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The Republic of Denial: The Lies that Threaten Human Survival

October 31st, 2013 - by admin

Paul Craig Roberts / CounterPunch – 2013-10-31 02:51:01

The Republic of Denial

The Republic of Denial:
Ignored Reality Is Going to Wipe Out the Human Race

(October 29, 2013) — To inform people is hard slugging. Everything is lined up against the public being informed, or the policymakers for that matter. News is contaminated by its service to special interests and hidden agendas. Many scientists or their employers are dependent on federal money. Even psychologists and anthropologists were roped into the government’s torture and occupation programs. Economists tell lies for corporations and Wall Street.

Plant and soil scientists tell lies for agribusiness and Monsanto. Truth tellers are slandered and persecuted. However, persistence can eventually win out. In the long-run, truth sometimes emerges. But not always. And not always in time.

I have been trying to inform the American people, economists, and policymakers for more than a decade about the adverse impacts of jobs offshoring on the US economy.

The word has eventually gotten out. Last week I was contacted by 8th grade students competing for their school in CSPAN’s StudentCam Documentary Contest. They want to interview me on the subject of jobs offshoring for their documentary film.

America is a strange place. Here are eighth graders far ahead of the economics profession, the President, the Congress, the Federal Reserve, Wall Street, and the financial press in their understanding of one of the fundamental problems of the US economy. Yet, people say the public schools are failing. Obviously, not the one whose students contacted me.

Is it too late? I know much, but not all. So this is not the final word. I think it might be too late. When skilled jobs are sent abroad, the skills disappear at home. So do the supply chains and the businesses associated with the skills. Things close down, and abilities are lost. Why take a major in collage for a job that is offshored. A culture disappears.

But we can start them back up, right? Perhaps not. When a First World country exports its technology and know-how abroad to a Third World country in order to benefit from lower-cost labor, how does the First World country get the work back? Living standards and the cost of living in Third World countries are much lower than in First World countries.

The populations of First World countries cannot pay their mortgages, car payments, student loans, medical care, and grocery bills with the wages of Third World countries.

When First World wages drop, mortgage, car, credit card, and student loan payments do not drop. Americans cannot live on Chinese, Indian, and Indonesian wages. Once the technology and know-how is transferred, the low wage country has the advantage in the absence of tariff protection.

For America to revive, our economy would have to be walled off with high tariffs, and subsidies would have to be provided in order to recreate US industry and manufacturing. But many corporations now produce offshore, and America is broke. The government has been $1 trillion dollars in the hole each year for the last 5 years.

Jobs offshoring diminished the US tax base. When a job is sent abroad, so is that job’s contribution to US GDP and tax base. When millions of jobs are sent abroad, US GDP and tax base cannot support government spending levels. To the extent that there are any replacement jobs, they are in lowly paid domestic services, such as waitresses, bartenders, retail clerks, and hospital orderlies.

These jobs do not provide a tax base or consumer spending power comparable to manufacturing jobs and tradable professional services such as software engineering and information technology.

Republicans and increasingly Democrats, as both parties are dependent on the same sources of campaign contributions, blame “entitlements.” By entitlements they mean welfare.

In fact, entitlements consist of Social Security and Medicare. Entitlements are funded by the payroll tax, approximately 15% of payroll. The fact that a person pays the payroll tax all his working life is why the person is entitled to Social Security and Medicare if they live to retirement age. Welfare, such as food stamps and housing subsidies, are a small part of the federal budget and are not entitlements.

Every since President Reagan was betrayed three decades ago by Alan Greenspan and David Stockman, both of whom sold out to Wall Street and raised the Social Security payroll tax above what was needed to pay Social Security benefits in order to protect Wall Street’s stock and bond portfolios from exaggerated deficit fears, Social Security payroll tax revenues have exceeded Social Security payments.

As of today, Social Security revenues exceed payments to beneficiaries by an accumulated $2 trillion. The money was used by the federal government to pay for its wars and other spending programs.

The Social Security Trust Fund holds non-marketable IOUs from the Treasury. These IOUs can only be made good from an excess of tax revenues over expenditures or by the Treasury selling $2 trillion in bonds, notes, and bills and paying off its IOUs to the Social Security Trust Fund. This is not going to happen.

The Federal Reserve could not care less about the US population. The Fed was established for the purpose of protecting and aiding banks. Currently, the Fed, as if America were a Banana Republic which America appears to be becoming, is printing one thousand billion dollars per year in order to support the banks and to finance the federal deficit.

This is bad news for Americans, as it means that their fiat money is being created at a far greater rate than the demand for the dollar. The implication for our future is a drop in the dollar’s value. As there are no jobs, a drop in the dollar’s value means high inflation on top of unemployment and double the misery of the Great Depression.

As bad as this is, it is minor compared to the destruction of the planet’s environment. Online information shows that the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem is in crisis after the BP spill and use of Corexit, a dispersant used to hide, not clean up, the spilled oil.

The Fukushima catastrophe has hardly begun. Yet already the radioactive water pouring into the Pacific Ocean has made fish dangerous to eat unless a person is willing to accept a higher risk of cancer.

Fukushima has the potential of making Japan uninhabitable and of polluting the air, water, and soil of the US with radioactivity. Yet the crisis is seldom mentioned in the US media. In Japan the government just passed a law that could be used to imprison Japanese journalists who report truthfully on the dire situation.

Take the time to familiarize yourself with the online information about Fukushima. According to the presstitute media, Americans face threats from Iran and Syria and from whistleblowers such as Edward Snowden. The real threats are simply not in the news.

If you search Fukushima, you will find information that the presstitute media hides from you. See for example, http://www.globalresearch.ca/28-signs-that-the-west-coast-is-being-absolutely-fried-with-nuclear-radiation-from-fukushima/5355280

There are a number of other threats to the environment on which our lives depend. One is the effort to extract more productivity from the soil by use of GMOs. Monsanto has altered the genes of several crops so that the crops can be sprayed with RoundUp to eliminate weeds.

The results have been to deplete the soil of nutrients, to destroy the micro-biology of the soil so that new plant diseases and funguses are activated, and to produce superweeds that require heavier doses of the glyphosate in RoundUp. The heavier dose of RoundUp worsens the aforementioned problems. US agricultural soil is losing its potency.

Now we come to chemtrails, branded another “conspiracy theory.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chemtrail_conspiracy_theory However, the US government’s efforts to geo-engineer weather as a military weapon and as a preventative of global warming appear to be real. The DARPA and HAARP programs are well known and are discussed publicly by scientists. See, for example, http://news.sciencemag.org/2009/03/darpa-explore-geoengineering. Search Chemtrails, and you will find much information that is kept from you. See, for example, http://www.globalresearch.ca/chemtrails-a-planetary-catastrophe-created-by-geo-engineering/5355299 and http://www.geoengineeringwatch.org

Some describe chemtrails as a plot by the New World Order, the Rothchilds, the Bilderbergers, or the Masons, to wipe out the “useless eaters.” Given the amount of evil that exists in the world, these conspiracy theories might not be as farfetched as they sound.

However, I do not know that. What does seem to be possibly true is that the scientific experiments to modify and control weather are having adverse real world consequences. The claim that aluminum is being sprayed into the atmosphere and when it comes to earth is destroying the ability of soil to be productive might not be imaginary.

Those concerned about chemtrails say that weather control experiments have deprived the western United States of rainfall, while sending the rain to the east where there have been hurricane level deluges and floods.

In the West, sparse rainfall and lightening storms without rain are resulting in forests drying out and burning down. Deforestation adversely affects the environment in many ways, including the process of photosynthesis by which trees convert carbon dioxide into oxygen. The massive loss of forests means more carbon dioxide and less oxygen.

Watershed and species habitat are lost, and spreading aridity further depletes ground and surface water. If these results are the consequences of weather modification experiments, the experiments should be stopped.

In North Georgia, where I spend some summers, during 2013, it rained for 60 consecutive days — not all day, but every day — and some days the rainfall was 12 inches — hurricane level — and roads were washed out. I received last summer 4 automated telephone warnings from local counties not to drive and not to attempt to drive through accumulations of water on the highways.

One consequence of the excess of water in the East is that this year there are no acorns in North Georgia. Zilch, zero, nada. Nothing. There is no food for the deer, the turkeys, the bear, the rodents. Starving deer will strip bark from the trees. Bears will be unable to hibernate or will be able only to partially hibernate, forced to seek food from garbage. Black bears are already invading homes in search of food.

Unusual drought in the West and unusual flood in the East could be coincidental or they could be consequences of weather modification experiments.

The US, along with most of the world, already had a water problem prior to possible disruptions of rainfall by geo-engineering. In his book, Elixir, Brian Fagan tells the story of humankind’s mostly unsuccessful struggle with water. Both groundwater and surface water are vanishing. The water needs of large cities, such as Los Angeles and Phoenix, and the irrigation farming that depends on the Ogallala aquifer are unsustainable.

Fagan reminds us that “the world’s supply of freshwater is finite,” just like the rest of nature’s resources. Avoiding cataclysm requires long-range thinking, but humanity is focused on immediate needs. Long-range thinking is limited to finding another water source to deplete. Cities and agriculture have turned eyes to the Great Lakes.

Los Angeles exists because the city was able to steal water from hundreds of miles away. The city drained Owens Lake, leaving a huge salt flat in its place, drained the Owens Valley aquifer, and diverted the Owens River to LA via aqueduct. Farming and ranching in the Owens Valley collapsed. Today LA takes water from the Colorado River, which originates in Wyoming and Colorado, and from Lake Perris 440 miles away.

Water depletion is not just an American problem. Fagan reports that “underground aquifers in many places are shrinking so rapidly that NASA satellites are detecting changes in the earth’s gravity.”

If the government is experimenting with weather engineering, scientists are playing God when they have no idea of the consequences. It is a tendency of scientists to become absorbed by the ability to experiment and to ignore unintended consequences.

Readers have asked me to write about Fukushima and chemtrails because they trust me to tell them the truth. The problem is that I am not qualified to write about these matters with anything approaching the same confidence that I bring to economic, war and police state matters.

The only advice I can give is that when you hear the presstitute media smear a concern or explanation as “conspiracy theory,” have a closer look. The divergence between what is happening and what you are told is so vast that it pays to be suspicious, cynical even, of what “your” government and “your” presstitute media tell you. The chances are high that it is a lie.

Paul Craig Roberts is a former Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury and Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal. His latest book The Failure of Laissez-Faire Capitalism. Roberts‘ How the Economy Was Lost is now available from CounterPunch in electronic format.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

America’s Favorite War Criminals Unleashed

October 31st, 2013 - by admin

Ben Wolfgang / The Washington Times & Justin Doolittle / TruthOut – 2013-10-31 02:44:32


Dick Cheney: Military Action Against Iran May be Inevitable
Ben Wolfgang / The Washington Times

(October 28, 2013) — The Obama administration is optimistic that Iran’s new leadership could offer an opportunity to repair diplomatic relations with the United States and to permanently halt Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

But former Vice President Dick Cheney believes that, eventually, America may have to resort to military force.

In an interview on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday, Mr. Cheney was asked whether a strike on Iran is “inevitable.”

“I have trouble seeing how we’re going to achieve our objective short of that,” he said. “And I doubt very much that the diplomacy will be effective if there’s not the prospect that, if diplomacy fails, that we will, in fact, resort to military force.”

Since new Iranian President Hassan Rouhani came to power, the White House has begun an all-out effort to cool tensions between the nations.

