Blast hits Iraq football match

May 15, 2010

May 14, 2010

Suicide bombers have struck a football match in northern Iraq, leaving at least 25 people dead and many more wounded.

The blast targeted a game taking place in the town of Tal Afar, around 60km west of the city of Mosul.

A local police official said a car bomb exploded at about 6pm local time (1500GMT) near a crowd of spectators.

As people fled the scene of the first blast, two more bombers activated explosive belts in the crowd, other sources said.

Local hospital officials put the number of injured at 125.

“Many people were gathered to watch the match,” Hussein Nashad, who witnessed the attack, told the AFP news agency. “We heard a loud explosion and the people behind me shielded me from the shrapnel.

“I ran away, but then I heard someone shout ‘Allahu-akbar’ (God is greatest), and then there was another explosion,” he said, speaking from hospital where he was being treated for shock.

‘Dark days’

Many of the wounded were taken by ambulance to Dahuk, 95km away, because local hospitals were unable to cope with the influx of wounded spectators.

Tal Afar is a predominantly Shia Turkomen town and has been a regular target for suicide bombers in the past.

Speaking from Baghdad, Al Jazeera’s Zeina Khodr said that the area is a former al-Qaeda stronghold. “There was no claim of responsibility for the Tal Afar attack but authorities are pointing the finger at al-Qaeda,” she said.

Friday’s attacks follow blasts in the city last October and July that left dozens of people dead. In March 2007, 152 people were killed when truck bombs targeted markets in the town.

The violence came as the new leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq said that a campaign of attacks against the country’s Shia community was under way, warning the community that “dark days soaked with blood” lay ahead.

Al-Nasser Lideen Allah Abu Suleiman was named as the group’s new ‘minister of war’ earlier on Friday.

The bombing comes as Iraq reels from a series of co-ordinated attacks carried out in 10 cities on Monday which left 119 people dead.

There are fears that the political deadlock following Iraq’s inconclusive election two months ago is fuelling a new wave of sectarian violence.

:: Article nr. 65994 sent on 15-may-2010 00:03 ECT


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Senate panel approves money for Afghan, Iraq wars

May 15, 2010

By Susan Cornwell

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A Senate committee on Thursday approved another $33.5 billion for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq this year, although some members said they did so reluctantly.

The action by the Senate Appropriations Committee is the first step toward congressional approval of the extra war spending that President Barack Obama requested in February to support his surge of 30,000 more U.S. troops into Afghanistan.

But the money still must be approved by the full Senate and also by the House of Representatives, where the majority Democrats are split over the wisdom of continuing the wars.

The Senate panel unanimously approved $33.5 billion for the Pentagon for the two wars and a little under $4 billion for the State Department to help fund a “civilian stabilization strategy” to deliver more economic aid to Afghanistan as well as neighboring Pakistan.

Chairman Daniel Inouye said he hoped the Senate would act on the legislation by the end of May. The money comes on top of about $130 billion that Congress already approved for the Afghanistan and Iraq wars through September 30 of this year.

Senator Barbara Mikulski said she had “grave questions” about spending so much in Afghanistan given that its president is “running the second-most corrupt country in the world.”

While U.S. troops are fighting in Afghanistan, “the Chinese are building railroads and buying up mining interests” there, Mikulski added. But she voted for the bill.

Senator Patrick Leahy, another Democrat, echoed her concerns.

“Every cent we’ve been spending in Iraq and Afghanistan, we’ve been borrowing from others, particularly the Chinese,” he said. “It’s very, very hard to justify some of the spending for either place.”

In addition to fully funding Obama’s troop surge for Afghanistan, the Pentagon funds included money to help train and equip Afghan and Iraqi security forces — $2.6 billion and $1 billion, respectively.

It also included $1.1 billion for mine-resistant vehicles known as MRAPs.

The appropriations committee added money for other projects to the bill, including:

— $13 billion for benefits for Vietnam War veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange.

— $2.8 billion requested by the Obama administration for relief and reconstruction for Haiti after its devastating earthquake on January 12.

— $5.1 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency. “Everyone should be advised that the … agency is out of funding for disaster relief,” Inouye said.

— $400 million for relief from recent floods from Tennessee to Rhode island.

— $68 million to help address the impact of the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

(Editing by John O’Callaghan)

:: Article nr. 65984 sent on 14-may-2010 20:27 ECT


:: The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website.


Iraq: water formerly a blessing, increasingly a problem

May 15, 2010

International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)

Millions of people in Iraq cannot get clean water or water in sufficient quantity. The ICRC is doing its best to improve access to safe water. This is an update on ICRC activities carried out in Iraq in March and April.

The Tigris and the Euphrates, which supply the bulk of Iraq’s water, are slowly dwindling and in some areas can no longer be used as a reliable source of drinking water. Across the country, the shrinking of the rivers is having serious consequences on the functioning of water treatment plants. It also affects underground aquifers, where the salt content of the water is increasing. This water is often unfit for human consumption or even for agricultural use.

The volatile security situation in some areas and the rising price of fuel have put additional strain on already scarce services, as have population growth and displacement. In many places, the strain is further compounded by a lack of qualified engineers and staff able to maintain and repair water and sanitation facilities. Many farming communities were hard hit by the drought that struck northern Iraq in 2008. Average rainfall over the past 10 years has been far lower than in previous decades. In the north, water supply systems fed by springs and shallows aquifers have been depleted and often have less water available to meet demand. Although rainfall has been better in many places during 2009 and 2010, low water-levels continue to affect agriculture production, meaning Iraq needs to import more rice and wheat. With less water of sufficient quality generally available, management of the existing resources is key.

Because large suburban residential areas have sometimes developed without adequate infrastructure, and certain sewage treatment plants are bypassed, wastewater is discharged untreated into rivers and lakes. Ditches and ponds filled with foul-smelling polluted water blight many neighbourhoods. The United Nations recently estimated that around 83% of sewage is being let into rivers and waterways.

Water treatment and distribution facilities are also disrupted by persistent power shortages. Iraq is currently producing around 6,000 megawatts of electricity a day, while demand is estimated at 10,000 megawatts. Health, water and sewage facilities and other infrastructure in many parts of the country still rely on back-up generators to meet their need for electric power.

Water distribution systems that are old or badly maintained are further weakened by illegal connections and substandard plumbing within households. Leakages cause large amounts of wasted water and frequent contamination. According to the United Nations, nearly half of Iraqis in rural areas are without safe drinking water. The Iraqi government estimates that 24% of Iraqis in the country as a whole, or nearly one in four, do not have access to safe water.

“Reliable access to enough water of sufficient quality remains a major challenge for large parts of the population”, said Julien Le Sourd, the ICRC’s water and habitat coordinator in Iraq. “The ICRC is doing its utmost to improve this by repairing and upgrading water supply and sewage systems. We do this in partnership with the authorities and we are also providing training for maintenance staff working in water treatment plants.”

