Archive | August 15th, 2011

Restore Confidence and Avoid a Global Economic Depression

NOVANEWS
By Prof. Rodrigue Tremblay

“… if financial markets are skittish and don’t have confidence in a country’s fiscal soundness, that is also going to undermine our recovery.” President Barack Obama, June 27, 2011 (in a news conference at the conclusion of the Toronto G-20 summit)

The U.S. government has to come to terms with the painful fact that the good old days when it could just borrow its way out of messes of its own making are finally gone.” Xinhua, China’s official state-run news agency, August 6, 2011

Moderate inflation in the short run – say 6 per cent for two years … inflation is an unfair way of effectively writing down all non-indexed debts in the economy. … But it would significantly ameliorate the problems, making other steps less costly and more effective.” Kenneth Rogoff, Harvard economist (December 2008)

“A budget deficit is inflationary if, and only if, it is financed in considerable part by printing money.” Milton Friedman (1912-2006), American economist

“Inflationism … is not an isolated phenomenon. It is only one piece in the total framework of politico-economic and socio-philosophical ideas of our time. Just as the sound money policy of gold standard advocates went hand in hand with liberalism, free trade, capitalism and peace, so is inflationism part and parcel of imperialism, militarism, protectionism, statism and socialism.” Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973), Austrian economist, On the Manipulation of Money and Credit, p. 48

Inflation and credit expansion, the preferred methods of present day government openhandedness, do not add anything to the amount of resources available. They make some people more prosperous, but only to the extent that they make others poorer.”Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973), Austrian economist, Bureaucracy p. 84

Inflation is the fiscal complement of statism and arbitrary government. It is a cog in the complex of policies and institutions which gradually lead toward totalitarianism.” Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973), Austrian economist, The Theory of Money and Credit, p. 468

“The inflationism of the currency systems of Europe has proceeded to extraordinary lengths. The various belligerent Governments, unable, or too timid or too short-sighted to secure from loans or taxes the resources they required, have printed notes for the balance.” John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946), British economist, (The Economic Consequences of the Peace, 1919)

Financial markets show signs that they have lost confidence in politicians in both in the U.S. and in Europe. They have reached the conclusion that those presently in charge are not on top of things, and that either they don’t understand the current economic problems their countries face or they lack the will or ability to bring forth the bold economic policies that would be required to solve them.

For one, the U.S. government looks like a ship in a storm without a captain, with President Obama and the Republican-influenced Congress stubbornly paralyzing each other. In Europe, politicians and central bankers seem to react to crisis and look like they are always behind a crisis when it occurs.

The trigger that may have persuaded many investors and consumers to adopt a more prudent approach took place on Friday August 5, 2011 when the credit agency Standard & Poor’s finally downgraded the U.S. government long term debt from triple A to AA+, blaming the obvious incapacity of American politicians to come to grips with the government’s fiscal crisis, let alone cure the nation’s economic problems. Indeed, the previous week, American politicians had given the world a spectacle of rarely seen political buffoonery and confusion with some of them straight-jacketing themselves in signing ridiculous documents pledging to “never to raise taxes”  while others were reverting to the primitive practice of using incantations to gods [http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/06/the-response_n_871829.html] to solve the nation’s economic problems. —That’s nothing to inspire confidence.

All this has been seen before, as it was in Japan some ten years ago. Indeed, on Saturday February 24, 2001, Standard & Poor’s downgraded the government of Japan’s long term debt from its top rating of AAA down a notch to AA+, blaming the lack of needed structural reforms and rising public debt. The Japanese economy was then mired in a slow growth environment with an aging population, and was recovering from a real estate debacle, while the government’s fiscal deficits were approaching 10 percent of gross domestic product and its public debt/GDP ratio was 135 percent and rising. Indeed, Japanese debt kept rising and it was downgraded many times afterwards.

Just as the United States today, Japan then had a growing public-sector debt, large fiscal deficits that its politicians seemed unable to control and to top it all off, Japan had a troubled banking sector that was also overburdened with bad debt. —The Japanese economy has languished in a relative economic stagnation ever since. Its main stock market, the Nikkei, peaked at 38,957 in December 1989 and it is still presently much lower, i.e. below 10,000. Contrary to the U.S. government, however, whose debt is 40 percent owned by foreigners, Japanese government bonds were largely held domestically, thus insulating somewhat the country from international financial markets .

It must be recognized that the present day U.S. economy never really dug itself out of the economic recession that began in 2008, with the subprime financial crisis. It is true that the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) has announced that the economic recession officially lasted from December 2007 to June 2009. However, with hindsight, this may have been a premature call.

Indeed, while NBER focuses on a variety of different measures of economic activity to establish its official recession dates for the whole economy, periods of recession in the labor market have recently had a tendency to last much longer than the fluctuations in national output. Presently, the U.S. official unemployment rate is still above 9 percent, as compared to 5 percent in early 2008, while the level of employment is some 6.8 million lower than it was in early 2008. (Of course, when considering discouraged unemployed workers and those forced to work part-time, the real unemployment rate in the U.S. is closer to 20 percent than to 10 percent.) Clearly therefore, from a labor market perspective, the U.S. economy is still in recession.

There is no other institution but the U.S. federal government that could, at least in theory, stir the economy from its current state of stagnation. Indeed, there is little that the central bank, the Fed, can do since it has already pushed short-term interest rates close to zero and has pumped into the economy all the liquidity it needs. Similarly, at the state level, most governments are very stressed fiscally speaking and they tend to lay off people, and thus they are contributing to the economic downfall.

Let’s look briefly at the Fed’s options.

Let’s note that it is illusory to think that a central bank can solve a country’s structural economic problems on its own through monetary means. This cannot be done. A central bank can facilitate economic growth, but it cannot create it.

For the time being, the Bernanke Fed has announced that it will keep short-term interest rates at near zero for at least another two years, after having pursued this very loose policy for the last three years, thus confirming in the minds of many investors that the ailing debt-ridden U.S. economy is dead in the water and that it resembles more and more the Japanese economy of the last twenty years.

In theory, of course, the Fed could keep printing new money, but this is unlikely to increase employment and economic growth, and may instead, in due time, have the reverse effect. In fact, the Bernanke Fed is already the largest holder of U.S. Treasury bonds ($1.6 trillion) after its numerous Quantitative Easing (QE) operations, ahead of foreign owners [http://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/data-chart-center/tic/Documents/mfh.txt] such as China ($1.2 trillion) and Japan ($0.9 trillion). This is equivalent to having lent new printed money to the Treasury or to have reimbursed other holders of Treasury bonds with newly printed money. Another way to look at this is to say that the Fed has been busymonetizing the US Treasury debt over the last two years, thus contributing to the demise of the U.S. dollar.

But, printing money above and beyond normal liquidity needs is a third-world recipe for disaster. This has been tried time and again with the same disastrous economic and political results, i.e. with inflation [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inflation] and even hyperinflation, [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyperinflation] with a drop in national savings and investments, with the destruction of people’s pensions and economic security, with an outflow of capital and finally, with the impoverishment of a nation. Inflation and hyperinflation are also the bedrocks on which dictators begin their ascent.

A good example is the German Weimar Republic in the 1920s and its hyperinflation policy: It gave rise to Adolf Hitler. Those who propose inflation, instead of sound and vigorous economic policies, as a solution to the U.S.’s structural problems—and to Europe’s structural problems for that matter—should think twice about the consequences of such a foolish approach.

A small additional step that the Bernanke Fed can take (a thing that it has refused to do until now) would be to stop subsidizing large banks by paying interest on the excess reserves that they keep deposited at the Fed, after ironically having borrowed the same money from the Fed itself at near zero interest rate. That should be an outrage, but American politicians seem to be asleep at the switch.

That leaves the U.S. government with the task of stabilizing the economy.

Unfortunately, it has become a cliché to observe that the U.S. government is currently more or less dysfunctional, being deadlocked into a partisan and ideological stalemate that pits a lame duck democratic President against a rudder-less Republican dominated House of Representatives. That is the source of the crisis of confidence [http://www.buffalonews.com/editorial-page/article513761.ece] that has griped the markets recently. There is this uneasy feeling that nobody is in charge at a time when the economy is stagnating and could be teetering at the edge of an economic depression.

In the case cooler heads prevail, here are a few examples of reappraisals and bold policies that I alluded to before:

First of all, come to grips with the fact that the current fiscal deficit, besides the run-away cost of certain non-insurance based entitlements, can be attributed to three moves made over the last ten years:

1- The Bush-Cheney administration’s tax cuts for the super rich in 2003 ($1 trillion);
2- The Bush-Paulson administration’s and the Obama’s administration gift to the largest banks (another $1 trillion);
3- The Bush-Cheney administrations’ two wars in Afghanistan (since 2001) and in Iraq (since 2003) which have cost so far at least $1 trillion.

If ways could be found to curtail such unproductive expenditures, this would alleviate a lot of budget pressure and at least slowdown the rate of increase of the public debt.

Secondly, tax measures could be introduced to discourage American companies from exporting jobs abroad. Presently, through various schemes, most large American companies hardly pay any taxes on the earnings and profits they make by operating abroad. This put domestic job-creating investments at a big disadvantage. Non-repatriating profits, beyond a certain threshold, could be subject to a special assessment. Try it, and you will observe an inflow of job-creating capital into the U.S..

Thirdly, with aging social infrastructures crumbling, the government could embark on a ten-year Eisenhower-type infrastructure program. This would go a long way to rejuvenate the ailing construction industry.

A fourth avenue would be to reformulate immigration policies [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immigration_policy] in the current context of free international trade and high domestic unemployment. In such an environment when labor-intensive goods can be imported, the need for imported cheap labor is greatly reduced and limited to very specific industries, such as agriculture.

These are only a few examples of feasible measures that a prudent government could adopt when faced with economic and fiscal structural problems.

If the economy languishes for many years, or worse, if a full-fledged economic depression ensues, the economic losses in unemployment and in lack of economic growth would be much larger than the few measures mentioned above.

Think about it.

Posted in USAComments Off on Restore Confidence and Avoid a Global Economic Depression

Analysis of Financial Terrorism in America

NOVANEWS
Over 1 Million Deaths Annually, 62 Million People With Zero Net Worth, As the Economic Elite Make Off With $46 Trillion
By David DeGraw

AmpedStatus.org Editor’s Note: The following report includes adapted excerpts from David DeGraw’s book, “The Road Through 2012: Revolution or World War III.” Release Date: 9.28.11

Abstract: Welcome to World War III

Despite increasing personal financial hardship, most Americans remain unaware of the economic world war currently unfolding. An all-pervasive corporate and government propaganda campaign has effectively obscured this blatant reality. After extensive analysis, it is evident that World War III is a war between the richest one-tenth of one percent of the global population and 99.9 percent of humanity. Or, as I have called it, The Economic Elite Vs. The People [18]. This war has been a one-sided attack thus far. However, as we have seen throughout the world in recent months, the people are beginning to fight back. The following report is a statistical analysis of the systemic economic attacks against the American people.

Introduction

The American public has sustained intensive economic attacks across broad segments of the population. While the attacks have been increasingly severe in scale over the past four years, they have been implemented with technocratic precision. They have been incrementally applied thus far, successfully keeping the population passive and avoiding any large-scale civilian unrest, while effectively reducing living standards for the majority of the population. As you will see in this report, the 55 million Americans that have been hit the hardest have thus far acquiesced due to temporary financial assistance, such as food stamps and extended unemployment benefits.

The global Economic Elite have been much more strategic in handling the American public, as they are potentially the greatest threat to their continued consolidation of wealth, resources and power. National populations that are not as powerful, and on the periphery of the Economic Elite’s global empire, have been dealt with in much harsher fashion. In many smaller and less powerful countries the dramatic rise in food prices and costs of living have led to all-out revolt — Tunisia, Algeria, Albania and Egypt were among the first to rebel. While the contagion of rebellion has rapidly spread throughout Northern Africa and the Middle East, it is also spreading in a decentralized manner throughout most of the world, now threatening popular rebellion throughout Europe. Like the US population, the geographically clustered European nations represent a potentially powerful countervailing force to the Economic Elite’s continued domination.

Within the United States, the technocratic suppression of the population has been extensive. Increasingly severe economic and governmental policies have systematically eroded civilian wealth, power and rights. Intensive propaganda has effectively distracted, confused, isolated, marginalized and divided the US population. Despite the success of these efforts thus far, given the severe, prolonged, unsustainable and escalating level of economic suffering, outbreaks of civil unrest are inevitable. The US population, if a critical mass is reached, represents the greatest threat to the Economic Elite. In this regard, the American people are their primary adversary.

In writing this report, I will clearly demonstrate the severity and scale of the deliberate systemic economic attacks against the US population, in hope that we can urgently build a critical mass of aware and engaged citizens.

Part One :: The Economic Devastation

Snapshot: According to most recent Census Bureau data, from 2005 – 2009, average US household wealth declined by 28% [19]. This represents a loss of $27,000 per household. Currently, at least 62 million Americans, 20% [19] of US households, have zero or negative net worth.

