system together again, for the simple reason that (it's) reached its mathematical limits." It needs new borrowers but doesn't have them. This racket has gone on for 300 years "ever since the founding of the Bank of England in 1694." The whole world now is "mired in debt to the bankers' private money monopoly." The dirty game has reached its finite limits. "The parasite has finally run out of its food source."
World governments are scrambling frenetically as a result. Supplying mountains of credit (liquidity) to support troubled and over-indebted banks. Leaving distressed households high and dry and sticking them with the bill.
Eventually the game will end badly. In this case, a lengthy asset and debt deflation. Long after bankers took the money and ran. Wrecking economies and throwing ordinary people to the wolves. Michael Hudson puts it this way:
"Neither the Treasury nor Congress is helping to resolve this problem." Newly issued debt won't re-inflate markets or stabilize the economy. Just the opposite. "As debt deflation eats into the domestic market for goods and services, corporate sales and earnings will shrink," and so will market valuations. The end result will be "the very bankruptcy that the bailout was supposed to prevent."
That prospect is nightmarish so here we are. America's economy is eroding. Government and Wall Street are orchestrating it. Maybe even willfully, and here's the legacy they're leaving. The nation "passing from democracy to oligarchy (and steering it is) a bipartisan financial kleptocracy" chuckling all the way to their offshore tax havens.
Sunday, 19 October 2008
By: Peter Chamberlin
World peace is more than just the silencing of the guns, it is the elimination of the injustice that has compelled the men to reach for those guns in self-defense against the aggression. In the currently building world war (which is based on lies and deceptions), the mission is to identify all of the men who believe in self-defense and eliminate them. Both sides believe that everyone has the right to self-defense, but the aggressors in this war believe that they have a “divine right” (because of their intellectual superiority) to disarm and rule the rest.
The “war on terror” is the intellectual’s war, the neocon intellectuals. To them, most of the human race is an inferior species, sheep, to be led for their own good. Look at Iraq and Afghanistan, look at the economy, to see how smart they really are and just exactly where they are leading us.
We are standing at the edge of the abyss because we have gone along with all the lies. Without “acceptable” lies, the neocons are nothing but arrogant snobs. Without public acceptance of the “official version” of events, there would never have been a terror war. Without the attack upon our families in New York and Washington in 2001, we would not have been “tickled” into taking-up arms in self-defense against the henchmen and patsies our government offered-up to us to cover its own crimes.
For there to be peace in the midst of a war engineered by a would-be master race the cold penetrating light of reality must emasculate the acceptable lies agreed to in secret back room meetings, which allow sheer gangsterism and extortion from weaker adversaries to masquerade as “diplomacy and negotiations.”
The incessant lies emanating from the Pentagon, the White House and especially from the CIA have to be silenced. If the war of terror, based on lies is to be turned into a world at peace, based on simple truth, then we have to illuminate the secret killings in dark places that show the true face of the war against innocence being waged by Nazi-like regime.
It must be shown that we have been embracing the force of true evil that runs and ruins this Nation today. By exposing the accepted lie that the innocent Muslim people who are merely resisting our aggressions upon their homelands are “terrorists,” we remove the blinders we have accepted from the true authors of terror in the terror war. By accepting US and Pakistani military reports on “collateral” kills, we embrace the popular lie that only “militants and terrorists” were killed by the one-eyed “Terminator” drones. We dishonor ourselves and our ancestors by accepting the lies that babies were “militants!”
We have to get solid evidence out to the world. A good place to start would be to follow the wise example set by the Israeli human rights organization “B’Tselem,” by supplying camcorders to Pakistani families in North and South Waziristan, to document the indiscriminate killing of entire families, the “tickling” operations described so cleverly by CIA Director Michael Hayden.
With video evidence (translated into English) of the aftermath of American genocidal attacks it would be much easier to organize resistance to those attacks and serve as evidence in later war crimes trials. It would be beautifully ironic if the American-adopted Israeli tactic of “targeted assassinations” with missiles is exposed by the same video tactic that has revealed Israeli brutality against the helpless in occupied Palestine.