In March and April, ICRC water engineers:

completed work at the Ashty water station, in Erbil governorate, which provides safe drinking water for around 10,000 people living in nearby villages;

built an emergency unit in the 50-bed Qala’t Salih Hospital in Missan governorate;

upgraded the storage capacity for drinking water and for water used in the cooling system in Medical City Hospital, Baghdad. The hospital can accommodate 1,400 patients and treats around 10,000 outpatients per day;

renovated a primary health-care centre serving around 400 patients in Sadr City, Baghdad;

connected the school of al Rahma camp for internally displaced people (IDPs) in Najaf City, which has 1,000 pupils and teachers, to the municipal water and electricity supply networks;

supplied and installed a new mortuary refrigerator with a capacity of 12 corpses in Beiji General Hospital, in Salah Al Din governorate;

delivered water by truck to 4,500 displaced people in Sadr City and to 340 in Husseinia and Ma’amil, Al Imam Ali General Hospital and Fatma al Zahra Hospital, all in Baghdad governorate, and to 360 in Qalawa Quarter camp in Sulaimaniya;

installed equipment used to fill water bags for distribution during emergencies at Al Wathba water treatment plant in Baghdad;

repaired the Hindiyah water treatment plant in Karbala, which supplies water to around 125,000 people;

installed a large-capacity pump in al Fadhliya water treatment plant, Thi Qar governorate, providing drinking water for 82,000 people.

assessed, in cooperation with Iraqi Correctional Services engineers, 11 detention facilities under the authority of the Ministry of Justice, evaluating needs and recommending improvements for the delivery of essential services (water, electricity, sewage).

Bringing aid to vulnerable people

The ICRC maintained its support for people facing special difficulty earning a living and supporting their families, such as women heading households, people with disabilities and displaced people:

more than 2,300 displaced families headed by women in Diyala, Salah Al-Din and Ninawa governorates were given monthly food parcels and hygiene items;

around 2,100 people displaced in March from Mosul to Hamdanya and Tilkaif were given food parcels and rice;

61 disabled people in Erbil, Dohuk and Ninawa governorates were given micro-economic aid enabling them to start small businesses and regain economic self-sufficiency. A total of 459 disabled people have now received such aid in a programme that started in 2008.

Assisting hospitals and physical rehabilitation centres

Iraqi health facilities still benefit from ICRC support. To help disabled people reintegrate into the community, the ICRC provides limb-fitting and physical rehabilitation services. In March and April:

six hospitals and three primary health-care centres received medical supplies and equipment;

25 doctors and 28 nurses successfully took part in a training course on strengthening emergency services given at Al Sadr Teaching Hospital in Najaf and at Sulaimaniya Emergency Hospital;

two people from the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research involved in the teaching of prosthetics and orthotics went to the National Centre for Prosthetics and Orthotics in the United Kingdom under ICRC sponsorship for advanced training.

Visiting detainees

ICRC delegates continued to visit detainees in order to monitor the conditions in which they are being held and the treatment they receive. In all cases, the ICRC shares its findings and recommendations in confidence with the detaining authorities. In March and April, the ICRC visited detainees held:

in Counter-Terrorism Directorate and Tasfirat Najaf, in Najaf governorate;

in Mina and Samawa prisons, Basra governorate;

in Counter-Terrorism Directorate, Kirkuk governorate;

in US custody, in Remembrance II, Baghdad governorate;

in four prisons and one police station in Erbil, Dohuk and Sulaimaniya governorates.

Around 1,550 detainees held in Hilla I & II Correctional Facilities were given mattresses and recreational items such as ping-pong tables, soccer balls and volleyballs.

The ICRC makes a special effort to restore and maintain ties between detainees and their families. In March, it arranged for six Iraqi families to enter Kuwait and visit their relatives detained there since 1991. In addition, around 10,500 Red Cross messages were exchanged between detainees and their families in Iraq and abroad during the month of March.

During March and April, the ICRC responded to more than 3,600 enquiries from families seeking information on detained relatives. It also issued 220 certificates to former detainees making them eligible to receive social welfare benefits.

At the request of the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the ICRC issued 73 travel documents for Palestinian refugees in Iraq to enable them to resettle abroad.

Clarifying what happened to missing people

The ICRC supports the authorities in their efforts to clarify what happened to those who went missing in connection with the Iran-Iraq War and the 1990-1991 Gulf War. It also helps train forensic professionals in the identification and management of mortal remains and regularly supplies equipment. In the past two months:

the Technical Sub-Committee of the Tripartite Commission, handling cases of persons missing in connection with the 1990-1991 Gulf War, held its 64th session in Kuwait, which was chaired by the ICRC and attended by representatives from Iraq, Kuwait and the 1990-1991 Coalition (the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Saudi Arabia). Nine samples of human remains were handed over by the Iraqi to the Kuwaiti delegation for DNA analysis in an effort to determine if they belonged to missing Kuwaiti nationals. The sub-committee will hold a special meeting on forensics in Kuwait in May;

mortal remains of Iraqi soldiers were repatriated from Kuwait under ICRC auspices.

Promoting international humanitarian law

In line with its mandate, the ICRC promotes compliance with international humanitarian law and reminds parties to a conflict of their obligation to protect civilians. In March and April, the ICRC organized a series of seminars and presentations on international humanitarian law for various audiences all over Iraq.

:: Article nr. 65997 sent on 15-may-2010 02:50 ECT


:: The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website.


Afghan civilian shot dead during protest against NATO over killing civilians

May 15, 2010

Afghans said between nine and 15 civilians had been killed in the overnight raid [Reuters]

Afghans angry at ‘civilian deaths’

May 14, 2010

One person has been shot dead by police as hundreds of protesters took to the streets in eastern Afghanistan, accusing Nato-led forces of killing civilians during an overnight raid near the city of Jalalabad.

Angry Afghans set fire to tyres and blocked roads in the Surkh Road district of Nangahar province on Friday, demanding an explanation for the deaths.

Witnesses told Al Jazeera that between nine and 15 civilians had been killed in the Nato attack. Mohammed Arish, a government administrator in Surkh Rod, said a father and his four sons and four members of another family were among the dead.

“They are farmers. They are innocent. They are not insurgents or militants,” Arish told The Associated Press by phone.

Arish said the protesters had tried to march toward the provincial capital of Jalalabad before being turned back by police.

The Nangahar governor’s office said at least three people were injured during a clash with police.

‘Taliban firefight’

A Nato spokesman confirmed foreign and Afghan forces had conducted some operations in the area but said he was not aware of any civilian deaths and the alliance was checking the incident.

“Nato and Isaf said they were targeting Taliban sub-commanders and some fighters which their intelligence said were hiding in a compound outside a village”

Hoda Abdel Hamid, Al Jazeera correspondent

Colonel Wayne Shanks said eight Taliban fighters were killed in a firefight, adding that fighters fired rocket-propelled grenades at Nato forces.

Two other people were captured during the operation, and weapons and communications gear were confiscated at the targeted compound, Shanks said.

