America’s Total War [RT]

President Obama promised change, but there’s little of it in his war policies, which are harsher than those of George W. Bush.US drone bombings often target not just “terrorists” but all “military-age males in a strike zone as combatants.”

“Unless there is explicit posthumous intelligence proving otherwise”, that is.

As an extensive recent report in The New York Times explains, for all practical purposes Obama is applying what can best be described as a Total War Doctrine, bringing government, military and media propaganda PsyWar under one strategy.

The concept of “Total War” – war involving not just the military but all civilians irrespective of age or sex, together with the entire infrastructure of a country – became a horrible reality during the 20th century, driven for the most part by steering scientific discoveries and technological progress towards unlimited use in warfare.Total War is very much alive today and is being spearheaded by the United States and its Allies.

This is being abetted on all fronts by US, European and global mainstream media that willingly oblige.In the case of Obama’s Total War Doctrine, the media go along with US official policy, and describe the murder of innocent people who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time when American democracy-building drone bombs fall, as “militant combatants”.

You see, Total War requires intense and constant psychological warfare to convince public opinion – both at home and abroad – that “our boys” fighting “to spread peace and democracy”, always do the “the right thing” by killing “the right people” who threaten America, Europe, Israel and the rest of the West; in other words, by only killing “militant terrorist combatants”.

That’s the way Orwellian Newspeak has described US-led wars since 1945 – whether fought by the US alone, or together with allies like Britain, EU countries and Israel, or by puppet proxies.The list is very long: Korea, Vietnam, Panama, Dominican Republic, Palestine, Egypt, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Iran, Africa, South America, Cambodia, Laos, Cuba, El Salvador, Falklands, Nicaragua, Grenada, Serbia…The death-toll runs into the tens of millions and has kept rising and rising.

Who’s next?Syria, Iran? Sudan? North Korea? Venezuela?After 9/11, things went from bad to worse.

 

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An amazing example of why this country is headed in the wrong direction. [Sovereignman]

 June 4, 2012

This past Friday, Barack Obama was at a Minneapolis-area Honeywell plant touting his economic recovery credentials to cheering disciples. One of the excited faithful was a young boy, fifth-grader Tyler Sullivan, who took the day off from school to hear the President speak.

The President was full of the usual bombast about how Congress needs to work with him to ‘build a strong economy’, and how he wants to get $3,000 to everyone in the American middle class so that people can go out and buy ‘thingamajigs’.

Naturally, the crowd cheered. It was the typical sort of gross misunderstanding of economic prosperity that you see from politicians… and most people at this point.

People these days think it’s a great idea when the government sprinkles money around the middle class, and love the idea of politicians ‘coming together’ to build a better economy.

In reality, when people hear talk about politicians ‘building an economy’ they should run away like a scalded dog.

Throughout history, a lot of other politicians have also tried building an economy– it’s called central planning, and it just doesn’t work.

From Diocletian’s failed ‘Edict on Prices’ in 301 AD in which the Roman emperor tried to fix wages and prices, to Stalin’s Soviet Union, to Mao’s China, to Mugabe’s Zimbabwe, the verdict is obvious: economic growth is better left to the private sector, not government.

The other important mischaracterization was this idea of the economy getting better from people spending money, in this case, the government sending everyone $3,000 to buy stuff.

 

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Obama order sped up wave of cyberattacks against Iran

Also check http://blog.mktgeist.com/2012/05/31/leon-panetta-a-crippling-cyber-attack-would-be-act-of-war/:

PANETTA: Well, there’s no question that if a cyber attack, you know, crippled our power grid in this country, took down our financial systems, took down our government systems, that that would constitute an act of war.

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WASHINGTON — From his first months in office, President Obama secretly ordered increasingly sophisticated attacks on the computer systems that run Iran’s main nuclear enrichment facilities, significantly expanding America’s first sustained use of cyberweapons, according to participants in the program.

 

Mr. Obama decided to accelerate the attacks — begun in the Bush administration and code-named Olympic Games — even after an element of the program accidentally became public in the summer of 2010 because of a programming error that allowed it to escape Iran’s Natanz plant and sent it around the world on the Internet. Computer security experts who began studying the worm, which had been developed by the United States and Israel, gave it a name: Stuxnet.

 

At a tense meeting in the White House Situation Room within days of the worm’s “escape,” Mr. Obama, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and the director of the Central Intelligence Agency at the time, Leon E. Panetta, considered whether America’s most ambitious attempt to slow the progress of Iran’s nuclear efforts had been fatally compromised.

“Should we shut this thing down?” Mr. Obama asked, according to members of the president’s national security team who were in the room.

Was Flame virus written by cyberwarriors or gamers?

Told it was unclear how much the Iranians knew about the code, and offered evidence that it was still causing havoc, Mr. Obama decided that the cyberattacks should proceed. In the following weeks, the Natanz plant was hit by a newer version of the computer worm, and then another after that. The last of that series of attacks, a few weeks after Stuxnet was detected around the world, temporarily took out nearly 1,000 of the 5,000 centrifuges Iran had spinning at the time to purify uranium.

 

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Obama signs Billion-dollar Bailout For Corp. Jet builders [patriotupdate.com]

President Obama on Wednesday signed a reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank that would raise its lending authority 40 percent to $140 billion by 2014 and pressed Congress to pass a list of other top White House priorities aimed at creating jobs and boosting the economy.

Enough Republicans came to the 78-year-old bank’s aid to move the bill to the president’s desk earlier this month after conservatives inCongress assailed it for meddling in the free market.

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Obama scandalous Nazi death camp gaffe outrages Poland [RT]

Poland has lashed out the US after an outrageous mistake by the President Obama, who referred to Nazi death camps as “Polish”. Warsaw says the subsequent “correction” and expressed “regret” are insufficient.