The Census figures cited above are based on statistics that have been consistently proven to be lowball estimates. The government and corporate media spread propaganda on vital economic statistics that mask the severity of our economic crisis. Deceptive inflation, unemployment, poverty and GDP measures, which cast the illusion of recovery, are easily exposed with some research and a closer look at the data. Throughout this report, we will explore significant examples of government economic propaganda. In several cases, the government has been forced to revise their numbers due to proven inaccuracies. The government’s “revisions” are most always for the worse, and are usually just a footnote correction that the public is rarely ever aware of. All that being said, for many statistics we are forced to use government data, as there are not any other extensive data sets available from alternative sources.

I :: Record Breaking Poverty

The Census Bureau poverty rate is a horribly flawed measurement that uses outdated methodology. The Census measures poverty based on costs of living metrics established in 1955 – 56 years ago. They ignore many key factors, such as the increased costs of medical care, child care, education, transportation, and many other basic costs. They also don’t factor geographically-based costs of living. The National Academy of Science measure, which gets little if any corporate media coverage, gives a much more accurate account of poverty, as they factor in these vital cost of living variables.

The most current Census data revealed that 43.6 million Americans, 14.3% of the population, lived in poverty in 2009. While that is a staggering number that represents the highest number of American people to ever live in poverty, and a dramatic increase of four million people since 2008, it significantly under-counted the total. Last year, in my analysis [20], extrapolating data from 2008 National Academy of Science findings, I estimated that the number of Americans living in poverty in 2009 was at least 52 million [20]. Recently, the National Academy of Science released their latest findings, backing up my claim by revealing that 52,765,000 [21] Americans, 17.3% of the population, lived in poverty in 2009.

The poverty rate for children is even worse. According to Census data, a total of 15.5 million [22] American children lived in poverty in 2009, which is 20% of all children. The number of children in poverty increased 28% since 2000, and jumped 10% from 2008 to 2009. Extrapolating data from the 2009 National Academy of Science poverty rate, in relation to the Census childhood poverty data, the number of American children living in poverty in 2009 is more accurately 18.8 million, which is 24%, or nearly one in four.

Other than this rapidly increasing number children who are in families that have recently fallen into poverty, “every day in America 2,573 babies [22] are born into poverty.”

As the chart to the right shows, even with the lower Census numbers, nine major American cities have a poverty rate over 25%.

It is important to note, based on many key indicators, as you will see throughout this report, the overall poverty totals have increasedsince 2009. Also consider that the recent deficit reduction plan is going to cut “anti-poverty” programs that currently assist tens of millions of Americans. A study by the National Bureau of Economic Research estimates that “the poverty rate would double [23] without these programs.” It is predicted that the new deficit deal will cut the funding for these programs in half [24], which, based on these estimates, would bring the total number of Americans living in poverty up to 80 million people, 26% of the population.

II :: Record Breaking Food Insecurity

For another revealing statistic, which has been quickly increasing, we can look at the number of Americans currently surviving off of food stamps. In 2005, 25.7 million [25] Americans needed food stamps, currently 45.8 million people [26] rely on them. As the chart to the right shows, the number of people in need of food stamps has been rapidly increasing year-over-year.

Meanwhile, Congress is cutting the funding [27] for the food stamp program at a time when the Department of Agriculture estimates that an additional 22.5 million [28] people will need them, bringing the total number of Americans in need of food assistance to a stunning 68.3 million people.

III :: Record Breaking Unemployment

While the “official” unemployment rate hovers around 9%, 14 million people, the government’s numbers are deceptively low once again. The only reason unemployment has stayed below 10% for the past few months is because millions of long-term unemployed, and part-time workers who are looking for full-time work, are not included in the baseline government unemployment rate. John Williams, fromShadowStats.com [29], has a consistently proven method of tracking unemployment that provides a much more accurate view of the overall situation. As shocking as it may sound, when you apply his SGS method, counting the total number people in need of employment, you get a current unemployment rate of 22.5%, which is an all-time record total of 34 million people currently in need of work. Here is how the SGS rate is calculated:

“The seasonally-adjusted SGS Alternate Unemployment Rate reflects current unemployment reporting methodology adjusted for SGS-estimated long-term discouraged workers, who were defined out of official existence in 1994. That estimate is added to the BLS estimate of U-6 unemployment, which includes short-term discouraged workers.

The U-3 unemployment rate is the monthly headline number. The U-6 unemployment rate is the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) broadest unemployment measure, including short-term discouraged and other marginally-attached workers as well as those forced to work part-time because they cannot find full-time employment.”

  

On top of these shocking figures, the labor force participation rate, which measures the percentage of the total population currently working, has fallen to a 27-year low of 63.9%.

  

Currently, an all-time record 6.3 million [30] people have been unemployed for over six months. As the chart to the right shows, the average time it takes for a person to find a job has also just hit an all-time high of 40.4 weeks [31].

As companies continue to downsize and shift jobs overseas, unemployment is once again accelerating. Private-sector job cuts in July surged 60% to a 16-month high [32]. When accounting for population growth within the total labor force, from December 2007 to present, we have lost 10.6 million [33] jobs.

With the implementation of state and federal budget cuts, public-sector unemployment is accelerating as well. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, since August 2008, state and local governments have cut 577,000 [34] jobs. The Economic Policy Institute estimates that cuts in the new deficit deal will lead to an additional 1.8 million [24] job losses.

Of the new jobs that have been added in 2010, 60% [35] of them are in low-wage fields. Since December 2007, the official unemployment rate has masked the fact that 2.8 million [35] of the news jobs created have been part-time jobs.

Breaking down the data, over the last 12 months [36], the National Employment Law Project found that well-paying jobs are rapidly decreasing, while low-paying jobs are helping to mask an increasingly dire employment crisis:

· Lower-wage industries constituted 23% of job loss, but fully 49% of recent growth
· Mid-wage industries constituted 36% of job loss, and 37% of recent growth
· Higher-wage industries constituted 40% of job loss, but only 14% of recent growth

IV :: Declining Income

While the cost of living from 1990 – 2010 increased by 67%, worker income has declined. According to the most recent available IRS data, covering the year of 2009, average income fell 6.1%, a loss of $3,516 per worker, that year alone. Average income has declined 13.7% from 2007 – 2009, representing a $8,588 [37] loss per worker.

The decline in worker income is due to the dramatic increase in CEO pay. CEO pay has consistently increased year-over-year since the mid-1970s. From 1975 – 2010, worker productivity increased 80%. Over this time frame, CEO pay and the income of the economic top 0.1% (one-tenth of one percent) of the population quadrupled [38]. The income of the top 0.01% (one-hundredth of one percent)quintupled [38].

To understand the affect CEO pay increases have had on workers’ declining share of income on an annual basis, after analyzing 2008 tax data, leading tax reporter David Cay Johnston summed up [39] the situation with these revealing statistics:

“Had income growth from 1950 to 1980 continued at the same rate for the next 28 years, the average income of the bottom 90 percent in 2008 would have been 68 percent higher…. That would have meant an average income for the vast majority of $52,051, or $21,110 more than actual 2008 incomes. How different America would be today if the typical family had $406 more each week…”

As shocking as that is, over the last two years, workers have lost an even higher share of income to CEOs. In the last year alone, CEO pay skyrocketed by 28% [40]. Looking at 2009, according to a recent Dollars & Sense report [41], workers lost nearly $2 trillion in wages that year alone:

“In 2009, stock owners, bankers, brokers, hedge-fund wizards, highly paid corporate executives, corporations, and mid-ranking managers pocketed—as either income, benefits, or perks such as corporate jets—an estimated $1.91 trillion that 40 years ago would have collectively gone to non-supervisory and production workers in the form of higher wages and benefits.”

As bad as these numbers are, consider that the attack on American workers has increased significantly since 2009. From 2009 to the fourth-quarter of 2010, 88% of income growth [42] went to corporate profits (i.e. CEOs), while just 1% went to workers.

As the NY Times reported in an article entitled, “Our Banana Republic,” from 1980 – 2005, “more than four-fifths of the total increase in American incomes went to the richest 1 percent.” Again, as bad as that was, since 2005 it has gotten even worse, as Zero Hedgerecently reported [43], labor’s current “share of national income has fallen to its lowest level in modern history.” This chart shows how workers’ percentage of income has been rapidly declining:

  

The bottom line, as statistics clearly demonstrate, these trends are getting worse and the attacks against us, as severe as they have been over the past four years, are dramatically escalating.

Part Two :: The Economic Elite

 

“There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class,
the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”

– Warren Buffett, Chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway

 

V :: How Much Wealth Do The Economic Elite Have?

While 68.3 million Americans struggle to get enough food to eat and wages are declining for 90% of the population, US millionaire household wealth has reached an unprecedented level. According to an extensive study by auditing and financial advisory firm Deloitte, US millionaire households now have $38.6 trillion [44] in wealth. On top of the $38.6 trillion that this study reveals, they have an estimated $6.3 trillion [45] hidden in offshore accounts.

In total, US millionaire households have at least $45.9 trillion in wealth, the majority of this wealth is held within the upper one-tenth of one percent of the population.

If all this isn’t obscene enough, to further demonstrate how the global economy has now been completely rigged, Deloitte’s analysis predicated, based on current trends, that US millionaire households will see a 225% increase in wealth to $87.1 trillion by 2020. Accounting for wealth hidden in offshore accounts, they are projected to have over $100 trillion in total within the next decade.

Most people cannot even comprehend how much $1 trillion is, let alone $46 trillion. One trillion is equal to 1000 billion, or$1,000,000,000,000 [46]. To put it in perspective, last year the entire cost of feeding all 40 million Americans on food stamps was $65 billion [28].

Now consider, according to the latest IRS data, only 0.076% of the population, less than one-tenth of one percent, earned over $1 million [37] in 2009.

The graph below, based on data from the Tax Policy Center, shows how much income is earned by a household at any given percentile in income distribution:

  

The highest bracket for annual income is $50 million or more. Only 74 Americans are in this elite group. The average income within this category was $91.2 million [39] in 2008. As astonishing as that is, in 2009 they averaged $518.8 million [39] each, or about $10 million per week. This means, in the depths of the recession, the richest 74 Americans increased their income by more than 5 times within this one year. These 74 people made more money than 19 million [39] workers combined.

In context, overall, the richest 400 people [47] in the US have as much wealth as 154 million Americans combined, that’s 50% of the entire country. The top economic 1% of the US population now has a record 40% of all wealth [48], and have more wealth than 90% [49]of the population combined.

VI :: Who Rules America? Revealing The Economic Top 0.1%

Here is an analysis [50] from an investment manager with mega-wealthy clients breaking down the economic top 0.5% of the population, recently published by William Domhoff, sociology professor and author of Who Rules America? [51]:

“Unlike those in the lower half of the top 1%, those in the top half and, particularly, top 0.1%, can often borrow for almost nothing, keep profits and production overseas, hold personal assets in tax havens, ride out down markets and economies, and influence legislation in the US. They have access to the very best in accounting firms, tax and other attorneys, numerous consultants, private wealth managers, a network of other wealthy and powerful friends, lucrative business opportunities, and many other benefits.

Folks in the top 0.1% come from many backgrounds but it’s infrequent to meet one whose wealth wasn’t acquired through direct or indirect participation in the financial and banking industries…. Most of the serious economic damage the US is struggling with today was done by the top 0.1% and they benefited greatly from it…. For example, in Q1 of 2011, America’s top corporations reported 31% profit growth and a 31% reduction in taxes, the latter due to profit outsourcing to low tax rate countries…. The year 2010 was a record year for compensation on Wall Street, while corporate CEO compensation rose by over 30%….

In 2010 a dozen major companies, including GE, Verizon, Boeing, Wells Fargo, and Fed Ex paid US tax rates between -0.7% and -9.2%. Production, employment, profits, and taxes have all been outsourced….

I could go on and on, but the bottom line is this: A highly complex and largely discrete set of laws and exemptions from laws has been put in place by those in the uppermost reaches of the US financial system. It allows them to protect and increase their wealth and significantly affect the US political and legislative processes.

They have real power and real wealth. Ordinary citizens in the bottom 99.9% are largely not aware of these systems, do not understand how they work, are unlikely to participate in them, and have little likelihood of entering the top 0.5%, much less the top 0.1%….

… the American dream of striking it rich is merely a well-marketed fantasy that keeps the bottom 99.5% hoping for better and prevents social and political instability. The odds of getting into that top 0.5% are very slim and the door is kept firmly shut by those within it.”

To get into the top economic 0.01% (one-hundredth of one percent) of the population, you have to have a household income of over $27 million [52] per year.

If you look at some of the central players who caused this economic crisis, you will see that they are among this Economic Elite group.

Former Goldman Sachs CEO and Bush Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson had already amassed at least $700 million prior to moving to the US Treasury in 2006. Current Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein and a few other top executives at Goldman Sachs just received $111.3 million in bonuses. Blankfein just took home $24.3 million, as part of a $67.9 million bonus he was awarded. Goldman’s President Gary Cohn took home $24 million, as part of a $66.9 million bonus he was awarded. Goldman’s CFO David Viniar and former co-president Jon Winkelried both took home over $20 million in bonuses.

Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit just took home $80 million, in what may eventually total more than $200 million in compensation and bonuses. Coming in at the top of the list is JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, who just took home $90 million.