Al Jazeera’s Hoda Abdel Hamid reporting from Kabul said international forces and Afghan troops were flown to the area by helicopters overnight and carried out the raid.

“According to a Nato and Isaf [International Security Assistance Force] statement they were targeting Taliban sub-commanders and some fighters which their intelligence said were hiding in a compound outside a village.

“But the villagers said none of those killed had anything to do with the Taliban, that all of them were innocent civilians and members of two different families.”

Sensitive issue

Civilian deaths at the hands of US and Nato forces are a highly sensitive issue in Afghanistan.

Last year public outrage over such deaths led General Stanley McChrystal, the Nato commander, to tighten the rules on combat if civilians are at risk.

He also ordered allied forces to avoid night raids when possible and bring Afghan troops with them if they do enter homes after dark.

Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, discussed the issue in meetings with US officials in Washington this week. He has previously sought a complete ban on night raids.

“Civilian casualties is not only a political problem … I don’t want civilian casualties,” Barack Obama, the US president, said on Wednesday after meeting Karzai.

“I take no pleasure in reading a report where there is a civilian casualty. That’s not why I am president, that’s not why I am commander in chief.”

Last year was the deadliest for Afghan civilians since the war started in 2001, according to the United Nations.

Afghan officials say about 170 Afghan civilians were killed between the months of March and April this year alone, an increase of 33 per cent compared to the same period last year.

:: Article nr. 65996 sent on 15-may-2010 00:26 ECT


:: The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website.


No Historical Tradition of Unfettered Access to Foods of All Kinds

May 15, 2010

Feds tell court they can decide what you eat – ‘Plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to obtain any food they wish’


Attorneys for the federal government have argued in a lawsuit pending in federal court in Iowa that individuals have no “fundamental right” to obtain what food they choose.

The brief was filed April 26 in support of a motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund over the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s ban on the interstate sale of raw milk.

“There is no ‘deeply rooted’ historical tradition of unfettered access to foods of all kinds,” states the document signed by U.S. Attorney Stephanie Rose, assistant Martha Fagg and Roger Gural, trial attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice.

“Plaintiffs’ assertion of a ‘fundamental right to their own bodily and physical health, which includes what foods they do and do not choose to consume for themselves and their families’ is similarly unavailing because plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to obtain any food they wish,” the government has argued.

WND has reported several times on fed crackdowns on producers of raw milk for friends and neighbors, including the recent case when agents arrived to inspect a private property belonging to Dan Allgyer in Pennsylvania at 5 a.m.

The incident was followed by a report a few days later that documented a proposal pending in Congress that critics say would do for the nation’s food supply what the new health-care reform law has done for health-care resources.

“S. 510, the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2010, may be the most dangerous bill in the history of the U.S.,” critiqued Steve Green on the Food Freedom blog. “It is to our food what the bailout was to our economy, only we can live without money.”

The plan is sponsored by U.S. Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., who explains the legislation “is a critical step toward equipping the FDA with the authorities and funding it needs to regulate what is now a global marketplace for food, drugs, devices and cosmetics.”

Now it’s statism on our plate! Mark Levin’s manifesto – ‘Liberty and Tyranny’ – provides the antidote to its growing stranglehold

His website explains, “The legislation requires foreign and domestic food facilities to have safety plans in place to prevent food hazards before they occur, increases the frequency of inspections. Additionally, it provides strong, flexible enforcement tools, including mandatory recall. Most importantly, this bill generates the resources to support FDA food-safety activities.”

The proposal cleared the U.S. House last year but has been languishing in the Senate because of a full calendar of projects. It creates a long list of new requirements for food-producing entities to meet the demands of the secretary of agriculture. It is expected to be the subject of discussion in coming days.

The Iowa case alleges the federal restrictions on raw milk are a violation of the U.S. Constitution, according to a report at Natural News.

The federal attorneys want the case dismissed.

“The interest claimed by plaintiffs could be framed more narrowly as a right to ‘provide themselves and their families with the foods of their own choice,'” the government document states. But the attorneys say that right doesn’t exist.

“The FDA essentially believes that nobody has the right to choose what to eat or drink,” said the Natural News site, which explains it covers topics that allow individuals to make positive changes in their health, environmental sensitivity and consumer choices.

“You are only ‘allowed’ to eat or drink what the FDA gives you permission to. There is no inherent right or God-given right to consume any foods from nature without the FDA’s consent.”

The Natural News report continued, “The state, in other words, may override your food decisions and deny you free access to the foods and beverages you wish to consume. And the state may do this for completely unscientific reasons – even just political reasons – all at their whim.”

The report cited an increasing level of frustration on the part of the federal government because of tactics including buying “cow shares” in which a consumer drinks milk from a cow he partly owns, or “buying clubs.”

“This arrangement drives the FDA absolutely batty because it bypasses their authority and allows free people to engage in the free sales of raw dairy products produced on small family farms,” Natural News said.

The report blames the aggressive campaign against raw milk on large commercial dairy interests, “because it threatens the commercial milk business.”

The reason cannot be safety, the report said, since a report from the Weston A. Price Foundation revealed that from 1980 to 2005 there were 10 times more illnesses from pasteurized milk than from raw milk.

The federal government attorneys say the FDA’s goal is to prevent disease, and that’s why the “ban on the interstate sale of unpasteurized milk” was adopted.

The attorneys conceded that states ordinarily are expected to regulate intrastate activity but noted, “it is within HHS’s authority … to institute an intrastate ban as well.”

Natural News reported the ban could be seen as violating the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which leaves to states all powers not specifically designated in the Constitution for the federal body.

In fact, according to the Wisconsin State Journal, lawmakers there have adopted a bill, with the governor’s support, that would allow farmers to sell raw milk directly to consumers.

The move puts Wisconsin in position to be the 20th state to allow direct sales of raw milk. Another handful of states allow retail sales.



The Cover–up: BP’s Crude Politics And The Looming Environmental Mega–Disaster

May 14, 2010

Gulf of Mexico worst Case Scenarios– Coming Fast with Possible Terrorist Tie-in

This is a horror story which will become so much worse, it will become the dominant news story for the forseeable future. It includes Haliburton, the release of unprecedented geologic forces and a potential world wide catastrophe, not only ecologically, but much more, especially if the river of oil spewing from the deepwater, hyper-pressurized sea-floor opening reaches the gulf stream, which will quickly spread it all the way up the
east coast and beyond, possibly even to Europe.

