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Blowback Paris: Exxonomics 102

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Publishes on the Peak Surfer on November 13, 2015

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"‘If Zarqawi and bin Laden gain control of Iraq, they would create a new training ground for future terrorist attacks, they’d seize oil fields to fund their ambitions.' – George W. Bush, 2006"
 

 

This past week a number of our respected readers took us to task for our post, Exxonomics 101, not because we were wrong (although we were visited by our usual gaggle of climate deniers) but because we had made so many bald statements about US foreign policy without referencing sources.

We wrote:

"That whole shooting match in Syria, driving millions of refugees into Europe, is about whether Bashar al-Assad, an ally of Russia and Iran and a proponent of a gas pipeline from Iran across Kurdistan to the sea, will be deposed by ISIS terrorists trained by CIA in the Colonel Kurtz style of spectacular horror and funded by the Pentagon so that the US could instead build a pipeline to European markets through Syria from Iraq. The Russian Air Force, with a new generation of fighters that can fly circles around anything built by Lockheed Martin, is looking like it will decide that one. It is pulverizing ISIS."


We find our critics' point about undocumented sources valid, so this week we'll dive deeper into the morass which is petropolitics in hopes of speeding the day it will become paleopolitics. This will be about three times longer than our usual post. We could have broken it into three parts – a four semester course in Exxonomics – but we could just visualize our regular readers slipping out for a smoke in the parking lot.

On Friday evening Paris was attacked by a coordinated, well-armed guerrilla group that caused at least 129 deaths and 352 injuries, 99 critical, while losing 8 jihadis. The Islamic State claimed responsibility. As we shall show in this post, direct responsibility for the attack traces back to President Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. (Parenthetically, Sen. Bernie Sanders on September 18 voted against the United States financing, training and arming ISIS by proxy astroturf Syrian "freedom fighters.") The Paris attacks are being called France's worst terrorist attack, but only a day earlier, ISIL attacks on Beirut left 41 dead and 181 injured and in the week before IS is believed to have downed a Russian passenger jet over Egypt with 224 people on board. 

The President of France was quick to link the attacks to its own military action in Syria, calling for stronger efforts at "regime change" to oust Assad. In the Syrian conflict, France is anti-Assad. In Lebanon, Hezbollah is pro-Assad. Russia is an ally of Assad. The ISIS targeting has nothing to do with President Bashir Al-Assad. It has to do with confusion.

The Origins of ISIS

In our humble opinion, it should be abundantly clear that the Beltway NeoCons, who were unable to gain much traction for their most wacky ideas with Carter, Bush-I or Bill Clinton, burned rubber with Bush-II, a.k.a. Cheney/Rumsfeld/Rice. Yahoooo! Just wait until they meet Donald Trump and Ben Carson.

Pushed to the fore during that golden era of unaccountability was the proposition that for Right Wing Christianity to prevail over Fundamentalist Islam in the Battle of Armageddon to come, it will be necessary to fragment the Middle East and to get those Oil Sheiks and Gas Kings who are busy spending petrodollars on military hardware to fight each other.
 

Ronald Reagan meets with future Al Qaeda leaders in the White House

Zbigniew Brzezinski:

Yes. According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the Mujahadeen began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan, 24 Dec 1979. But the reality, secretly guarded until now, is completely otherwise. Indeed, it was July 3, 1979 that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul.


Last week touched some nerves when we described the US’s 9/11 moment as a new Pearl Harbor,  despite the loss of fewer civilian casualties that day than when GHW Bush galloped through Panama City chasing after one of our assets gone off reservation. Then followed the “smoking gun” Kabuki at the UN Security Council, untold billions in small bills being offloaded from numerous C-130J Super Hercules for delivery to non-state-actors, the downing of Paul Wellstone’s plane, and we’ll anthrax your mailbox if you oppose us on this.

We know, even fellow travelers like James Howard Kunstler just closed their laptops and walked away. If you are allergic to conspiracies, well, sorry. Conspire means to breathe together. If you are willing to stick around, then take a deep breath.

We opined long ago that the YouTube'd kidnapping and beheading of Daniel Pearl was at the behest of the CIA because he was a loudmouth. The orange jumpsuit was a pretty good “tell” that this was not just a ragtag band of rag-head discontents putting a knife to his throat. Now we propose to prove that.

Here are a few more threads:

Although the FBI now admits that the 2001 anthrax attacks were carried out by one or more U.S. government scientists,  a senior FBI official says that the FBI was actually told to blame the Anthrax attacks on Al Qaeda by White House officials (remember what the anthrax letters looked like). Government officials also confirm that the white House tried to link the anthrax to Iraq as a justification for regime change in that country.

Similarly, the U.S. falsely blamed Iraq for playing a role in the 9/11 attacks – as shown by a memo from the defense secretary – as one of the main justifications for launching the Iraq war. Even after the 9/11 Commission admitted that there was no connection, Dick Cheney said that the evidence is “overwhelming” that al Qaeda had a relationship with Saddam Hussein’s regime, that Cheney “probably” had information unavailable to the Commission, and that the media was not ‘doing their homework’ in reporting such ties. Top U.S. government officials now admit that the Iraq war was really launched for oil … not 9/11 or weapons of mass destruction (despite previous “lone wolf” claims, many U.S. government officials now say that 9/11 was state-sponsored terror; but Iraq was not the state which backed the hijackers).

In a thorough but very long post by Washington's Blog on September 11, 2015, Antiwar’s Justin Raimondo observes:

Iraq’s fate was sealed from the moment we invaded: it has no future as a unitary state. As I pointed out again and again in the early days of the conflict, Iraq is fated to split apart into at least three separate states: the Shi’ite areas around Baghdad and to the south, the Sunni regions to the northwest, and the Kurdish enclave which was itching for independence since well before the US invasion. This was the War Party’s real if unexpressed goal from the very beginning: the atomization of Iraq, and indeed the entire Middle East. Their goal, in short, was chaos – and that is precisely what we are seeing today.

Europe is reeling from the waves of refugees pouring across every border as people from all walks of life flee from the randomized violence wrought by this atomization, set against a background of unsustainable population growth, resource depletion and rapid climate change. In Syria, with a population of little more than Florida, some 250,000 civilians have been killed by the violence brought about by the Western attempt at regime change. And yet there seems to be a disconnect between cause and effect, as a disproportionate amount of money is spent to atomize more while band-aids like border detention centers are erected to further victimize the victims.