Administration officials, for example, recently suggested it may be time to ease economic sanctions on Iran with the ultimate goal of a diplomatic solution to end that nation’s nuclear program.

Mr. Cheney, however, isn’t holding his breath.

“I don’t have a lot of confidence in the administration to be able to negotiate an agreement,” he said. “I’ve talked to my friends in that part of the region. I still know them, a lot of them, and they’re very fearful that the whole Iranian exercise is going to go the same way as the Syrian exercise. That is, that there will be bold talk from the administration. But in the final analysis, nothing effective will be done about the Iranian [nuclear] program.”

Copyright 2013 The Washington Times

America’s Most Beloved War Criminals
Justin Doolittle / TruthOut

(October 28, 2013) — Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is set to be named officially next month as a member of the College Football Playoff selection committee, charged with selecting the four teams that will compete in the first playoffs following the 2014 season.

Rice’s appointment, which, according to ESPN, brings some “star power” to the committee, was made possible by the generally favorable impression of her among the public and in the media.

Rice has never been a particularly polarizing figure, unlike Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld, two other high-profile players in the Bush administration, who, even if they were equally serious and informed about college football, would never be considered for an appointment.

Despite being at the center of some of the most intensely political dramas of the Bush presidency, Rice has managed to escape from the wreckage of those years virtually unscathed. Her reputation is soundly intact and she has not been scorned like many of her colleagues, even those who had far less influence over Bush administration policy, such as John Bolton.

Rice is able to go on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” and have a pleasant conversation with the host. She penned a lovely memoir and has a very warm smile. Many sympathetic stories have been written about her difficult upbringing and touching personal story.

Following Rice’s appointment to the committee, some criticism did bubble up to the surface, but it was not centered on Rice’s active participation in war crimes.

A cartoonish jerk by the name of Pat Dye, who used to coach football at Auburn, attacked the choice on the grounds that Rice was a woman and, therefore, “all she knows about football is what somebody told her or what she read in a book or what she saw on television.”

For media outlets like ESPN, this established the proper parameters for the “debate” over Rice’s appointment. Unenlightened sexists such as Dye were reflexively opposed, while all right-thinking people obviously considered the presence of a woman — and this particular woman — on the committee to be a welcome development.

Andrea Adelson, in a piece for ESPN, praised the appointment as “real progress.” North Carolina State Athletic Director Debbie Yow called Rice a “a skilled and analytical thinker.”

It’s simply extraordinary that the kind of chauvinistic idiocy exemplified by Dye, which is obviously beneath commentary, has become the most visible criticism of Rice’s appointment. This is someone who was the highest-ranked security official in the United States at the time of the 9/11 attacks.

She later became a vociferous defender of the Bush administration’s aggressive war against Iraq. She was responsible one of the most radically dishonest statements ever made to the American people, when she warned that, unless Iraq were attacked, Saddam Hussein might very well launch a nuclear war against the United States, leaving a “mushroom cloud” in some unspecified American city. This was preposterous; Rice could not possibly have believed that this was a realistic possibility.

If Dick Cheney, or one of the other less genial goons from the Bush administration, had made exactly the same comment — “We don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud” — it would have stuck forever and cemented his reputation as a fanatical warmonger. Rice, though, somehow has preserved her essential statesmanship and above-the-fray elegance.

This is a recurring pattern in American political life. Those who serve as secretary of state, the supreme Cabinet position in American government, are almost wholly exonerated for their roles in the foreign policy disasters of the administrations in which they served, despite having almost unrivaled influence over decision making.

Examples are abundant. Consider the case of Madeleine Albright, secretary of state under President Bill Clinton and the first woman to serve in that capacity. Albright, as does Rice, commands intense transpartisan respect and admiration in the political and media classes, as well as among the general public. She is seen as a foreign policy sage and a beacon of wisdom. President Obama awarded Albright the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012.

This same Madeleine Albright, in what is surely one of the most flagrant illustrations of unhinged genocidal fervor in the past half-century, was once asked by Lesley Stahl of “60 Minutes” if US-led sanctions against Iraq, which reportedly caused the deaths of around 500,000 children, were nonetheless “worth it” (the question itself is terrifying). Albright answered in the affirmative.

“Yes, we think the price is worth it,” said this beloved staple of the Beltway cocktail party circuit.

Naturally, Albright, later went on to co-chair a “Genocide Prevention Task Force.” No one in Washington, or anywhere else for that matter, seemed to find anything problematic about any of this. Andrea Mitchell won’t be asking Albright about those 500,000 dead Iraqi children in their next amicable chat. It would be so awkward and unpleasant.

It is not by virtue of their gender that Rice and Albright have acquired this inexplicable immunization from criticism — at least in the realm of the mainstream — over their manifestly insane public pronouncements and active participation in war crimes.

This is a phenomenon that applies to virtually anyone who leads the State Department and possesses enough charm and charisma to seduce the vapid, substance-free people who control media and shape public perception. And no one has mastered the art of cultivating an honorable and high-minded public reputation despite having an appalling record quite like Henry Kissinger.

Kissinger, who served two presidents as secretary of state, possesses one of the most coldly chilling minds of anyone who has ever wielded political power in a developed country. In audiotapes released by the Nixon Library in 2010, here is Kissinger, speaking to his boss on the question of pressuring the Kremlin to allow Soviet Jews to safely emigrate from the country:

The emigration of Jews from the Soviet Union is not an objective of American foreign policy. And if they put Jews into gas chambers in the Soviet Union, it is not an American concern. Maybe a humanitarian concern.

After these revelations in 2010, Christopher Hitchens wondered if this concerete evidence of psychopathy would mean that the Nobel Peace Prize laureate would, finally, “have the door shut in his face by every decent person” and be “shamed, ostracized and excluded.”

More than three years later, far from having doors shut in his face, Kissinger can be found hamming it up in comedy bits with Stephen Colbert, or wining and dining with his many powerful friends at his lavish 90th birthday party. At the aforementioned party, in June 2013, the current secretary of state, feeling himself in the presence of true greatness, declared Kissinger the “indispensable statesman.”

While Kissinger is clearly second to none in his ability to get a credulous media and amoral political class to disregard his stunning lack of humanity, respect on this front also must be paid to Colin Powell.

Powell is wily enough to have refrained from ever making the kind of outrageous and sadistic pronouncements that some of his peers have. But he did participate, to an even more pronounced degree than Rice, in the international campaign of deception and subsequent attack on Iraq in 2003.

Nevertheless, Powell’s popularity has been “undimmed by time,” and, these days, liberals can be counted on reliably to cheer every time Powell mildly criticizes the most rabidly racist elements in his party. Indeed, American liberals are hardly blameless in the seemingly indestructible popularity and mainstream acceptance of these allegedly charismatic secretaries of state.

All Powell has to do is endorse a centrist Democratic candidate for president or go on television and gently go after the lowest-hanging fruit on the ultra-right-wing, and liberals will swoon, spread his eloquence all over social media, and happily forget his integral role in the supreme international crime of the 21st century.

Even worse, liberals often will describe Powell’s role in the selling of the Iraq War as “tragic” or “unfortunate” — a Good Man who tarnished his legacy by getting caught up with the wrong crowd.

As if this four-star general and then-secretary of state, someone who has spent his entire life in the military and in politics, were merely an innocent and naive background player, pushed around and “misled” by nefarious forces within the administration and forced to go to the U.N. to put on that shameful performance.

Rice and Powell are almost never thrown in with Cheney and Rumsfeld, mostly because the former care about their public perception and know how to shape it effectively, while the latter simply don’t give a damn.

It is not particularly clear how, or why, secretaries of state acquired this enduring immunization from the kind of polarization and criticism to which defense secretaries and other Cabinet officials are subject.

While there is undeniably something about the office that lends itself to unjustified acclaim — ask an enthusiastic Hillary Clinton supporter to name a few of her substantive accomplishments in her four years as America’s chief diplomat — Rice, Powell, Albright and Kissinger are all exceptionally skilled at playing the media and the public at large.

The blame ultimately rests with anyone who tacitly supports or contributes to this culture of valuing personality over substance. This includes the likes of Stephen Colbert, who apparently sees nothing wrong in having a good time with someone who literally expressed indifference over the prospect of millions of people being put in gas chambers.

Consider how we would react to a foreign tyrant saying what Kissinger said about Russian Jews or what Albright said about a half a million dead children.

For now, though, it seems that only those of us on the “fringe” of the left are unwilling to forget Condi Rice’s fanatical fearmongering that helped sell a war that ended the lives of hundreds of thousands of people for no reason at all. Far be it for us to try to ruin the “real progress” of having her on the playoffs committee.

Justin Doolittle is a freelance writer based on Long Island. He has an M.A. in public policy from Stony Brook University. You can follow him on Twitter @JD1871

Copyright Truthout.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Congress Ignores Family Torn Apart by US Drone Attack

October 31st, 2013 - by admin

Lauren McCauley / Common Dreams – 2013-10-31 02:12:13


In a “historic” briefing, the Rehman family appeared before the press and members of Congress to deliver a heartbreaking account of drone killing of their 65-year-old grandmother… to five lawmakers

Congressional No-Shows at ‘Heart-Breaking’ Drone Survivor Hearing

The following clip from Unmanned: America’s Drone Wars was shown at Tuesday’s hearing with a family of Pakistani drone survivors … and five members of Congress:

(October 29, 2013) — Despite being heralded as the first time in history that US lawmakers would hear directly from the survivors of a US drone strike, only five elected officials chose to attend the congressional briefing that took place Tuesday.

Pakistani schoolteacher Rafiq ur Rehman and his two children — 9-year-old daughter Nabila and 13 year-old son Zubair — came to Washington, DC to give their account of a US drone attack that killed Rafiq’s mother, Momina Bibi, and injured the two children in the remote tribal region of North Waziristan last October.

According to journalist Anjali Kamat, who was present and tweeting live during the hearing, the only lawmakers to attend the briefing organized by Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.), were Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) and Rep. Rick Nolan (D-Minn.).

Before the handful of reporters and scant lawmakers, however, Rafiq and his children gave dramatic testimony which reportedly caused the translator to break down into tears.

In her testimony, Nabila shared that she was picking okra with her grandmother when the US missile struck and both children described how they used to play outside but are now too afraid.

“I no longer love blue skies. In fact, I now prefer grey skies. Drones don’t fly when sky is grey,” said Zubair, whose leg was injured by shrapnel during the strike.

“My grandmother was nobody’s enemy,” he added.

“Nobody has ever told me why my mother was targeted that day,” Rafiq wrote in an open letter to President Barack Obama last week. “The media reported that the attack was on a car, but there is no road alongside my mother’s house. Several reported the attack was on a house. But the missiles hit a nearby field, not a house. All reported that five militants were killed. Only one person was killed — a 65-year-old grandmother of nine.”

“But the United States and its citizens probably do not know this,” Rafiq continued. “No one ever asked us who was killed or injured that day. Not the United States or my own government. Nobody has come to investigate nor has anyone been held accountable.”

He concluded, “Quite simply, nobody seems to care.”

The purpose of the briefing, Grayson told the Guardian, is “simply to get people to start to think through the implications of killing hundreds of people ordered by the president, or worse, unelected and unidentifiable bureaucrats within the Department of Defense without any declaration of war.”

The family was joined by their legal representative Jennifer Gibson of the UK human rights organization Reprieve. Their Islamabad-based lawyer, Shahzad Akbar, was also supposed to be present but was denied a visa by the US authorities — “a recurring problem,”according to Reprieve, “since he began representing civilian victims of drone strikes in 2011.”