  

If you think people in this income level don’t control the US political process, you are not paying attention. After they caused this economic crisis, they got the government to give them trillions of dollars in taxpayer support, and then, after taking our tax dollars, they gave themselves all-time record-breaking bonuses. 2009 was an all-time record-breaking year for Wall Street executives bringing in a total of $145 billion [53]. And then, in 2010, they raised the bar even higher, breaking the all-time record set the year before by pulling in another $149 billion [54]. The audacity of it all is stunning.

Finding people more grotesquely greedy than Wall Street executives would seem to be impossible. However, health insurance CEOs are giving them a run for their money. As the LA Times reported [55]:

“Leaders of Cigna, Humana, UnitedHealth, WellPoint and Aetna received nearly $200 million in compensation in 2009, according to a report, while the companies sought rate increases as high as 39%….

H. Edward Hanway, former chief executive of Philadelphia-based Cigna, topped the list of high-paid executives, thanks to a retirement package worth $110.9 million. Cigna paid Hanway and his successor, David Cordani, a total of $136.3 million last year….

Ron Williams, the CEO of Hartford, Conn.-based Aetna Inc., earned nearly $18.2 million in total compensation, down from $24.4 million in 2008.”

Aetna CEO Ron Williams has recovered from his down year in 2009 by making $72 million [56] in 2010.

Given this level of obscene profiteering within the health care industry, it is not surprising that Americans pay more for medical care than any other nation in the world. In fact, Americans are forced to pay twice as much as most nations, and get lower quality care in return. As health insurance companies admitted, they have been reaping windfall profits because people with health insurance plans still cannot afford to go to the doctors and have stopped going unless it is an absolute emergency. With well over 50 million people unable to afford health insurance and the skyrocketing costs, it is not surprising that over 60% of all personal bankruptcies are the result of medical bills. In fact, 75% of the medical bankruptcies filed are from people who have health insurance.

Within this Economic Elite group, you also have the war profiteering [57] oil companies, which themselves are in large part owned by the big Wall Street banks. The biggest five oil companies, while gas prices have been skyrocketing, reaped $36 billion [58] in profit last quarter. These companies also receive an average of $6 billion [58] per year in tax subsidies.

VII :: Tax Breaks For The Rich, Budget Cuts For The Rest Of Us

To further demonstrate how the mega-wealthy have seized control our political process, consider that the richest 400 Americans paid 30% of their income in taxes in 1995, but they now pay only 18% [59].

In fact, 1,470 Americans [60] earned over $1 million in 2009 and didn’t pay any taxes.

The average tax rate for millionaires was 22.4% in 2009, down from 30.4% in 1995. The average millionaire saves $136,000 [61] a year due to reduced tax rates.

Looking at the tax rate from a long-term perspective, the amount of money the richest people and most profitable corporations pay in taxes has fallen dramatically since 1955. Corporate tax accounted for 27.3% of federal revenue in 1955. In 2010, corporate tax accounted for only 8.9% [62] of federal revenue. Corporate taxes accounted for 4.3% of overall GDP in 1955, in 2010 they accounted for only 1.3% [62].

Part Three :: The Perfect Storm Overhead:
(Inequality = Debt = Austerity = Civil Unrest = Inflation + Deflation = Stagflation)

The cuts in taxes for the mega-wealthy have led to record wealth inequality and resulted in a record national deficit. Meanwhile, to make up for the deficit that the richest one-tenth of one percent of the population has created, Democrats and Republicans are committed to making draconian budget cuts to vital social services, which target the poor, middle class, elderly and sick, while handing out billions more in corporate welfare annually. (Inequality = Debt = Austerity)

Just as the government has done, to make up for tax revenue lost to the mega-wealthy, Americans have made up for the decline in income by taking on large amounts of debt as well. (Inequality = Debt)

In a severely unequal society, massive debt will always be created, thus forming a vicious cycle of increasing inequality and increasing debt, until the fragmentation of society reaches a breaking point when those in debt cannot afford to pay back their debts without starving to death. We are now reaching that breaking point. (Inequality = Debt = Austerity = Civil Unrest)

VIII :: Debt Slavery

The Indentured Servant Has Become The Indebted Citizen

As for statistics on Americans being buried in financial debt, the indentured servant has evolved into the indebted citizen. As mentioned before, from 1990 – 2010 costs of living have increased 67%, while wages have stagnated and declined. As the national debt has reached a record $14.6 trillion, total personal debt is now over $16 trillion [63]. Consumer debt is $2.5 trillion. Credit card debt is $805 billion and student debt now exceeds $1 trillion [64].

Obviously, the more severe your debts are, the more you have to cut back in spending and the less money you have to buy new items. (Debt = Austerity)

Meanwhile, a perfect storm circles overhead as society breaks down and falls into an economic death spiral – health care, food and gas costs are skyrocketing, while income and home values are plummeting. (Inflation + Deflation = Stagflation)

Given these conditions, it is not surprising that over 250 million Americans, another record-breaking number, are currently living paycheck-to-paycheck struggling to make ends meet.

IX :: Inflation

The following charts, from Advisor Perspectives, show the increase in costs of living since 2000:

  

As you can see, the price of basic necessities are consistently increasing, only clothing (apparel) has declined. The second chart highlights the crucial skyrocketing cost of energy:

  

The third chart highlights the pernicious skyrocketing cost of education:

  

The cost of education essentially buries a young person in a debt that they will spend a significant portion of their life attempting to get out of. Given the increasing costs of living, and the decreasing ability to make an expected income from such an expensive level of education, this young demographic will most likely live an entire life locked into spiraling levels of debt that they will never be able to get out of.

Propaganda Inflation

When reporting on inflation, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has twice, since 1980, revised their methodology to mask the severity of inflation, similar to how they mask the severity of unemployment. In their Consumer Price Index (CPI), which measures inflation, they have heavily discounted the measurement weight of energy, food and education – three of the most significant costs for most American households.

To understand the significance in their revised methodology, current “official” CPI is at a 3.6% annual rate. However, if calculated the way it was before former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan altered it in 1980, it would be 11.1% [65], three times worse thanofficially stated.

So while the government and the Federal Reserve claim that inflation is low, at 3.6% [66] over the past year, food prices have increased 39% [67] and US gas prices have increased 34% [68] over the same time frame.

The increase in gas cost over the past one-year masks the severity of total gas price inflation, which is currently 125% more [68]expensive since December 2008, increasing from $1.67 per gallon to $3.75.

The Hidden Tax

The Federal Reserve’s strategic policy known as Quantitative Easing (QE) has been a significant factor in the rising cost of basic necessities by deliberately stimulating inflation, while decreasing the value of the dollar. Looking at their recent QE2 program, the dollarlost 7.5% [69] of its value from January 2010 through March 2010. From August 2010 through March 2010, the dollar lost 17% [69] of its value. To understand how this acts as a hidden tax, consider if you had $10,000 in the bank, over this time frame you would have lost $1700 in purchasing power. So your $10,000 would now be worth $8300. At the same time, the cost of gas and food drastically increased.

The Phantom Recovery

By decreasing the value of the dollar, the Federal Reserve is also inflating the stock market by creating the impression that stock prices are rising, which, when measured in dollars, they have. However, in real terms, their overall value has decreased. To understand how deceptive this strategy has been in giving the appearance of a rising market, instead of measuring overall stock value in dollars, let’s look at their overall value when measured in terms of gold:

Dow/Gold Chart from January 1, 2003 – August 8, 2011

  

As investor Michael Krieger explains:

“You can see from the chart above the downtrend of stock prices in real terms is completely intact and they have now hit a new low, below the previous low point in March 2009. In fact, although stocks did temporarily rise in real terms from the low in 2009 for the year as a whole, they were still down 5% in real terms. Then last year, stocks were 14% lower in terms of gold. Finally, despite a brief rally early in 2011, stocks in terms of gold are down 23% year-to-date.”

Dollar Vs. Gold

When comparing the value of the dollar to the value of gold, the dollar has lost a stunning 84% of its value since 2000. In 2000, gold was worth $279 per ounce, as of August 8, 2011, gold is $1,725 per ounce. In fact, the dollar continues to fall in value while gold continues to rise.

Stagflation

All these factors together create a perfect storm of stagflation. As 90% of Americans experience income declines, and the value of the dollar declines, the price of necessities are rising, while the one major asset many Americans have, a house, is also declining in value. Already, thanks to declining home values, 28% of US homeowners owe more on their mortgages than their home is currently worth. With 10.4 million American families having lost their homes to foreclosure since 2007, Amherst Securities, a leading broker/dealer focused on mortgage-related investments, estimates that another 10.8 million [70] homes are at risk of default over the next six years. This will obviously continue downward pressure on home values.

X :: The Beaten Masses

Confronted With Severe Financial Hardship, Why Do Americans Remain Passive?

With an unprecedented sum of wealth, tens of trillions of dollars, held within the top one-tenth of one percent of the US population, we now have the highest and most severe inequality of wealth in US history. Not even the Robber Barons of the Gilded Age were as greedy as the modern day Economic Elite.

As famed American philosopher John Dewey once said, “There is no such thing as the liberty or effective power of an individual, group, or class, except in relation to the liberties, the effective powers, of other individuals, groups or classes.”

In The Economic Elite Vs. The People [18], I reported on the strategic withholding of wealth from 99% of the US population over the past generation. Since the mid-1970s, worker production and wealth creation has exploded. As the statistics throughout this report prove, the dramatic increase in wealth has been almost entirely absorbed by the economic top one-tenth of one percent of the population, with most of it going to the top one-hundredth of one percent.

If you are wondering why a critical mass of people desperately struggling to make ends meet are still not fighting back with overwhelming force and running the mega-wealthy aristocrats out of town, let’s consider two significant factors:

1) People are so busy trying to maintain their current standard of living that their energies are consumed by holding on to the little that they have left.

2) People have very little understanding of how much wealth has been consolidated within the top economic one-tenth of one percent.

Considering the first factor, it is obvious that people have become beaten down psychologically and financially. A report in the Guardianentitled, “Anxiety keeps the super-rich safe from middle-class rage,” suggests that people are so desperate to hold on to what they have that they are too busy looking down to look up: “As psychologists will tell you, fear of loss is more powerful than the prospect of gain. The struggling middle classes look down more anxiously than they look up, particularly in recession and sluggish recovery.”

Considering the second factor, people do not understand how much wealth has been withheld from them. The average person has never personally experienced or seen the excessive wealth and luxury that the mega-rich live in. Wealth inequality has grown so extreme and the wealthy have become so far removed from average society, it is as if the rich exist in some outer stratosphere beyond the comprehension of the average person. As the Guardian report mentioned above also states:

“… having little daily contact with the rich and little knowledge of how they lived, they simply didn’t think about inequality much, or regard the wealthy as direct competitors for resources. As the sociologist Garry Runciman observed: ‘Envy is a difficult emotion to sustain across a broad social distance.’… Even now most underestimate the rewards of bankers and executives. Top pay has reached such levels that, rather like interstellar distances, what the figures mean is hard to grasp.”

In fact, the average American vastly underestimates the severe wealth disparity that we currently have. This survey, featured in the NY Times, reveals that Americans think our society is far more equal than it actually is:

“In a recent survey of Americans, my colleague Dan Ariely and I found that Americans drastically underestimated the level of wealth inequality in the United States. While recent data indicates that the richest 20 percent of Americans own 84 percent of all wealth, people estimated that this group owned just 59 percent – believing that total wealth in this country is far more evenly divided among poorer Americans.

What’s more, when we asked them how they thought wealth should be distributed, they told us they wanted an even more equitable distribution, with the richest 20 percent owning just 32 percent of the wealth. This was true of Democrats and Republicans, rich and poor – all groups we surveyed approved of some inequality, but their ideal was far more equal than the current level.”

Here is a chart showing the results from their survey:

  

The fact of the matter is that the overwhelming majority of US population is unaware of the vast wealth at hand. An entire generation of unprecedented wealth creation has been concealed from 99% of the population for over 35 years. Having never personally experienced or known of this wealth, the average American cannot comprehend what is possible if even a fraction of it was used for the betterment of society as a whole.

In fact, given modern technology and wealth, not a single American citizen should live in poverty. The statistics clearly demonstrate that we now live in a Neo-Feudal society. In comparison to the wealthiest one-tenth of one percent of the population, who are sitting on top of tens of trillions of dollars in wealth, we are modern day serfs, essentially propagandized peasants.

The fact that the overwhelming majority of Americans are struggling to get by, while tens of trillions of dollars are consolidated within a small fraction of the population, is a crime against humanity.

The day the average American fully comprehends how much wealth is consolidated within just the top one-tenth of one percent of the population, there will be a massive uprising and all the paid off politicians will be run out of town.

The next time you are stressed out, struggling to make ends meet and pay off your debts, just think about the trillions of dollars sitting in the obscenely bloated pockets of one-tenth of one percent of the population. The first step in overcoming your peasant status is to understand that you are indeed a peasant. This is a bitter pill to swallow and most will prefer to, as they have been conditioned to do, continue on their path of media-induced delusion, denial, apathy and ignorance.

However, I still cling to the hope that once enough people become aware of this hidden and obscured fact, we can have the non-violent revolution we so urgently need. Until then, the rich get richer as a critical mass with increasingly dire economic prospects desperately struggles to make ends meet.