"You will find that regime change– whether it was in the early '50s in Iran, whether it was toppling Salvador Allende in Chile or whether it was overthrowing the government Guatemala way back when– these invasions, these– these toppling of governments, regime changes have unintended consequences." –– Sen. Bernie Sanders


It seems evident to us, if not to most, that President Obama and Hillary Clinton were initiated to the strategy of inflicted chaos some time ago, perhaps during the 2008 transition when Brzezinski was on the Obama foreign policy team, or maybe earlier, when Obama studied under Zbiggy at Columbia. Since 2010 they have extended the plan to other parts of the Empire. Hence Victoria Nuland’s mischief in Kiev — the Balkanization of the Balkins if you will. Puerto Rico wants to become the 51st State but they may have to stand in line behind Estonia.

One of our critics said we were not known as an expert on foreign affairs, but, hey, news flash! We don’t claim to be expert on anything. We are merely opinionated, like Donald Trump or Quentin Tarrentino. Still, it might be worth tracing the evidentiary breadcrumbs we have been following.

The ‘Skittles’ Theory

Brian Whitaker, writing for The Guardian in September, 2003, said the game plan among Washington's hawks has long been to reshape the Middle East along US-Israeli lines.

President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt predicted devastating consequences for the Middle East if Iraq is attacked. “We fear a state of disorder and chaos may prevail in the region,” he said.

    ***

They are probably still splitting their sides with laughter in the Pentagon. But Mr Mubarak and the [Pentagon] hawks do agree on one thing: war with Iraq could spell disaster for several regimes in the Middle East. Mr. Mubarak believes that would be bad. The hawks, though, believe it would be good.

For the hawks, disorder and chaos sweeping through the region would not be an unfortunate side-effect of war with Iraq, but a sign that everything is going according to plan.
 

    ***

The “skittles theory” of the Middle East – that one ball aimed at Iraq can knock down several regimes – has been around for some time on the wilder fringes of politics but has come to the fore in the United States on the back of the “war against terrorism”.

Its roots can be traced, at least in part, to a paper published in 1996 by an Israeli think tank, the Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies. Entitled “A clean break: a new strategy for securing the realm”, it was intended as a political blueprint for the incoming government of Binyamin Netanyahu. As the title indicates, it advised the right-wing Mr Netanyahu to make a complete break with the past by adopting a strategy “based on an entirely new intellectual foundation, one that restores strategic initiative and provides the nation the room to engage every possible energy on rebuilding Zionism ….”
 

    ***

The paper set out a plan by which Israel would “shape its strategic environment”, beginning with the removal of Saddam Hussein and the installation of a Hashemite monarchy in Baghdad.

With Saddam out of the way and Iraq thus brought under Jordanian Hashemite influence, Jordan and Turkey would form an axis along with Israel to weaken and “roll back” Syria. Jordan, it suggested, could also sort out Lebanon by “weaning” the Shia Muslim population away from Syria and Iran, and re-establishing their former ties with the Shia in the new Hashemite kingdom of Iraq. “Israel will not only contain its foes; it will transcend them”, the paper concluded.
 

    ***

The leader of the “prominent opinion makers” who wrote it was Richard Perle – now [2003] chairman of the Defence Policy Board at the Pentagon. Also among the eight-person team was Douglas Feith, a neo-conservative lawyer, who now holds one of the top four posts at the Pentagon as under-secretary of policy.
 

    ***

Two other opinion-makers in the team were David Wurmser and his wife, Meyrav (see US think tanks give lessons in foreign policy, August 19). Mrs Wurmser was co-founder of Memri, a Washington-based charity that distributes articles translated from Arabic newspapers portraying Arabs in a bad light. After working with Mr Perle at the American Enterprise Institute, David Wurmser is now at the State Department, as a special assistant to John Bolton, the under-secretary for arms control and international security.

A fifth member of the team was James Colbert, of the Washington-based Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (Jinsa) – a bastion of neo-conservative hawkery whose advisory board was previously graced by Dick Cheney (now US vice-president), John Bolton and Douglas Feith.

The rise of the Islamic State

"At times it can resemble Andy Kaufman in the wrestling ring, taunting Memphis hayseeds that he's from Hollywood, where people use their brains." — Bill Maher on the ISIS threat.

On October 14, 2015, Sophie Shevardnadze interviewed FBI whistleblower Sibel Edwards for the back story on US covert support for ISIS. President Obama had just come out to say the rise of Islamic State was never properly addressed by the U.S. intelligence community. Dangling from the President's puppet strings, Vice-President Biden then stepped to the Press Room podium to scapegoat NATO and its Arab allies, saying it was they who funded jihadists, not the US. (Laughter). This is still the official position. Lets look at the evidence.

 
 


This video from LiveLeak shows an Apache attack helicopter following a huge ISIS convoy of white pickup trucks crossing from Iraq to Syria but instead of attacking is more or less “escorting” it across the border. The key "tell" is not the Apache but the Toyotas. While crossing the desert for 3 days in a very long convoy line, they did not elicit a military response from NATO or the US in spite of 24/7 satellite surveillance.

That still does not pin it on the US. ISIS could be supported by our NATO allies, whom Biden says are the real bad actors here. The Apache might just be supporting evil NATO.

But then, U.S. counter-terror officials launched an investigation into how ISIS got so many of those identical Toyota pickup trucks for their convoys.

The Spectator reported:

The [Toyota] Hilux is light, fast, manoeuvrable and all but indestructible (‘bomb-proof’ might not, in this instance, be a happy usage).  The weapons experts Jane’s claimed for the Hilux a similar significance to the longbows of Agincourt or the Huey choppers of Nam. A US Army Ranger said the Toyota sure ‘kicks the hell out of a Humvee’ (referring to the clumsy and over-sized High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle made by AM General).

    ***

The fact is the Toyotas were supplied by the US government to the Al Nusra Front as ‘non-lethal aid’ then ‘acquired’ by ISIS.


This is how it was outlined by PRI (Public Radio International):

Recently, when the US State Department resumed sending non-lethal aid to Syrian rebels, the delivery list included 43 Toyota trucks. Hiluxes were on the Free Syrian Army’s wish list. Oubai Shahbander, a Washington-based advisor to the Syrian National Coalition, is a fan of the truck.

“Specific equipment like the Toyota Hiluxes are what we refer to as force enablers for the moderate opposition forces on the ground,” he adds. Shahbander says the US-supplied pickups will be delivering troops and supplies into battle. Some of the fleet will even become battlefield weapons.