“The onus is now on President Obama and his Administration to bring this war out of the shadows and to give answers,” said Gibson.

Also present was US filmmaker Robert Greenwald, who first met Rafiq when he traveled to Pakistan to interview the drone strike victims for his documentary Unmanned: America’s Drone Wars. Before the briefing, Greenwald told the Guardian that he hoped the briefing “will begin the process of demanding investigation. Innocent people are being killed.”

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Protests Grow over NSA’s War on the Bill of Rights

October 31st, 2013 - by admin

The World Can’t Wait & Jim Newell / The Guardian & Marc Ash / Reader Supported News – 2013-10-31 01:49:03


Vast NSA Surveillance of Whole Populations
Protects US Dirty Wars We Say NO MORE!

The World Can’t Wait

The “us” being watched by the US has become more widely apparent, as the US has tacitly admitted monitoring the communications of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, including personal mobile calls, and the heads of dozens of other countries.

The response of those leaders, who haven’t been much outraged about the surveillance of millions of their citizens, has put the Obama administration and the NSA somewhat at odds over who knew what? Did the NSA keep the White House ignorant of the extent of spying? The White House seems to say so, but its Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, says they all knew.

But for Edward Snowden, the evidence would not have come out to us. The administration is doing an “internal review” of their surveillance activities, i.e. determining what they will admit to, while defending all of their unconstitutiional actions with the “everyone does it” explanation, and allowing President Obama “plausible deniability.”

World Can’t Wait joined the first large protest of NSA spying Saturday in Washington, on the anniversary of the USA Patriot Act, passed in 2001 as part of the legal architecture for mass spying on the world.

Edward Snowden sent a message, delivered by Jessalyn Radack:
We’ve learned that the US intelligence community secretly built a system of pervasive surveillance. Today, no telephone in America makes a call without leaving a record with the NSA. Today, no internet transaction enters or leaves America without passing through the NSA’s hands. Our representatives in Congress tell us this is not surveillance. They’re wrong.

Most of the established civil liberties and “peace” groups were not there, but lots of younger electronic privacy activists were, energized and angry about the constant new revelations.

Surveillance on whole populations, chilling protest and dissent here is used by the US government to enforce world-wide, systematic wars of aggression, unjust occupations, and “dirty” wars of targeted killing and secret ops. World Can’t Wait’s model MQ-9 Reaper drone soared along the march and behind the stage, with the message:

The CIA and US Military, aided by the NSA, use killer robots flown from 8,000 miles away to attack people on the basis of suspected patterns of behavior (a “signature” strike) and on President Obama’s order. Some call drone war a cleaner form of war because US forces are not at risk. We call it illegitimate, immoral and unjust — murder. “American” lives are not more important than other lives.

We have a new flyer with links to films/reports on US drone war which we distributed Saturday October 26 at the StopWatching.us rally protesting NSA surveillance (click here for flier en español).

“We Need to End Mass Suspicionless Surveillance.”
StopWatching.us and The Electronic Frontier Foundation

StopWatching.us is a coalition of more than 100 public advocacy organizations and companies from across the political spectrum. Join the movement at https://rally.stopwatching.us. This video harnesses the voices of celebrities, activists, legal experts, and other prominent figures in speaking out against mass surveillance by the NSA. Please share widely to help us spread the message that we will not stand for the dragnet surveillance of our communications. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is a nonprofit civil liberties law and advocacy center that has been fighting the NSA’s unconstitutional spying for years. Learn more at https://eff.org.

Thousands Gather in Washington for
Anti-NSA ‘Stop Watching Us’ Rally

Jim Newell / The Guardian

WASHINGTON, DC (October 26, 2013) — Thousands gathered by the Capitol reflection pool in Washington on Saturday to march, chant, and listen to speakers and performers as part of Stop Watching Us, a gathering to protest “mass surveillance” under NSA programs first disclosed by the whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Billed by organizers as “the largest rally yet to protest mass surveillance”, Stop Watching Us was sponsored by an unusually broad coalition of left- and right-wing groups, including everything from the American Civil Liberties Union, the Green Party, Color of Change and Daily Kos to the Libertarian Party, FreedomWorks and Young Americans for Liberty.

The events began outside Union Station, a few blocks away from the Capitol. Props abounded, with a model drone hoisted by one member of the crowd and a large parachute carried by others. One member of the left-wing protest group Code Pink wore a large Barack Obama mascot head and carried around a cardboard camera.

Organizers supplied placards reading “Stop Watching _____”, allowing protesters to fill in their own name — or other slogans and occasional profanities. Homemade signs were more colorful, reading “Don’t Tap Me, Bro” “Yes, We Scan” and “No Snitching Allowed”.

“They think an open government means our information is open for the taking,” David Segal of Demand Progress, an internet activist group, said to kick off events. As the march proceeded from Union Station to the Capitol reflecting pool, the crowd sang various chants, from “Hey hey, ho ho, mass surveillance has got to go” to “They say wire tap? We say fight back!”

David Reed, of Maryland, said he felt compelled to show up because of the “apathy” he sees among much of the public towards whistleblowers. Reed said he attended the trial of Chelsea Manning, the military whistleblower who leaked thousands of State Department cables to Wikileaks, as an observer, and was “disappointed that so few people showed up”.

“The courtroom only held about 30 people, and there were few days that it was filled up,” said Reed, who described himself as “just a concerned citizen”. “We just stand by and watch.”

The program at the reflecting pool included ex-politicians, whistleblowers, professional activists, poets and a punk band, YACHT, who performed their song Party at the NSA. (“Party at the NSA/Twenty-twenty-twenty-four hours a day!”)

Thomas Drake, the former NSA official who blew the whistle on government surveillance and waste following 9/11 and was charged under the Espionage Act, was on hand, talking to reporters about, among other things, recent revelations that the US government had tapped the phone of the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, and other world leaders.

“For what? Why would you violate her rights? Because, what, she might know something about terrorism?” he said. “What is that all about? They’re an ally! They’re partnered with us. I mean there are threats to the international order and stability. Why would you breach the trust of the chancellor of Germany?”

When Drake addressed the crowd, he said any domestic surveillance legislation that might result from the Snowden leaks “must include whistleblower protection”, because “without adequate protections, [government employees] are more likely to turn a blind eye” to abuses of power. He warned against the “acid turned up by the potent brew of secrecy and surveillance”.

Another well-received speaker, Gary Johnson, the former governor of New Mexico and 2012 Libertarian party candidate for president, said “there’s only one way to fix the Patriot Act: and that’s to repeal the Patriot Act”. He too was concerned about the apathy towards surveillance programs that comes when someone thinks it’s “not about me”.

But the big star of the day, despite his physical absence, was Edward Snowden — “Thank you, Edward Snowden” was the most popular banner slogan among the cord. Jesselyn Radack, a former Justice Department ethics advisor who is now a director with the Government Accountability Project, read a statement from Snowden to the crowd.

“This isn’t about red or blue party lines, and it definitely isn’t about terrorism,” Snowden wrote. “It’s about being able to live in a free and open society.” He also noted that “elections are coming up, and we are watching you”. Members of Congress and government officials, he said, were supposed to be “public servants, not private investigators”.

William Evans, of Richmond, Virginia, may have best embodied the nonpartisan atmosphere and message of the event. He wore a “Richmond Tea Party” baseball cap, as well as a Code Pink sticker saying “Make Out, Not War”.

He is a member of the Richmond Tea Party but not of Code Pink, he said, adding that he “just loved” what the sticker said. Evans said he was attending to protest the “shredding of the constitution” and added that he was happy that “you guys on the left are finally starting to see it”.

“We may not always agree on our belief system,” he added, “but thank God we agree on the constitution.”

Tossing Angela a Fig Leaf
Marc Ash / Reader Supported News

(October 29, 2013) – The New York Times reports that US president Barack Obama is “poised to order the National Security Agency to stop eavesdropping on the leaders of American allied nations.” Diane Feinstein reportedly agrees.

All of which wildly misses the point, and pays little more than lip-service to the far broader problem: The NSA and the US government are spying on anyone and everyone in the world they choose, including but certainly not limited to heads of allied states — including Angela Merkel — and the American people.

Tossing a token fig leaf to those foreign elected officials the US government and the NSA arbitrarily deem to be leading states that conduct their affairs in an acceptable manner is nothing other than cheap theater, and an insult to those very leaders. All of this electronic invasion of sovereignty is presented as a means to enhance American national security. In fact, as it alienates our staunchest supporters, it isolates the US it makes the nation far more vulnerable.

What is of even greater concern is that the proposed meager act of contrition is entirely discretionary. At this moment in time, this sitting US president has decided to extend this measure of good grace to a handful of chosen favored elites. Nothing that is now is proposed would create any lasting impediment to doing all of this again if a John McCain, Mitt Romney, Ted Cruz, or Hillary Clinton were elected president. In short, it’s grandstanding without substance.

What is needed is a substantive change in course. It’s not enough that our allies cooperate with us, we must also cooperate with them. The US must adhere to a code of ethics that other nations have confidence in. Yes, it is a complicated and adversarial world, but betraying the trust of all nations makes it no safer.

To believe that a unified Europe cannot impact US economic and security interests is a silly notion. The leaders of Europe don’t need fig leaves, they need the kind of respect for the sovereignty of their nations and their people that builds lasting partnerships.

Marc Ash was formerly the founder and Executive Director of Truthout, and is now founder and Editor of Reader Supported News.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

ACTION ALERT: Urgent Petitions for a Global Response to the Worsening Fukushima Disaster

October 30th, 2013 - by admin

Green Shadow Cabinet & Green Action & The Free Press – 2013-10-30 01:04:13


ACTION ALERT: Petitions for Global Response to Worsening Fukushima Disaster
Margaret Flowers M.D. / Green Shadow Cabinet

(October 29, 2013) — This is the final version of the International Sign-on letter regarding Fukushima. We will deliver this letter to the UN on Nov. 7 so we will need the signers before then. It looks like removal of the rods will start on the 8th. And the 7th coincides with the showing of a pro-nuclear movie on CNN called “Pandora’s Promise.”

Please send this to individuals and organizations you know who would be willing to sign on.
Please ask signers to contact me at mdpnhp@gmail.com

Please also encourage people to plan actions on the weekend of Nov. 9 and 10. We will post the actions on http://www.popularresistance.org/

A Global Call for International
Assistance with the Crises at Fukushima

The crisis situation at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan is deteriorating and threatens not only the survival of the population of Japan but could also become a significant global disaster.

We express our deepest sympathies to the people of Japan for the tragic loss of life, habitat and infrastructure they are continuing to suffer as a result of the triple disasters — earthquake, tsunami and nuclear, that began on March 11, 2011.

The potential for additional massive radiation releases now is cause for grave international concern. The attention and resources of the international community must be focused on Fukushima to resolve this crisis in the safest and most transparent way.

Decommissioning of the entire Fukushima nuclear power plant will take many decades; however, there are two urgent situations that require international intervention.

First is contaminated water at the site and second, and more dangerous, is the spent fuel rods, particularly those in Building Four. TEPCO has not demonstrated the capacity to manage these problems nor has it been forthcoming in a timely way about the magnitude of the problems at Fukushima.

TEPCO delayed public admission about the problems with groundwater that is flowing from the surrounding hills into the site. The water presents two dilemmas: it undermines the structural integrity of the damaged reactor buildings and it must be contained because it becomes contaminated when it flows through the site.

TEPCO is pumping the contaminated water into temporary storage tanks, some of which are already leaking. Each day, contaminated water leaks into the Pacific Ocean. The capacity to physically hold this contaminated water on site is diminishing. TEPCO lacks an effective long-term solution to this problem.