NOAA projection of oil spread.

image and caption from wikipedia

The prime players are:

* BP– owner of the oil field and the leaking Macondo Prospect well,
* Transocean corporation, owner of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig– a rig which, last year drilled the world’s deepest deepest oil/gas well in BP’s Gulf of MexicoTiber Oilfield, at a depth of 35,000 feet. The company has merged with and acquired numerous companies over its history and is now registered as a Swiss corporation, with it’s principal office in Houston Texas.
* Haliburton corporation, which was acting as a subcontractor, cementing the well head to the sea-floor.
* Hyundai Heavy IndustriesinUlsan, South Korea. which built the Deepwater Horizon

The well that is now spewing the oil is located atMacondo Prospect.Wikipedia reports that “Macondo Prospectis the name given to an oil and gas prospect located in Block MC (Mississippi Canyon) 194 in theGulf of Mexico. Ownership is 65% byBP, 25% byAnadarko Petroleum Corporation(owned bySouthern Union Company, which strangely, does not have a listing in wikipedia, It’s CEO isGeorge L. Lindemann, ranked byForbesin 2006 as one of the 400 wealthiest families) and 10% by a unit of Mitsui. Forbes reported on April 21 that the well was drilling in rock 18,000 feet down when there may have been a blowout.

Underestimation seems to be the pattern here. Reportssuggest that if the pipe the oil is gushing from, already believed to be kinked, breaks, and if the wellhead fails, the amount of oil gushing out could rise from the lower current estimates of 200,000 to one million gallons a day to up to six million gallons a day. Exon-Valdez’s damage was caused by a total of 11 million gallons released. For all we know, the amount released could already be far more than the 200,000 gallon a day estimate. suggests that rather than considering this a “spill” it be considered a”river of oil.”

This is not your ordinary well. TheDeepWater Horizon semi submersible drilling rig, operated on behalf of BP byTransocean Corporation (9 of the 11 workers who died were Transocean employees) had the history of having dug the deepest well ever, in a nearby Gulf field also owned by BP. This well breaks ground 5000 feet below the surface and then drills down thousands of feet more, hitting a highly compressed reservoir of oil that is now gushing upwards like water a super-pressurized fire-hose. Replace any visualizations you may have of a trickle of leaking oil with an image of a hyper-pressurized river of oil ballistically billowing, explosively from a hole in the sea-floor Haliburton was commissioned to properly seal.

Without the controls on the release of the oil at the top of the platform, the oil is rushing through faster than it would have, with more sand, more abrasion eroding the pipes. The pipes are more likely to break. The worst case is if the wellhead breaks, unleashing the full flow of this well. Consider that pressures 5000 feet below the surface are enough to pulverize a human. Then consider that the well is tapping a a petroleum field even deeper, below the surface of the earth, with even greater pressures pushing it up, out of the mile-deep sea floor.

The oil that is released is quickly moving further from the source and could and probably will start moving up the east coast. If that happens, it could get into the gulf stream which could make it a far wider reaching disaster that touches all of the eastern US coastal states and Canadian provinces.

Then, there’s the question of the cause of the explosion. One source, of questionable reliability, TheEuropean Union Timessuggests that the platform explosion was caused by a North Korean Mini-sub, launched on April 20th from a ship which departed Cuba on April 18th and then deviated far from it’s scheduled course to Venezuela. The article speculates that theTransocean Corporation which owns and operated platform, has ties to South Korea through Hyuundai holdings in the company, so this was an attack by N. Korea on it’s enemy, South Korea. The article also speculates that this will force Obama to make a decision to use a nuclear warhead to close the uncontrolled leaking well. Use of a nuclear bomb, for any reason, will hurt Obama’s recent efforts to reduce Nuclear weapon ownership worldwide. Note that this article is not corroborated and claims to be privy to Russian and Japanese reports.

Even if the EU Times article is pure conspiracy theory, the fact is, the world faces a catastrophic situation that cannot be waited out. It is already at a regional catastrophic level. It could, within days or weeks become a hemispheric catastrophic event. Just this fact forces us to take a closer look at all the parties involved, not just BP, which leased the platform.

There is a site that was created in response to the disaster,,set up by a company that does emergency media responses, It displays, at the header of the site, logos from several US agencies, BP and Transocean corporation.

The EPA has also created a site to cover news and developments relating to the gulf disaster.

Randall Amster, writing in the Huiffingtonpost, discusses a Haliburton connection, in an article titled, Was the Gulf Oil Spill an Act of War? You Betcha:

As arecent articlein theHuffington Postnotes:

“Giant oil-services provider Halliburton may be a primary suspect in the investigation into the oil rig explosion that has devastated the Gulf Coast,the Wall Street Journal reports. Though the investigation into the explosion that sank the Deepwater Horizon site is still in its early stages, drilling experts agree that blame probably lies with flaws in the ‘cementing’ process — that is, plugging holes in the pipeline seal by pumping cement into it from the rig. Halliburton was in charge of cementing for Deepwater Horizon.”

The Los Angeles Timessubsequently reported that members of Congress have called on Halliburton “to provide all documents relating to ‘the possibility or risk of an explosion or blowout at the Deepwater Horizon rig and the status, adequacy, quality, monitoring, and inspection of the cementing work’ by May 7.” A YouTube video(which is actually mostly audio) more bluntly asserts that “Halliburton Caused Oil Spill,” and notes the fact — confirmed by Halliburton’s ownpress release– that its employees had worked on the final cementing “approximately 20 hours prior to the incident.” Interestingly, one commenter on the YouTube video notes how “that would conveniently explain the North Korean story; [Halliburton] may have leaked this story to the press to divert attention away from alleged negligence.” Wouldn’t that just be the ultimate? Halliburton spawns the calamity but pins it on North Korea, and then the nation goes to war whereby Halliburton “cleans up” through billions in war-servicing contracts.

The LA Times reports that Halliburton’s connection to the Deepwater Horizon disaster was it’s role in cementing the connection of the well’s casings to the sea-floor– an essential step in securing a well. It is also a step that is fraught with danger and the LA times article reports,

“Cementing a deep-water drilling operation is a process fraught with danger. A 2007 study by the U.S. Minerals Management Service found that cementing was the single most important factor in 18 of 39 well blowouts in the Gulf of Mexico over a 14-year period — more than equipment malfunction.

The Transocean Corporation website lists 139 drilling units it owns. The one DeepWater Horizon drill rig has been reported to cost over $600 million. Any extrapolation of the numbers for a fleet of such rigs makes it clear that Trans-ocean corporation is a very big company. But you might consider transocean to be the like a rental car company. BP owns the well and the oil field and it was using the Transocean drilling rig. Haliburton was doing a sub-contractor job, cementing the casings of the well. Now, the BP’s well is leaking, or worse, the hole it opened up is gushing oil at super-high pressure, from an uncontrolled rent in the seafloor.

A bit of Oil Spill disaster history.
The second worst Oil well spill took place in the gulf of Mexico in 1980. The Ixtoc 1, in Mexican waters, owned by Petroleos Mexicanos well leaked three million barrells of oil and took nine months to cap. It took two months for oil to wash onto Texas shores.

The worst spill was intentional, done by Iraqi soldiers in Kuwait, where over 10 million barrels were released into the Persian gulf.

TheReportcited above suggests that the leak from the BP Macondo Prospect well could hit 150,000 barrels per day. If it takes nine months to cap the BP Macondo Prospect well, then the “spill” could exceed 40 million barrels. Estimates of the oil fields suggest 10-15 BILLION barrels of oil in these deposits.