Part Four :: Fascism in America

Other than driving large segments of the American population into poverty, and pushing the majority into massive debt and a state of financial desperation, there is an ever darker side to what is unfolding today. The Economic Elite have turned America into a modern day fascist state.

Fascism is a very powerful word which evokes many strong feelings. People may think that the term cannot be applied to modern day America. However, as Benito Mussolini once summed it up: “Fascism should more properly be called corporatism, since it is the merger of state and corporate power.” In the early 1900s, the Italians who invented the term fascism also described it as “estato corporativo,” meaning: the corporate state.

Very few Americans would argue the fact that corporations now control our government and have the dominant role in our society. Through a system of legalized bribery – campaign finance, lobbying and the revolving door between Washington and corporations – the most power global corporations dominant the legislative and political process like never before. Senator Huey Long had it right when he warned: “When fascism comes to America, it will come in the form of democracy.”

As President Franklin D. Roosevelt once described fascism: “The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it comes strong than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism — ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or any controlling private power.”

The most blatant modern example of this was the bailout of Wall Street, when the “too big to fail” banks got politicians to promptly hand out trillions of tax dollars in support and subsidies to the very people who caused the crisis, without any of them being held accountable.

XI :: Modern Day Slavery

Another shocking example of how far we have descended into fascism is the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which is a group of corporate executives who literally write government legislation. They have gone as far as setting up a system that imprisons the poor and then puts them to work, instead of paying living wages to non-imprisoned workers. Make no mistake, this is a modern day system of slavery unfolding before our eyes.

At the leadership of ALEC and various other Economic Elite organizations, poverty has essentially become a crime. To demonstrate these attacks against the poor, there was $17 billion cut from public housing programs, while there was an increase of $19 billion in programs for building prisons, “effectively making the construction of prisons the nation’s main housing program for the poor [71].” Before laws began to be rewritten in 1980, with direct input from ALEC [72], we had a prison population of 500,000 citizens. After laws were rewritten to target poor inner city citizens with much more severe penalties, the US prison population skyrocketed to 2.4 million people.

  

We now have the largest prison population in the world. With only 4% of the world’s population, we have 25% of the world’s prison population. As I reported previously, in a report entitled, “American Gulag: World’s Largest Prison Complex [71]“:

“The US, by far, has more of its citizens in prison than any other nation on earth. China, with a billion citizens, doesn’t imprison as many people as the US, with only 308 million American citizens. The US per capita statistics are 700 per 100,000 citizens. In comparison, China has 110 per 100,000. In the Middle East, the repressive regime in Saudi Arabia imprisons 45 per 100,000. US per capita levels are equivalent to the darkest days of the Soviet Gulag.”

XII :: The Death Toll

The dramatic increase in poverty has obviously torn many families apart and caused a devastating psychological toll, but consider the increase in deaths as a result of poverty and severe wealth inequalities. This is a very difficult statistic to accurately measure, butColumbia University’s School of Public Health [73] conducted an intensive examination of mortality and medical data and estimated that “875,000 deaths in the US in 2000 could be attributed to a cluster of social factors bound up with poverty and income inequality.”

As a report by Debra Watson sums up [73] the study, “There is no reason to believe, after a decade that has seen sustained attacks on social programs and consistently high unemployment rates, that the social mortality rate has declined. On the contrary, it has likely risen.” Indeed, poverty and income inequality have skyrocketed since 2000.

Now, let’s consider the fact that, according to the Census Bureau, 31.1 million [74] people lived in poverty in 2000, and according to Columbia’s study 875,000 deaths came as a result. This means that 1 out of every 35.5 people living in poverty die annually as a result of their impoverishment. If you extrapolate this data to the 2009 total of 52.8 million people living in poverty, you get an estimate of 1,486,338 deaths within that year. Even if you use the lower poverty totals from the Census Bureau, 43.6 million people, you get an estimate of 1,228,169 deaths in 2009.

XIII :: Deliberate Systemic Attacks

The dramatic increase in economic inequality and poverty, along with the unprecedented rise in wealth within the top one-tenth of one percent of the population has not happened by mistake. It is the designed result of deliberate governmental and economic policy. It is the result of the richest people in the world, and the “too big to fail” banks, using the campaign finance and lobbying system to buy off politicians who implement policies designed to exploit 99.9% of the population for their financial gain. To call what is happening a “financial terrorist attack” on the United States, is not using hyperbole, it is the technical term for what is currently occurring.

Compare the million people who die annually as a result of these economic attacks, to the 2,977 that died on 9/11. As someone who lived three blocks from the World Trade Center, as tragic as 9/11 was, these economic attacks are much more severe and damaging to us as a nation, albeit a much slower and unseen death toll. Nonetheless, the result is of genocidal proportions. One can statistically compare the economic attacks on the US to the invasion of Iraq, which some estimate as leading to one million deaths. Once again, many of those deaths came in brutal and spectacular fashion in bombing campaigns known as “shock and awe.” However, the death toll compares to the hidden brutality of a four-year campaign of economic “shock and awe.” Just as Iraq was invaded, the US has been invaded by a global banking cartel.

As shocking as that is to realize, consider that this is happening throughout the world. While the US poverty death rate is probably higher than in most European countries, the Federal Reserve’s economic policies [75] — along with policies from the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and Bank of International Settlements — have caused rioting and uprisings over skyrocketing food prices and costs of living throughout the world. The fact of the matter, and very harsh and unfortunate reality of this crisis, is that the global economic central planners are deliberately carrying out genocidal economic policies.

As Che Guevara, a man who took on the global financial elite, once said, “The amount of poverty and suffering required for the emergence of a Rockefeller, and the amount of depravity that the accumulation of a fortune of such magnitude entails, are left out of the picture, and it is not always possible to make the people in general see this.”

When tens of trillions of dollars deliberately flow to the top economic one-tenth of one percent of the global population, while large percentages live in poverty, you have to conclude, in technical terms, that a Neo-Feudal-Fascist state is upon us. The rich have never been richer, while their paid off politicians make budget cuts for the poor and middle class, and cause the cost of basic necessities to skyrocket.

You can call me extreme, but the reality of this is extreme, these people, the global economic topone-tenth of one percent, are genocidal fascists carrying out a holocaust. Fascism has evolved. There is no need to get blood on your hands while rounding up people and putting them into concentration camps when you can do it through economic policy while sitting in a jacuzzi on a corporate jet, or in a three-piece custom-made Armani, completely detached and insulated from the world in which you plunder.

However, as what happens with all empires, greed and arrogance makes them overreach. The beaten down masses get to a point where they literally can’t live under these conditions. This desperation spreads throughout the population until it reaches a critical mass, then, suddenly, they rise up [75]and the empire begins to collapse… Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt, Israel, (Northern Africa, the Middle East), Albania, Greece, Spain, Britain (Europe), Wisconsin…

The Economic Elite are overreaching and their empire is collapsing.

The decentralized global rebellion [75] has begun…

Welcome to World War III.

Which side of history do you want to be on?

As a wise old friend once said [76], “You can’t be neutral on a moving train.”


 David DeGraw is the founder and editor of AmpedStatus.com [77]. His long-awaited book, The Road Through 2012: Revolution or World War III [78], will finally be released on September 28th. He can be emailed at David[@]AmpedStatus.com. You can follow David’s reporting daily on his new personal website: DavidDeGraw.org [79]

NOTES

 

 

[1] http://twitter.com/home/?status=EXCLUSIVE%3A+Analysis+of+Financial+Terrorism+in+America%3A+Over+1+Million+Deaths+Annually%2C+62+Million+People+With+Zero+N…+http%3A%2F%2Fbit.ly%2FppZdax

[2] http://reddit.com/submit?url=http://ampedstatus.org/exclusive-analysis-of-financial-terrorism-in-america-over-1-million-deaths-annually-62-million-people-with-zero-net-worth-as-the-economic-elite-make-off-with-46-trillion/&title=EXCLUSIVE%3A+Analysis+of+Financial+Terrorism+in+America%3A+Over+1+Million+Deaths+Annually%2C+62+Million+People+With+Zero+Net+Worth%2C+As+the+Economic+Elite+Make+Off+With+%2446+Trillion

[3] Abstract :: Welcome to World War III: #abstract

[4] Introduction: #intro

[5] I :: Poverty: #poverty

[6] II :: Food Insecurity: #food

[7] III :: Unemployment: #unemployment

[8] IV :: Declining Income: #income

[9] V :: How Much Wealth Do The Economic Elite Have?: #elite

[10] VI :: Who Rules America? Revealing The Economic Top 0.1%: #rules

[11] VII :: Tax Breaks For The Rich, Budget Cuts For The Rest Of Us: #tax

[12] VIII :: Debt Slavery: #debt

[13] IX :: Inflation: #inflation

[14] X :: The Beaten Masses: #passive

[15] XI :: Modern Day Slavery: #slavery

[16] XII :: The Death Toll: #death

[17] XIII :: Deliberate Systemic Attacks: #attacks

[18] The Economic Elite Vs. The People: http://ampedstatus.org/full-report-the-economic-elite-vs-the-people-of-the-united-states-of-america/

[19] declined by 28%: http://pewsocialtrends.org/files/2011/07/SDT-Wealth-Report_7-26-11_FINAL.pdf

[20] my analysis: http://ampedstatus.org/census-bureau-poverty-rate-drastically-undercounts-severity-of-poverty-in-america/

[21] 52,765,000: http://www.census.gov/hhes/povmeas/data/nas/tables/2009/web_tab4_nas_measures_historical.xls

[22] 15.5 million: http://www.childrensdefense.org/child-research-data-publications/data/state-of-americas-2011.pdf

[23] poverty rate would double: http://www.offthechartsblog.org/public-programs-keep-millions-out-of-poverty-new-study-shows/

[24] in half: http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/08/united-states-of-austerity

[25] 25.7 million: http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=460

[26] 45.8 million people: http://www.fns.usda.gov/pd/29SNAPcurrPP.htm

[27] cutting the funding: http://blogs.abcnews.com/thenote/2011/05/congress-mulls-cuts-to-food-stamps-program-amid-record-number-of-recipients.html

[28] additional 22.5 million: http://www.arcamax.com/health/healthtips/s-917916-690577

[29] ShadowStats.com: http://ShadowStats.com

[30] 6.3 million: http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/lookout/down-not-voices-long-term-unemployed-125453267.html

[31] 40.4 weeks: http://www.zerohedge.com/news/average-length-unemployment-surges-new-all-time-record-404-weeks?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+zerohedge%2Ffeed+(zero+hedge+-+on+a+long+enough+timeline%2C+the+survival+rate+for+everyone+drops+to+zero)

[32] 16-month high: http://www.challengergray.com/press/PressRelease.aspx?PressUid=184

[33] 10.6 million: http://www.zerohedge.com/news/us-economy-has-generate-256k-month-until-end-obamas-second-term-regain-lost-jobs-december-2007?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+zerohedge%2Ffeed+(zero+hedge+-+on+a+long+enough+timeline%2C+the+survival+rate+for+everyone+drops+to+zero)

[34] 577,000: http://www.thenation.com/blog/162577/after-debt-ceiling-debacle

[35] 60%: http://www.zerohedge.com/article/how-fed-spent-2-trillion-and-exchange-we-got-650000-temp-leisure-and-retail-jobs

[36] 12 months: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/02/23/us-economy-trades-high-pa_n_827360.html

[37] $8,588: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/08/04/us-usa-economy-incomes-idUSTRE77302W20110804

[38] quadrupled: http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/with-executive-pay-rich-pull-away-from-rest-of-america/2011/06/13/AGKG9jaH_print.html

[39] summed up: http://www.tax.com/taxcom/taxblog.nsf/Permalink/UBEN-8AGMUZ?OpenDocument

[40] 28%: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/15/executive-pay-soars-worker-pay-stagnates_n_877519.html

[41] report: http://dollarsandsense.org/archives/2011/0711cypher.html

[42] 88% of income growth: http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2011/06/30/258388/corporate-profits-recovery/

[43] recently reported: http://www.zerohedge.com/article/attention-marxists-labors-share-national-income-drops-lowest-history

[44] $38.6 trillion: http://www.zerohedge.com/article/rich-are-about-get-very-very-rich-study-finds-global-millionaire-wealth-set-more-double-2020?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+zerohedge%2Ffeed+(zero+hedge+-+on+a+long+enough+timeline%2C+th

[45] $6.3 trillion: http://www.democracynow.org/2011/4/15/offshore_banking_and_tax_havens_have

[46] $1,000,000,000,000: http://www.pagetutor.com/trillion/index.html

[47] richest 400 people: http://ourfuture.org/blog-entry/2011020612/understanding-extreme-incomewealth-gap

[48] 40% of all wealth: http://www.vanityfair.com/society/features/2011/05/top-one-percent-201105?currentPage=all

[49] more wealth than 90%: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IykY6WlUIiA

[50] an analysis: http://ampedstatus.org/who-rules-america-an-investment-manager-breaks-down-the-economic-top-1-says-0-1-controls-political-and-legislative-process/

[51] Who Rules America?: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0078111560

[52] $27 million: http://washingtonindependent.com/107493/americas-super-rich-continue-to-make-mind-boggling-sums

[53] $145 billion: http://nymag.com/daily/intel/2010/01/wall_street_pay_for_2009_will.html