In November 2013, TEPCO plans to begin removal of more than 1,300 spent fuel rods located in the heavily-damaged Building 4. The rods are in a pool that is 100 feet above the ground. The roof over this pool was destroyed in the earthquake and tsunami two years ago and debris litters the pool, which further complicates removal of the rods.

Under normal operation, these rods were moved by computer-assisted cranes that knew their exact location, but that equipment was destroyed. The rods must be removed under manual control because of the debris and damage that has displaced them.

This is a task that requires great skill and precision. If a spent fuel rod breaks, gets too close to another rod or is exposed to the air, there could be a massive release of radiation into the air. According to Hiroaki Koide, assistant professor at Kyoto University Research Reactor Institute, “If you calculate the amount of cesium 137 in the pool, the amount is equivalent to 14,000 Hiroshima atomic bombs.” This could badly contaminate the Northern Hemisphere.

Removal of the spent fuel rods is urgent because another earthquake could also lead to the release of radiation. However, it is imperative that this task be performed with the greatest accuracy and transparency. TEPCO vice president, Zengo Aizawa, admitted in August, 2013 that “we need support, not only from the Japanese government but from the international community to do this job.”

The risks of these tasks are global and require assistance from the planet’s best experts. Therefore, we, the undersigned, call for the following actions to be taken immediately.

* That the government of Japan transfer responsibility for the Fukushima reactor site to an international engineering firm overseen by a civil society panel and an international group of nuclear experts independent from TEPCO and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as outlined in this open letter to the United Nations.
[See letter here: http://www.nirs.org/fukushima/expert-ltr-bankimoon-09-2013.pdf]

* That the decommissioning process be done safely so that workers at the Fukushima site are protected from exposure to hazardous materials, are compensated fairly and are provided with all necessary support given the tremendous risks that they are taking in this disastrous situation.

* That the Japanese and global media be permitted around-the-clock access to accurate information throughout the entire process of removal of the spent fuel rods so that the Japanese people and the international community can be informed of any risks to their health.

In addition, we call for three days of global action focused on the crises at Fukushima on November 9 through 11 to coincide with Armistice Day and the 32 month anniversary of the disaster.

Green Shadow Cabinet Sub-committee on Fukushima:
Jackie Cabasso, Secretary for Nuclear Affairs
Dr. Margaret Flowers, Green Shadow Cabinet, Secretary of Health
Bruce Gagnon, Green Shadow Cabinet, Secretary of Space
Steven Leeper, Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation, adviser to the sub-committee
Dr. Jill Stein, Green Shadow Cabinet, President
Harvey Wasserman, Green Shadow Cabinet, Secretary of Energy

Endorsing individuals and organizations:
Environmentalists Against War and many others….

Urgent International Petition Calling for
Immediate Action on the Uncontrolled Radioactive Discharges
At Tepco’s Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant

Green Action

Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan
Toshimitsu Motegi, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry
Shunichi Tanaka, Chairman, Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NRA)

T his is clearly not an appropriate time for Japan to restart nuclear plants or export nuclear technology

The ocean, the source of life, must not be contaminated further

We hereby petition the Japanese national government and related entities to undertake the following commitments.

1. Clarify the Japanese government’s responsibility concerning the radioactive discharges into the ocean. Concentrate fully on dealing with this issue, and suspend all activity aimed at restarting nuclear plants in Japan and exporting nuclear power reactors to other countries.

Japan’s new post-Fukushima regulatory standards do not take into account the possibility of uncontrolled radioactive releases into the ocean. Processing applications to restart nuclear plants in Japan under these conditions can result in additional uncontrolled releases and must be suspended.

2. Implement maximum efforts to prevent further contamination of the ocean. Install tanks for the storage of the contaminated water that are more robust and sustainable in order to prevent leakage. Deliberate discharge of the contents of the radioactive water in tanks into the ocean absolutely must not be permitted.

3. Bring together the combined wisdom of independent experts with no vested interests from within Japan and internationally (i.e. domestic and international independent expertise) and ensure its practical implementation.

4. Ensure transparency. Make all government meetings concerning this issue public, including the meetings of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry’s Radioactive Contamination Discharges Countermeasures Committee. Immediately hold a public assessment of the proposed ice wall strategy.

5. Retract Prime Minister Abe’s following statements made at the International Olympic Commission (IOC): “The situation is under control.” “The effects of the [radioactive] discharges are completely blocked within the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant’s harbor.”

The uncontrolled radioactive discharges into the marine environment as a result of Tepco’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident are alarming. It is essential to undertake urgent measures to stop the leaks of contaminated ground water and to deal with the high-level contamination leaking from the storage tanks.

This situation is so serious that one can almost say yet another serious accident has occurred.

Countermeasures to effectively contain the leakage of the water used to cool the molten fuel remaining in the reactors are yet to be put in place. There are serious doubts about the technical and economic efficacy of the proposed ice-wall strategy.

The ocean, the source of life, must not be contaminated further. This is a serious international issue. Those who fish for their livelihood are raising their voices in anger against this contamination of the ocean.

It is absolutely self-evident that Tepco is not capable of dealing with this situation. But the Japanese government is not engaging with the problems head on. Instead, the nuclear regulatory authorities are allocating their manpower to processing applications from electric utilities to restart their nuclear power plants.

The Ministry of Economy and Trade continues to hold secretive closed-door meetings with industry, providing a market-place for general contractors to lobby for contracts. In addition, Prime Minister Abe flies around the world playing top salesman for the export of Japan’s nuclear power reactors.
To address this urgent situation, the government must now actively draw upon international expertise and make maximum efforts to prevent further uncontrolled radioactive discharges into the ocean.

Release of part of the radioactivity into the ocean after treatment of the contaminated water is being considered. This must be prevented at all cost. There must not be any deliberate discharge into the Pacific Ocean.

This is clearly not an appropriate time for Japan to restart nuclear plants or export nuclear technology.

At the International Olympic Committee (IOC) presentation, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stated, when addressing the radioactive discharge issue, that “The situation is under control.” “The effects of the [radioactive] discharges are completely blocked within the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant’s harbor.”

On the contrary, the contaminated water continues daily to leak, the government’s measures to deal with the problem are woefully inadequate, and the extent of the effects of uncontrolled radioactive discharges are not known. Prime Minister Abe’s assertions are therefore groundless.

Green Action, Suite 103, 22-75 Tanaka Sekiden-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 606-8203 Japan. E-mail: info@greenaction-japan.org

Organizations calling for the petition:
Green Action, Greenpeace Japan, FoE Japan, Mihama-no-Kai, Fukuro-no-Kai, Lawsuit Group to Shut Down the Ohi Nuclear Power Plant, The Nuclear Regulation Authority Citizen Watchdog, Peace Boat, No Nukes Asia Actions, No Nukes Asia Forum Japan, Environmentalists Against War

Robert Stone Must Film Fukushima
Harvey Wasserman / The Free Press

(October 28, 2013) — We are in desperate need of documentary filmmakers at Fukushima. The Japanese government is about to pass a national censorship law clearly meant to make it impossible to know what’s going on there.

Massive quantities of radioactive water have been flowing through the site since the 3/11/11 earthquake/tsunami.

At thousand flimsy tanks hold still more thousands of tons of radioactive water which would pour into the Pacific should they collapse.

An earthquake and two typhoons have have just hit there, flushing still more radioactive water into the sea.

The corrupt and incompetent Tokyo Electric Power Company will soon try moving 400 tons of supremely radioactive rods from a damaged Unit Four fuel pool, an operation that could easily end in global catastrophe. The rods contain 14,000 times as much radioactive cesium as was released at the bombing of Hiroshima.

Nobody knows the exact location of the melted cores from Units One, Two and Three or whether they are still fissioning.

Reuters and others report criminal involvement, slashed wages, inhuman working conditions, serious shortages and lack of training in what has become an extremely dangerous labor crisis.

Intensely radioactive hotspots have turned up throughout Japan, including some that threaten human life in Tokyo and make cast a pall on the upcoming Olympics.

At least one report indicates a massive dead zone in the Pacific apparently caused by radiation pouring in from the site. Tuna contaminated with radiation from Fukushima have been caught off the California coast, and there are widespread reports other marine life disappearing throughout the Pacific.

With the information flow from Fukushima apparently about to go dark, the presence of independent media and researchers has become more critical than ever.

Petitions with more than 140,000 signatures asking for a global takeover of the Fukushima site will be delivered to the United Nations November 7. The ask is for a transnational team of world’s best scientists and engineers to guarantee that all necessary resources are available to deal with this crisis.

Robert Stone has made a high budget dis-infomercial sponsored by Microsoft billionaire Paul Allen, whose cohort Bill Gates has bet heavily on new nukes. Called “Pandora’s Promise,” Stone’s promoters have refused to send us a review copy. We’re told it mocks industry opponents without actually interviewing them, while downplaying the killing power of atomic radiation. It’s scheduled to air on CNN without a balancing point of view.

A trip to Fukushima might change Stone’s mind. He’s worked in the past with Michael Moore, one of our greatest investigative documentarians. Using Michael’s aggressive techniques, we want him to bring back critical information that could make a difference.

At very least we desperately need to know more about the 11,000 intensely radioactive fuel rods on site, the three missing reactor cores, the proposed bring-down of the Unit Four fuel rods, the potential for still more explosions, the labor crisis, the unending flow of potentially lethal radiation into the biosphere, and much more.

The fate of the Earth may now hang at the mercy of a widely distrusted corporation and far-right government intent on blacking out that site.

Dr. James Hanson, an important climate scientist, has expressed his support for atomic energy, and would make a fitting co-worker on this trip.

Along the way, Mr. Stone, you might check out Japan’s massive new offshore wind turbines whose promise is to replace all the reactors this disaster has forced shut.

But as a hired industry gun, you need above all to tell us what’s happening at Fukushima… before the lights go out.

Our future could well depend on how honestly you undertake this critical task. Please report back as soon as possible.

Harvey Wasserman edits Nuke Free. He is author of SOLARTOPIA! OUR GREEN-POWERED EARTH and hosts the “Solartopia Green Power & Wellness Show”

Military Lobbyist’s Statements ‘Appall’ Pagan Islanders

October 29th, 2013 - by admin

Leslie Wayne / The New York Times & Clynt Ridgell / Guam News & Junhan B. Todeno / Marianas Variety & Alexie Villegas Zotomayor / Marianas Variety – 2013-10-29 23:54:35


It’s not a dud, its not practicing, its not a computer game
— Former DC lobbyist Juan Carlos Benitez

Former DC Lobbyist Juan Carlos Benitez Calls Pagan
“Key Lynchpin” to Entire US Military Buildup in the Pacific

Clynt Ridgell / Guam News

GUAM (October 24, 2013) – Former DC lobbyist Juan Carlos Benitez spoke to the Rotary Club of Guam today about the GUASA or the Guam US Asia Strategic Alliance conference on the Guam build-up.

Former DC lobbyist Juan Carlos Benitez explained that GUASA felt it was necessary to hold the conference in order to educate those on Capitol Hill about why Guam is important strategically and why Guam needs funding for the buildup.

“When you go to capitol hill they keep saying that the Governor of Guam, the Congresswoman of Guam, the Congressman of the Northern Mariana islands, the Governor of the Northern Mariana islands keep asking for all of this money to be released to Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands because they’re indispensable to the US.