“I am convinced that our American friends can today allow themselves a stronger reaction than a simple expression of regret from the White House spokesman – a reaction more inclined to eliminate once and for all these kinds of errors,” said Polish PM Donald Tusk in his statement published on Wednesday.

He also pointed out that the error hurt all Poles, who are deeply sensitive when it comes to World War II issues.

“We always react in the same way when ignorance, lack of knowledge, bad intentions lead to such a distortion of history, so painful for us here in Poland, in a country which suffered like no other in Europe during World War II,” Tusk explained.

On Tuesday, Obama mistakenly called a Nazi facility in Poland a “Polish death camp.” The remark came as he was posthumously honoring a Polish war hero with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Following the misunderstanding the White House expressed “regret” that the president “misspoke.” 

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OBAMA'S 'Choom Gang' known for 'TOTAL ABSORBTION' of pot smoke...

President Choomwagon [Azizonomics]

From azizonomics.com

President Obama’s teenage gang called themselves the Choom Gang, choom being their slang word for marijuana. They developed a marijuana-oriented culture:

As a member of the Choom Gang, Barry Obama was known for starting a few pot-smoking trends. The first was called “TA,” short for “total absorption.” To place this in the physical and political context of another young man who would grow up to be president, TA was the antithesis of Bill Clinton’s claim that as a Rhodes scholar at Oxford he smoked dope but never inhaled.

Along with TA, Barry popularized the concept of “roof hits”: when they were chooming in the car all the windows had to be rolled up so no smoke blew out and went to waste; when the pot was gone, they tilted their heads back and sucked in the last bit of smoke from the ceiling.

When you were with Barry and his pals, if you exhaled precious pakalolo (Hawaiian slang for marijuana, meaning “numbing tobacco”) instead of absorbing it fully into your lungs, you were assessed a penalty and your turn was skipped the next time the joint came around.

They even called their Mystery-Machine-style VW van the Choomwagon:

I don’t have a problem with Obama — or anyone else — smoking dope. As far as I am concerned, consenting adults have the liberty to do whatever they like so long as they don’t hurt others, or take their liberty or property.

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Obama cements US support to Afghanistan beyond 2014 [RT]

On a secret trip to Afghanistan Barack Obama has signed an agreement pledging US financial and military support to the country for 10 years beyond the 2014 withdrawal. Despite its many failures the US is trying to portray its strategy as a success.

Obama met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and signed the Strategic Partnership Agreement, which states that Washington may use diplomatic means, political means, economic means and even military means” to help Afghanistan, with approval from Kabul.

Obama hailed the agreement as “historic” calling it a responsible transition with the Afghans taking control of their own country. The pact could help Washington smooth out its relations with Kabul following a number of incidents involving US soldiers, including the massacre of 17 civilians in Kandahar and the Koran-burning incident in Bagram.

A section of the pact signed on Tuesday implies that the US will not use Afghanistan as a launchpad for attacks on other countries in the region, such as drone strikes or any attack similar to the one that killed Osama Bin Laden exactly one year ago.

With the US presidential elections nearing, Obama addressed the nation from a military base in Bagram, during which he showcased his military achievements and promised a renewal for America.

As we emerge from a decade of conflict abroad and economic crisis at home, it is time to renew America,” he said in the address. The president promised not to keep Americans in harm’s way “a single day longer than is absolutely required for our national security” but underlined that “we must finish the job we started in Afghanistan and end this war responsibly. This time of war began in Afghanistan, and this is where it will end.”

Though admitting that the war has taken “longer than most anticipated” Obama said: “Our goal is to destroy Al-Qaeda, and we are on a path to do exactly that.”

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Good news: Jon Corzine’s missing $1.6 billion has been located [humanevents]

 

Somehow, the chief investment guru of the Obama Administration, former New Jersey governor, Democrat senator, and top Obama campaign contributor Jon Corzine – managed to lose $1.6 billion of his clients’ money, in the fiery crash of his MF Global corporation.  During the extensive congressional investigations, the term “vaporized” was floated.

Apparently “vaporization” doesn’t mean jail time when you make a billion dollars disappear, which is probably for the best, since it would be tough on C-SPAN to cover Congress if they were all in prison.

Now CNN Money brings us the happy news that congressional investigators have tracked down the missing client funds.  Unfortunately, the firm’s clients won’t be getting a big chunk of it back any time soon.  Six months after MF Global collapsed, customers are said to have recovered about 70 percent of what they’re owed, and some of them might get to 80 percent following a recent bankruptcy court action.  Strangely enough, there still isn’t any sign of orange jumpsuits for the persons responsible.

Investigators probing the collapse of bankrupt brokerage MF Global said Tuesday that they have located the $1.6 billion in customer money that had gone missing from the firm.

But just how much of those funds can be returned to the firm’s clients, and who will be held responsible for their misappropriation, remains to be seen.

James Giddens, the trustee overseeing the liquidation of MF Global Inc, told the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday that his team’s analysis of how the money went missing “is substantially concluded.”

“We can trace where the cash and securities in the firm went, and that we’ve done,” Giddens said.

So what happened to the loot?

Roughly $700 million of the missing money is now locked up with MF Global’s subsidiary in the United Kingdom, where Giddens and his team are engaged in litigation to have it returned to U.S. customers. Giddens said he is “reasonably confident” that these funds will be recovered, though he added that it will be a lengthy process with no guarantee of success.

Another $220 million was transferred inadvertently from the accounts of securities customers to those of commodities customers. That money is now in limbo amid a dispute over which customers it belongs to, said Kent Jarrell, a spokesman for Giddens.

The final $680 million or so was transferred to other financial institutions with which MF Global did business, including a substantial portion that went to JPMorgan.

Giddens said his team has “a solid basis for seeking the recovery of some of the funds that were transferred to JPMorgan,” and is engaged in ongoing talks on the issue. JPMorgan did not immediately return a request for comment.