That’s exactly what happened, along with shoulder-fired Manpad ground-to-air missiles, TOW antitank missiles and other fancy smart weapons. As the Wall Street Journal reports:

The U.S. and its regional allies agreed to increase shipments of weapons and other supplies to help moderate Syrian rebels hold their ground and challenge the intervention of Russia and Iran on behalf of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, U.S. officials and their counterparts in the region said.

It now appears that while Russian fighter jets can evade or outrun Manpad missiles, ISIS may have used a Manpad to shoot down a Russian civilian airliner last week, killing more innocent civilians than died in Paris.

Al Nusra Front is literally Al Qaeda. The director of the National Security Agency under Ronald Reagan – Lt. General William Odom said:

By any measure the US has long used terrorism. In ‘78-79 the Senate was trying to pass a law against international terrorism – in every version they produced, the lawyers said the US would be in violation.

Here is a part of last month's exchange between Sophie Shevardnadze and Sibel Edwards:

SS: Now, the former CIA chief and the ex-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the U.S. is looking at at least a 30-year war against ISIS, which is not at all what the White House is telling the public. Is he exaggerating? What’s your estimate?

SE: I would say it’s a very short period; I’m really surprised, because we just talked about the brand change. The war against Al-Qaeda was declared as a “forever war” and it has been expanding. I mean, when the war against Al-Qaeda started, it was supposed to be in Afghanistan, and we started chasing Al-Qaeda in Yemen, and Pakistan with all the drone attacks, Al-Qaeda in Iraq, and the fact that this was going to be a forever war… and now that the brand has changed to ISIS, I’m very surprised that the former FBI director is stamping it with a short-time period. I believe 30 year period is very short, unless that have already in plan other sects or other factions that they are going to declare the “world’s great and most dangerous terrorists”, I would say it’s a very short period of time. We currently are more interested in an ongoing, never-ending, perpetual war, so I would, if you compare it with what we have been characterizing – or our government and the media – Al-Qaeda, I’m surprised that he has put such a short time-stamp on ISIS. Considering the attraction, or the attractiveness, of the brand, because it has the world “Islam” built into it, and let’s just forget Al-Qaeda. I mean, Al-Qaeda was the just the noun, the name – and this case you’re looking at the far-reaching implications. Now you declare that current greatest threatening organization that has the word “Islam” built into it – and I think it’s much more attractive to be used. So, I would say, yeah, it should be forever. I’m surprised it’s 30 years.
 

***

SS: All right, here’s another possible and interesting turn of events – FBI chief James Comey warned terrorists are working on an effort to attack the U.S. very-very soon. Is the U.S. ready to respond?

SE: We have to look at different things and see why this statement was made. Is it based on some sort of facts and real solid intelligence gathered, or is it the fact that… for example, we have had for the TSA, for the flights, the threat level has been really low, and when that goes for a long time, people get antsy, they say “This is really annoying to have all these screens out there and going through them, we haven’t had any terrorist threats really, the level has not been blinking red or even orange, it’s been yellow, let’s go through the rainbow colors” – so, it’s time to re-energize the Americans with the fear of terrorism. We need to have more expenditure for things to put in place, because we can go ahead and increase the threat level within the airports. Let me give you an example. If you look at the stock market and stock prices for all the military-industrial complex-related companies and firms, you will see how they have just gone up tremendously since the brand switch from Al-Qaeda to ISIS, and this is, again, the brand-change I’m referring to, this is when you say “yes, now we can go ahead and produce and sell more to the government and it will spend billions more”. So, the same thing is true for the internal security, fear-mongering factors on the ground in the U.S. It’s time to re-energize that fear, and that is exactly what they are doing. What’s going to follow this is there’s going to be more measures put in place, whether it’s in the airports, or whether it’s the hiring within the FBI, or increasing the number of informants. Those are the things that are going to follow this announcement: “we have to have more expenditure, because of the public consent, because the fear level is going to go up, and therefore those expenditures are going to be justified” – and it is that simple as that.

A quick history refresher on Syria:

  • The U.S. carried out a coup in Syria in 1949. The reason? In late 1945, the Arabian American Oil Company (ARAMCO) announced plans to construct the Trans-Arabian Pipe Line (TAPLINE) from Saudi Arabia to the Mediterranean. With U.S. help, ARAMCO secured rights-of-way from Lebanon, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. The part crossing Syria stalled in the Syrian parliament.
  •  In 1957, President Dwight Eisenhower and British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan once more agreed to use Arab extremists – including the Muslim Brotherhood –  to effect regime change in Syria. A joint CIA-MI6 operation was launched to stage fake border incidents as an excuse for an invasion by Syria’s pro-western neighbors, and then to “eliminate” the top figures.
  • The U.S. has been arming the Syrian opposition since 2006, years before the present uprising started.
  • It was the “rebels” – not the Syrian government – who carried out the chemical weapons massacre in Syria.
  • The CIA plotted to poison the Iraqi leader in 1960.
  • In 1963, the U.S. backed the coup which succeeded in killing the head of Iraq.
  • Until he was toppled by a popular uprising, the US supported the tyrannical rule of the Shah of Iran and supplied his military with the latest in weapons and aircraft.
  • Syria controls one of the largest conventional hydrocarbon resources in the eastern Mediterranean.
  • Syria controls of one of the main oil arteries of the Middle East, the pipeline which connects pro-western Iraq’s oilfields to Turkey.
  • Syria possessed 2.5 billion barrels of crude oil as of January 2013, which makes it the largest proved reserve of crude oil in the eastern Mediterranean according to the Oil & Gas Journal estimate.
  • Syria also has oil shale resources with estimated reserves that range as high as 50 billion tons, according to a Syrian government source in 2010.
  • Syria is the key link in the flow of any oil or gas from Iraq or Iran to the Mediterranean and thence to Europe.
  • Because of the sordid role of the US in his country's history, Bashir Al-Assad tilts towards Russia and Iran, and away from the US and Iraq.

The New York Times writes:

President Obama’s determination to train Syrian rebels to serve as ground troops against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria leaves the United States dependent on a diverse group riven by infighting, with no shared leadership and with hard-line Islamists as its most effective fighters.

After more than three years of civil war, there are hundreds of militias fighting President Bashar al-Assad — and one another. Among them, even the more secular forces have turned to Islamists for support and weapons over the years, and the remaining moderate rebels often fight alongside extremists like the Nusra Front, Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria.
 

    ***

The fluidity of battlefield alliances in Syria means that even mainline rebels often end up fighting alongside the Nusra Front, whose suicide bombers are relied on by other groups to soften up government targets.