[54] $149 billion: http://www.aflcio.org/corporatewatch/paywatch/ceopay.cfm

[55] reported: http://articles.latimes.com/2010/aug/11/business/la-fi-insurance-salaries-20100811

[56] $72 million: http://blogs.courant.com/connecticut_insurance/2011/04/aetnas-former-ceo-ronald-willi.html

[57] war profiteering: http://daviddegraw.org/2011/08/leaked-document-bp-rules-iraq-with-stranglehold-over-economy-by-controlling-largest-oil-field/

[58] $36 billion: http://daviddegraw.org/2011/08/the-joke-is-on-us-once-again-big-five-oil-companies-reaped-36-billion-in-profit-last-quarter/

[59] only 18%: http://blogs.forbes.com/robertlenzner/2011/07/25/the-400-richest-americans-pay-an-18-tax-rate/?partner=yahoofeed

[60] 1,470 Americans: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/04/irs-incomes_n_918458.html

[61] $136,000: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/08/05-5

[62] 8.9%: http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2011/04/corporate-tax-rates-then-and-now/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TheBigPicture+(The+Big+Picture)

[63] $16 trillion: http://www.usdebtclock.org/

[64] $1 trillion: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/04/12/student-loan-debt-may-top_n_848093.html

[65] 11.1%: http://georgewashington2.blogspot.com/2011/07/official-cpi-is-running-36-but-if-it.html

[66] 3.6%: http://www.bls.gov/news.release/cpi.nr0.htm

[67] increased 39%: http://www.fao.org/news/story/en/item/81577/icode/

[68] increased 34%: http://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:B8jtf14xQHUJ:www.api.org/aboutoilgas/gasoline/upload/PumpPriceUpdate.pdf+increase+in+gas+cost+over+past+year&hl=en&gl=us&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESid6khfTkbgkS7LI6kZSMUKeP2v6gLMdcLTI7TtXvnkbblSVe2Fy9yNJHxWRMvTrP7ESmIsXunshYP4eiX7mVz7Uoh5SLovNFfErCGG7oVRU-eLES-PFBUePgmQIbYe6-DcqKps&sig=AHIEtbQKFTYQdzZpyN1ddpbOiAn_39xJmA

[69] lost 7.5%: http://www.zerohedge.com/article/gold-just-1-record-nominal-high-1444oz-risk-dollar-crisis-increases-day

[70] 10.8 million: http://daviddegraw.org/2011/07/this-is-what-a-collasping-ponzi-scheme-looks-like-housing-market-headed-off-a-cliff-as-a-shocking-10-8-million-mortgages-at-risk-of-default/

[71] housing program for the poor: http://ampedstatus.org/analysis-of-the-global-insurrection-against-neo-liberal-economic-domination-and-the-coming-american-rebellion-we-are-egypt-revolution-roundup-3/#gulag

[72] direct input from ALEC: http://www.justicepolicy.org/uploads/justicepolicy/documents/gaming_the_system.pdf

[73] Columbia University’s School of Public Health: http://www.wsws.org/articles/2011/jul2011/pove-j13.shtml

[74] 31.1 million: http://www.census.gov/prod/2001pubs/p60-214.pdf

[75] Federal Reserve’s economic policies: http://ampedstatus.org/analysis-of-the-global-insurrection-against-neo-liberal-economic-domination-and-the-coming-american-rebellion-we-are-egypt-revolution-roundup-3/

[76] once said: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ehc3V1g5pm0

[77] AmpedStatus.com: http://AmpedStatus.com

[78] The Road Through 2012: Revolution or World War III: http://ampedstatus.com/word-from-the-watchtower-a-hard-rain-is-going-to-fall-introduction-to-the-road-through-2012-revolution-or-world-war-iii/

[79] DavidDeGraw.org: http://daviddegraw.org/

[80] donate to support our efforts here: http://ampedstatus.com/donation.php

Posted in USAComments Off on Analysis of Financial Terrorism in America

UN: Syria Escalates Repression After Security Council Statement

NOVANEWS

Consider Targeted Sanctions, Arms Embargo, Commission of Inquiry

  • The United Nations Security Council meets on the situation in Syria on August 3, 2011.

    © 2011 UN Photo

Not only has Syria ignored the Security Council’s demands, but it has responded to the international community’s demand to halt the violence by intensifying its bloody crackdown. President Bashar al-Assad needs to hear loud and clear that the Security Council will not tolerate such contempt for its united call for Syria to change course.
Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch

(New York) – The United Nations Security Council should press Syria to comply with the council’s demand to end attacks against peaceful protesters, Human Rights Watch said today. Syria should comply with the Security Council’s August 3, 2011statement, which also called on Syria to cooperate fully with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), which has been investigating the abuses in Syria.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will brief the council on Syria on August 10, as requested in the Security Council statement. At the August 10 meeting, the Security Council should escalate pressure on the recalcitrant government by considering targeted sanctions, an arms embargo, and the appointment of a commission of inquiry, Human Rights Watch said.

“Not only has Syria ignored the Security Council’s demands, but it has responded to the international community’s demand to halt the violence by intensifying its bloody crackdown,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “President Bashar al-Assad needs to hear loud and clear that the Security Council will not tolerate such contempt for its united call for Syria to change course.”

In its August 3 statement, the Security Council unanimously condemned Syria’s authorities for “widespread violations of human rights and the use of force against civilians.” Since the statement, Syria’s government has attacked the cities of Deir al-Zor, Daraa, Saraqeb, Hoola, and Maaret al-Nu`man, and escalated its crackdown in Hama, killing at least 90 civilians and bringing the total number of civilians killed by the government since mid-March to almost 2,000. This week, the governments of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Bahrain also expressed their dismay at the government’s attacks against its population by withdrawing their ambassadors and issuing strongly worded statements of condemnation.

On August 7, the Arab League expressed “growing concern” and called on the authorities to stop attacks on protesters while Pope Benedict XVI called on President Assad to respond to the “legitimate aspirations” of Syria’s people. Turkey announced that it was sending its foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, to Damascus on August 9 with a “firm” message.

In the face of Syria’s continuing crackdown and defiance of the Security Council demands, the council should discuss additional measures, Human Rights Watch said. In particular, the council should consider targeted sanctions focused on the individuals responsible for the violence, and an arms embargo. In addition, if Syria continues to undermine the ability of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to investigate, the Security Council should mandate a commission of inquiry that would follow-up on the work of the OHCHR team. To ensure that such measures remain under consideration, the Security Council should agree to meet again in seven days.

In addition to shelling neighborhoods and shooting civilians, Syria’s security forces have detained activists and protesters, holding them incommunicado. On August 6, security forces arrested Walid al-Bunni, a leading opposition figure and former political prisoner, along with his two sons. His whereabouts remain unknown. They also began large-scale detention campaigns in Hama and Deir al-Zor, residents told Human Rights Watch. Since the beginning of anti-government protests in mid-March, Human Rights Watch has documented a systematic and deliberate policy of repression by Syria’s government that suggests that some of the violations constitute crimes against humanity.

Syrian officials accuse “terrorist groups” or “armed gangs” of causing the violence. They inconsistently and vaguely claim that the armed gangs are responsible for the deaths of protesters, or that the armed gangs have attacked security forces, leading the security forces at times to kill residents by mistake. Syria’s national news agency reported the burial of seven members of the security forces on August 8.

Human Rights Watch research indicates that the protests are overwhelmingly peaceful. Human Rights Watch has documented a few instances in which civilians used force, including deadly violence against security forces firing on protesters. While these incidents should be fully investigated, they can in no way justify the systematic violence of the Syrian security forces against their own people, Human Rights Watch said.

“The Syrian security forces have a lot of explaining to do, not just to the Syrian people, not just to the Arab people, but to the entire world, who have been watching their brutality in horror,” Whitson said. “The Egyptian and Tunisian military forces overwhelmingly refused to fire on their own people, but the Syrian military, apart from some brave individuals, has followed instructions to gun down ordinary people peacefully demanding their rights.”

Security Council action was blocked for months by the threat of possible vetoes by Russia and China, and only tepid support from India, Brazil, and South Africa, or the IBSA countries, the developing countries in the current Security Council membership. The Security Council meeting on August 10 takes place at the same time as a visit by a delegation from the IBSA countries to Syria.

On August 4, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Avaaz, and the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect called on these countries to use this trip to urge the Syrian government to end attacks on peaceful protesters, release all political prisoners, and cooperate fully with the High Commissioner on Human Rights’ investigation.

“India, Brazil, and South Africa’s representatives should travel around and see for themselves the evidence of the government’s brutality in Hama, Daraa, and Deir al-Zor, and visit Syria’s overflowing detention centers,” Whitson said. “The IBSA countries should reinforce the Security Council’s message, and avoid euphemistic language about illusory reforms that whitewashes the Syrian government’s outrageous conduct.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in SyriaComments Off on UN: Syria Escalates Repression After Security Council Statement

America’s Economic Chaos: Don’t Panic, Get Informed! Know where to turn for the truth

NOVANEWS
By Global Research

The so-called “debt ceiling debate” which took place in the US this week has been the focus of much media speculation, and has stirred up great concern not only among average Americans worried whether their Social Security checks would arrive in the mail, but is also reflected in global markets worldwide as weak economic reports have caused drastic fluctuations.

Since Obama signed off on raising the federal debt ceiling, CNN has blasted doomsday headlines such as “‘Total Fear’ Grips Markets” and MSNBC touts “Stocks pile on losses amid worries about the global economy“. Not to be outdone,The Economist recently posted the unequivocally sinister headline, “Thursday’s markets bloodbath: Shock and ugh!

It is time to step back from the panic and understand what is happening. The mainstream media is having a heyday with sensationalized reports which at their core are masking several critical and grim truths. But you won’t hear this from the amply-funded corporate media; it is truth-driven journalists writing for independent news outlets like Global Research who have been working overtime to ensure that readers get the real information behind America’s ongoing economic turmoil. We can be sure that statements like the following, all posted this past week by Global Research contributors, will not make mainstream headlines:

“The stated priorities of the Obama economic package are health, education, renewable energy, investment in infrastructure and transportation. “Quality education” is at the forefront. Obama has also promised to “make health care more affordable and accessible”, for every American. At first sight, the budget proposal has all the appearances of an expansionary program, a demand oriented “Second New Deal” geared towards creating employment, rebuilding shattered social programs and reviving the real economy. The realities are otherwise. Obama’s promise is based on a mammoth austerity program. The entire fiscal structure is shattered, turned upside down.”
-Michel Chossudovsky, 
America’s Fiscal Collapse

“It seems remarkable that Mr. Obama’s major focus on the debt ceiling is to warn that Social Security funding must be cut back, along with that of Medicare and other social programs. He went to far as to say that despite the fact that FICA wage set-asides have been invested in Treasury securities for over half a century, the government might not send out checks this week. A radical double standard is at work for democracies. Wall Street investors certainly had no such worry. In fact, interest rates on long-term Treasury bonds actually have gone down over the past month, and especially over the last week. So institutional debt holders obviously expected to get paid. Only the Social Security savers were to be stiffed – or was Mr. Obama simply trying to threaten them, so as to depict himself as a hero coming in to save their Social Security by negotiating a Grand Bargain?”
-Michael Hudson, 
The Debt Ceiling Debate that Didn’t Happen

“Despite being elected on the premise of hope and change, 2 years in power have shown that Obama is more than happy to fulfill the role of a mere guardian of the status quo. Contrary to the expectations of certain sectors, the Obama administration stayed on the course set by the Bush administration in key issues on foreign and economic policy… If we can learn from recent history, the most affected by cuts in public spendings will be the unemployed and poor of American society, while bankers and speculators will continue to be protected by the Obama administration. This definitely was not the change that the American people had in mind when they voted for Obama in 2008.”
-Eric Toussaint and Daniel Munevar,

Barack Obama: The Change that Did Not Happen

The reach of mainstream media is broad and insidious, but their ability to tell the truth is bound and gagged by the corporate interests that fund them. Therefore it is essential that truthful articles and analyses like those listed above reach the widest possible audience.

Here at Global Research, we will continue to deliver incisive articles which run against mainstream currents by virtue of the fact that they convey the truth, but we need the support of our readers to help us achieve this. Certainly there is no denying that the global financial picture is bleak, so we realize that financial support of independent media may well be beyond the means of many of our readers. But we assure you that every amount, great or small, truly makes a difference and goes directly to our operating costs.

Therefore, we ask that you take a moment to consider what independent media means to you and the consequences of not having multi-perspective news outlets like Global Research to cut through the disinformation, and consider supporting us in any way you can.

Here are a few suggestion to get your started:

1. Browse the

articles on the global economic crisis on Global Research

2. Check out the related videos on GlobalResearchTV (GRTV)

3. Pick up our latest book, “The Global Economic Crisis” by clicking on the banner:

Posted in USAComments Off on America’s Economic Chaos: Don’t Panic, Get Informed! Know where to turn for the truth

Iraqi Kurdistan: Law Banning FGM a Positive Step

NOVANEWS

Bill Shows Commitment to End Violence Against Women

  • One day when Dashty (right) was 12, her mother told her to expect company. Expecting friends, she was shocked when she saw the midwife enter her house. After Dashty resisted, her mother beat her as other women held her down. She said she spent 20 days recovering in bed from the traumatic operation. “Since that day, my personality has changed and I’m depressed,” says Dashty, 32, who lives close to her sister Sara (left), 30, in their village of Meer Ghasem. “I’ve lost my love for this world because of what happened at the hands of people I trusted.”