Well, I come from Mississippi and I can tell you, Mississippi is indispensable for the US defense and I can justify money coming to me. So, we needed somebody else that was a third party, third objective party to actually come in and start explaining to people in congress that it’s not just what we think of our role in national security but it is what the national renown and known experts think of the role that this region plays in national security for the United States,” said Benitez.

Benitez says that they then tracked down some of the highest profile security experts for the region to bring to the conference so that they could see Guam firsthand for themselves.

While Guam is being touted as strategically important, Benitez says most national security experts agree that the bases in other areas of Asia like Okinawa and Korea provide greater reach than Guam does. However, Benitez says Guam is advantageous for two reasons.

First it is sovereign US soil, which means that the US would not need to seek permission from any foreign government if an attack was launched from Guam. The second is that all fuel that is imported into Asia passes through Guam’s military sphere of influence.

“All fuel routes to Asia and China imports 85 percent of it’s fuel…would pass through our circle so we basically could eliminate any fuel supply into Asian countries just because that’s how the fuel lines run,” said Benitez.

While the Record of Decision for the Guam marine relocation is not due until 2015, Benitez pointed out to Rotarians that there are actually five other environmental impact statements for things like the use of other islands in Micronesia as well as the Northern Mariana islands of Tinian and Pagan.

“A lot of people are wondering why is Pagan is so indispensable for this buildup as we move forward. It is a key lynchpin to this entire buildup because you need to train your troops and live fire training and combined live fire training is almost not available anywhere else in the United States anymore and what we mean by combined live fire ranges is you get your troops to land on shore you get your pilots to be carrying live ammunition you get your ships to be bombing from ships using their bigger cannons. So that pilot is feeling for the first time the earth fall hitting his plate from underneath when he has a live bomb under there. It’s not a dud, its not practicing, its not a computer game,” said Benitez.

The former DC lobbyist says that Pagan is the only island in the Marianas that the military can use for amphibious landings because it is the only one without a reef.

An Abramoff Connection Among McCain’s ‘Bundlers’
Leslie Wayne / The New York Times

WASHINGTON< DC (July 16, 2008) -- As chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, John McCain began hearings that helped bring down Jack Abramoff, the disgraced lobbyist who was the central figure in a political scandal that landed Mr. Abramoff in jail. Now, as Mr. McCain releases the names of hundreds of "bundlers" -- his top money collectors -- one person who popped up is Juan Carlos Benitez, a lawyer and lobbyist whom Mr. Abramoff had championed for a Bush administration post. According to a 2006 report of the House Committee on Government Reform, Mr. Abramoff had urged the appointment of Mr. Benitez as special counsel for immigration-related unfair employment practices. He was named to the position in 2001. The committee's report said Mr. Benitez's job at the Justice Department "gave Benitez authority" to conduct investigations into unfair labor practices that were "issues of importance to Abramoff clients." After leaving the administration, Mr. Benitez joined the K Street lobbying firm Cassidy & Associates, whose Web site says he "has exceptionally close ties to the White House." Mr. Benitez said Mr. Abramoff had done him no favors. They had competed for lobbying contracts, Mr. Benitez said, adding that Mr. Abramoff had sought an administration job for Mr. Benitez to get him out of the business. Mr. Benitez said he had no communications with Mr. Abramoff while working at the Justice Department. For Mr. McCain, Mr. Benitez raised $50,000 to $100,000, according to the McCain Web site. Brian Rogers, a McCain spokesman, said: "Jack Abramoff was just one of several people that recommended Mr. Benitez to the Justice Department. The campaign is not aware of any hint of an allegation against Mr. Benitez." Note: Juan Carlos Benitez is actually Puerto Rican. He married an extremely wealthy Guam resident and now is spearheading the movement to bomb Pagan Island. The GUASA (Guam-US-Asia Strategic Alliance), is a powerful lobbying group comprised of local Guam businesses, defense corporations and right-wing think tanks.

Military Lobbyist’s Statements ‘Appall’ Pagan Advocate
Junhan B. Todeno / Marianas Variety

(October 29, 2013) — SAVE Pagan Island advocate Jerome Aldan says a military lobbyist made a “horrible misrepresentation” before a Rotary Club on Guam about the proposed military exercises in the Northern Islands.

Aldan said he was not happy with the comments made by Guam-US-Asia Security Alliance member Juan Carlos Benitez who noted that Pagan is a “key linchpin” to the proposed military buildup on Guam and in the rest of the Marianas.

But “Pagan is home,” said Aldan who was born on the volcanic island and is currently the program manager of the Northern Islands mayor’s office. “We have been waiting decades for a chance to return, and now we’ve been told that we may never go back home because the [Department of Defense] needs another firing range.”

Referring to Benitez’s statements, Aldan said “it is appalling to hear that military lobbyists on Guam are offering other people’s homes to profit off construction contracts.”

Earlier this year, the Department of Defense issued a notice of intent to turn Pagan into a vast training complex.

Aldan said the proposal is opposed by “the people of Pagan, as well as regional and national organizations worried about the environmental destruction that would occur if DOD were allowed to bomb the island.”

Aldan said Benitez, who is from Puerto Rico, should have looked into the destruction and health problems caused by military live-fire training in the Vieques in Puerto Rico, so he could “sympathize with the plight of the dislocated and long exiled” former Northern Island residents.

He said Benitez should get more information about Pagan and the concerns raised by international and regional environmental groups including Roots Action, Care2 Make a Difference, the Sierra Club, and the local Mariana Islands Nature Alliance.

According to Aldan, the military already has control over Farallon de Medinilla.

“Military war birds are presently dropping bombs and silencing native birds on Farallon de Medinilla, an island that is part of the Northern Islands just north of Saipan,” he said.

“Our islands in the Marianas are sacred. We have given up Tinian, Tanapag, and FDM already for the defense of our country. We must protect the islands that we now have for the present and future generations to enjoy and benefit from. Enough is enough,” he added.

Aldan said the Guam Rotarians should invite advocates with an alternative view regarding Pagan in order to provide balance to the issue.

Variety was unable to get a comment from Benitez or the Guam Rotarians.

Marianas Is ‘Fulcrum’ Of US Military Realignment In Pacific

Alexie Villegas Zotomayor / Marianas Variety

SAIPAN, CNMI (September 9, 2013) – The recently concluded Guam-US-Asia security roundtable held on Guam that convened national security and defense experts see the Marianas as the fulcrum of realignment and reinforced the objective of having the Northern Marianas as a training base.

Tinian local historian and mayor’s office chief of staff Don Farrell, who attended the regional security roundtable “US Forward Deployed Forces and Asian Security: A Strategic View” at the Hyatt Regency in Tumon, Guam, said, “It was made clear that there would be a Marine Corps base on Guam with about 5,000 Marines and 1,200 dependents, which will provide a considerable economic windfall to Guam, when and if Congress funds the plan. On the other hand, the CNMI will be a Training Base with rotational troops.”

The roundtable was organized by GUASA, Guam-US-Asia Security Alliance, a Guam-based, military-buildup lobbyist group.

Gov. Eloy S. Inos and Tinian Mayor Ramon M. Dela Cruz represented the Northern Marianas.

[PIR editor’s note: According to the Saipan Tribune, Governor Inos is seeking consultations with top US defense officials to discuss US “plans to build a divert airfield on Saipan despite the CNMI’s unified stand to have it on Tinian instead.”]

As to having the Northern Marianas as the military training ground, Farrell said there might be a small number of troops stationed on Tinian for maintenance and security but no units with barracks.

He said there will be a smaller direct economic impact after the construction of the ranges.

The closed-door roundtable discussion held Sept. 5-6 brought to Guam experts Carl W. Ford, Patrick M. Cronin, Lt. Gen. Wallace “Chip” Gregson, Bryan Wood and Craig Whelden, among others.

Cronin is a senior advisor and senior director of the Asia-Pacific Security Program at the Center for a New American Security.

Lt. Gen. Wallace C. Gregson, Jr., is senior director, China and the Pacific at the Center for the National Interest.

Gregson Jr. retired from the Marine Corps in 2005, having last served as commander of US Marine Corps Forces Pacific.

Whelden, a retired US Army major general, is currently executive director of Marine Forces Pacific.

Wood is director of the Pacific Division, Plans, Policies and Operations Department of the US Marine Corps.

Ford is a political scientist, consultant, defense administrator, and specialist on Asian affairs.

Farrell said the senior policy advisers said that the China, Korea, and Indonesia problems pose a threat to security in the area and that US Presidents since Nixon and the US Congress have recognized the need for a larger American presence in the Pacific.

“They mentioned that the current global economy and the Syria situation are complicating factors. However, all seemed confident that the buildup in the Marianas will happen, in time,” said Farrell.

Asked by Variety if the defense and security experts talked about the future of the Guam-CNMI visa-waiver program, Farrell said the question of Guam and CNMI Visa Waivers for China was addressed.

“It would appear that over time the visa waiver policy for Guam and the CNMI will become one and the same, as with other federal policies, such as minimum wage and immigration,” he added.

Farrell shared with Variety that the forum opened with some of America’s highest ranking experts on foreign policy reviewing the history of the Pacific War, the role the Mariana Islands played therein, and the impact that the war had on America’s strategic policy in the Pacific during the Cold War from Vietnam to the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Farrell said Governor Inos, Mayor Dela Cruz, and Guam lawmakers listened closely as respected civilian foreign-policy experts discussed the Marianas as the “fulcrum of realignment,” the “springboard to the Pacific,” and “front porch in the Pacific.”

He said that such phrases as “America as a strategic enabler” and “America as a resident of the Asia-Pacific Region” were reinforced with dialogues on America’s alliances with Japan, the Republic of Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines and Australia relative to the developing economic and military influence of the Peoples Republic of China in the region.

“It was encouraging to know that these men and women clearly understood the value of the strategic location of the Marianas in the Western Pacific, and appreciated that the people of the Marianas had a right to participate in the formulation of the policies that will affect their future,” said Farrell.

What Farrell found “most disconcerting” at the roundtable was the lack of a national strategic policy for the Pacific.

“However, it was comforting to hear Carl W. Ford say that a conflict with China is not, and should not be, a foregone conclusion, and that the work of policy makers should be to create a military deterrence and an economic policy in the Pacific that will prevent a China conflict, just as US strategic deterrence and economic policies prevented a US-Russia armed conflict during the Cold War,” he said.

The second and last day of the roundtable discussion, Farrell said, focused on the role of the Marianas in Pacific policy planning.

Wood and Whelden talked about the military plans for the Marianas.

“The map of the Mariana Islands Range Complex and the description of how the Marine Corps buildup may be achieved within the MIRC was an eye-opener for all,” said Farrell.

“From this, one could not walk away without a feeling of reassurance that the Marine Corps and US Navy are doing everything they can within the restrictions imposed upon them by the objective of their task and the National Environmental Protection Act to work cooperatively with the local civilian community both north and south of the Rota Channel, as their plans are studied and formulated,” he said.

Farrell said this meant more room for dialogue between the US military and the CNMI “on how current and future leased lands on Tinian, Pagan and Saipan might be utilized, but not until after the EIS process is concluded in late 2015 or early 2016.”

Further, Farrell said the most poignant part of the security conference was when Carl Ford moderated the session on Guam’s future role in the region.

In the Q&A part, Farrell said Guam Senator Aline Yamashita “spoke passionately on the injustice being done to the thousands of US veterans in the Marianas who have returned from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.”

He said she spoke of the need for the treatment they earned and deserve as patriots.