“Even the groups that the U.S. has trained tend to show up in the same trenches as the Nusra Front eventually, because they need them and they are fighting the same battles,” Mr. Lund said.
 

    ***

Current and former American officials acknowledge the government’s lack of deep knowledge about the rebels. “We need to do everything we can to figure out who the non-ISIS opposition is,” said Ryan C. Crocker, a former United States ambassador to Iraq and Syria. “Frankly, we don’t have a clue.”

Washington’s Blog wrote in September:

And yet, as the Wall Street Journal,  PBS, CNN, New York Times, Medium, Pulitzer prize-winning reporter Seymour Hersh and others note, the U.S. and its allies have poured huge amounts of weapons and support to the Syrian Islamic “rebels”. This is in spite of the CIA warning President Obama that arming rebels rarely works.

Washington wants regime change in Syria, so it’s making up a myth of the “moderate Syrian rebel” who hates Assad and ISIS. But they “don’t have a clue” as to whether such a mythical unicorn actually exists (spoiler alert: it doesn’t).

Its about Russia

Before the Russian Air Force entered the picture, ISIS had more than tripled the size of its territory in Syria and greatly expanded its territory in Iraq. Q: What does the Russian Air Force call all those stockpiles of expensive new arms and billions of dollar bills that ISIS has sitting on air-dropped, shrink-wrapped pallets all over Syria? A: Target practice. 

Despite US unwillingness to cooperate with Russia in destruction of ISIS and the White House complaining that President Vladimir Putin was targeting its anti-Assad forces, Russia has been cooperating with the US-sponsored, Anti-Assad Free Syrian Army (FSA). Putin said on Friday that FSA had shared their intelligence on ISIS positions and convoys, which were then targeted by Russian airstrikes.

On November 9, 2015, RT-TV interviewed Oxford University's Sharmine Narwani about the conflict between the Russian anti-ISIS offensive and the US military objectives in Syria.

RT: What are the reasons, do you think the [US-Arab] coalition is breaking apart? How can the coalition increase the efficiency of its actions?

US air attack on Kobani, Syria 10/8/14. © Umit Bektas/Reuters

 SN: I see the coalition breaking apart or being redundant for two reasons. One is the lack of common objectives among the 11 actors participating in the coalition, but the other is more in lines with military strategy in fighting any war or conflict, anywhere. We’ve heard this over and over again in the Syrian conflict – you need a coordination of air force and ground power. The US-led coalition does not have this. Part of the reason it doesn’t have this is because it entered Syrian air space and violated international law in doing so against the wishes of the Syrian government. So it cannot coordinate with the Syrian government who leads the ground activities, whether it is the Syrian army or various Syrian militias that are pro-government; or Hezbollah – a non-state actor from Lebanon; or the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and their advisory capacity. The Russians of course do enjoy that relationship, so their airstrikes are not only both valid and legal, but also useful – a coordinated effort to target ISIL and other terrorist organizations.

RT: Do you think the US doesn’t have real intentions to fight ISIS, and that is the main reason of instability of its coalition?

SN: Absolutely. The US-led coalition has failed in attaining goals to defeat ISIS, not just because it cannot lead a coordinated military effort in air, land and sea in Syria, or because it lacks legality, or because the member states of the coalition have diverging interests. But I think the US interest as well has to be called into question. I mean: does the US want to defeat ISIS? I would argue very strongly based on what we’ve seen in the last year that the US is not interested in defeating ISIS. The US is interested in perhaps controlling ISIS’ movements, so that it helps to create a geopolitical balance on the ground that will provide the US government and its allies with leverage at the negotiating table. So they don’t want ISIS to take over all of Syria [because] that poses threats to allies in the region. They don’t want ISIS and other terrorist groups like Jabhat al-Nusra, Ahrar al-Sham, and others, and the various coalitions they have formed to lose ground, because at the end of the day the only pressure there are going to be able to apply on the Syrian government and its allies is what is happening on the ground. And they need something; they need advantage on the ground that they can take with them to the negotiating table in Vienna. 


Its About Israel

General Wesley Clark – former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO – said:

It came back to me … a 1991 meeting I had with Paul Wolfowitz.

    ***

In 1991, he was the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy – the number 3 position at the Pentagon. And I had gone to see him when I was a 1-Star General commanding the National Training Center.
 

    ***

And I said, “Mr. Secretary, you must be pretty happy with the performance of the troops in Desert Storm.” And he said: “Yeah, but not really, because the truth is we should have gotten rid of Saddam Hussein, and we didn’t … But one thing we did learn [from the Persian Gulf War] is that we can use our military in the region – in the Middle East – and the Soviets won’t stop us. And we’ve got about 5 or 10 years to clean up those old Soviet client regimes – Syria, Iran, Iraq – before the next great superpower comes on to challenge us.”


Former U.S. Secretary of Defense – and former 12-year Republican Senator – Chuck Hagel said of the Iraq war in 2007:

People say we’re not fighting for oil. Of course we are. They talk about America’s national interest. What the hell do you think they’re talking about? We’re not there for figs.

General John Abizaid – the former commander of CENTCOM with responsibility for Iraq – said:

Of course it’s about oil, it’s very much about oil, and we can’t really deny that.

President George W. Bush said in 2005 that keeping Iraqi oil away from the bad guys was a key motive for the Iraq war:

‘If Zarqawi and bin Laden gain control of Iraq, they would create a new training ground for future terrorist attacks, they’d seize oil fields to fund their ambitions.”

The Cheney Energy Task Force Report, Strategic Energy Policy Challenges For The 21st Century — a full five months before September 11 — describes how the West is facing the biggest energy crisis in its history because of Peak Oil. It named Saddam Hussain as a threat to American interests because of his control of Iraqi oilfields and recommended the use of ‘military intervention’ as a means to fix the US energy crisis.

One of the most telling passages in the document reads:

Iraq remains a destabilizing influence to … the flow of oil to international markets from the Middle East. Saddam Hussein has also demonstrated a willingness to threaten to use the oil weapon and to use his own export program to manipulate oil markets.

Haaretz reported soon after the Iraq war started in 2003:

The United States has asked Israel to check the possibility of pumping oil from Iraq to the oil refineries in Haifa. The request came in a telegram last week from a senior Pentagon official to a top Foreign Ministry official in Jerusalem.

The Prime Minister’s Office, which views the pipeline to Haifa as a “bonus” the U.S. could give to Israel in return for its unequivocal support for the American-led campaign in Iraq, had asked the Americans for the official telegram.