I suppose “limbo” is an improvement over “vaporization.”  Maybe they should allow MF Global clients to visit their money periodically in limbo, and gaze longingly at it, while they hold hands and dream of happier times.

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U.S. Gov’t Making Preperations for Expected Major Social Unrest Next Year

From http://www.munknee.com

The Federal government is gearing up for unprecedented social unrest (worse than Greece or Spain) when Washington is forced to impose “austerity” plans next year… [which will be deemed absolutely necessary to avoid] runaway inflation [that would otherwise occur] to pay for the country’s costly welfare programs like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Food Stamps and massive unfunded liabilities. [Below are the preparations presently underway.]

1. Washington beefing up arsenal of ammunition

The Department of Homeland Security just ordered 450 million rounds of special “hollow point” .40 caliber ammunition from defense contractor ATK. The high performance HST bullets are designed for law enforcement and ATK says they offer “optimum penetration for terminal performance.” While we can only guess in what situations this type of domestic firepower might be used by Homeland Security, American citizens should also remember this type of ammunition has been outlawed in international warfare by the Hague Convention Declaration III since 1899. In addition, the Department has an open bid to stockpile rifle ammo, up to 175 million rounds of .223 caliber ammo, the same used by NATO forces.

2. Protestors can now be held indefinitely without trial and without legal representation

The new National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) takes away basic rights of American citizens who are considered “terrorists” or “enemy combatants.” such individuals can now be held indefinitely without trial and without legal representation. After signing the bill, President Obama said he would “never” impose this Act on Americans but don’t bet on it!

3. Unpaid taxes can prevent the issuance of a passport

As part of the federal-aid highway bill, Senator Barbara Boxer (D-California) has added a provision that allows for anyone who owes the IRS more than $50,000 to be denied a passport. (Senate Bill 1813 is now in the House.)

4. TSA now allowed to make random car stops

It’s not enough for swarms of government agents to invade our privacy with enhanced pat-downs at airports, but they are also now engaging in random car stops on highways across America.

5. Anyone taken to jail can now be strip searched

In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled last week that police can strip search anyone who is taken to jail. According to the High Court decision, jailers may perform invasive strip searches on people arrested even for “minor offenses.” This is a  travesty of justice…

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Hypocrisy, USA: Obama will sanction countries that block Internet for protesters [RT]

United States President Barack Obama announced plans on Monday to impose sanctions on foreign governments that use modern technology to tackle anti-government protesters.

Speaking from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in the nation’s capital early Monday, President Obama said America would soon be taking measures against foreign governments that rely on the latest advancements of the digital age to fight dissidents. The president made his remarks in response to authoritarian regimes in locales such as Syria and Iran, where those countries’ governments have been accused of implementing modern tools involving the Internet and mobile phone technology to keep track of protesters and block them from advancing their anti-national messages to others through social media.

“These technologies should be in place to empower citizens, not to repress them,” the president told the press while announcing his initiative. “It’s one more step toward the day that we know will come, the end of the Assad regime that has brutalized the Syrian people.”

Some critics have come after the Obama administration for being hesitant to act against Bashar al-Assad and other foreign rulers alleged to be engaged in human rights violations against their own people. While the president addressed that the latest sanctions are only a small step in penalizing those regimes, they are a step nonetheless in the right direction, many feel. By forcing foreign governments to abort operations made possible through modern technology that would otherwise prevent protest movements, Obama essentially is strengthening a chokehold against regimes relying on the latest advancements to thwart demonstrations.

In other words, however, it’s a classic case of “Do as I say; not as I do.”

While the president’s announcement is indeed positive news for pro-democracy demonstrators across the globe that are threatened by governmental intervention, Obama is at the same time encouraging other countries to abort the same practices that the United States has been documented doing themselves as of late.

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CORZINE RAISES $500,000 FOR OBAMA [The burning platform]

Just because you steal $1.2 billion from farmers, singlehandedly bankrupt your company, put thousands of employees out of work, and destroy the finances of one of the largest states in the country, doesn’t make you a bad guy in the eyes of Barack Obama. If you can get him re-elected, you’re in the club.

 

Corzine, Amid Scandal, Is Among Obama’s Top Bundlers

By Alexis Simendinger – April 21, 2012

Jon Corzine — under federal and congressional investigation following accusations that the securities firm he headed illegally took clients’ funds before collapsing — is among President Obama’s top re-election campaign bundlers, raising at least $500,000, according to the campaign’s filing Friday with the Federal Election Commission.

Corzine, the former New Jersey senator and governor, and former head of Goldman Sachs, is among 127 individuals (dubbed “volunteer fundraisers” in the parlance used by Obama’s Chicago campaign) credited with raising more than $500,000 through the first quarter of 2012.

Corzine is being investigated by the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission; he told Congress under oath last year that, while serving as chief executive at MF Global, he knew nothing about clients’ missing funds.

From the banking world, ousted Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis, based in Charlotte, N.C., gathered between $200,000 and $500,000 for the president’s campaign. Since the financial crisis and the enactment of the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill, Obama’s support within the financial and banking world has ebbed, a fact evident from a quick scan of the president’s bundler list.

In contrast with Mitt Romney, who reports only bundlers who are lobbyists, Obama voluntarily discloses all of his. His campaign produced a list of hundreds of contributions-collectors arranged in categories from $50,000 to $100,000; $100,000 to $200,000; $200,000 to $500,000; and more than $500,000. At least nine people listed live abroad, including investor and businessman Robert Roche from Shanghai.

The president’s roster of friends-who-have-friends-who-donate includes Hollywood and cultural personalities, such as DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg, who rounded up more than $500,000 for Obama. His mansion was to be the setting for a May 10 Obama fundraiser in Los Angeles, but actor and Darfur humanitarian George Clooney, a co-host for the $6 million event, offered up his home when it became clear Katzenberg’s new $35 million castle would not be finished in time.