  • Many women and girls in Iraq’s Kurdish region are subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM). A new report from Human Rights Watch says the local government isn’t doing enough to stop this dangerous and debilitating practice. With HRW’s Samer Muscati and a report from the ground.

By passing this law, the Kurdistan regional government has shown its resolve to end female genital mutilation and to protect the rights of women and girls. But the government needs a long-term strategy to deal with this harmful practice because criminalizing it is not enough.
Nadya Khalife, Middle East women’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch

(Beirut) – A Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) law that bans female genital mutilation (FGM) is a crucial step in eradicating the practice, Human Rights Watch said today. The Family Violence Bill, approved by the Kurdistan parliament on June 21, 2011, includes several provisions criminalizing the practice, recognized internationally as a form of violence against women. Several studies by the government and non-governmental organizations estimate that the prevalence of FGM among girls and women in Kurdistan is at least 40 percent.

“By passing this law, the Kurdistan regional government has shown its resolve to end female genital mutilation and to protect the rights of women and girls,” said Nadya Khalife, Middle East women’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. “But the government needs a long-term strategy to deal with this harmful practice because criminalizing it is not enough.”

The Family Violence Bill also criminalizes forced and child marriages, verbal, physical, and psychological abuse of girls and women, child abuse, and child labor. The bill has to be ratified by the president of the Kurdistan Regional Government.

The new law provides for establishing special courts for family violence cases and makes it easier for alleged victims to press charges. It also establishes mechanisms for police and courts to issue and enforce restraining orders to protect victims of domestic abuse. The bill also outlines penalties, including prison sentences, for these crimes.

Article six of the law includes four provisions about female genital mutilation, criminalizing the practice and penalizing anyone, including medical professionals and midwives, who “instigate, assist, or carry out” the procedure. Criminal penalties include prison terms ranging from six months to three years, in addition to fines of up to 10 million dinars ($8,500).

In June 2010, Human Rights Watch issued a report, “They Took Me and Told Me Nothing: Female Genital Mutilation in Iraqi Kurdistan,” which urged the Kurdistan Regional Government and the Kurdistan parliament to take a series of steps to end the practice, including enacting laws banning it.  

The report noted while it was important to pass legislation with appropriate penalties for people who perform the procedure, the government should also provide appropriate services for victims, including  health care and social and psychological support. The report urged the government to work with community midwives, who most often do the cutting, and to undertake public awareness campaigns against the practice. Human Rights Watch also called on the regional government to develop a comprehensive legal and policy framework with relevant ministries and civil society organizations aimed at eradicating the practice.

Human Rights Watch’s report describes the experiences of young girls and women who undergo genital mutilation and the terrible toll it has on their physical and mental health. The report includes interviews with girls and women who referred to the practice as “sunnah,” a non-obligatory act to strengthen one’s religion. Human Rights Watch found that women are confused about whether the practice is a religious obligation.

On July 6, 2010, The High Committee for Issuing Fatwas at the Kurdistan Islamic Scholars Union, the highest Muslim religious authority in Iraqi Kurdistan on religious pronouncements and rulings, issued a fatwa, or religious edict, shortly after the release of Human Rights Watch’s report. The fatwa stated that female genital mutilation predates Islam and is not required by it. The fatwa did not explicitly ban the practice but encouraged parents not to have the procedure performed on their daughters because of the negative health consequences.

In 2010, the Association for Crisis Assistance and Development Co-operation (WADI), a German-Iraqi human rights nongovernmental organization, published a statistical study on the prevalence of the practice in Arbil, Sulaimaniya, and the Germian/Kirkuk region. It found that out of the 1,408 girls and women age 14 and over it interviewed, 72.7 percent had undergone the practice. For the 12 to 24 age group, the prevalence was slightly over 40 percent.

Shortly after the Human Rights Watch report was issued, the Kurdistan Health Ministry surveyed 5,000 women and girls and found that 41 percent had undergone the procedure, and that the practice is prevalent in some regions than others in Kurdistan. The ministry found, for example, that the rate was higher in Sulaimaniya than in Arbil.

Female genital mutilation violates the rights of women to life, health and bodily integrity, non-discrimination and the right not to be subjected to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. In addition, since the practice predominantly affects girls under 18, it also violates children’s rights to health, life, physical integrity, and non-discrimination.

“Once the ban is in effect, government agencies should widely disseminate information on the new law making sure it reaches women and girls at risk of FGM,” Khalife said. “Everyone should now know that the mutilation of girls is prohibited.”

Posted in IraqComments Off on Iraqi Kurdistan: Law Banning FGM a Positive Step

A “Humanitarian War” on Syria? Military Escalation. Towards a Broader Middle East-Central Asian War?

NOVANEWS
By Michel Chossudovsky

“As I went back through the Pentagon in November 2001, one of the senior military staff officers had time for a chat. Yes, we were still on track for going against Iraq, he said. But there was more. This was being discussed as part of a five-year campaign plan, he said, and there were a total of seven countries, beginning with Iraq, then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Iran, Somalia, and Sudan.”  General Wesley Clark

An extended Middle East Central Asian war has been on the Pentagon’s drawing board since the mid-1990s.

As part of this extended war scenario, the US-NATO alliance plans to wage a military campaign against Syria under a UN sponsored “humanitarian mandate”.

Escalation is an integral part of the military agenda. Destabilization of sovereign states through “regime change” is closely coordinated with military planning.

There is a military roadmap characterised by a sequence of US-NATO war theaters.

War preparations to attack Syria and Iran have been in “an advanced state of readiness” for several years. The Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act of 2003  categorizes Syria as a “rogue state”, as a country which supports terrorism. 

A war on Syria is viewed by the Pentagon as part of the broader war directed against Iran. President George W. Bush confirmed in his Memoirs that he had “ordered the Pentagon to plan an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities and [had] considered a covert attack on Syria” (George Bush’s memoirs reveal how he considered attacks on Iran and Syria, The Guardian, November 8, 2010)

This broader military agenda is intimately related to strategic oil reserves and pipeline routes. It is supported by the Anglo-American oil giants.

The July 2006 bombing of Lebanon was part of a carefully planned “military road map”. The extension of “The July War” on Lebanon into Syria had been contemplated by US and Israeli military planners. It was abandoned upon the defeat of Israeli ground forces by Hizbollah.

Israel’s July 2006 war on Lebanon also sought to establish Israeli control over the North Eastern Mediterranean coastline including offshore oil and gas reserves in Lebanese and Palestinian territorial waters.

The plans to invade both Lebanon and Syria have remained on the Pentagon’s  drawing board despite Israel’s setback in the 2006 July War: “In November 2008, barely a month before Tel Aviv started its massacre in the Gaza Strip, the Israeli military held drills for a two-front war against Lebanon and Syria called Shiluv Zro’ot III (Crossing Arms III).  The military exercise included a massive simulated invasion of both Syria and Lebanon” (See Mahdi Darius Nazemoraya, Israel’s Next War: Today the Gaza Strip, Tomorrow Lebanon?, Global Research, January 17, 2009)

The road to Tehran goes through Damascus. A US-NATO sponsored war on Iran would involve, as a first step, a destabilization campaign (“regime change”) including covert intelligence operations in support of rebel forces directed against the Syrian government.  

A “humanitarian war” under the logo of “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P) directed against Syria would also contribute to the ongoing destabilization of Lebanon. 

Were a military campaign to be waged against Syria, Israel would be directly or indirectly involved in military and intelligence operations.

A war on Syria would lead to military escalation.

There are at present four distinct war theaters: Afghanistan-Pakistan, Iraq, Palestine and Libya.

An attack on Syria would lead to the integration of these separate war theaters, eventually leading towards a broader Middle East-Central Asian war, engulfing an entire region from North Africa and the Mediterranean to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The ongoing protest movement is intended to serve as a pretext and a justification to intervene militarily against Syria. The existence of an armed insurrection is denied. The Western media in chorus have described recent events in Syria as a “peaceful protest movement” directed against the government of Bashar Al Assad, when the evidence confirms the existence of an armed insurgency integrated by Islamic paramilitary groups.

From the outset of the protest movement in Daraa in mid-March, there has been an exchange of fire between the police and armed forces on the one hand and armed gunmen on the other. Acts of arson directed against government buildings have also been committed. In late July in Hama, public buildings including the Court House and the Agricultural Bank were set on fire. Israeli news sources, while dismissing the existence of an armed conflict, nonetheless, acknowledge that “protesters [were] armed with heavy machine guns.” (DEBKAfile August 1, 2001. Report on Hama, emphasis added)

“All Options on the Table”

In June, US Senator Lindsey Graham (who serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee) hinted to the possibility of a “humanitarian” military intervention directed against Syria with a view to “saving the lives of civilians”. Graham suggested that the “option” applied to Libya under UN Secuirty Council resolution 1973 should be envisaged in the case of Syria:

“If it made sense to protect the Libyan people against Gadhafi, and it did because they were going to get slaughtered if we hadn’t sent NATO in when he was on the outskirts of Benghazi, the question for the world [is], have we gotten to that point in Syria, …

We may not be there yet, but we are getting very close, so if you really care about protecting the Syrian people from slaughter, now is the time to let Assad know that all options are on the table,” (CBS “Face The Nation”, June 12, 2011)

Following the adoption of the UN Security Council Statement pertaining to Syria (August 3, 2011), the White House called, in no uncertain terms, for “regime change” in Syria and the ouster of President Bashar Al Assad:

“We do not want to see him remain in Syria for stability’s sake, and rather, we view him as the cause of instability in Syria,” White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters Wednesday.

“And we think, frankly, that it’s safe to say that Syria would be a better place without President Assad,” (quoted in Syria: US Call Closer to Calling for Regime Change, IPS, August 4, 2011)

Extended economic sanctions often constitute a leadup towards outright military intervention. A bill sponsored by Senator Lieberman was introduced in the US Senate with a view to authorizing sweeping economic sanctions against Syria. Moreover, in a letter to President Obama in early August, a group of more than sixty U.S. senators called for “implementing additional sanctions… while also making it clear to the Syrian regime that it will pay an increasing cost for its outrageous repression.”

These sanctions would require blocking bank and financial transactions as well as “ending purchases of Syrian oil, and cutting off investments in Syria’s oil and gas sectors.” (See  Pressure on Obama to get tougher on Syria coming from all sides – Foreign Policy,  August 3, 2011).

Meanwhile, the US State Department has also met with members of the Syrian opposition in exile. Covert support has also been channelled to the armed rebel groups.

Dangerous Crossroads: War on Syria. Beachhead for an Attack on Iran

Following the August 3 Statement by the Chairman of the UN Security Council directed against Syria, Moscow’s envoy to NATO Dmitry Rogozin warned of the dangers of military escalation:

“NATO is planning a military campaign against Syria to help overthrow the regime of President Bashar al-Assad with a long-reaching goal of preparing a beachhead for an attack on Iran,…

“[This statement] means that the planning [of the military campaign] is well underway. It could be a logical conclusion of those military and propaganda operations, which have been carried out by certain Western countries against North Africa,” Rogozin said in an interview with the Izvestia newspaper… The Russian diplomat pointed out at the fact that the alliance is aiming to interfere only with the regimes “whose views do not coincide with those of the West.”

Rogozin agreed with the opinion expressed by some experts that Syria and later Yemen could be NATO’s last steps on the way to launch an attack on Iran.

“The noose around Iran is tightening. Military planning against Iran is underway. And we are certainly concerned about an escalation of a large-scale war in this huge region,” Rogozin said.

Having learned the Libyan lesson, Russia “will continue to oppose a forcible resolution of the situation in Syria,” he said, adding that the consequences of a large-scale conflict in North Africa would be devastating for the whole world.“Beachhead for an Attack on Iran”: NATO is planning a Military Campaign against Syria, Novosti, August 5, 2011)

Dmitry Rogozin, August 2011


While Libya, Syria and Iran are part of the military roadmap, this strategic deployment if it were to carried out would also threaten  China and Russia. Both countries have investment, trade as well as military cooperation agreements with Syria and Iran. Iran has observer status in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).

Escalation is part of the military agenda. Since 2005, the US and its allies, including America’s NATO partners and Israel, have been involved in the extensive deployment and stockpiling of advanced weapons systems. The air defense systems of the US, NATO member countries and Israel are fully integrated.


The Role of Israel and Turkey

Both Ankara and Tel Aviv are involved in supporting an armed insurgency. These endeavors are coordinated between the two governments and their intelligence agencies.

Israel’s Mossad, according to reports, has provided covert support to radical Salafi terrorist groups, which became active in Southern Syria at the outset of protest movement in Daraa in mid-March. Reports suggest that financing for the Salafi insurgency is coming from Saudi Arabia. (See Syrian army closes in on Damascus suburbs, The Irish Times, May 10, 2011)

The Turkish government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyib Erdogan is supporting Syrian opposition groups in exile while also backing the armed rebels of the Muslim Brotherhood in Northern Syria.Both the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood (MB) (whose leadership is in exile in the UK) and the banned Hizb ut-Tahrir (the Party of Liberation) are behind the insurrection. Both organizations are supported by Britain’s MI6. The avowed objective of both MB and Hizb-ut Tahir is ultimately to destabilize Syria’s secular State. (See Michel Chossudovsky, SYRIA: Who is Behind The Protest Movement? Fabricating a Pretext for a US-NATO “Humanitarian Intervention”, Global Research, May 3, 2011).