Considering Terrorism, Accidents and Catastrophic Consequences
Let’s talk about that report of a N. Korean connection. It’s from an obscure site using more obscure un-linked sources. The conspiracy-theory prone will love it. But let’s not totally rule out it, or some other potential nefarious intentioned actions. When we start looking into what a leak of a major well can do to damage the US, then questions about targeting of a gulf well, and defense and security for any gulf well become reasonable. What security was in place for that well and all the other wells in the Gulf? What analysis and plans did Homeland Security have for either accidents or intentional attacks on wells that, if damaged, could wreak such devastating consequences.

What kinds of resources would be required to break through whatever security defenses were in place? Who might have those resources?

Now we face an unprecedented catastrophe with world wide consequences and effects. How much preparation and planning has gone into anticipating it, dealing with it?

If this river of oil gets worse, who knows the permanent or long term damage on vast swathes of ocean will be? Who knows how much damage will be done to breeding grounds and hatcheries of sea life and the birds that live off that sea life before they play a role in pollination and seed distribution. From the bottom up, the affects of this one “spill” upon the people and environment and life in the US, this catastrophy is huge and the effects will be enormous. Already delays and underestimation of the problem have allowed delays that are bad news.

We’re not hearing much about BP’s efforts to close the leaks or cap the well. At a potential 10-15 billion barrels, we’re talking about a field that could ultimately yield over a trillion dollars worth of oil. That means BP and it’s two partners will look at salvaging the field and perhaps weigh that consideration over the risks to the environment and all the jobs the oil damage will cause.

It’s essential that Barack Obama take over operations immediately, directing BP on what to do. There’s a possibility that an alternate well can be drilled that would shunt the flow of the oil and control the flow. If that’s even possible, who knows how long that will take?

There’s another consideration. It’s part of that N. Korean conspiracy theory narrative– the use of a nuclear warhead to close the leak. It’s an extreme reaction. We know so little about what effect that will have– a tsunami or tidal wave? Massive destruction of sea life? Radioactive seawater producing radioactive shrimp and oysters and all the fish that commercial fisherman out of Louisiana catch? Use a nuke or allow the river of oil to flow into and up the Gulf until it is moved all the way to Europe. This is a no-win situation. What if a nuclear explosion sets off other geological activity or worsens the oil release? What if Obama looks at the nuclear option and decides it’s a good idea because there are a lot of red-mean Americans who like fireworks who would love to have the US explode a nuclear weapon in their lifetime?

We live in an ever shrinking world where decisions in one place affect more and more of us. This catastrophy shows us just how risky our dependence on oil has become. While we struggle with and face this major test, we should remember that the need for oil is becoming a more and more danger producing factor on this planet and we should do all we can to end our dependence upon it as soon as possible.

Author’s Bio:
Rob Kall is executive editor, publisher and site architect of, Host of the Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show (WNJC 1360 AM), President of Futurehealth, Inc, inventor . He is also published regularly on the
With his experience as architect and founder of a technorati top 200 blog, he is also a new media / social media consultant and trainer for corporations, non-profits, entrepreneurs and authors.

Rob is a frequent Speaker on the bottom up revolution, politics, The art, science and power of story, heroes and the hero’s journey, Positive Psychology, Stress, Biofeedback and a wide range of subjects. He is a campaign consultant specializing in tapping the power of stories for issue positioning, stump speeches and debates, and optimizing tapping the power of new media. He recently retired as organizer of several conferences, including StoryCon, the Summit Meeting on the Art, Science and Application of Story and The Winter Brain Meeting on neuro-feedback, biofeedback, Optimal Functioning and Positive Psychology. See more of his articles here and, older ones, here.
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By Rob Kall


Women in Dominant Relationships

May 14, 2010

Many women have grown up watching their Mothers being dominated by the man in her life. In many cultures the man is still considered the head of the house. If the Father dominated the Mother, he probably dominated the children as well. So his daughter learned that if the man gets angry, you’d better do what he says, or better still, try not to make him angry in the first place. She may have gone through school, learning that if you did not behave, you would be sent to the principal.

Often, the principal was a man, so once again she was conditioned to be a good girl, and avoid the wrath of men. She may even have entered the world of work, only to be faced with a male boss, who had the power to fire her if she did not live up to his expectations. She survives, perhaps even thrives, and goes on to raise a family.

Somewhere, perhaps in her thirties, she realizes that her husband thinks that he’s the head of the family, and she is not living the life she wants to live. She begins to speak her mind (these are liberated times after all), but finds that when she does she is met with anger. No matter how she tries to express herself, it only seems to create problems in the relationship. Maybe he yells at her, puts her down, and negates all that she tries to say. She realizes that now it is her children who are living with the example of a man dominating his wife.

In her heart she knows that what she wants is reasonable, but at the same time she has the same sinking feeling she had as a child, or as a student. She might even feel, (with his help) like a “bad girl” for “making trouble.” The real trouble is, this is her life. What she really wants is a loving relationship with her husband, and a happy family. This is impossible for her unless she feels like an equal partner.

Why? Because as long as he dominates her, making all the rules and calling the shots, he is acting like an authoritarian father rather than a loving husband. She may even withdraw from intimacy, because you just don’t feel intimate towards father figures. Sadly, there are still men who believe that the woman is there essentially to serve him, whether they will openly admit it or not. A marriage will not work if one partner is accorded lesser status. Even if the dis-empowered one stays, she will not be a happy, vibrant human being. She will not have the opportunity to express all of who she is, and the marriage will become a structure of convenience rather than one of warmth and love.

So what is the answer? Perhaps it is to truly put yourself in her position and ask yourself if you would be happy with the way things are. Ask her what it would take for her to feel better, and work with her to create that. This could be very rewarding. And there is probably less to lose by making some changes, than there is by not making any.

Gwen Randall-Young is an author and award-winning Psychotherapist.  For permission to reprint this article, or to obtain books or cds, visit

Gwen Randall-Young is an author and award-winning Psychotherapist.

Gwen Randall–Young

For permission to reprint this article, or to obtain books or cds, visit


The Militarization of Outer Space: The Pentagon’s “Space Warriors”

May 14, 2010
Published on 05-10-2010

It’s not as if things aren’t bad enough right here on planet earth.

What with multiple wars and occupations, an accelerating economic meltdown, corporate malfeasance and environmental catastrophes such as the petroleum-fueled apocalypse in the Gulf of Mexico, I’d say we have a full plate already.

Now the Defense Department wants to up the stakes with new, destabilizing weapons systems that will transform low- and high-earth orbit into another “battlespace,” pouring billions into programs to achieve what Air Force Space Command (AFSPC) has long dreamed of: “space dominance.”

Indeed, Pentagon space warriors fully intend to field a robust anti-satellite (ASAT) capability that can disable, damage or destroy the satellites of other nations, all for “defensive” purposes, mind you.