At the end of the conference, Farrell said 10 of America’s most influential men and women involved in formulating American foreign policy would return to the mainland committed to helping the men and women of the Marianas who have served in uniform get the services they need and they would keep the Marianas in mind in their continuing dialogues with senior policymakers.

Farrell also recognized the efforts of the GUASA organizers Joe Arnett, Carl Peterson, Gerald “Gerry” Perez, John Thomas Brown, Juan Carlos Benitez and others who made the conference possible.

Marianas Variety: www.mvariety.com

Copyright 2013 Marianas Variety. All Rights Reserved

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

The Robin Hood Tax: A Response to Corporate Tax Evasion

October 29th, 2013 - by admin

The RobinHoodTax.org & Alan Pyke / ThinkProgress & Matt Krantz / USA Today – 2013-10-29 23:05:35


The Robin Hood Tax
Friends of the Earth & The Robin Hood Tax.org

(October 28, 2013) — Momentum is building globally for the Robin Hood Tax, a tiny tax on Wall Street and other big banks that would generate hundreds of billions of dollars each year to assist ordinary people, fight poverty and tackle climate change — here at home and around the world.

Across the world, people are showing that it’s time to put the people before the banks. Please help us spread the word by sharing this action with your friends and family. It only takes a few seconds but could make a huge difference. Together we can make this happen.

Europe is on the verge of establishing a Robin Hood Tax across 11 countries, but they need a push from the people. That’s why we’re asking you to add your name to a petition to European leaders demanding a Robin Hood Tax. Success in Europe will pave a much easier path to establishing such a tax here in the United States.

Help us reach our goal of one million people calling for a Robin Hood Tax. More than 600,000 people have already signed! Add your name to our petition now.

The Robin Hood Tax is a miniscule fee on Wall Street and other financial sector transactions, such as the trading of stocks, bonds, derivatives and other financial instruments — most of which are traded not by people, but by computers in a matter of microseconds.

The tax would curb harmful speculation and raise hundreds of billions of dollars of new revenue to pay for urgently-needed public goods and services, such as helping developing countries cope with the food shortages and threats to public health caused by our changing climate.

Please sign the petition now. It is past time we bring fairer taxation to the bloated financial sector, awash in profits and fat cat bonuses.

A Robin Hood Tax in Europe would be a huge step forward. It would help tremendously in setting the stage for implementing such a financial transaction tax here at home.

What’s more, the American people already support the tax. In polling commissioned by Friends of the Earth US, two-thirds of voters favored the tax, saying yes to “taxes on Wall Street banks that helped create our economic problems.” A majority of poll respondents favored reining in “the casino culture of Wall Street” and “skimming the fat off a sector that can afford to pay.”

We need your help to reach one million petition signers in support of a Robin Hood Tax. Click here now and add to the global momentum.

Friends of the Earth US, Washington DC, Berkeley CA

The Banker
Campaign video by Richard Curtis and Bill Nighy, about the Robin Hood Tax, a tiny tax on bank transactions that could raise hundreds of billions for public services and to tackle poverty and climate change at home and around the world. Add your own voice to the campaign at http://www.robinhoodtax.org.uk
This film was made with the support of the European Commission: http://ec.europa.eu/unitedkingdom/

Over 10 Percent Of America’s Largest Companies Pay Zero Percent Tax Rates
Alan Pyke / ThinkProgress

(October 25, 2013) — Among companies listed on the S&P 500, almost one in nine paid an effective tax rate of zero percent — or even lower — over the past year, according to an analysis by USA Today.

There are 57 separate companies listed on the index that paid a zero percent rate from the past year. Those companies include both household names like Verizon and News Corp. and lesser-known corporate giants like the data storage manufacturer Seagate (market value $15.9 billion) and Public Storage (market value $29.5 billion).

Many of the companies USA Today identified in its analysis as paying negative rates make the list because they lost money, but several were profitable. Previous analyses have shown that the typical corporation pays a lower effective tax rate than most middle-class families, and a far lower one than the statutory corporate tax rate against which business interests disingenuously rail.

Getting to a zero percent tax rate despite turning a profit requires creative accounting, but not lawbreaking. The corporate tax code allows companies to avoid tax liability even in years when they turn a profit.

Some of the profitable companies on the newspaper’s list, such as General Motors, achieved a zero percent rate by banking tax credits from previous years when business was bad. But the more common gambit involves moving revenues from parent companies to offshore subsidiaries based in tax haven countries in the Caribbean, Europe, and elsewhere.

Such offshoring of profits has caught the attention of policymakers in the United States and Europe this year, with the focus predominantly on Apple Inc. The US tech giant not only avoided the American tax system, but managed to shelter about $100 billion in revenues from any taxes at all.

That scheme relied upon a loophole in Irish law, which that country’s government says it intends to fix, but the narrow change proposed by Ireland’s finance minister will not address the larger problem of corporate tax avoidance.

Tax dodging costs the US about $300 billion per year. Much of that lost revenue is from individuals, rather than corporations. The country is cracking down on individual tax dodgers and striking deals with countries like Switzerland and the Cayman Islands that will help identify tax cheats starting in 2014.

The corporate tax avoidance problem is thornier, as it is generally done through entirely legal methods. Coordinating international tax law in a way that would minimize corporate tax trickery is very difficult under the current approach, and a paradigm shift in business tax law may be necessary to end the accounting practices that rob countries of tax revenue.

Large Companies Find Ways to a Zero Tax Rate
Matt Krantz / USA Today

(October 24, 2013) — Despite widespread groans about the recent disclosure that Apple is finding ways to cut its federal tax bill, an analysis shows the computer giant is one of scores of corporations largely dodging the taxman.

A surprising number of companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500, 57, have found ways to pay effective tax rates of zero, according to a USA TODAY analysis of data from S&P Capital IQ.

The effective tax rate is a popular measure used by investors to compare how much companies pay in tax relative to profit.

The news comes months after after the Government Accountability Office released a report showing that companies in 2010 reported an average effective tax rate of 12.6%, well below the 35% federal corporate tax rate.

Corporate giants such as telecom firm Verizon, drugmaker Bristol-Myers Squibb and power management firm Eaton, all reported effective tax rates of 0% during the past 12 months.

The findings underscore that while many companies bellyache about the top federal income tax rate of 35%, in reality, many pay much less than that, says Nick Yee of Gradient Analytics. “Investors hope company management is doing everything they can to generate profit, legally,” he says. “But the tax code is gray, and there’s often no set guidance.”

Some ways companies are driving their effective tax rates to zero include:

Offshore transfer payments. One of the favorite ways for companies to slash their tax bills is by setting up foreign subsidiaries to make raw materials and components in countries with low tax rates.

The companies’ US operations then purchase these parts from the foreign units at well above cost. By doing this, the overseas unit makes a large profit, which then escapes US taxes, as long as it stays in the foreign country, Yee says.

Transfer payments are used at Bristol, Forest Labs, Agilent Technologies, Eaton and Lam Research, he says. Many companies are likely waiting for a US tax-holiday, giving them a chance to bring the cash to the US tax-free, Yee says. Agilent and Bristol declined to comment. The other companies didn’t respond.

Harvesting losses. Most of the companies with effective tax rates of zero, or even negative, are money losers. While Hewlett-Packard, J.C. Penney and E-Trade pay taxes, since they lose money, they have negative effective tax rates due to the way the number is calculated. Yet, some big companies that have lost money in the past accumulate credits that can be used to offset tax bills in future years.

These reserves can be very lucrative and give profit a boost by lowering the effective tax rate, Yee says. Companies with these tax loss reserves include General Motors and Crown Castle, he says. GM, for instance, released credit from its reserve, taking it down from $45 billion to $11 billion. Investors must be aware, though, that once that $11 billion reserve is used up, the company’s tax rate returns to the statutory rate.

All this follows tax rules, but investors need to be aware. “This isn’t anything illegal, but the reserve will run out,” Yee says. GM declined to comment. The other companies didn’t respond.

Accounting rules. A big reason that Verizon’s effective tax rate is so low, coming in at a negative 4.8%, is largely due to accounting. The company’s sped-up depreciation, severance and pension costs are large credits that contribute to pushing the company’s taxes down, says Jonathan Schildkraut of Evercore. But there’s also a distortion caused by the company’s 55% interest in Verizon Wireless.

Vodafone, which owns 45% of Verizon Wireless, pays taxes on its share, but the entire profit is reported on income. Adjusting for this, Verizon’s effective tax rate is closer to 30%, the company says.

Verizon is buying Vodafone’s stake, which will eliminate the issue in the future. Similarly, real estate investment trusts have low effective tax rates because they pass profit to shareholders, who then pay the taxes.

The question for investors is whether or not companies paying low effective tax rates might, eventually, attract the attention to regulators. “They are slow at getting at these issues,” Yee says.

S&P 500 members citing effective
tax rates of 0% in past twelve months,
ranked by market value (in billions):

Verizon: $146.4
MetLife: $53.9
Eaton: $32.7
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals: $29.6
Public Storage: $29.5
Ventas: $19.3
Avalonbay Communities: $17.4
Agilent Technologies: $16.9
Vornado Realty Trust: $16.8
Boston Properites: $16.7
Seagate Technology: $15.9
Broadcom: $15.7
News Corp.: $9.8
Lam Research: $8.8
Kimco Realty: $8.6
Waters: $8.5
Macerich: $8.3
Plum Creek Timber: $8.4
PulteGroup: $6.4
Apartment Investment & Management: $4.3
Perkin Elmer: $4.2

Source: S&P Capital IQ

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Civilian Drone Strike Victims Appear before Congress

October 29th, 2013 - by admin

Brave New Foundation & John Glaser /The Washington Times – 2013-10-29 22:37:30


Congressional Briefing on Drones:
Watch the Video

(October 29, 2013) — Rafiq ur Rahman, a teacher at a primary school in North Waziristan, Pakistan, appeared at a briefing called by Representative Alan Grayson (FL-09), along with his children Nabila and Zubair, who were both injured in a drone attack in October 2012, Robert Greenwald, president of Brave New Foundation, and Jennifer Gibson, staff attorney with Reprieve. This event marked the first opportunity for Congress to hear from drone victim survivors.

Streamed live on Oct 29, 2013
This landmark briefing marks the first opportunity for Congress to hear in-person accounts from drone strike survivors. Other testimonies will be given by Robert Greenwald and the family’s lawyer Shahzad Akbar (via a representative from Reprieve UK) recounting the horror and immorality of civilian casualties in drone strikes.

Civilian Drone Strike Victims Appear before Congress
John Glaser /The Washington Times

WASHINGTON, DC (October 29, 2013) — “On October 24, 2012, a CIA drone killed my 67-year old mother and injured my children,” said a Pakistani schoolteacher before a Congressional briefing on Tuesday.

The briefing, organized by Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL), featured Rafiq ur Rehman and two of his children who survived the drone attack, as well as documentary filmmaker Robert Greenwald, who recently released a new exposè called Unmanned: America’s Drone Wars.

“Nobody has ever told me why my mother was targeted that day,” Rafiq ur Rehman explained. “The media reported that the attack was on a car, but there is no road alongside my mother’s house. Several reported the attack was on a house. But the missiles hit a nearby field, not a house. Many reported that three, four, five militants were killed.”

“But only one person was killed that day,” he said, “not a militant, but my mother.”

Rehman said his three children — 13-year-old Zubair, 9-year-old Nabila and 5-year-old Asma — were playing nearby their grandmother when she was killed. All three were injured by shrapnel and rushed to the hospital.

Rep. Alan Grayson, in introducing the Rehmans, held back tears as he condemned what he called “miniature acts of war.”