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Visibly Annoyed and Aloof Obama Gets Slammed by Brazilian President Over U.S. Monetary Policy [shtfplan]

By shtfplan.com

In a meeting where neither looks very happy with the other, Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff lambastes President Obama over expansionist monetary policies that are having a direct impact on the currencies of emerging economies, including her own.

Throughout the clip, as Rousseff discusses her concerns over US monetary policy, President Obama seems visibly annoyed and distant, giving the impression he’d rather be teeing off than discussing the critical monetary, fiscal and economic issues facing the world. The President’s body language – his twiddling of the thumbs, rubbing the corners of his mouth, inability to remain focused – overtly indicates either his complete disinterest in how US monetary policy affects our global trading partners, or that he simply doesn’t understand what this woman is talking about.

I also voiced to President Obama Brazil’s concern regarding the monetary expansion policies that ultimately mean that countries that have a surplus be able to strike a balance in those economic monetary expansion policies through fiscal policies that are ultimately based on expanding investments.  Such expansionist monetary policies in and of themselves, in isolation regarding the fiscal policies, ultimately lead to a depreciation  in the value of the currency of developed countries, thus impairing growth outlooks in emerging countries.

http://content.bitsontherun.com/players/Obo3bdZd-dh3Zgtip.html

Full video:

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Barack Obama’s grovelling before the Russians is an embarrassment

By  on The Telegraph

Ronald Reagan, together with Margaret Thatcher, stood up to Moscow, and brought the Soviet Empire to its knees. In contrast, Barack Obama has gone on his knees to grovel before the Russians. The exchange between President Obama and his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev in Seoul was a display of supplication before a major strategic adversary on an issue of great importance for US national security – missile defence. The private conservation was picked up on microphone, and relayed by ABC News correspondent Jake Tapper:

President Obama: On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this, this can be solved but it’s important for him to give me space.

President Medvedev: Yeah, I understand. I understand your message about space. Space for you…

President Obama: This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility.

President Medvedev: I understand. I will transmit this information to Vladimir.

The US President has tried to downplay the remarks, according to a report by The Wall Street Journalwhich quotes him as saying:

“I don’t think it’s any surprise that you can’t start that a few months before presidential and congressional elections in the United States, and at a time when they just completed elections in Russia,” Mr. Obama said Tuesday as he as sat down to meet with Mr. Medvedev and the president of Kazakhstan. “This is not a matter of hiding the ball.”

Barack Obama’s comments are disturbing on several levels. First, they display a willingness to placate America’s enemies, and cede ground over issues of national interest. Second, Obama is linking foreign policy decision-making to the timetable of the US presidential election, openly telling the Russians that he will deliver when he is no longer constrained by seeking re-election. This demonstrates contempt for the American people, suggesting that what he tells the Russians may be completely different to his message at home. Third, they reveal a dismissive approach towards America’s friends in eastern and central Europe, as well as US allies in the Gulf states, who must be wondering now if they will be sold out next.

President Obama’s remarks should be viewed against a backdrop of an astonishing surrender to Moscow over Third Site missile defence in September 2009, where he dropped plans for missile defence installations in Poland and the Czech Republic in the face of Russian opposition, a move that was seen as a betrayal of US allies.

 

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Bill Black on the MF Global Financial Collapse and Aftermath – Obama’s Hurricane Katrina

 

Bill Black is interviewed on the Capital Accounts Show on RT. 

I would be glad to show a video of Bill Black discussing important financial matters such as this on a mainstream US video program but there don’t seem to be any.

There were a number of disturbing things in Gary Gensler testimony to the Congress about the role of the CFTC in this. Some of these things are discussed here.

I doubt very much that justice will be done at MF Global. The Banks have been getting away with everything they have done so far, up to and including the blatant stealing of funds from customers that were being held on account, and not even subject to active trading margin.

He can try to pass the buck on this, and there is plenty of company in this on both sides of the aisle and in the media. But the ultimate responsibility for the handling of this falls on Barack Obama and his Administration. It happened on his watch, and it was their job to make it right. That is price of leadership.

He can continue to ignore it, plead ignorance, and even make excuses, but at the end of the day he should be ashamed at how this was handled, and the Congress and the media along with him.

I can only imagine what they would be saying if the President was George W. Bush, and Jon Corzine was his leading Republican fund raiser. With a few notable exceptions, largely solitary voices, where are the so-called progressives on this? Hypocrites!

I do not expect to see justice done here. There are too many powerful people and interests involved, and justice, being truth in action and not words, is not en vogue for misdeeds of the TBTF financial sector. We are way beyond that with this generation of vipers that has infested the Beltway for the past twenty years.

I would just like to see the stranded customers made whole for what was taken from them, and their long anxiety ended, which is what has happened promptly in every brokerage failure that I am aware of post WW II, including Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns. Oh no, you just don’t understand. It is different this time.

Yes, because of who is involved. How naive do they think the people are? If the individual customers had not banded together and taken proactive legal measures, the system would have had their way with them. Almost all the good that has come of this wretched affair is due to the actions of the people in the Commodity Customer Coalition, and not those sworn to protect them.

Read more on jessescrossroadscafe

It’s All About Control

By Greg Hunter’s USAWatchdog.com  (Revised)

Ever since the original Patriot Act was passed by Congress in 2001, American civil liberties have steadily shrunk and government control has steadily grown.  In a financial crisis, your bank or brokerage can severely restrict the amount of money you can withdraw from your accounts.  The government can now assassinate so-called terrorists anywhere in the world, including on U.S. soil.    Think Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born radical Muslim cleric who was assassinated by a U.S. drone strike in September.

It can also indefinitely detain suspected terrorists without charge or due process, all thanks to the National Defense Authorization Act recently signed into law by the President.  The government can shut down a website anywhere in the world without due process, just ask Megaupload owner Kim Dotcom from New Zealand.  (Yes, that’s his real name.)