Back in 2005, The New York Times reported that General Lance W. Lord, then commander of AFSPC, told an Air Force conference that “space superiority is not our birthright, but it is our destiny. … Space superiority is our day-to-day mission. Space supremacy is our vision for the future.”

Five years on, that “mission” is still a top priority for the Obama administration. While some might call it “net-centric warfare” on steroids, I’d choose another word: madness.

Air Force X-37B

On April 22, the U.S. Air Force (USAF) successfully launched its robot space shuttle, the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV), from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

Sitting atop a Lockheed Martin Atlas V rocket, the unmanned, reusable space plane roared into orbit after more than ten years of development by Boeing Corporation’s “Phantom Works” black projects shop.

The successful orbital insertion of the X-37B was the culmination of a decades’ long dream by the Department of Defense: to field a reusable spacecraft that combines an airplane’s agility with the means to travel at 5 miles per second in orbit.

From the Pentagon’s point of view, a craft such as the X-37B may be the harbinger of things to come: a johnny-on-the-spot weapons platform to take out the satellite assets of an enemy de jour, or as a launch vehicle that can deliver bombs, missiles or kinetic weapons anywhere on earth in less than two hours; what Air Force wags refer to as “operationally responsive space.”

Prior to launch, Air Force Deputy Undersecretary of Space Programs, Gary Payton, ridiculed speculation that the X-37B is the prototype for a new space-based weapons system. Payton told reporters, “I don’t know how this could be called a weaponization of space. Fundamentally, it’s just an updated version of the space shuttle kinds of activities in space.”

Needless to say, such denials should be taken with the proverbial grain of salt.

The highly-classified program has a checkered history. According to, the project is envisaged as a “reusable space architecture” that would provide “aircraft-like operability, flexibility, and responsiveness, supporting AF Space Command mission areas.”

While early examples such as the Dyna-Soar/X-20 program of the 1950s-1960s never panned out due to technological constraints, the Air Force never stopped trying. Programs such as the X-40 Space Maneuver Vehicle (SMV) and the X-41 Common Air Vehicle (CAV), a hypersonic craft intended to serve as a key component in developing the off-again, on-again “Prompt Global Strike” project, demonstrate continuing Air Force interest in “high frontier” weapons programs.

The X-40 project eventually merged with the Air Force’s X-37B program and the X-41 CAV program has been absorbed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle (HTV-2).

Last month, the first test of the Falcon (apparently) ended in failure when DARPA researchers claimed they had lost contact with the craft moments after take-off from Vandenberg Air Force Base. The Falcon was supposed to demonstrate the feasibility of launching a vehicle to the edge of space and then have it come “screaming back into the atmosphere, maneuvering at twenty times the speed of sound before landing north of the Kwajalein Atoll, 30 minutes later and 4100 nautical miles away,” according to Wired.

Did the HTV-2 mission fail? Since misdirection and disinformation have long been staples of Pentagon black world projects, most likely we’ll never know one way or the other.

Inevitably, even if these projects amount to no more than monumental failures, their intended target audience, China, Russia or any other nation viewed as a “rogue state” by the imperialist hyperpower, in all likelihood would be drawn in to an expensive, and deadly, contest to devise countermeasures.

In this light, reporter Jeremy Hsu wrote May 5, that ambiguities in devising militarized space technology “can make it tricky for nations to gauge the purpose or intentions behind new prototypes.” And such uncertainties are precisely the fodder that fuel an arms race.

According to’s John Pike, the U.S. military “could even be using the cloak of mystery to deliberately bamboozle and confuse rival militaries.” Pike told that “the X-37B and HTV-2 projects could represent the tip of a space weapons program hidden within the Pentagon’s secret ‘black budget,’ or they might be nothing more than smoke and mirrors.”

Pike said that current work “leaves plenty of room for misinterpretation or even outright deception, which could be a ploy to distract other nations with military space projects.”

“‘One of them could be a deception program and the other could be the spitting image of the real thing,’ Pike noted. He said that such misdirection could force other nations’ militaries to waste money chasing down dead ends.”

While Pike’s assertions sound plausible, given the Pentagon’s track record and an annual $50 billion black budget directed towards research on new weapons and surveillance systems, the X-37B, the Falcon HTV-2 or other systems on the drawing board would certainly be useful assets if the military chose to deploy them as offensive weapons.

A Space Bomber?

Less ambitious perhaps, but potentially more destabilizing than unproven hypersonic technology, the X-37B was originally designed by Boeing for NASA in 1999 as an emergency escape vehicle for the International Space Station.

The civilian agency once viewed the craft as a potential lifeboat that could rescue stranded astronauts from the ISS. However, with Russia’s Soyuz space capsule doing yeoman’s work for just such a contingency, NASA no longer saw the need for an expensive winged re-entry vehicle and dropped the program.

But, as with all things having to do with the Military-Industrial Complex’s insatiable appetite for new weapons, DARPA, the Pentagon’s “blue sky” geek shop, picked up the slack in 2004 when NASA headed towards the exit.

After further testing and design enhancements by DARPA, the project was handed off to the Air Force in 2006. The program is now run by the USAF’s secretive Rapid Capabilities Office (RCO) and spokespeople there have been tight lipped, refusing to say how much the vehicle costs; a sure sign that funds for the robot shuttle come from the black side of the budget where new weapons systems spawn and metastasize.

A tip-off to the covert nature–and militaristic intentions–of the program, comes from the office running the show. According to an Air Force Fact Sheet, the RCO “responds to Combat Air Force and combatant command requirements” and “expedites development and fielding of select Department of Defense combat support and weapon systems by leveraging defense-wide technology development efforts and existing operational capabilities.”

According to investigative journalist Sharon Weinberger, the author of Imaginary Weapons and A Nuclear Family Vacation, her recent piece in Popular Mechanics, revealed that prior to the Pentagon assuming ownership of the X-37 project, “the spacecraft was regarded as just another experimental prototype.” Today however, Weinberger wrote, “Air Force officials are skittish to mention even the smallest details.”

When Air Force chief scientist Werner J.A. Dahm was asked by Weinberger “what he could say about the X-37B,” he replied, “‘Nothing very useful,’ before quickly changing the subject.”

In a 2006 piece in Air Force Print News (AFPN) however, we were informed that the X-37B will “will serve as a test platform for satellites and other space technologies. The vehicle allows satellite sensors, subsystems, components and associated technology to be transported into the environment where they will be used–space.”

With information scarce on what the OTV’s current mission is, the Air Force has said that after the first few flights (a second test in slated for 2011), “you get into the realm of using it as a reusable space test platform–putting space components into its experimental bay and taking them to space for testing,” RCO’s X-37B program manager Lt. Col. Kevin Walker told AFPN.

While the Air Force has denied that the X-37B is the vanguard for a space-based system to be deployed for spying or as an orbital weapons’ delivery platform, and while this may betechnically accurate in so far as the mini-shuttle is a prototype, the vagaries of the project raise intriguing questions.