The Senate Judiciary Committee held a similar hearing in April, featuring Yemeni youth activist Farea al-Muslimi, who noted that just six days prior to the hearing, his “village was struck by a drone, in an attack that terrified thousands of simple, poor farmers.”

“What radicals had previously failed to achieve in my village,” al-Muslimi said, “one drone strike accomplished in an instant: there is now an intense anger and growing hatred of America,” adding that he has “seen al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula use US strikes to promote its agenda and try to recruit more terrorists.”

The added scrutiny of the Obama administration’s drone war comes on the heels of three studies questioning its legality and criticizing its effect on civilian populations.

The first was a report from the United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights and counterterrorism, which found that reliable information on the legality of each strike, and details of the effect on civilians, were incomplete because of the Obama administration’s insistence that such evidence be kept secret.

“In the United States, the involvement of CIA in lethal counter-terrorism operations in Pakistan and Yemen has created an almost insurmountable obstacle to transparency,” the report found.

“The Special Rapporteur does not accept that considerations of national security justify withholding statistical and basic methodological data of this kind,” it added.

Human Rights Watch also released a study investigating six drone strikes, which “killed 82 people, at least 57 of them civilians.”

“Two of these attacks were in clear violation of international humanitarian law,” the report found, “because they struck only civilians or used indiscriminate weapons,” while “the other four cases may have violated the laws of war because the individual attacked was not a lawful military target or the attack caused disproportionate civilian harm, determinations that require further investigation.”

One of the incidents researchers investigated was a September 2012 drone strike that killed 12 civilians, “including three children and a pregnant woman.”

“About four people were without heads. Many lost their hands and legs,” said Nawaf Massoud Awadh, a local sheik. “These were our relatives and friends.”

After the attack, a local Yemeni activist told CNN, “I would not be surprised if a hundred tribesmen joined the lines of al-Qaeda as a result of the latest drone mistake. This part of Yemen takes revenge very seriously.”

In another case, 41 civilians were killed in a US cruise missile attack on a Bedouin camp in southern Yemen. While 14 alleged al-Qaeda members were killed, the strike violated international law by not distinguishing between civilians and combatants.

“Nine of the dead were women — five of them pregnant — and 21 were children,” Human Rights Watch reported.

Finally, Amnesty International researched several drone strikes and found, like Human Rights Watch, that the drone war may constitute war crimes in some cases.

One of the incidents Amnesty looked at was the attack on Rafiq ur Rehman’s 67-year old mother. One of the grandchildren who appeared in the Congressional briefing on Tuesday, 9-year old Nabeela, told Amnesty that she “wasn’t scared of drones before, but now when they fly overhead I wonder, will I be next?”

The Amnesty report also criticized the Obama administration’s lack of transparency, noting that everything from “kill lists” to the US government’s own legal rationale behind the drone war remains a secret.

“Secrecy surrounding the drone program gives the US administration a license to kill beyond the reach of the courts or basic standards of international law,” said Mustafa Qadri, the author of the report.

Asked by a reporter what he would like to tell President Obama, Rafiq ur Rehman said, in part, “what happened to my family was wrong.”

Drone Operators Rewarded for Kills

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Grenada 30 Year Ago: Exposing the Lies behind the US Invasion

October 29th, 2013 - by admin

Gar Smith / Environmentalists Against War – 2013-10-29 02:44:49

Special to EAW

Hidden History — 1983: Before the Invasion
A Reporter Visits Grenada’s New Airport to Disprove Ronald Reagan’s Rabid Rhetoric

POINT SALINAS, Grenada (March 30, 1983) — “I very much approve of the way your President Reagan is handling these troublemakers,” the Caribbean businessman had said during a ride south from Trinidad’s capitol, Port-of-Spain, “We thought your President Carter was too soft.”

He was speaking of leftist agitation in the region. A widely traveled executive, he had just returned to Trinidad after several years working in the airport industry in Barbados. One would expect him to share President Reagan’s concern over the new airport under construction on the island of Grenada. He didn’t.

“Genada is no danger,” he laughs, “Let them be. If the US is worried about such things why doesn’t it worry about Barbados? When I was there, I would see Cuban and Russian planes coming and going all the time. This is no secret here.”

Still, the President and Pentagon officials continue to warn that Grenada’s new international airport is being built to accommodate Soviet and Cuban military moves in the Caribbean. Is the airport really a threat to regional stability? Or is it, as the People’s Revolutionary Government (PRG) of Grenada adamantly insists, simply intended to gain vital access to the lucrative tourist trade?

I hopped a flight from Trinidad to the People’s Revolutionary Government to assess the supposed threat first-hand. The Grenada government had recently organized press tours to the airport construction site on the southwest tip of the island. I decided to go without an invitation.

A Surprise Inspection
It is a four-mile walk under a blazing Caribbean sun from the sugar mill in the hills above the sparkling Grand Anse Beach to the wave-wreathed promontory of Point Salines. And, while President Reagan has pictured Grenada as being caught in “the tightening grip of the totalitarian left,” a visitor soon finds there is almost unlimited access to anyone to move across this island.

On the crumbling asphalt road that threads through a desolate landscape of brush and cactus, one encounters nothing more intimidating than cattle dozing on the rutted pavement and goats munching moistly on patches of thistle.

Suddenly, a siren wails and a violent explosion nearly knocks me off my feet. No, I’m not under attack. I soon realize the explosion is the result of airport construction workers dynamiting a mountainside. Over the top of the next rise the airport comes into view.

It is a panorama of bustling activity. Dozens of plunging trucks raise pale banners of orange dust as they barrel past the blue waters of Black Bay. Dump trucks carrying tons of crushed rock careen down wide dirt roads. A dredge kicks up a tide of brown silt in the clear turquoise sea as it sucks up part of the four million cubic tons of sand, which will eventually fill in a stretch of water the size of four football fields.

The construction site is completely open. No gates, no guards.

I walk in from open country with a camera over my shoulder and pass among the crowd of Grenadian and Cuban workers with no more concern than if I were strolling down a street in the capitol of St. Georges.

Stopping a passing Cuban, I joke in halting Spanish that I am “one North American who is not afraid of this airport.” He laughs, clasps my shoulder and grins, “Venceremos!” Then he directs me toward the office of the Airport Site Manager.

Meeting the Man behind the Airport Plan
Ron Smith, the Grenada-born project manager is a large, genial man. Physically, he resembles filmmaker Frederico Fellini, but he speaks with the gentle lilt of the islands. Trained in Canada as a civil engineer, the silver-haired Smith is also the designer of the airport at St. Lucia. He scoffs at the US hysteria over his project.

“This airport is the smallest size permitted under the rules of the International Civil Air Authority for tourism in a developing country,” Smith objects. “The maximum length allowed is 3,000 meters. We are actually a bit shorter than the permissible maximum.” In fact, the $71 million airfield is to extend only 2,740 meters (9,000 feet), which is about the same length as the airstrips on St. Lucia and Antigua.

When asked about possible military use of this site, Smith waves his large hands across the view from his hilltop office.

“Look around! There’s no space for anything but a landing strip,” he protests. A military base requires storage and hanger space, he says, but this runway is shoehorned into a narrow boot of land set gingerly between “a bloody hill and the water.”

Grenada’s Airfield Poses No ‘Strategic Military Threat’
The setting is picturesque. From the perspective of an engineer, however, it is arduous. At one end of the proposed airfield, a handsome old stone lighthouse had to be razed. At the other end, a mountain is being blasted out of the way. In between, a salt pond and a huge bay must be replaced with landfill. (It has turned out that rubble from the dynamited hillsides is too porous to serve as fill so the lagoons are being filled with incompressible ocean sand drawn laboriously from around the island’s cape.)

When the airport is completed in early 1984, it will be one of the smallest in the Caribbean. “It will be capable of handling, at any one time, one 747, one 727 and five 20-seaters,” Smith says.

A fierce winds rattles the windows of his hilltop office as Smith pulls a reference book from his files and points to a list which shows that Trinidad, Antigua, St. Lucia, Curacao, Guadalupe, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, the Bahamas and the Dominican Republic all have airports larger than the one being built in Grenada. Only the airports on Jamaica and Haiti are smaller.

When completed, the new international airport will barely accommodate a 727 or a 747-100B commercial jetliner. It is doubtful that the runway could handle even a Cubana Airways Illyshin jet or a Tupolec TU-144 (Russia’s version of the Concorde). On the other hand, it is possible for Soviet AN-22 “Cub” long-range heavy transports or MIG jet fighters to take off and land on such a modest runway. There is, however, no earthly reason why a Cub — with a range of 3,500 miles — would ever need such a stopover. MIG “Floggers” and “Foxbats” — whose range is limited to between 200-800 miles — would be even more isolated if placed in Grenada.

In any event, all of these Soviet aircraft are perfectly capable of taking-off and landing from the existing 1,600-meter Pearls Airport on Grenada’s eastern coast.

The Airport’s Purpose: Tourism, Not Terrorism
Pentagon officials claim the international airport is not required by Grenada’s “small tourist plant.” Grenada’s Minister of Tourism, Selwyn Strachan, disputes this.

“For many years, the people here have wanted an airport,” Strachan explained during a brief visit to the site. “The new airport will offer considerable convenience for visitors, traveling public and relations returning for family emergencies.”

Strachan cited a study commissioned by the Hotel Association that revealed that 90 out of every 100 potential visitors to Grenada tended to cancel out in Barbados due to the inconvenience of “substantially more expensive” necessity of making a further connecting flight into the old Pearls Airport.

It is surprising to learn that Grenada’s many handsome hotels have historically operated at only 30 percent capacity. This was true even during the regime of former Prime Minister Sir Eric Gairy. There is a vast, unrealized potential in Grenada’s “tourist plant.”

At a recent press conference, PRG Prime Minister Maurice Bishop spoke bitterly about the propaganda campaign that has damaged Grenada’s tourist industry. “There have been stories in the press about military airports, submarine pens and harbors being built,” he said. “One West German paper reported that we have cleared a forest for missiles aimed at neighboring islands!

Another claimed Grenada had been hollowed out to make room for a hidden underground submarine base! Quite frankly,” Bishop replies, “Grenada is so small that there’s really no way of hiding such things.”

In a reference to American US spy photos purporting to show new Army buildings in Nicaragua, Bishop jokes, “You don’t need photos from a million-dollar satellite from hundreds of miles up in space. A simple glance from any LIAT flight shows these stories are untrue.

“Our best answer to this propaganda,” Bishop adds, “is to ask people to come here, visit and see that Grenada is the most democratic, most stable country in the English -speaking Caribbean and also has the lowest rate of crime.”

Why Does Washington Fear ‘Cuban Aid’?
Bishop responded to another charge from Washington: the matter of Cuban aid in the building of the airstrip. “There have been no requests whatever to reciprocate, no demands made on foreign or domestic policy,” he declared. In contrast, he noted, “It has been the United States that has been giving NO aid, that has been making ALL the requests and demands!”

Some 250 Cuban workers — women and men‚ are housed in wooden barracks on the hillside. Another 360 Grenadians are also working on the airport and — surprisingly — nearly a dozen Americans employed by a Florida firm are pitching in by helping dredge Hardy Bay.

Cuban music pulses from somewhere inside the dozen yellow barracks buildings while, on the road below, a series of billboards carries the message — “Gloria Eterna por los Martyrs de la Revolucion.” The signs serve as a reminder of the recent death of a young Cuban worker, Roman Quintara, who was killed in the nearby quarry when his Komatsu tractor overturned, crushing him.