According to Director Hayden, the real value of these attacks with “Hellfire” missiles upon mud-brick family dwellings and religious schools is in the reactions caused by the killings. In other words, the value of the attack is as much in the number of male family members who rise to avenge these terror attacks as it is in the “high value target” occasionally killed. The tactic described by Hayden is the latest manifestation of contemporary American “counter-insurgency” techniques.
The main idea involved in fighting an “insurgency” within a populated area in this manner is to find and co-opt local leaders, like Baitullah Mehsud, around which to create the impression of a growing shadowy “counter-insurgency.” These inept local “contras” get blamed for the ensuing wave of violence committed by US Special Ops, their in addition to the gangster-like attacks they carry-out on their own. These units perform the same task as the Terminator-drones, that of initiating the cycle of retribution. They bomb and murder civilians, in order to motivate their male relatives to take-up arms and avenge their relatives, focusing in particular upon killing of local Shia, to instigate inter-faith conflict.
The concept of fighting a global war by limited means is an evil idea, concocted by the vainest, most self-centered self-worshippers the planet has ever been plagued by. The idea that your intellect is so superior to every other human mind that the best thing that could ever happen to the human race would be for you to rule over them, no matter what it cost in human lives to place you in that position of power, is the idea that drove Adolf Hitler. The men who have brought us the neocon war plan of total world conquest, by limited means, are no less evil, nor less vain than Hitler (the neocon’s favorite bogeyman).
By choosing to fight “the long war,” on a limited basis, they have accepted the idea of killing a major portion of human life, even risking the destruction of the entire planet. The idea of a generational war serves as a sorting mechanism, a gory laboratory for identifying and separating those who will willingly accept the unfair suffering life forced upon them and their families under the new “matrix,” from those persistent independent-minded souls who will resist. The war of terror is to identify potential resisters and to eliminate them, leaving behind only docile malleable slave sheep, to serve as functional “copper-tops.”
The idea that there could ever be world peace as long as the matrix exists is part of the illusion that hinders the formation of a real resistance.
Nobel Peace Prize winner Martti Ahtisaari warned on Friday:
“world peace efforts hampered by credit crunch…The international financial crisis is hampering efforts towards world peace.”
The former Finnish president said a lack of economic development in war-torn countries would make it harder to resolve conflicts:
“It will not help us to solve conflict with no economic development in those countries. It is becoming more and more difficult…We are avoiding taking the tough decisions that are needed.”
This is pure B.S. Contributing to the war of aggression by aiding in reconstruction efforts, while hostilities continue will never bring anything like world peace. The whole idea of “good faith” re-construction by the same monstrous war machine from which the original devastation flowed is an exercise in propaganda and disinformation intended to distract those of us who would form an army of worldwide resistance.
This requires a change of attitude on the part of the aggressor, first, admitting that the US and its allies are the aggressors. The entire terror war has been a manufactured event designed to maintain the US position of global authority. We have to refute the acceptable lie that we have been a victim and that our great war plan simply failed, while we openly admit that the war has been a criminal act of aggression in every conceivable way, from the very beginning. We have committed the most serious crimes in pursuit of our plans to plunder and subjugate the earth, crimes against the human race, crimes against Our Creator, Himself.
We have destroyed entire nations in our mad rush to fend for ourselves and perpetuate our system of inequality that creates immense wealth for true believers by siphoning-off the bread of life from the rest. Until this warfare of greed stops decimating the human race there can never be world peace.
For their ever to be peace, there must be an end to the hostile force that drives men’s aggression and turns simple day-to-day existence into a daily fight for life. The forces that are driving the individual wars that are being merged into one big war, must be stopped. The lands and peoples devastated in their aggression must be rebuilt and compensated for the crimes committed upon them, out of the US Treasury, with money which would formerly have been allotted to further military aggression.