In June, Turkish troops crossed the border into northern Syria, officially to come to the rescue of Syrian refugees. The government of Bashar Al Assad accused Turkey of directly supporting the incursion of rebel forces into northern Syria:

“A rebel force of up to 500 fighters attacked a Syrian Army position on June 4 in northern Syria. They said the target, a garrison of Military Intelligence, was captured in a 36-hour assault in which 72 soldiers were killed in Jisr Al Shoughour, near the border with Turkey.

“We found that the criminals [rebel fighters] were using weapons from Turkey, and this is very worrisome,” an official said.

This marked the first time that the Assad regime has accused Turkey of helping the revolt. … Officials said the rebels drove the Syrian Army from Jisr Al Shoughour and then took over the town. They said government buildings were looted and torched before another Assad force arrived. …

A Syrian officer who conducted the tour said the rebels in Jisr Al Shoughour consisted of Al Qaida-aligned fighters. He said the rebels employed a range of Turkish weapons and ammunition but did not accuse the Ankara government of supplying the equipment.” (Syria’s Assad accuses Turkey of arming rebels, TR Defence, Jun 25 2011)

The Israel-Turkey Military Cooperation Agreement

Israel and Turkey have a military cooperation agreement which pertains in a very direct way to Syria as well to the strategic Lebanese-Syrian Eastern Mediterranean coastline (including the gas reserves off the coast of Lebanon and pipeline routes).

Already during the Clinton Administration, a triangular military alliance between the US, Israel and Turkey had unfolded. This “triple alliance”, which is dominated by the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, integrates and coordinates military command decisions between the three countries pertaining to the broader Middle East. It is based on the close military ties respectively of Israel and Turkey with the US, coupled with a strong bilateral military relationship between Tel Aviv and Ankara. ….

The triple alliance is also coupled with a 2005 NATO-Israeli military cooperation agreement which includes “many areas of common interest, such as the fight against terrorism and joint military exercises. These military cooperation ties with NATO are viewed by the Israeli military as a means to “enhance Israel’s deterrence capability regarding potential enemies threatening it, mainly Iran and Syria.” (See Michel Chossudovsky,”Triple Alliance”: The US, Turkey, Israel and the War on Lebanon, August 6, 2006)

Meanwhile, the recent reshuffle within Turkey’s top brass has reinforced the pro-Islamist faction within the armed forces. In late July, The Commander in Chief of the Army and head of Turkey’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Isik Kosaner, resigned together with the commanders of the Navy and Air Force.

General Kosaner represented a broadly secular stance within the Armed Forces. General Necdet Ozel has been appointed as his replacement as commander of the Army the new army chief.

These developments are of crucial importance. They tend to support US interests. They also point to a potential shift within the military in favor of the Muslim Brotherhood including the armed insurrection in Northern Syria.

“New appointments have strengthened Erdogan and the ruling party in Turkey… [T]he military power is able to carry out more ambitious projects in the region. It is predicted that in case of using the Libyan scenario in Syria it is possible that Turkey will apply for military intervention.” ( New appointments have strengthened Erdogan and the ruling party in Turkey : Public Radio of Armenia, August 06, 2011, emphasis added)

MB Rebels at Jisr al Choughour

Muslim Brotherhood Rebels at Jisr al Shughour Photos AFP June 16, 2011

[Note: this photo is in many regards misleading. Most of the rebel gunmen are highly trained with modern weapons.]

The Extended NATO Military Alliance

Egypt, the Gulf states and Saudi Arabia (within the extended military alliance) are partners of NATO, whose forces could be deployed in a campaign directed against Syria.

Israel is a de facto member of NATO following an agreement signed in 2005.

The process of military planning within NATO’s extended alliance involves coordination between the Pentagon, NATO, Israel’s Defense Force (IDF), as well as the active military involvement of the frontline Arab states, including Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, Egypt: all in all ten Arab countries plus Israel are members of The Mediterranean Dialogue and the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative.

We are at a dangerous crossroads. The geopolitical implications are far-reaching.

Syria has borders with Jordan, Israel, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq. It spreads across the valley of the Euphrates, it is at the crossroads of major waterways and pipeline routes.

Syria is an ally of Iran. Russia has a naval base in North Western Syria (see map).

Establishment of a base in Tartus and rapid advancement of military technology cooperation with Damascus makes Syria Russia’s instrumental bridgehead and bulwark in the Middle East.

Damascus is an important ally of Iran and irreconcilable enemy of Israel. It goes without saying that appearance of the Russian military base in the region will certainly introduce corrections into the existing correlation of forces.

Russia is taking the Syrian regime under its protection. It will almost certainly sour Moscow’s relations with Israel. It may even encourage the Iranian regime nearby and make it even less tractable in the nuclear program talks.( Ivan Safronov,Russia to defend its principal Middle East ally: Moscow takes Syria under its protection, Global Research July 28, 2006)

World War III Scenario

For the last five years, the Middle East-Central Asian region has been on an active war footing.

Syria has significant air defense capabilities as well as ground forces.

Syria has been building up its air defense system with the delivery of Russian Pantsir S1 air-defense missiles. In 2010, Russia delivered a Yakhont missile system to Syria. The Yakhont operating out of Russia’s Tartus naval base “are designed for engagement of enemy’s ships at the range up to 300 km”. (Bastion missile systems to protect Russian naval base in Syria, Ria Novosti,  September 21, 2010).

The structure of military alliances respectively on the US-NATO and Syria-Iran-SCO sides, not to mention the military involvement of Israel, the complex relationship between Syria and Lebanon, the pressures exerted by Turkey on Syria’s northern border, point indelibly to a dangerous process of escalation.

Any form of US-NATO sponsored military intervention directed against Syria would destabilize the entire region, potentially leading to escalation over a vast geographical area, extending from the Eastern Mediterranean to the Afghanistan-Pakistan border with Tajikistan and China.

In the short run, with the war in Libya, the US-NATO military alliance is overextended in terms of its capabilities. Whiel we do not forsee the implementation of a US-NATO military operation in the short-term, the process of political destabilization through the covert support of a rebel insurgency will in all likelihood continue.

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Helicopter Shootdown in Afghanistan Hits Navy SEALs

NOVANEWS
By Patrick Martin

The shooting down of a US Chinook helicopter early Saturday morning in Afghanistan killed 38 soldiers, including 30 Americans and eight Afghans. Among the dead were 22 Navy SEALs, an elite special forces squad. Seven helicopter crew members and air combat controllers, a dog handler, seven Afghan soldiers and an Afghan interpreter died along with the SEALs.

According to press reports citing unnamed military sources, the SEALs were called in for a rescue operation after a small unit of US special forces, from the Army Rangers, was pinned down by Taliban fighters. The SEALs flew in on the helicopter and drove off the Taliban attackers, killing eight of them. They had just reboarded the helicopter for the return flight when a rocket-propelled grenade or surface-to-air missile hit the Chinook and destroyed it in mid-air.

A conflicting account of the attack, also citing military sources, suggested that the Taliban fighters were killed after the helicopter was shot down, not before, when a second US helicopter-borne special forces unit landed, attacked the Taliban, and then sought to retrieve the bodies and the wreckage.

Saturday’s disaster reproduces exactly the pattern of the previous worst tactical defeat for US forces in the war, when a US helicopter was shot down in Kunar province in June 2005, killing 16 soldiers. Those troops were also engaged in a rescue operation for a smaller group of special forces who were surrounded and ultimately killed by Taliban fighters.

Accounts by residents of the Tangi valley in Wardak province, interviewed by McClatchy News Service, contradicted both military versions. They said that the helicopter was shot down before it could land, by Taliban fighters who had been given advance warning of the night raid and were on the alert against it.

The Los Angeles Times reported, “In a statement Saturday, the Taliban claimed its fighters had ambushed Western troops after being tipped off to an imminent night raid in the district. If true, that would amount to a devastating breach of U.S. operational security. The Taliban statement, from spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid, was unusually specific in some of its details, including the number of troops killed—even before Afghan officials released the number.”

Whatever the exact sequence of events, the military disaster—the single worst loss of life for US forces in the 10 years of warfare—was a direct outcome of the escalation of special forces operations throughout Afghanistan.

Some 10,000 of the 100,000 US troops deployed in Afghanistan are drawn from various special forces commands. They serve as the spearhead of what the media call “counterterrorism” operations—although the campaign would be better described as the systematic assassination of suspected opponents of the US occupation and its stooge president, Hamid Karzai.

The Obama administration is investing more and more heavily in such actions to prop up the unpopular Karzai regime and deplete the ranks of the guerrilla forces fighting the US-NATO occupation. In the second quarter of the year, according to NATO figures, special forces troops conducted 2,832 night raids, double the number during the same period a year ago, killing 834 insurgents and capturing 2,941.

Officials in Kabul and Washington issued statements denying that the incident represented a significant tactical or strategic setback for the US military intervention in Afghanistan, but this posture is belied by the scale of the disaster—the loss of nearly 10 percent of the total manpower of SEAL Team 6, estimated in press accounts as 250 to 300 men.

The losses were the greatest inflicted on Navy special forces since World War II. Each commando is the product of a five-year training program, making the losses that much more difficult to replace. SEAL Team 6 was the unit that carried out the assassination of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan May 2, though US officials claimed that none of those involved in that attack was killed in Wardak.

The location of the disaster also demonstrates the deepening crisis of the US occupation regime. Wardak province borders on Kabul, and the Tangi Valley has served as a key infiltration route into the capital region for Taliban fighters.

Despite the escalation of the US military effort over the past three years, since Obama entered the White House, the anti-occupation forces remain well entrenched in Wardak, only 50 miles from Kabul.

According to a McClatchy News account, headlined, “Valley where US troops died backs Taliban,” the increasing frequency of night raids and assassinations by US forces has deeply alienated the local population.

Roshanak Wardak, a doctor and former member of parliament, told McClatchy the raids occur “every night. We are very much miserable.” Another doctor told the news service, “The Americans are committing barbaric acts in the area and this is the reason that the Taliban have influence.”

A local villager, Abdul Rehman Barakzai, said that as many as three civilians were killed in a US raid in the area the night before the shooting down of the helicopter. He added, “The Taliban are so active in the region that they forced the Americans to abandon a base here about two or three months ago because the base was under attack day and night. The area … is completely under the control of the Taliban.”

Another villager told McClatchy that the anti-US insurgency was broadly based in the province. “From each house at least one person is with the Taliban,” he said.

A separate US news account confirmed this general assessment, citing the statement of a US Army intelligence officer in the Tangi valley, “It’s a stronghold for the Taliban.”

Shahidullah Shahid, a spokesman for the governor of Wardak, confirmed this account, telling the Washington Post, “The Americans left because they were getting casualties with each operation … and since then, the insurgents have increased their activity.”

The British daily newspaper Guardian raised an even more disturbing prospect—from the standpoint of American and British imperialism—raised by the helicopter shootdown.

The newspaper said that NATO investigators “will want to discover whether the aircraft was downed by a lucky shot from a rocket-propelled grenade, a highly inaccurate weapon, or by something more sophisticated,” like Manpad surface-to-air missile systems.” It added: “Classified military reports released by WikiLeaks last year showed that the US military covered up a reported surface-to-air missile strike that downed a Chinook helicopter over Helmand, killing seven soldiers.”

The US decision to supply surface-to-air missiles to the Afghan mujahedin guerrillas in the 1980s played a critical role in defeating the military intervention by the Soviet Union. Similar weapons could be supplied to today’s Afghan insurgents through Pakistan.

The crash Saturday brings the total number of US troops killed in Afghanistan this year to 274, and the total deaths for all NATO forces in Afghanistan to 379, including 42 in August. On Sunday, another four soldiers were added to this mounting toll, with the NATO command reporting two deaths in the east and two in the south, but giving no additional details.

Meanwhile, the bloodbath by the occupation military and their puppet forces against Afghan civilians continues uninterrupted. On Friday, Afghan police shot and killed four people during a protest march in the south, sparked by killings by NATO forces in an overnight raid.

On Saturday, NATO troops attacked a house in Helmand province and “inadvertently” killed a woman and her seven small children, all seven years old or younger, according to an Afghan government statement. The intended target of the raid, a Taliban organizer, was not in the house at the time.

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NATO Massacres of Civilians Aimed at “Cleansing” the Libyan People’s Resistance Photographic Evidence of NATO War Crimes

BREAKING NEWS

By Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya

Global Research

TRIPOLI, Global Research, August 10, 2011 – The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) conducted intensive attacks on Libyan civilians in the night of August 8 and in the early hours of August 9, 2011 from approximately 2:00 a.m. to 4:00 a.m. EET.

Civilians in Tripoli and many other cities in Libya were bombed indiscriminately by NATO.

A large number of casualties occurred in the city of Zliten, in the district of Misurata. In Zliten, 85 people were killed including 33 children, 32 women, and 20 men as a result of NATO’s deliberate targeting of residential areas and civilian infrastructure. Many of the injured civilian victims are in critical condition and near death.