The new pipeline would take oil from the Kirkuk area, where some 40 percent of Iraqi oil is produced, and transport it via Mosul, and then across Jordan to Israel. The U.S. telegram included a request for a cost estimate for repairing the Mosul-Haifa pipeline that was in use prior to 1948.  During the War of Independence [what Jews call the 1948 war to form the state of Israel], the Iraqis stopped the flow of oil to Haifa and the pipeline fell into disrepair over the years.
 

    ***

National Infrastructure Minister Yosef Paritzky said yesterday that the port of Haifa is an attractive destination for Iraqi oil and that he plans to discuss this matter with the U.S. secretary of energy during his planned visit to Washington next month.
 

    ***

In response to rumors about the possible Kirkuk-Mosul-Haifa pipeline, Turkey has warned Israel that it would regard this development as a serious blow to Turkish-Israeli relations.

Some of the seeds for the current conflict were sewn between 1932 and 1948. As Wikipedia explains:

Mosul-Haifa Pipeline 1935

The Mosul–Haifa oil pipeline (also known as Mediterranean pipeline) was a crude oil pipeline from the oil fields in Kirkuk, located in north Iraq, through Jordan to Haifa (now on the territory of Israel). The pipeline was operational in 1935–1948. Its length was about 942 kilometres (585 mi), with a diameter of 12 inches (300 mm) (reducing to 10 and 8 inches (250 and 200 mm) in parts), and it took about 10 days for crude oil to travel the full length of the line. The oil arriving in Haifa was distilled in the Haifa refineries, stored in tanks, and then put in tankers for shipment to Europe.

The pipeline was built by the Iraq Petroleum Company between 1932 and 1935, during which period most of the area through which the pipeline passed was under a British mandate approved by the League of Nations. The pipeline was one of two pipelines carrying oil from the Kirkuk oilfield to the Mediterranean coast. The main pipeline split at Haditha with a second line carrying oil to Tripoli, Lebanon, which was then under a French mandate. This line was built primarily to satisfy the demands of the French partner in IPC, Compagnie Française des Pétroles, for a separate line to be built across French mandated territory.

The pipeline and the Haifa refineries were considered strategically important by the British Government, and indeed provided much of the fuel needs of the British and American forces in the Mediterranean during the Second World War.

The pipeline was a target of attacks by Arab gangs during the Great Arab Revolt, and as a result one of the main objectives of a joint British-Jewish Special Night Squads commanded by Captain Orde Wingate was to protect the pipeline against such attacks. Later on, the pipeline was the target of attacks by the Irgun.

In 1948, with the outbreak of the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, the official operation of the pipeline ended when the Iraqi Government refused to pump any more oil through it.

Meanwhile, The Times of Israel reported in 2014:

A Free Syrian Army commander, arrested last month by the Islamist militia Al-Nusra Front, told his captors he collaborated with Israel in return for medical and military support, in a video released this week.

In a video uploaded to YouTube Monday … Sharif As-Safouri, the commander of the Free Syrian Army’s Al-Haramein Battalion, admitted to having entered Israel five times to meet with Israeli officers who later provided him with Soviet anti-tank weapons and light arms. Safouri was abducted by the al-Qaeda-affiliated Al-Nusra Front in the Quneitra area, near the Israeli border, on July 22.

International Business Times reported in 2003:

Halliburton [which Dick Cheney was President of] is one of the firms thought by analysts to be in line to make a killing in any clean-up operation after another US-led war on Iraq.

All five permanent members of the UN Security Council — the UK, France, China, Russia and the US — have international oil companies that would benefit from huge windfalls in the event of regime change in Baghdad. The best chance for US firms to make billions would come if Bush installed a pro-US Iraqi opposition member as the head of a new government.

Representatives of foreign oil firms have already met with leaders of the Iraqi opposition. Ahmed Chalabi, the London-based leader of the Iraqi National Congress, said: ‘American companies will have a big shot at Iraqi oil.’

Thomas Harrington, professor of Iberian Studies at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, writes:

To read the cold-blooded imperial reasoning in both of these documents—which speak, in the first case, quite openly of the need to destabilize the region so as to reshape Israel’s “strategic environment” and, in the second of the need to dramatically increase the number of US “forward bases” in the region ….

To do so now, after the US’s systematic destruction of Iraq and Libya—two notably oil-rich countries whose delicate ethnic and religious balances were well known to anyone in or out of government with more than passing interest in history— and after carefully calibrated efforts to generate and maintain murderous and civilization-destroying stalemates in Syria and Egypt (something that is easily substantiated despite our media’s deafening silence on the subject), is downright blood-curdling.

And yet, it seems that for even very well-informed analysts, it is beyond the pale to raise the possibility that foreign policy elites in the US and Israel, like all virtually all the ambitious hegemons before them on the world stage, might have quite coldly and consciously fomented open-ended chaos in order to achieve their overlapping strategic objectives in this part of the world.

Antiwar’s Justin Raimondo observed:

“[T]he actual purpose [of the Iraq War] was to blow the country to smithereens: to atomize it, and crush it, so that it would never rise again.

“When we invaded and occupied Iraq, we didn’t just militarily defeat Iraq’s armed forces – we dismantled their army, and their police force, along with all the other institutions that held the country together. The educational system was destroyed, and not reconstituted. The infrastructure was pulverized, and never restored. Even the physical hallmarks of a civilized society – roads, bridges, electrical plants, water facilities, museums, schools – were bombed out of existence or else left to fall into disrepair. Along with that, the spiritual and psychological infrastructure that enables a society to function – the bonds of trust, allegiance, and custom – was dissolved, leaving Iraqis to fend for themselves in a war of all against all.

“… What we are witnessing in post-Saddam Iraq is the erasure of an entire country. We can say, with confidence: We came, we saw, we atomized.”

Mass deaths from terrorist attacks are now doubling every 2 years

Washington's Blog asks:

Why? This is the question that inevitably arises in the wake of such an analysis: why deliberately destroy an entire country whose people were civilized while our European ancestors were living in trees?

The people who planned, agitated for, and executed this war are the very same people who have advanced Israeli interests – at America’s expense – at every opportunity. In “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm,” a 1996 document prepared by a gaggle of neocons – Perle, Douglas Feith, James Colbert, Charles Fairbanks, Jr., Robert Loewenberg, David Wurmser, and Meyrav Wurmser – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was urged to “break out” of Israel’s alleged stagnation and undertake a campaign of “regime change” across the Middle East, targeting Lebanon, Libya, Syria, Iraq, and eventually Iran. With the exception of Iran – and that one’s still cooking on the back burner – this is precisely what has occurred. In 2003, in the immediate wake of our Pyrrhic “victory” in Iraq, then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon declared to a visiting delegation of American members of Congress that these “rogue states” – Iran, Libya, and Syria – would have to be next on the War Party’s target list.