As of last Friday, President Obama has authorized the government to take just about whatever it needs in the name of national defense.   It is an Executive Order appropriately called “National Defense Resources Preparedness (NDRP).”  This allows members of Obama’s Cabinet to take resources such as livestock, water, fuel, farm equipment, vehicles, planes, boats, food and just about anything the government thinks it needs for “defense preparedness.”   I am just skimming the surface here as there are many more details in the order.  (Click here for the complete Executive Order — National Defense Resources Preparedness – NDRP.)  Many are calling this a setup for peacetime martial law.  After reading the Executive Order, I don’t see how anyone could disagree with this statement.

My question is why?  If all that happened was an extension of the Patriot Act in 2011, I might not worry that much (although, Congress basically traded liberty for so-called security.)   But when you look at several of the government’s big power grabbing moves, you can’t help but ask what are they getting ready for?  Is it a Middle East war that will probably turn into world war?  Is it another financial meltdown worse than the one in 2008?  Or, is it all of the above?

On the war question, I have written many posts that say war is a “when” not an “if” scenario.  Just last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he did not need the approval of the U.S. to attack Iran.  Iran has said it has the right to strike first if it feels necessary.  Now, there are reports of Russian troops landing in Syria.  The U.N. calls this development a “bomb.”  The world hasn’t been this close to a global war since the late 1930’s.  War would plunge the world into a deep depression so fast that many could be wiped out financially literally overnight.

Another financial meltdown is not just probable but highly likely.  In my opinion, and many other experts, another financial crash is also a question of “when” and not “if.”  The Fed pumped out $16 trillion in the wake of the last meltdown, and it has frozen interest rates at near 0% through 2014.  Talk of a so-called “recovery” is preposterous with a record 46.5 million Americans on food stamps and declining home values despite near record low mortgage rates.  Sure, the stock market has doubled since 2009, but it was cut in half after the 2008 meltdown.  How is anyone making money?  Charles Biderman of the Wall Street research firm “Trim Tabs” recently said,  the increase in stocks came mainly from trillions of dollars of new money printed by the Fed.  (Click here to hear Mr. Biderman.)  Shouldn’t this have fixed the economy?  Shouldn’t the banks be able to go back to “mark to market” accounting and not value real estate and mortgage-backed securities at whatever the bankers think they will fetch in the distant future?  No way is that going to happen because nothing is fixed from the last meltdown.  The failing economy was just papered over with trillions of freshly printed dollars.

Economist Dr. Marc Faber of Gloomdoomandboom.com agrees the economy has been propped up by money printing, but that will not stop a financial crash forever.  In a recent interview, he said, “. . . I think eventually the financial system will be an MF Global where you don’t get your money back from the banks and the investment banks and from the mutual funds and so forth and so on. And, so I think everybody has to think to himself, how do I protect myself against such a black swan event.”  (Click here for the complete interview from ChrisMartenson.com)  Dr. Faber is recommending physical gold and silver as portfolio insurance.  (FYI, Faber also recommended buying stocks in 2009, at the very bottom of the last financial meltdown.)

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by SIMON BLACK · 20 COMMENTS

March 20, 2012
Santiago, Chile

Quietly, and with little fanfare, President Obama signed a “National Defense Resources Preparedness” Executive Order on Friday. As the name suggests, the order intends to shore up the country’s national defense resources in advance of a national emergency.

To be fair, this is not the first time that such an order has been written. Presidents Bush (II), Clinton, Reagan, and even Eisenhower provided directives in the same spirit as President Obama’s order– providing some level of government commandeering in times of national emergency.

In the past, these orders have related to things like production capacity for defense contractors, or giving FEMA authority to resolve disputes between other departments in federally designated emergency areas.

President Obama’s order, however, takes things much, much further.

(1) The order vastly expands the role of Homeland Security… as if these knuckleheads didn’t already have too much influence in people’s lives. Apparently highways, shopping malls, airports, bus stations, Wal-Marts, hotels, train stations, etc. aren’t enough for DHS. Now the Secretary of DHS will:

a) “advise the President on issues of national defense resource preparedness”.

This one is really clear. Under normal circumstances, matters related to defense would fall under the Secretary of Defense… or perhaps the National Security Advisor. Giving such responsibility to DHS suggests that the government is expecting an emergency from within.

b) “provide for the central coordination of the plans and programs… under this order, and provide guidance to agencies assigned functions under this order…”

DHS now has authority to direct the emergency preparedness of every other government department. The Secretary of Homeland Security has effectively become the Emergency Czar.

c) have oversight of “all other national defense programs, including civil defense and continuity of Government.”

In case it wasn’t clear before, the people who molest children and radiate travelers will have total and complete control in some event defined as a national emergency in the sole discretion of the President.

(2) The order further provides for an effective nationalization of the entire US economy in the event of an emergency.

The Secretary of Labor, for example, will “collect and maintain data necessary to make a continuing appraisal of the Nation’s workforce needs for purposes of national defense” and then “formulate plans, programs, and policies for meeting the labor requirements of actions to be taken for national defense purposes.”

In other words, the Labor Department becomes the Ministry of Plenty, and all the good little citizens will be forcibly reallocated to other jobs. This turned out really well for the Soviets.

(3) The purpose of this order, for example, is to “take actions necessary to ensure the availability of adequate resources and production capability, including services and critical technology, for national defense requirements;”

It goes on to list ‘adequate resources’ to include things like:

(i) “all forms of energy including petroleum, gas (both natural and manufactured), electricity, solid fuels… solar, wind, other types of renewable energy, atomic energy”, etc.

(ii) “all usable water, from all sources, within the jurisdiction of the United States, that can be managed, controlled, and allocated to meet emergency requirements…”

(iii) “all commodities and products… that are capable of being ingested by either human beings or animals…”

(iv) “drugs, biological products, medical devices, materials, facilities, health supplies, services and equipment required to diagnose, mitigate or prevent the impairment of, improve, treat, cure, or restore the physical or mental health conditions of the population.”