This is borne out by an April 22 announcement by the 45th Space Wing Public Affairs office at Patrick Air Force base. Deputy Undersecretary Payton said “if these technologies on the vehicle prove to be as good as we estimate, it will make our access to space more responsive, perhaps cheaper, and push us in the vector toward being able to react to warfighter needs more quickly.”

This was seconded by Col. André Lovett, 45th Space Wing vice commander: “This launch helps ensure that our warfighters will be provided the capabilities they need in the future.”

Nothing ambiguous in these statements as to how the USAF views the future role for the system, nor do they bear a relationship to Payton’s earlier claim to reporters that the X-37B is “just an updated version of the space shuttle kinds of activities in space.”

Weinberger notes that “the most daring job of a space plane, and the one least discussed, is the role of a bomber.” According to Weinberger, the X-37B “could fly over targets within an hour of launch to release cone-shaped re-entry vehicles that would both protect and guide weapons through the atmosphere.” Equally destabilizing, a craft such as the X-37B “could carry 1000- or 2000-pound re-entry vehicles armed with precision munitions like bunker-busting penetrators or small-diameter bombs, or simply use the explosive impact of kinetic rods cratering at hypersonic speeds to destroy targets.”

Joan Johnson-Freese, a Professor of National Security Studies at the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, told Space.comjournalist Leonard David last month that “other countries” will likely view the X-37B “as another capability intended to assure the United States will be able to dominate access to and the use of space.”

William Scott, coauthor of the militaristic novel Counterspace: The Next Hours of World War III, told David that a reusable space plane “could deliver small satellites having specific, limited roles to bridge critical capabilities gaps.”

The former bureau chief for Aviation Week & Space Technologytold David that amongst the most vital characteristics for fielding a weapons’ platform such as the X-37B is surprise: “On the first orbit, a space plane could capture data, before the ‘target’ knew it was coming.” Since a space plane could be “launched into any orbit, at any inclination, providing prompt ‘eyes-on’ of virtually any area of the world,” unlike a satellite with known, predictable trajectories, it could also be used as a surveillance platform or even as a means to surreptitiously “kidnap” or disable an adversary’s satellite.

Seconding Weinberger’s assessment, Scott told that “ultimately, weapons could be delivered from a space plane in low Earth orbit.” As noted above, these could come in the form of “precision” munitions or insane hypervelocity rod bundles, so called “Rods from God,” tungsten projectiles lobbed from space at 36,000 feet per second that can “hit a cross-haired target on the ground.”

“I did a story about the rods concept in 1994 or 1995, based on concepts being discussed in the U.S. Air Force at the time,” Scott said. “Fifteen years later, maybe they’re ready for testing.”

This view is shared by Everett Dolman, a professor of Comparative Military Studies at the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies at the Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama.

“Regardless of its original intent, Dolman told, “the most obvious and formidable is in service as a space fighter–a remotely piloted craft capable of disabling multiple satellites in orbit on a single mission and staying on orbit for months to engage newly orbited platforms.” A project such as the X-37B, more advanced systems still on the drawing-board or in development in any number of Air Force black sites such as Groom Lake (Area 51) “would be a tremendous tactical advantage,” Dolman said.

Even were the system not to be transformed into a space bomber, Dolman theorized that the X-37B could be maneuvered close to an adversary’s satellite and capture details in the form of signals intelligence. “With the anticipated increase in networked-microsatellites in the next few years, such a platform might be the best–and only–means of collecting technical intelligence in space.”

While the system may evolve into a destabilizing new weapon, Dolman said that “all of the information leaked about the X-37B suggests its primary function will be as a test platform, but a test platform for what?”

Regardless of how the X-37B prototype pans out, we can be certain that as the U.S. imperialist empire continues its long trek on the road towards failed statehood, the Pentagon, always eager to expend the blood and treasure of the American people on endless wars of conquest, will continue to build new and ever-more destabilizing weapons.

By Tom Burghardt – BLN Contributing Writer

Manipulation, not error, behind market plunge

May 14, 2010
Cliff Kincaid

WASHINGTON: May 8, 2010:  The major media say the chaos on Wall Street was the result of a “trader error, possibly a typo,” as the Washington Post put it. Some reports claim the culprit was a “fat finger” on a computer somewhere that pressed the wrong key. But Zubi Diamond, author of the Wizards of Wall Street, says these claims are all lies. “What happened in the market on Thursday is a typical example of pure market manipulation” by unregulated hedge fund short sellers.

His book, whose subtitle refers to the scam that elected Barack Obama, warns that the same hedge fund short sellers were behind the financial crash of 2008 that paved the way for Obama’s election to the presidency.

Diamond says the historic market plunge on Thursday was “due to computerised hedge fund short selling because there is no protection for the invested capital in the equity markets. There is no uptick rule, no circuit breakers and no trading curbs. Our market is primed for manipulation.”

Diamond is referring to financial regulations, which have been repealed, designed to prevent market manipulation.

Diamond has been adamant in his view that the financial reform bill being pushed by Obama and liberal Democrats on Capitol Hill will do nothing to solve this problem and regulate the hedge fund short sellers.

“No one will come on TV to tell the truth,” he complained. Instead, he says representatives and apologists for the hedge fund short sellers, who operate as the Managed Funds Association (MFA), “go on TV and provide false explanations of what happened.”

Diamond says these false explanations include claims of trader error and computerised glitches.

An example of Horatio Alger’s legendary rise from rags to riches, Diamond came from Africa to the U.S. and became a successful businessman, stock market investor and trader. He has about 15 years of financial market experience and more than 23 years experience as an entrepreneur.

Diamond says that the repeal of the safeguard regulations, such as the uptick rule, circuit breakers and trading curbs, and the introduction of the short ETFs (Exchange traded funds), which began under Christopher Cox at the Securities and Exchange Commission, has given the members of the MFA tremendous power and influence. He says these individuals include George Soros, John Paulson, Jim Chanos, James Simon, and other hedge fund short sellers, including those who operate Quant Funds and engage in computerised trading.

“They have the ability to manipulate U.S. and some international markets,” he says. Indeed, Diamond maintains that the MFA has basically taken control of the U.S. stock market.

My March 4, column, “Who’s Behind the Financial Crisis?,” quoted Diamond as then warning that any asset class that is traded in the NYSE, CME, or EUREX exchanges “is susceptible to manipulation by the members of Managed Funds Association and their strategic partners.”

In a previous column for AIM, commenting on the so-called financial reform bill now before Congress, he explained, “The only financial reform needed today is to regulate and monitor the hedge funds and the hedge fund short sellers, some of them which are registered off-shore to avoid scrutiny. These global operators, with investors who remain mostly anonymous, must be compelled to register with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), publicly disclose their positions in the markets, and maintain accounting and trading records for a period of 10 years so their activities can be monitored and scrutinised. Just like mutual funds, they must be prohibited from engaging in day trading activities.”