The Washington Post reported in 2010:

The United States has long been an exporter of terrorism, according to a secret CIA analysis released Wednesday by the Web site WikiLeaks.  That is the conclusion of the three-page classified paper produced in February, 2010 by the CIA's Red Cell, a think tank set up after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks by then-CIA Director George J. Tenet to provide "out-of-the-box" analyses on "a full range of analytic issues."

We have Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange to thank for that disclosure. The President, when he is not reading to his daughters, is currently thanking Private Manning for her patriotism by torturing her (solitary confinement without reading material) over possessing expired toothpaste and the Caitlyn Jenner issue of Vanity Fair in her Ft. Leavenworth prison cell.

Forceful Persuasion: Coercive Diplomacy as an Alternative to War by Alexander L. George of Stanford University describes how the U.S. and its allies were the main supporters of terrorism throughout the world.

Terrorism is defined as:

 The use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes.

It seems to us, in our humble, non-expert opinion, that the War on Terror should not continue for generations more, but be brought to a swift end with an FBI raid and trial of the occupants of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, and on the private residence of Hillary Clinton, whose face is pictured at the top of this post.

This Was The Week That Was In Doom July 29, 2013

From the Keyboard of Surly1

Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on July 29, 2013

http://991.com/newGallery/That-Was-The-Week-That-W-That-Was-The-Week-473964.jpg

Discuss this article here in the Diner Forum.

WHEN I heard the learn’d astronomer;

When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me;

When I was shown the charts and the diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them;

When I, sitting, heard the astronomer, where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,

How soon, unaccountable, I became tired and sick;

Till rising and gliding out, I wander’d off by myself,

In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,

Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.

 

  ~Walt Whitman, “Leaves of Grass”

 

Like Whitman’s “learned astronomer,” we hear “experts” way in on both sides of the debate, wherever a  debate can be found or manufactured. Peak oil? Climate change? The age of the earth? Many of those unimpressed by modernism, and especially those with a vested interest in maintaining the status quo, urge their hirelings to “teach the controversy.” In other words, manufacture a controversy where none exists, in the face of a mountain of available evidence to the contrary. Thus do we have petroleum industry shills bleating mightily about subsidies for windmills at a time when carbon dioxide had reached 400 ppm in the atmosphere, a level said to herald a threshold of impending doom.  At a time when we’re burning everything we can get our hands on, we’re also destroying the last great aboriginal rain forest in Brazil, ripping out the earth’s lungs one forest at a time. All in the name of the only religion worth mentioning, certainly the only one  practiced in this nominally Christian country, the worship of money. In spite of the evidence, the proofs, the theorems, we are unable to rouse ourselves to do anything about getting off the petroleum crack pipe; about ending domestic spying; about economic justice; about saving a once great city, mostly because poor people live there.  Little wonder, then, that so many of us simply want to wander off by ourselves, and consider the perfect silence of the firmament. Perhaps the answer lies there? We doubt it: as another poet, William Shakespeare, once said, “the answer lies not in our stars, but in ourselves.”

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A onetime friend of mine Posted this on my Facebook wall. It purported to be from an organization called the Institute for energy research. A posted an article included the following:

 

One of the largest wind facilities in the world is benefiting from millions of dollars in state tax credits it is not qualified for and does not need, according to a recent series of investigative reports in The Oregonian.

The 845 megawatt Shepherds Flat wind facility that opened in 2012 received final approval last month from the Oregon Department of Energy (ODOE) for three separate tax credits totaling $30 million. Caithness Energy, owner of Shepherds Flat, was able to secure the credits by defining the project as three separate wind facilities. But as the new reports reveal, Shepherds Flat likely qualifies for just one out of three Business Energy Tax Credits under explicit ODOE rules that determine what constitutes a “separate and distinct” facility.

Now there may be merits in the report, as far as the operations of the business and the qualification for certain tax credits, especially as the story originated with a newspaper.  yet what interested me was this “Institute for energy research.” Wouldn’t an organization interested in energy research  be interested in alternative energy sources, including more efficient turbine generation for windmills? So I looked under the hood. It didn’t take long to find a dead cat on the engine. Here is what you need to know about IER:

The Institute for Energy Research (IER), is a Washington, DC-based non-profit corporation that conducts “research and analysis” on the functions, operations, and government regulation of global energy markets.

[quote]The Institute’s CEO, Robert L. Bradley, Jr., was formerly a director of policy analysis at Enron, where he wrote speeches for Kenneth Lay. He has written seven books, including Capitalism at Work and Edison to Enron,[5] and he maintains the website Political Capitalism. He is also an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute.

Robert L. Bradley, Jr., President of the Institute for Energy Research, wrote an article published by Competitive Enterprise Institute, entitled “Heated Debate”[8] to respond to a negative review by Harvard Professor John P. Holdren of the 2001 international best seller The Skeptical Environmentalist by Bjørn Lomborg. Lomberg was inspired to write his book after he read an article entitled “The Doomslayer”[9] profiling Julian L. Simon. Lomberg was honored in 2003 with the libertarian Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Julian L. Simon award. The award was given to Robert L. Bradley in 2002 and more recently in 2012 to Matt Ridley, who is also skeptical about climate change.

Once again, we see the long arm of the Koch brothers at work.  Rust never sleeps.  It gets better:

The Institute for Energy Research has a political arm, the American Energy Alliance, which is responsible for multi-million dollar television advertising campaigns that have attacked energy policy, ideas and positions of the Obama Administration that are contrary to the those held by IER. The American Energy Alliance is run by Thomas (Tom) Pyle, a former lobbyist for Koch Industries. According the its website, the Alliance engages in “grassroots public policy advocacy and debate” regarding energy.

Both IER and the American Energy Alliance are partly funded by the Koch Brothers and their donor network, according to Politico’s research, sources – and to reports by Koch-controlled charitable foundations themselves. The American Energy Alliance, as a matter of policy, does not disclose the names of its donors.