Hmmmm. Food. Water. Energy. Medicine. Security. All the stuff that human beings need at a basic level to survive. Except that Obama’s executive order puts all of these resources under control of the government and allocates them exclusively to meet the needs of government.

Iran, Oil, and the Strait of Hormuz – 2007 report dating from U.S. Center for Strategic and International Studies

The “Persian” or “Arabian” Gulf creates major strategic uncertainties for Iran, its neighbors, and the world. It is a 600-mile-long body of water that separates Iran from the Arabian Peninsula, and one of the most strategic waterways in the world due to its importance in world oil transportation. Incidents in the Gulf can escalate quickly in ways that neither Iran nor its potential opponents intend. Iran’s actions in Lebanon and in dealing with Hamas and the PIJ can provoke other unintended crises, and Iran is caught up in a broader, Sunni-dominated struggle for the future of Islam where some key Sunni Islamist extremist movements deny the legitimacy of Shi’ite beliefs. Military history is rarely determined by intentions and policy in peacetime, and crisis management often becomes an oxymoron as event spiral out of control, misperceptions dominate actions, and escalation becomes both asymmetric and an end in itself. Iran and the Importance of Gulf Oil The Gulf countries (Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United  Arab Emirates) produce nearly 30% of the world’s oil, while holding 57% (715 billion barrels) of the world’s crude oil reserves. Iran alone is estimated to hold 11.1 percent of the world oil reserves (132.0 billion barrels of oil), and 15.3 percent of the world’s natural gas reserves (970.8 trillion cubic feet).1 Besides oil, the Persian Gulf region also has huge reserves (2,462 trillion cubic feet — Tcf) of natural gas, accounting for 45% of total proven world gas reserves. Iran’s coastline is particularly important because tanker and shipping routes pass so close to Iran’s land mass, the islands it controls in the Gulf, and its major naval bases. At its narrowest point (the Strait of Hormuz), the Gulf narrows to only 34 miles wide, with Iran to the North and Oman to the south. The key passages through the Strait consist of 2-mile wide channels for inbound and outbound tanker traffic, as well as a 2-mile wide buffer zone. Oil flows through the Strait of Hormuz account for roughly 40% of all world traded oil, and the 17 MMBD or more of oil that normally are shipped through the Strait of Hormuz goes eastwards to Asia (especially Japan, China, and India) and westwards (via the Suez Canal, the Sumed pipeline). Any closure of the Strait of Hormuz would require use of longer alternate routes. Such routes are now limited to the approximately 5-million-bbl/dcapacity East-West Pipeline across Saudi Arabia to the port of Yanbu, and the Abqaiq- Yanbu natural gas liquids line across Saudi Arabia to the Red Sea, although the GCC seems to have agreed to construct a new strategic pipeline through Oman to a port on the Gulf of Oman. Iran has long been involved in significant territorial disputes with its neighbors over control of the Islands in the Gulf and offshore oil and gas resources. It faced the Iran-Iraq War from 1980 to 1988, a “tanker war” with the U.S. over tanker movements through the Gulf from 1987-1988, and the risks posed by Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990-1991. Iran has long been involved in significant territorial disputes with its neighbors over control of the Islands in the Gulf and offshore oil and gas resources. It faced the Iran-Iraq War from 1980 to 1988, a “tanker war” with the U.S. over tanker movements through the Gulf from 1987-1988, and the risks posed by Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990-1991.Cordesman: Iran, Oil, Hormuz 3/26/07.

Ever since the time of the Shah, there has been a dispute between Iran and the UAE over ownership of three strategically important islands near key tanker routes to the Strait of Hormuz – Abu Musa, Greater Tunb Island, and Lesser Tunb Island. The three islands were first seized by the Shah after British withdrawal from the Gulf in the early 1970s, and were then occupied by Iranian troops in 1992. In 1995, the Iranian Foreign Ministry claimed that the islands were “an inseparable part of Iran.”

Iran has since rejected a 1996 proposal by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) for the dispute to be resolved by the International Court of Justice, an option supported by the UAE. The GCC issued a statement reiterating its support for the UAE’s sovereignty over Abu Musa and the Tunbs on December 31, 2001, declared Iran’s claims on the islands as “null and void,” and backed “all measures [...] by the UAE to regain sovereignty on its three islands peacefully.” It has repeatedly attempted to persuade Iran to agree to refer the issue to the ICJ. Iran again refused the UAE’s offer of arbitration by the International Court of Justice in September 2006, and the risk of a future clash or conflict remains. In addition, Iran and Qatar have claimed ownership of the North field (where most of Qatar’s gas reserves are), and the issue has never been fully resolved. The strategic importance of the Gulf will also increase significantly with time. According to the reference case estimate in the Energy Information Administration’s International Energy Outlook 2006, Gulf oil production is expected to reach about 28.3 million barrels per day (MMBD) by 2010, 31.1 MMBD by 2020, and 36.8 MMBD by 2020; compared to about 18.7 MMBD in 1990, 21.7 MMBD in 2000, and 23.7 MMBD in 2003. This would increase Gulf oil production capacity to 3% of the world total by 2020 (107.6

MMBD and 36% by 2030 (123.3 MMBD), up from 28% in 2000.3 As Figure One shows, the Gulf’s importance as a percent of total world exports will most likely also increase, and the total volume of Gulf exports will increase from 22.5 to 34.3 MMBD. While much of this increase will go to Asia, it will also make a sharp increase in indirect U.S. and European dependence on the Gulf. Asia is so dependent on Gulf oil that a large amount of the energy Asia uses in producing goods for export to the U.S. and Europe comes from Gulf oil exports. The exact rise that will actually occur in Gulf exports is highly unpredictable, but parametric modeling of other price and economic growth cases shows that significant rises seem highly likely over the next two decades.