This death touched many Grenadians deeply. A popular calypso was composed in Quintara’s honor. At a party at the Prime Minister’s house on the anniversary of the March 13 revolution, a young cooperative farmworker named Patrick, when challenged about the Cuban involvement, immediately speaks of Quintara.

“The death of Ramon pains me deeply,” he says, clutching at his shirt, his face twisted in anguish. “Please understand!” Patrick continues, “He didn’t have to be out there. It was a Sunday but he had volunteered to work extra hours because he believed in the importance of his work for us.”

A visiting Black American from New York expresses surprise. “That would never happen in America,” he jokes. “We’d insist on time-and-a half.”

“They are not working for money,” Patrick replies impatiently. “They are working as our friends.”

The 25-year-old Blueprints
That Exposed Reagan’s Lie

The dozen or so Americans working on the dredging rigs at Hardy Bay are loath to identify themselves. Not because they share Washington’s presumed opinion that their work borders on treason — they can see first-hand the limitations of the Grenada airstrip — but because, as one airport official explained, “They are afraid of the anti-Castro terrorists who might try to sabotage their equipment. And they are worried about their families back in the States. Many of these men come from the Miami area.”

Returning to his office, Ron Smith offers a final reposte to Washington’s hysterical reaction to the Grenada airport. The plan is nothing new, Smith points out. “It has been under discussion for the last 25 years. There have been six different studies.” Smith should know. He has worked on most of them.

He pulls a grey binder down from a shelf and spreads it out on his desk. Inside is a map of Point Salines and, drawn over it, the plan of an airstrip nearly identical to the one now under construction. Smith stabs his finger at date on the document — February 1966.

“It was so frustrating all those years, doing this work and seeing nothing done,” Smith recalls. He confesses there is a special pleasure for him as a Grenadian, to return to this native country and oversee the development of this particular airport. After years of inaction under the Gairy government, he notes with a broad smile, the airport is finally being built.

It is hoped that the first 5,000 feet of the new airport will be open by Spring of 1983. Until that day, Grenada will remain the only Caribbean nation without an international airport or night landing capability. This last factor has caused Grenada many cancellations and lost revenue. The importance of night-landing opportunities is not lost on Ron Smith.

“When St. Lucia’s airport added night lighting, the passenger load doubled,” Smith says. While in St. Vincent, the addition of night lighting doubled passenger traffic in only two years. “There were only 19,000 tourists in 1977 but, by 1980, there were 44,000. That’s very spectacular growth,” he grins.

As the Reagan Administration embarks on plans to spend $21 million to lease military airfields in Colombia and Honduras, it is instructive to recall that the largest military base in the Caribbean is located on the island of Cuba — and it is operated by the United States. Guantanamo Bay, “the Pearl Harbor of the Atlantic,” sprawls over 28,000 acres. This single US base comprises a chunk of land that is nearly a third the size of the entire nation of Grenada.

“Investment is the basis of development for our country,” Grenada’s Finance Minister Bernard Coard recently declared. Because of that, Coard noted, “that shining runway leads straight into real change and prosperity for all of us here.” Equally important, Coard observed, is the fact that the airport is “a symbol of how much we can move and change.”

“Look how imperialism tried to take our airport from us; how they tried to sabotage its construction,” Coard complained. America, he said, “spends all its money on more and more weapons of savagery and destruction — on neutron bombs and missiles. We do the opposite: We build, we construct. We are the makers of the future.”

Gar Smith, an award-winning Berkeley-based journalist, visited and reported from Grenada 30 years ago, both following the New Jewel Movement before and after the US invasion. Smith is co-founder of Environmentalists Against War.

Bombing Paradise: The Pentagon Expands its List of Pacific Islands Targeted for Destruction

October 29th, 2013 - by admin

Moana Nui & Rolynda Jonathan / OceanaTV & Michael Hadfield / The Sierra Club & NDJ World Mobile – 2013-10-29 02:33:14

Special to EAW

US Military Planning to Target Pagan Island

US Considers CNMI For Military Explosives Training
Rolynda Jonathan

/ OceanaTV

(June 16, 2013) — The United States military is considering the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands (CNMI) for an explosive training site. Two areas in CNMI, namely Tinian and Pagan are being explored as potential sites for live explosive training as part of the US’ military build up in the Pacific. But opposition movements on CNMI have expressed concerns about potential environmental damage and access to areas with cultural significance such as Pagan.

The US military eyed CNMI as a potential location for the Marines training site as Guam and Hawaii are reportedly at capacity. 
Major Neal Fisher Marines Public Affairs Officer on Guam told Radio New Zealand that an environmental impact report will be prepared over the next year and if live-fire activity have a severe impact on CNMI, they will return to the drawing board.

A Guam Pacific Daily News report indicates that the US military restructure in the Pacific costs $12.1 billion, but the military cannot provide accurate cost information to budget makers until environmental studies including negotiations with host nations such as Guam and the CNMI are complete.

A History of the Militarization of the Marianas
And the Growing Popular Resistance

Julian Aguon / IntelForm & Moana Nui

(October 10, 2013) — Native Chamorro attorney and author Julian Aguon speaks on the arresting beauty of Pagan island, US imperialism, indigenous rights and the language of loss.

Pagan Island —
Too Beautiful to Bomb

Michael Hadfield / The Sierra Club

(September 16, 2013) — Pagan Island, one of a string of volcanic islands that make up the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas (CNMI), is an ancient home to the Chamorro people and the habitat of unique animals and plants, many of them endemic, rare and endangered.

Those natural and cultural resources are being put at risk by a plan by the US Marines to use the island as a live-fire training ground. In scoping documents related to the environmental impact statement required for that plan to go forward, the Marines have characterized Pagan Island as being “desolate and uninhabitable.” Photographs included below show how untrue this is.

Under a contract with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Sierra Club member Mike Hadfield of the University of Hawaii and his research team spent two weeks on Pagan Island, traversing it and cataloging biological resources found there.

Team members saw firsthand what is at stake and are working with residents of the Northern Mariana Islands to engage other individuals and organizations, including the Sierra Club, in the struggle to save Pagan Island….

Pagan Island has been inhabited by Chamorro people for more than 2,000 years, as attested by remains of ancient villages. It continues to be the home of a small population of Chamorros, and many more want to return to their ancestral homelands. Recent articles from Marianas newspapers, which can be found on the Save Pagan Island website, tell of the connection many people feel with Pagan and other northern islands and their desire to return to them.

Pagan Island is beautiful and peaceful now, but it is at grave risk of being bombed, blasted, and shelled into a ruined and uninhabitable place if the US military succeeds in turning it into a “target island” for live-fire training, as has happened in the past with other islands used for such purposes, including Vieques Island in Puerto Rico, Kaho’olawe Island in Hawai’i, and the Bikini, Enewetak, and Kwajelein Atolls in the Marshall Islands. Islands such as Diego Garcia, in the Indian Ocean, have simply been taken away from their native inhabitants and never returned to them.

The Save Pagan Island website (www.savepaganisland.org) provides a wealth of information on the history of the island, the US Marines’ plan for taking the island for live-fire training, the residents’ reactions to those plans, plus more photos that illustrate the beauty of the island. The website is building a broad base of support for taking on the political forces supporting the US military’s plan.

Future steps in the struggle will include review of the environmental impact statement now being prepared by the US Marine Corps for its planned uses of Pagan Island and other areas in the CNMI.

The Sierra Club and other organizations with relevant expertise will be working with Save Pagan Island to review the EIS, make comments on it, and assure that the final EIS meets the legal requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act.

Michael Hadfield is a Professor of Biology at the University of Hawai’i.

12 Beautiful Islands The US Military Uses For Target Practice
NDJ World Mobile

(September 8, 2013) — The US military uses 12 beautiful islands where soldiers practice their shooting and bombing skills, even though these islands are of significant environmental importance, with many of the landmasses growing fauna and flora that can not be found anywhere else in the world.

The Pagan-Island, which is part of the Northern Mariana Islands is such place where flora and fauna grow that is unique to the Island. Scientists fear that continued target practicing by the US military on the Island will result in all those rare and unique plants disappearing eventually.

The Bikini-atoll, part of the Marshal Islands, is possibly the best known US Military test site. After World War II, the US Military conducted numerous hydrogen and atomic bomb tests on the island, forcing those living there to move. After the tests were completed, residents were allowed to return to Bikini but radiation levels were too high and people were forced to move again. Today there are less than 10 people living on the island.

Enewetak, also part of the Marshal Islands, is the location where the United States tested its very first hydrogen bomb in 1952. In 1977 the United States dumped the nuclear waste and radioactive dirt in one of the craters on the island and filled up the hole with a thick layer of cement.

The Kwajalein Atoll is a third Marshal Island region used by US military to test its firing power. In 2012, the US Military conducted its largest air assault test ever on the Kwajalein Atoll. The Marshall Islands are made up of 90 separate islands. The United States owns 11 of them.

The Island of Culebra, which is part of Puerto Rico, was used as a gunning and bombing test site by the US Navy from 1939 to 1975. In 1971 the people of Culebra began protests, known as the “Navy-Culebra protests”, for the removal of the US Navy from Culebra. Four years later, in 1975, the use of Culebra as a gunnery range ceased and all operations were moved to Vieques.

Vieques, a neighboring island of Culebra, was used by the US Navy as a military practicing site from 1949 to 2001, occupying two-thirds of the island. The island was fired upon from the air or from the sea. In 1999 a resident of Vieques was killed when a US Navy bombing test went wrong, giving rise to a massive protest by locals, forcing the US Navy to halt all operations.

The Aleutian Islands, located between the US and Russia, just west of Alaska, extend about 1,200 miles and are made up of a chain of 14 large volcanic islands and 57 smaller ones.

Between 1965 and 1971 the US military performed 3 atomic bomb tests on the island of Amchitka. The largest of the bombs, called “the Cannikin” had an atomic force that was 385 times more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima Japan. It is the largest underground nuclear explosion by the United States to date.

The Makua Valley located off the western coast of the O okina ahu island in Hawaii, is being used by the US Military since 1920 to conduct mortar shells and artillery exercises.

The Kaho’olawe Island in Hawaii has been a test site for the US Military since WWII. In 1965 the US Marines detonated a 500 ton TNT bomb which made a gigantic crater impression on the Island. The huge crater is off limits for the most part because there are still other explosives left behind that did not detonate. All testing were halted on the Island in 1990, when long dragging protests forced the US military to stop their bombing practices.

Kirimati or “Christmas Island”, which is the largest Atoll in the world and belongs to the Republic of Kiribati, was a test site for the US Military from 1957 to 1962. During that time, the British military was also using the island to conduct its own gun and bombing tests.

The Johnston Atoll, an uninhabited island in the Pacific Ocean, about 750 nautical miles southwest of Hawaii, was a US military test site and military landing base for 70 years. During that time, the island was also used as a dumping ground to expose of chemical weapons. In 2004, the island came under the protection of the US Fish and Wildlife Services and has been ever since.

The Pohakuloa Training Area (PTA) on the big island of Hawaii is the United States Military’s largest training/testing site in the Pacific Ocean. The area includes a small military airstrip known as “Bradshaw Army Airfield”. The region was used for live fire exercises in 1943 during World War II. PTA has a 51,000 acres impact area which is used for bombing and gunnery practice.

The area got refurbished in March 2009 to allow helicopter training. Its remoteness allows a wide range of weapons to be used, including the Davy Crockett nuclear rifle with dummy warheads and depleted Uranium. Radiation has been detected in the area but levels are said not to be life-threatening.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

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