American Energy Alliance provide an online petition to U. S. Secretary of State John Kerry regarding the US federal government administration’s approval of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline extension. American Energy Alliance compare the extended time for the application approval to the time it took for the Allies “to win World War II.”[11]
Wind Production Tax Credit (PTC)

Benjamin Cole, a spokesman for American Energy Alliance told Politico in October 2012 that, “Our [American Energy Alliance] goal is to make the United States Wind Energy Policy#Wind Production Tax Credit so toxic that it makes it impossible for John Boehner to sit at a table with Harry Reid and say, ‘Yeah, I can bend on this one.’”

By their deeds shall we know them. Their work certainly speaks for itself.

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Congress affirms NSA spying

Or maybe this should be filed under, “You’re Shitting Me, Right?

A vote vote in the House this past week on an amendment to  curtail domestic spying failed, in a result that was much closer than either side realized. It also smoked out those members of the so-called “liberal” party that think it’s a really good idea that the NSA sniff your crotch.

“There is a real division within each party on this issue,” Norman J. Ornstein, a renowned expert on U.S. politics, said.

This was evident in the U.S. Congress on Wednesday, when a vote to curtail domestic spying by the National Security Agency (NSA) sundered the Democratic and Republican parties alike.

The vote was the first of its kind to take place since the revelations by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden which, when published by The Guardian newspaper, exposed a degree of domestic surveillance far greater in scale and scope than was previously understood by the public.

The 217-205 decision to reject an amendment blocking spending on NSA domestic spying was so close that one political commentator called it a “nail biter”. Of the 205 votes in favour, 111 were from Democrats and 94 from Republicans, and of the 217 votes opposed, 83 were from Democrats votes and 134 from Republicans.

“You’re not going to see many votes like this,” says Ornstein.

The divisions mirror popular opinion in the country. I myself am the wrong one to ask with the mood of the people is, as I was gobsmacked when Reagan beat Carter in 1979. So the fact that the Pew Research Center says that 57% of Democrats approve of government spying along with 44% of Republicans, all I can do is shake my head, go outside, and stare at the stars.

As noted above, the vote did result in “the outing of the shills.” As this vote illustrates, both sides of the aisle are equally corrupt and controlled.  One could be impressed by the fact that Debbie Wasserman Shultz voted the same way as John Boehner.  Strange bedfellows, indeed. Although perhaps not so strange, if you follow the money.

Lawmakers Who Upheld NSA Phone Spying Received Double the Defense Industry Cash. The numbers tell the story — in votes and dollars. On Wednesday, the house voted 217 to 205 not to rein in the NSA’s phone-spying dragnet. It turns out that those 217 “no” voters received twice as much campaign financing from the defense and intelligence industry as the 205 “yes” voters.

Overall, political action committees and employees from defense and intelligence firms such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing, United Technologies, Honeywell International, and others ponied up $12.97 million in donations for a two-year period ending December 31, 2012, according to the analysis, which MapLight performed with financing data from OpenSecrets. Lawmakers who voted to continue the NSA dragnet-surveillance program averaged $41,635 from the pot, whereas House members who voted to repeal authority averaged $18,765.

Res ipsa loquitor.

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The Snowden Effect

Not surprisingly, Charlie Pierce observed this entire trail of tears and had a few trenchant observations of his own:

With defunding stuff all the rage among Washington Republicans these days, you could have missed Rep. Justin Amash’s long-bomb attempt to defund the National Security Agency’s secret attempts to Hoover up cellphone records from millions of Americans.Some Democrats in the House have signed aboard, which apparently has given the administration sufficient agita as to cause a sudden lapse into illogic and incoherence. This is the argument that the White House is making to try and get Democrats not to support Amash’s Hail Mary.

“In light of the recent unauthorized disclosures, the President has said that he welcomes a debate about how best to simultaneously safeguard both our national security and the privacy of our citizens… However, we oppose the current effort in the House to hastily dismantle one of our Intelligence Community’s counterterrorism tools. This blunt approach is not the product of an informed, open, or deliberative process.”    
The hell you say.
A bill is being proposed and debated in a public session of the national legislature and that’s not an “informed, open, or deliberative process.” As opposed to what, a secret program, validated on the basis of secret evidence, by a secret court?  Hell, the Amash bill is the only informed, open and deliberative thing about this whole mess. If you’re welcoming a debate, then welcome the debate. If you don’t, then don’t. But don’t throw out laughable statements like this one. You sound like a bunch of East Germans.
And, once again, his mad international PR skillz aside, if Edward Snowden had not done what he did, the debate is not happening.
 Interestingly, Bill Maher  made very same point at the end of this program on Friday night. Clearly either Maher or his writers read Pierce.  No matter: it’s the truth.

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Woman Wants Possessions Back After Bank Tried To Repossess Wrong House

 

You think it would be straightforward. The bank tried to repossess the wrong house. The wrong woman would like her belongings back. No, this is the FSA, were banks can do no wrong, and if you’re a citizen and run afoul of one, well, it sucks to be you.

Katie Barnett says that the First National Bank in Wellston foreclosed on her house, even though it was not her bank.

“They repossessed my house on accident, thinking it was the house across the street,” Barnett said.

Barnett, who had been away from the house for about two weeks, said she had to crawl through the window of her own house in order to get in after she used her own key that did not work. 

Some of the items in her house had been hauled away, others were sold, given away and trashed.

It turns out the bank sent someone to repossess the house located across the street from Barnett’s house, but by mistake broke into hers instead.

“They told me that the GPS led them to my house,” Barnett said. “My grass hadn’t been mowed and they just assumed.”

She called the McArthur Police about the incident, but weeks later, the chief announced the case was closed.

Barnett said that according to the bank president, this was the first time something like this has happened.

She presented him with an $18,000 estimate to replace the losses, but the president refused to pay.

 “He got very firm with me and said, ‘We’re not paying you retail here, that’s just the way it is,’” Barnett said. “I did not tell them to come in my house and make me an offer. They took my stuff and I want it back.”

An update to this story shows the bank has responded in its most bankly way: they apologized on their website, while telling Ms. Barnett to go fuck herself.. They asked Ms. Barnett to produce receipts for her belongings, but any receipts that she may have had were probably with the belongings that the bank looted and confiscated, then disposed of. But don’t think that the First National Bank of Wellstone doesn’t have Barnett’s best interest at heart: they offered to replace her missing bow flex machine with a bow flex they found on the side of the road. In a just world the story would be getting serious play, and the bankers made to suffer the kind of public humiliation generally reserved for pederasts and men who have sex with livestock.  But the good bankers will probably show up at the next Chamber of Commerce breakfast, backslapping their buddies, and gloating over this quarter’s results.  And probably sitting next to the chief of police.  And Katie Barnett? All she wants is her stuff back. Her, and the rest of the country. . .