Zliten has been under constant NATO bombardment for several days. The recent NATO attacks started at about 11:30 p.m. EET on August 8, 2011. At least 7 civilian homes belonging to local farmers were destroyed, killing entire families. In all 20 families were the targets of the NATO bombings.

The images below pertain to destroyed farm houses in Majer, near Zliten.

Destroyed farm house in Majer, near Zliten. Copyright of all photos above. Matthew Ozanon 2011

Colonel Roland Lavoie, NATO’s official military spokesperson for Operation Unified Protector, confirmed that NATO bombed Zliten at 11:45 p.m. on August 8, 2011 and 2:34 a.m. on August 9, 2011.

In a second round of bombing, NATO targeted the same homes once more when local residents had arrived to the rescue of those who had been bombed.

Dismembered bodies were recovered from the ruble throughout the day. According to a Libyan eyewitness, a pregnant woman was killed with her dead unborn child exposed out of her torn body.

Media Disinformation

The only members of the international press that reported the damage of the bombings in detail were Russia Today (RT), TeleSUR, Chinese Central Television (CCTV), and independent journalists.

CNN was present taking footage, but essentially released nothing and distorted the facts.(See photos below)

Dead civilians in Zliten Hospital. CNN cameraman in background. Copyright, Matthew Ozanon 2011

 

Dead civilians in Zliten Hospital.  CNN camerman filming. Copyright, Matthew Ozanon 2011

Many of the journalists from NATO countries also held meetings on how to disseminate the news.

NATO claims categorically that the areas bombed were “legitimate” military targets and that there is no evidence of civilian casualties.

Colonel Lavoie stated that NATO had solid intelligence which confirmed that the farm houses were “military bases.” This statement is false and in total contradiction with realities on the ground including photographic and film evidence (see the photographs below).

Areas in Zliten and Majer (Mager) were bombed by NATO for strategic reasons. The bombing of civilian areas is tied to the planning of NATO’s offensive against Tripoli.

The Libyan clans in these areas have made it clear that they would fight the Transitional Council should its forces try to move westward against Tripoli from their position in Misurata. NATO deliberately bombed these areas “to clear the way” towards Tripoli.

Thousands of people also came to the funerals of the victims of the NATO attacks.

Jamahiraya Satellite Channel was also bombed by NATO. This was part of NATO’s efforts to contain information from coming out of Libya regarding the realities of the war.

NATO is running out of steam and the Transitional Council is near collapse.

NATO’s killing of civilians is intended to force the Libyan population into surrendering. The “Responsibility to Protect” is an utter shame. A few days earlier NATO left another boatload of migrants and refugees die in the Mediterranean Sea.

HRW has sent a team to Tripoli from its head office in New York, which has pushed for a settlement between the Benghazi-based Transitional Council and the Libyan government. Although independent, Human Rights Watch (HRW) is known to liaise with the U.S. State Department.

A concrete factory and a Libyan cultural centre in Al-Khams were also bombed by NATO which has also announced that it will attack civilian sites.

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I’m so proud. I shot down Navy Seals’ Chinook

NOVANEWS

US special forces die after Taliban shoot down helicopter Image

Taliban fighter who helped inflict the allies’ worst loss of life tells The Sunday Times in Kabul how he avenged the death of Bin Laden

A Taliban fighter has given the first account of how his unit fired two “opportunist” rocket-propelled grenades that brought down a Chinook helicopter, killing 38 elite American and Afghan troops in the deadliest attack of Nato’s 10-year campaign.

The special forces, some from the unit that killed Osama Bin Laden, had flown into a remote valley to kill a group of Taliban commanders who were sheltering in the Sayedabad district of Wardak province, according to the fighter.

The dead, identified last week by a special forensic team at Dover air force base in Delaware, included 17 Navy Seals — some from Team 6, the unit that killed Bin Laden — five other navy special forces, three air force special forces and five crew. Seven Afghan commandos and an interpreter were also on board.

The helicopter was shot down as it came in to land close to where two Taliban had taken up sentry positions in the Tangi Valley, the fighter, whose nom de guerre is Haqiar, said. His account largely tallies with Nato’s version of events.

Haqiar, 24, who claims to be the only surviving member of the team that shot down the helicopter, said fighters were already on high alert because they had seen many US drones patrolling during the day.

They observed Iftar — the Islamic custom of breaking the fast during the holy month of Ramadan — and as soon as they had finished their meal, Haqiar and his comrade, Gulam Hazrat, took up guard duties in a ditch beside a terraced field overlooking the valley.

At about 11pm, a radio message from Haqiar’s commander, Mullah Mohibullah, told them American forces had just killed six Taliban fighters further down the valley in the village of Qarya-e-Amir. “We knew something big was going to happen,” he said.

An hour later, Haqiar and Hazrat heard a helicopter approaching and saw it silhouetted against the moon.

The Chinook was coming in to land about 100 yards from their position, escorted by two attack helicopters. The pilot appeared to be heading for a site between two mosques in the valley below their position, Haqiar said.

“The Americans knew that the mosques and the surrounding fields and gardens had lots of Taliban commanders sleeping there,” said Haqiar.

As the Chinook reached eye-level, he wanted to ask his commander for permission to fire because he knew the shot would give away his position. But Hazrat launched the rocketpropelled grenade (RPG) before Haqiar could reach his radio.

“He fired and it landed inside the chopper and exploded. I fired one and it hit the nose of the bird. The chopper lost balance and fell to the ground on its side and rolled. There was a huge explosion and we could see into the back of the Chinook and we saw the inside was on fire,” said Haqiar.

Nato later said the helicopter took fire from several insurgent positions as it made its approach.

The flames spread through the helicopter and quickly ignited the ammunition on board, sending sparks shooting into the night sky, Haqiar said.

“We could hear the bullets exploding till the next day. The flames lit up the valley. Suddenly it was so light,” he said.

The two fighters turned on their radios to inform their commander that they had shot down the helicopter and began to flee with other Taliban. They dropped their weapons and ran through fields.

“I kept looking over my shoulder. The helicopter was still on fire and the other choppers couldn’t do anything to help them,” said Haqiar.

Before sunrise, more American soldiers arrived in the valley along with three medical evacuation helicopters, according to Haqiar.

The troops began to search houses, bazaars and fields in the valley, but Haqiar and a few of his men had already escaped. Hazrat fled to the neighbouring district of Chak, where he prepared to flee the country with other insurgents.

Haqiar’s version of events agrees with Nato’s and he denied an Afghan report that the Taliban had deliberately lured the Chinook into the valley. He said high-level Taliban commanders from other provinces had convened in the valley, which they use as a staging post for attacks in the surrounding provinces.

Nato said later that American special forces had flown into the valley to pursue a group of insurgents fleeing from the area where US troops had just killed the six Taliban fighters.

The insurgents belonged to a network previously under the command of Mohibullah’s boss, Din Mohammed, who had been killed in an earlier special forces operation.

General John Allen, the Nato commander in Afghanistan, said: “The intelligence that had been generated to this point led us to believe there was an enemy network in the Tangi Valley and the purpose of this mission was to go after the leadership of that network.”

Days after the crash, the Americans used local intelligence to track Hazrat and Mohibullah to a wooded area in the district. A strike by an American F-16 fighter jet killed both men along with several Taliban comrades.

“The two men were attempting to flee the country,” said a Nato spokesman.

Haqiar escaped to the village of Hassan Khel to “relax and pray”, he said. “When we heard that this was the group of special forces who killed Bin Laden we were so happy and proud. We didn’t know the infidels on board were so special.

“Before, we believed we couldn’t shoot down the choppers with our weapons. They used to say the air pressure would destroy our RPGs before they could hit their target. Now we know we can do it. We will train others to do the same.”

Haqiar is now on the run. He intends to flee to Pakistan or Iran. The Sunday Times tracked down the fighter, who was extremely nervous about being recorded on tape, via an intermediary from the same district. The interview was conducted near Kabul. He said he wanted to tell the world about the attack, which he said had “made all Muslims proud”.

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U.S. pro-democracy effort rubs many in Egypt the wrong way

NOVANEWS

The U.S. plans to pour funds into Egypt to help organize political parties has sparked a backlash from Cairo’s interim military government, its Islamist parties and even some reform-minded activists.

Six months after pro-democracy protesters ousted longtime Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, U.S. efforts to help promote democratic reforms have created unexpected turmoil in Washington’s relationship with one of its closest allies in the Arab world.

The Obama administration’s plan to pour $65 million into Egypt this year to help organize new political parties has sparked a powerful backlash from Cairo’s interim military government, its Islamist parties and even some reform-minded activists.

The military government has portrayed groups that take U.S. funding as agents of a foreign government and has battled behind the scenes for months to try to stop Washington from giving money to pro-democracy groups outside Cairo’s direct supervision.

The dispute exploded into the open Wednesday when the State Department decried a “creeping” anti-Americanism in Egypt and complained that Cairo’s criticism of U.S. aid and motives is inaccurate and unfair.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland warned of “this kind of anti-Americanism that’s creeping into the Egyptian public discourse.” She also denounced personal attacks on Anne Patterson, the new U.S. ambassador, as “unacceptable.” A state-run magazine recently called Patterson the “ambassador from Hell.”

U.S. officials said Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton raised the matter July 28 with Egypt’s new intelligence chief, Maj. Gen. Murad Muwafi, when he visited Washington.

“This means, at the end of the day, our influence is going to be diminished,” said Daniel Kurtzer, who served as ambassador to Egypt during the Clinton administration.

The clash underscores Egypt’s wariness about America’s intentions even as Cairo continues to accept $1.3 billion in annual U.S. military aid. The dispute also reflects political maneuvering between the ruling military council and political reformers before key national elections this fall.

“We want help, but not interference,” Maj Gen. Said Elassar, a member of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, said last month at the United States Institute of Peace in Washington.

But the America-bashing has had an effect. Public opinion polls indicate that Egyptian approval of the United States has plummeted to 5%, lower than during the George W. Bush administration, according to a July survey by Zogby International.

Other worrying signs also have emerged in the relationship.

The military, Egypt’s most powerful institution, has begun to chart a more independent course on foreign policy than in the past, including mending relations with two U.S. archfoes, Iran and the Palestinian militant group Hamas.

The government also has signaled that it is prepared to accept offers of $17 billion in aid from Saudi Arabia and Persian Gulf states — a sign that Cairo wants stronger ties to authoritarian neighbors that hardly practice Western-style democracy.

The mood has grown more xenophobic in recent weeks as the military council, angered by regular sit-ins and protests challenging its power, has sought to portray dissident groups as dupes of foreign interests.

Gen. Hassan Roweini, another member of the council, suggested that the April 6 Youth Movement, one of the most prominent activist groups, was committing treason by “igniting strife between the army and its people.” Roweini sought to spread suspicions widely, charging that 600 Egyptian organizations had applied for U.S. assistance.

The April 6 movement has had contacts with U.S. organizations but denies taking aid.

Ali Selmi, deputy prime minister for political affairs, said Monday that the government “rejects any outside funding for Egyptian movements under the guise of supporting democracy.”

Nongovernmental groups are increasingly fearful of accepting help from abroad, said Fady Phillip, a member of the Maspero Youth Movement. “It’s become part of the culture. The army is creating this hypersensitivity, and no one wants to be accused of being a spy.”

The finger-pointing is especially provocative at a time when conspiracy theories claim that the U.S., Israel and other foreign forces are seeking to hijack the revolution.

Al Qaeda has tried to capitalize on such fears. In an audio message released this week, Ayman Zawahiri, the terrorist network’s new leader, accused America of usurping the revolution to protect its interests.

Egypt’s reform advocates are split on whether or not to accept U.S. aid. Some were disillusioned by three decades of U.S. support for Mubarak. Others simply want Egypt to shape its new political structure without outside involvement. And many simply don’t see U.S support as critical.

“U.S. influence in Egypt was not that deep anyway,” said Mustafa Kamel Sayed, a political science professor at American University in Cairo. “The U.S. did not influence the revolution.”

Eager to help stabilize Egypt’s wobbling economy last spring, Clinton convinced Congress to forgive $1 billion of Egyptian debt. She also redirected $65 million in economic aid to projects aimed at promoting democracy, including organizing political parties, and another $100 million to help provide a quick economic boost.

Egypt’s government welcomed the debt relief but was furious at help for new political parties. It also was outraged that the Obama administration was shifting economic aid to projects over which Cairo would have no control. Only about $40 million of the total $165 million has been distributed.

The move “was not the most popular decision we’ve ever taken,” said a senior administration official who declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the issue.

Egypt also rebuffed offers of $3 billion in aid from the International Monetary Fund and $1 billion from the World Bank because the offers would require economic reform and transparency.

Egypt’s military wants to continue receiving the $1.3 billion in U.S. military aid. But a collision may occur there too.

Some House Republicans have declared that military aid should be cut if the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist political faction that was banned under Mubarak, has any role in the new government — as it inevitably will.

In addition, Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has said he wants more military aid shifted to economic support, a suggestion that has already alarmed Egyptian officials.

The senior administration official acknowledged that the relationship is in flux, but said the U.S. priority is clear: “We’ve got to do all we can to support a democratic transition…. Egypt is the main event.”

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