“What happened on Thursday happens to a select group of individual stocks on a daily basis as the hedge fund short sellers prey on common investors,” he asserted. “They are now expanding the manipulation to include the whole market. They can now crash the market, panic shareholders out of their stocks, buy to cover their short positions for hefty shorting profits, and then buy back in at the bottom to open long positions and then recover the whole market (indexes) to normal levels.”

These market manipulators, he notes, have the ability to drive prices down and then drive them back up, all within a 15 minute period. “How’s that for no-risk investing?” he says. “They make money through stock price volatility and market volatility. They manipulate stock prices through unrestricted short selling.”

Diamond said that one stock, Accenture, with the ticker symbol ACN, dropped from $44 dollars to .01 cent per share within 15 minutes, and recovered back to $41.00 dollars. Apple computer ticker symbol AAPL dropped 60 points in 15 minutes. It went from $258 down to $199 and then recovered to $248. All of this happened within a 15-minute period.

All of this is possible, he says, because there is no uptick rule, no circuit breaker and no trading curbs. All of these regulations were repealed, meaning that the risk and fear of investing have been transferred solely to the common investors “as the hedge fund short sellers operate with impunity looting the invested capital of American families,” he explains.

“What happened on Thursday will happen again,” he adds. “They are getting bolder every day. The hedge fund short sellers, who are members of Managed Funds Association, and their strategic partners at the different stock exchanges, are responsible for the scam that was perpetrated on Thursday.”

“The market plunged and recovered,” he says. “The carnage and destruction of investor’s capital was therefore concealed.”

“This is the evil of hedge fund short selling in an unregulated market,” he says.

Cliff Kincaid is the Editor of the AIM Report and can be reached at


American Meat Is Even Grosser Than You Thought

May 14, 2010

In 2008, Mexican authorities rejected a shipment of U.S. beef  because the meat exceeded Mexico’s regulatory tolerance for copper. The rejected meat was returned to the United States, where it was sold and consumed, because the U.S.  has no regulatory threshold for copper in meat.

Incidents like this are why the food safety arm of USDA, known as the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), is under USDA scrutiny. While the public has gotten used to microbes like E. coli and salmonella threatening the nation’s meat supply, and while food safety agencies make food-borne illness a high-profile priority, contamination of meat by heavy metals, veterinary drugs and pesticides has been slipping through the bureaucratic cracks.

Microbial contaminants can be killed by cooking, but chemical residues aren’t destroyed by heat. In fact, some of these residues break down into more dangerous substances when heated, according to the FSIS National Residue Program for Cattle, a recent report by the  USDA’s Office of the Inspector General.

The report is full of bad news about the ineffectual attempts that are being made to keep chemical residues out of the food supply, but optimists might point to the report’s tone as a sliver of good news. The report is sharply critical of the efforts to keep our meat free of chemical residues, and shows determination to shore up this gaping hole in food safety.

“… The national residue program is not accomplishing its mission of monitoring the food supply for harmful residues,”  the report says, noting that thresholds for many dangerous substances, like copper and dioxin, have yet to be established. “We also found that FSIS does not recall meat adulterated with harmful residues, even when it is aware that the meat has failed its laboratory tests.”

The routes by which veterinary drugs make it into human food trace a disturbing portrait of how large dairy farms operate. Sick dairy cows are given medications to help them recover, but if it appears an animal will die, it’s often sold to a slaughterhouse as quickly as possible,  in time to kill it before it dies. That way, “[the dairy farmer] can recoup some of his investment in the animal,” according to the report.

In such cases, medications may be consumed along with the meat. Such drugs include Ivermectin (which can act as a neurotoxin in humans), Flunixin (which can damage kidneys), and penicillin (which can cause life-threatening allergic reactions in some people).

The meat from sick dairy cattle is low-grade, and is usually turned into burger and sold to the sorts of buyers who stretch their dollars furthest, like fast food chains and school lunch programs. But veterinary drugs are also finding their way into an upper echelon of meat: veal.

The milk produced by medicated dairy cows is barred from sale to human consumers — a sensible rule, given the dangers suggested above. Unfortunately, no law prevents this  “waste milk”  from being fed to veal calves, the meat of which sometimes tests positive for these drugs. As with sick dairy cow meat that tests positive for antibiotics, no measures are taken to recall such veal or penalize the slaughterhouses that produce it. One slaughterhouse, according to the report, amassed 211 violations in 2008 and was still considered by FSIS as a place where contamination “is not reasonably likely to occur.”

Such failings can be traced to a 1984 memorandum of understanding between FDA, FSIS and EPA. These three agencies agreed to appoint senior executives to oversee a group called the Surveillance Advisory Team (SAT). The SAT was supposed to manage interagency collaboration aimed at preventing the entry of chemical residues into the food supply. But according to the recent report, “…high-level officials from the agencies involved do not attend [the annual SAT] meetings, and there is no mechanism for elevating issues, making recommendations, and ensuring that appropriate actions are taken to solve identified problems. Without such a mechanism, many problems requiring interagency coordination have not been dealt with despite the agencies’ awareness of the problems.”

In addition to veterinary drugs and heavy metals, agricultural pesticides also find their way into the meat supply, often through contaminated food and water. While the SAT agencies jointly determine which pesticides should be tested for, it’s the FSIS that actually conducts the tests. In recent years the FSIS has tested for only one of the 23 pesticide classes it is charged with testing for: chlorinated hydrocarbons/chlorinated organophosphates. FSIS blames its limited budget and a lack of guidance as to minimum levels the agency is supposed to enforce. The Office of the Inspector General report dismisses the excuses and calls the oversight unacceptable, saying “the SAT needs to seek executive-level involvement from all three agencies to resolve differences, and, if necessary, to determine the best method for obtaining the needed testing resources to ensure that the highest priority substances are tested.”

Several other chinks in the food supply’s armor are noted as well, including faulty testing methodologies, bureaucratic smothering of innovative testing techniques, and failure of FSIS to share testing results. After raking the muck, the report makes recommendations on how the interagency collaborations behind the SAT could be improved. The report also mentions that the FSIS has agreed to many of its recommendations, such as increasing testing at plants that slaughter veal calves and dairy cows–where 90 percent of the residue violations have been detected.

While the Office of the Inspector General appears to be making a sincere effort to improve the framework that’s supposed to protect our food, it could also be argued that these efforts amount to enabling an industry that remains rotten at its core. Rushing sick cattle to slaughter before they die, or feeding tainted  “waste milk”  to veal calves, are practices that would be better eliminated than improved, but in fairness that isn’t within the mandate of the OIG to decide. So while improvements appear to be in the works for the production practices behind mystery meat and mystery milk, the system shows little sign of becoming inherently less disgusting. As long as customers keep demanding cheap meat, cheap meat will probably continue to be produced.

Ari LeVaux writes a syndicated weekly food column, Flash in the Pan.

By Ari LeVaux, AlterNet
Printed on May 14, 2010
© 2010 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
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