Continue reading: 070326_iranoil_hormuz.pdf

Iran developments

Oman warns on military confrontation with Iran

March 18, 2012 04:29 PMBy Martina Fuchs

MUSCAT: Oman, located strategically on the opposite side of the Strait of Hormuz from Iran, said the risk of military conflict between Tehran and the West was rising but there was still plenty of opportunity to negotiate peace.

Iran has repeatedly denied charges by Western nations it is developing the capability to build nuclear weapons, but the United States and European Union have recently imposed tougher sanctions in an effort to convince Tehran to curb its nuclear program.

“It is in the interest of both sides to come to the middle road,” Yousuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah, the sultanate’s minister responsible for foreign affairs, told Reuters at the Foreign Ministry in Muscat.

“We can see that the threat of an unfortunate flash of military confrontation is more possible rather than it is remote.”

Oman on several occasions has acted as an intermediary between Iran and the West.

Last year, Oman’s Sultan Qaboos bin Said facilitated the release of two U.S. hikers held by Tehran for spying, and three French aid workers held hostage by Yemeni tribesmen were freed in November after Oman negotiated their release.

Speculation has grown in recent months that Israel, with or without U.S. support, may launch some form of preemptive military strike against Iranian nuclear installations, which the Jewish state sees as a threat to its existence.

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‘Mossad, CIA agree Iran has yet to decide to build nuclear weapon’

New York Times report quotes senior American officials who believe there is little disagreement between Israeli and U.S. intelligence over Iran’s nuclear program, despite calls for a strike by Israeli officials.

Israel’s intelligence services agree with American intelligence assessments that there is not enough proof to determine whether Iran is building a nuclear bomb, according to a report published Sunday in the New York Times.

The newspaper said that senior American officials believe there is little disagreement between the Mossad and U.S. intelligence agencies over Iran’s nuclear program, despite the fact that Israeli political leaders have been pushing for quick action to block Iran from becoming what they describe as an existential threat.

The report further quoted one former senior American intelligence official who states that the Mossad “does not disagree with the U.S. on the weapons program,” adding that there is “not a lot of dispute between the U.S. and Israeli intelligence communities on the facts.”

According to the New York Times, the extent of the evidence the spy agencies have collected is unclear since most of their findings are classified. However, intelligence officials say they have been throwing everything they have at the Iranian program.

The United States and Israel share intelligence on Iran, American officials said. For its spying efforts, Israel relies in part on an Iranian exile group that is labeled a terrorist organization by the United States, the Mujahedeen Khalq, or M.E.K., which is based in Iraq, says the report.

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Iraq approves Hormuz oil exports contingency plan [Reuters]

Sun Mar 18, 2012 9:57am EDT By Ahmed Rasheed

BAGHDAD, March 18 (Reuters) – Iraq has approved a plan to expand its oil export routes by adding capacity from its northern fields and building a pipeline to ship oil from southern fields to Ceyhan in Turkey, a government spokesman said. The contingency plan was set by the government’s energy and economic committee to deal with any potential crisis should Iran close the Strait of Hormuz, which would halt about 80 percent of Iraq’s oil exports. Iran has threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz, used for a third of the world’s seaborne oil trade, if Western moves to ban Iranian crude exports crippled its energy sector. “Short and mid-term plans will be through boosting crude pumping and upgrading export capacity via Ceyhan port in Turkey. Also to increase the number of trucks that are shipping crude,” government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said on Sunday. Iraq exported 2.014 million barrels per day in February, including 1.711 million bpd from its southern oil hub of Basra and via exports terminal in the Gulf, and 375,000 bpd from its northern fields around Kirkuk to Ceyhan. Dabbagh said plans approved by the government were a short-term measure based on recommendations from the oil ministry, and said stepping up efforts to convince Iran and the United States of the need to avoid closing the Strait of Hormuz. “The oil ministry suggested accelerating work to complete building the north strategic pipeline and connect it to the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline to export oil from Basra via Ceyhan port,” Dabbagh said. Iraq has also been moving ahead with building a 680 kilometre pipeline able to transport 1 million bpd of crude from southern oilfields around Basra to a main pumping station in Haditha in the west, an oil ministry spokesman said. “We managed to complete constructing 200 km of the pipeline with plans to finish all work in 2013. We will have the flexibility of shipping Basra crude to various destinations, including towards Ceyhan port,” Asim Jihad said. The Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline has come under sabotage attacks many times since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, and frequently breaks down due to technical faults.

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Iran, USA reinforce Hormuz Strait defence with minehunters [AGI]

(AGI) Washington- The US navy has strengthened its flotilla in the Persian Gulf’s Strait of Hormuz with four more minehunters.
Alongside the fifth fleet in Bahrain, the Pentagon has readied the vessels and four CH-53 Sea Stallion with mine-detecting equipment for departure. The aim, admiral Jonathan W. Greenert explained, is to reinforce security in the narrow Strait of Hormuz between Iran and Oman, through which 20% of the world’s oil passes; a strategic point which Iran has repeatedly threatened to blockade in case of an attack on its nuclear facilities. In January Iran’s chief military official warned the U.S. to not send any more aircraft carriers to the Persian Gulf after the USS John C. Stennis traversed Hormuz.

Navy says it will add ships to Persian Gulf amid Iran threats [World Now]

by Tony Perry

REPORTING FROM SAN DIEGO — The U.S. Navy is upgrading its defensive and offensive capabilities in the Persian Gulf to counter threats from Iran to seize the Strait of Hormuz and block the flow of oil, the chief of naval operations said Friday.

Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert told reporters in Washington that the Navy will add four more mine-sweeping ships and four more CH-53 Sea Stallion helicopters with mine-detection capability. The Navy is also sending more underwater unmanned mine-neutralization units to the region.

Greenert said he plans to assign more patrol craft to the gulf, possibly armed with Mark 38 Gatling guns. The same kind of guns might be placed on ships that provide protection for U.S. aircraft carriers or perhaps on the carriers themselves.

U.S. ships have excellent long-range defenses but could use weapons for closer combat, Greenert said.

“It’s like being in an alley with a rifle and maybe what you need is a sawed-off shotgun,” he said.

The Iranians have boasted that they could “swarm” large U.S. ships with their smaller, fast-moving craft. They have also reportedly been laying mines along their coastline.

The narrow Strait of Hormuz is a key transit way for oil tankers. Any closure of the strait could send oil prices skyrocketing, officials say.

In January, the chief of the Iranian army warned the U.S. not to send another ship to the Persian Gulf after the aircraft carrier John C. Stennis departed. Another carrier, the Abraham Lincoln, entered the gulf weeks later without incident.

Greenert told reporters at the Defense Writers Group that he was aboard the John C. Stennis as it left the gulf through the Strait of Hormuz.

Read more

Big Brother Goes Live September 2013 [Zerohedge]

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Tyler Durden on 03/17/2012 – 14:56

George Orwell was right. He was just 30 years early.

In its April cover story, Wired has an exclusive report on the NSA’s Utah Data Center, which is a must read for anyone who believes any privacy is still a possibility in the United States: “A project of immense secrecy, it is the final piece in a complex puzzle assembled over the past decade. Its purpose: to intercept, decipher, analyze, and store vast swaths of the world’s communications as they zap down from satellites and zip through the underground and undersea cables of international, foreign, and domestic networks…. Flowing through its servers and routers and stored in near-bottomless databases will be all forms of communication, including the complete contents of private emails, cell phone calls, and Google searches, as well as all sorts of personal data trails—parking receipts, travel itineraries, bookstore purchases, and other digital “pocket litter.”… The heavily fortified $2 billion center should be up and running in September 2013.” In other words, in just over 1 year, virtually anything one communicatesthrough any traceable medium, or any record of one’s existence in the electronic medium, which these days is everything, will unofficially be property of the US government to deal with as it sees fit… As former NSA operative William Binney who was a senior NSA crypto-mathematician, and is the basis for the Wired article (which we guess makes him merely the latest whistleblower to step up: is America suddenly experiencing an ethical revulsion?), and quit his job only after he realized that the NSA is now openly trampling the constitution, says as he holds his thumb and forefinger close together. “We are, like, that far from a turnkey totalitarian state.

Link 

Obama and Cameron mull releasing oil reserves, as Falklands oil row hots up [The Guardian]

The politics of oil took centre stage on Thursday as Britain quarrelled with Argentina over exploration off the Falkland Islands and opened talks with the US on joint action to try to subdue crude prices.

UK officials confirmed that David Cameron and Barack Obama had discussed such a presidential plan to release oil stocks at an Oval Office meeting. Speculation that the US and UK were preparing to co-operate in this way helped send Brent crude down by around $1 a barrel to $124, still very high by historic standards, although short of the record $148 in mid-2008.

Both leaders are under political pressure from motorists and consumers over soaring fuel costs.

Speaking in New York on Thursday, Cameron said: “We are all facing the problem of higher oil prices and that translates into the cost of filling up the family car, which is very high here in the US but frankly even higher in the UK.

“I want to try to help British families, just as Barack Obama wants to help American families. We didn’t reach a decision yesterday about oil reserves but we discussed the issue and I think it is important that we do what we can to try to help families who are trying to make their family budgets add up.”

Obama is particularly worried that high prices could derail his country’s fragile economic recovery in a presidential election year.

Both of them are also aware that the Middle East – still the world’s main oil producing area – remains highly volatile, a situation which could worsen if Israel attacks Iran, as some fear.

One British source said of a potential reserves plan: “President Obama is getting a lot of grief over the high price of oil.”

Britain also responded on Thursday to a threat of legal action by Argentina against companies involved in energy exploration around the Falklands.

Argentina says Britain is flouting UN resolutions that call for talks and prohibit any unilateral action as long as the sovereignty dispute persists. Foreign minister Hector Timerman said offshore oil exploration amounts to a unilateral move.

At a news conference in Buenos Aires, the minister called the exploration and drilling activities illegal. He said Argentina would bring civil and criminal charges against the companies involved.

“With these actions we assume the responsibility of defending Argentina’s natural resources,” he said. “The South Atlantic’s oil and gas are property of the Argentine people.”

A UK Foreign Office spokesman said: “Hydrocarbon exploration is a legitimate commercial venture and the British government supports the rights of the Falkland islanders to develop their hydrocarbons sector.”

“This right is an integral part of the right of self-determination, which is expressly contained in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,” he added, referring to a United Nations’ treaty.

He said there could be no negotiations on the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands unless the 3,000 islanders wanted them.

Several companies have drilled in waters off the islands. British explorer Rockhopper has been seeking a partner to invest in the $2bn (£1.3bn) Sea Lion project. Borders & Southern and Falkland Oil & Gas are set to drill wells south of the islands this year.

An industry source in London said legal action against companies involved in Falklands oil exploration “will have no impact on Rockhopper’s operations as they look to develop the Sea Lion project”.

Borders & Southern declined to comment.

As to the US plan, Britain is open to the idea of attempting to subdue the oil price by releasing reserves, if only because it is a way of showing a desire to help. But officials are sceptical about whether the UK and US, as major oil consumers rather than producers, can have a long-term impact on the price.

One source said: “To bring down the price of oil you need to increase the supply, which at the end of the day is down to the Opec producing countries. Saudi Arabia has already increased production.

“You also need a fall in demand. But that is not going to happen because there has been a structural change in demand – that is, 8% annual growth in China.”

Continue reading on The Guardian

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