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No Singing Zone

The state rotunda in Madison Wisconsin is now declared a no singing zone.

Capital police last week arrested protesters of Gov. Scott Walker on the charges of violating state permanent rules by singing in the Statehouse rotunda. According to the Journal-Sentinel,

Twenty-two of the roughly 60 protesters — including a pair of Madison talk radio hosts — were led away in flex-tie restraints as dozens of legislative aides and journalists looked on from a few steps away and from higher floors.

Demonstrators have continued to gather in the Capitol for their near-dailysinging protest despite a recent federal judge’s ruling partially backing the Walker administration’s stance and repeated declarations by police that it was an “unlawful event.”

Police once again warned demonstrators early in Wednesday’s singalong, both by loudspeaker and by a handwritten sign in the Capitol rotunda, to leave or be “subject to arrest.” But many kept on singing.

 

 

The Capitol police  have already issued hundreds of citations over the past several years for the crime of assembling in the peoples’ House.  Not surprisingly, Pierce had a take on this.

 

Ever since Walker began his campaign to turn Wisconsin into a client state for various corporations, which is to say, practically since he was elected in 2010, and certainly since he was reaffirmed in office a year later, people who don’t necessarily enjoy being residents of a corporate client state have been gathering in the rotunda of the capitol building to sing various songs of opposition and resistance. They call themselves the Solidarity Singers, and they apparently have  into the Gulf of Mexico something of an annoyance to Scott Walker, probably because none of them own a mining company, so, this week, his pals in the legislature sic’ced his capitol police on the singers, busting the lot of them, including elderly men and women, and the odd journalist …

This being Wisconsin, where most of the progressive notions of the 20th century were born, which is why Walker and his various sugar-daddies are trying to roll them back in the 21st, there are old rules and traditions that were put in place to make sure the state capitol was not garrisoned against the people and their right, however musically they exercise it, to petition their government for a redress of grievances. The ACLU of Wisconsin, which won an injunction against the capitol police in response to an earlier spate of arrests, considers this latest action a question of fat men with clubs squeezing through a loophole.

Under the new permitting policy, groups as small as four were forced to obtain prior permission from the government before they engaged in expression “for the purpose of actively promoting any cause.” The new rules also prohibited people from gathering in the Capitol for any performance, ceremony, presentation, meeting or rally without a permit. In his 47-page decision, Judge Conley wrote that the Capitol’s “design was intended to embody… the pursuit of fair and open government informed by an educated, politically involved citizenry and the ‘Wisconsin idea.'”

This has nothing to do with public safety. I’ve been in that rotunda. It’s huge. You could bring in Up With People, and there’d still be room for the daily business of selling Wisconsin off wholesale to get done around them. This is about inconveniencing a guy who wants to run for president based on his record of selling Wisconsin off wholesale. This is about video he doesn’t like and people who harsh his mellow. Which happens to be what the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and Article I of the constitution of what once was the state of Wisconsin, are all about, too.

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Halliburton: “What, Me Worry?”

Deepwater_horizon_platform_sinking

I know we are a people who have no memory, but does anybody else remember that BP fiasco? You know, the one where millions of gallons of crude oil went  gushing into the Gulf of Mexico? That deepwater Horizon thingy? You might think that if there were a functioning rule of law anywhere in this country,  that if the Corporation admitted destroying evidence that led to to spoil and a significant natural resource and fishery, they might face a fine greater than $200,000. But I answer myself. The rule of law functions just fine in this country thank you very much, in accordance with the operating principles of those who purchased the legislators:

Halliburton has admitted destroying evidence in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico and will plead guilty to a criminal charge, the Justice Department announced Thursday.

Under the plea agreement, which requires court approval, Houston-based Halliburton will also face three years’ probation, pay the maximum fine of $200,000 and continue to cooperate in the Justice Department’s criminal investigation of the April 2010 explosion and fire on the drilling platform, which killed 11 rig workers off Louisiana.

The Justice Department said it would not pursue further criminal charges against Halliburton or its subsidiaries.

Separately, Halliburton made a $55 million “voluntary contribution” to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

In a statement Thursday night, Halliburton noted that the Justice Department “acknowledged the company’s significant and valuable cooperation during the course of its investigation, and the company has agreed to continue to cooperate … in any ongoing investigation related to or arising from the incident.”

The spill was the largest in U.S. history: Nearly 5 million barrels of crude oil poured into the Gulf before the sea-floor gusher was capped three months later.

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Michael Hastings Watch: $25 gadget lets hackers seize control of a car

 

After journalist Michael Hastings’s death, there were rumours that his car had been hacked. Now two researchers say they can do it for real

IN THE early hours of 18 June, a Mercedes coupé travelling at extremely high speed along a Los Angeles street smashed into a palm tree. It exploded into flames, killing the driver; the impact ejected the engine 50 metres clear of the car. Was it an accident? Or was the car hacked, allowing it to be driven off the road by remote control?

The very idea might sound crazy – but it’s one that Richard Clarke, a former counterterrorism adviser to the US National Security Council, has raised after the driver was identified as Rolling Stone journalist Michael Hastings. Known for his revealing articles on the US military and its intelligence agencies, Hastings had emailed colleagues the day before he died to say that he was going “off the radar for a bit” to chase down a “big story”.

“What evidence is available publicly is consistent with a car cyberattack,” says Clarke in a Huffington Post interview. Intelligence agencies, he says, can remotely seize control of a car to make it accelerate wildly or brake suddenly, for instance.

Clarke cited research, carried out for the US National Academy of Sciences, showing that “connected cars” – equipped with built-in cellular technologyused by dashboard apps and engine-monitoring software – can be hacked remotely. But proof that it could be done in practice has been lacking.

That looks set to change on 27 July, when Spanish engineers Javier Vázquez Vidal and Alberto Garcia Illera will give a demonstration at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. They have built a $25 device that lets them bypass security in a car’s electronic control unit.

The brains of a modern car, the ECU is a computer that controls engine power, transmission and braking. Mechanics can diagnose faults by plugging a laptop into it via standard wired connectors such as the CAN bus.

Alternatively, remote diagnostics and software updates can take place over a cellular network, as happens with services such as General Motors’ OnStarand Mercedes-Benz’s Mbrace.

Vázquez Vidal and Garcia Illera will show how their device – which they claim uses a $1 chip to break encryption – can read from and write data to the flash memory of commonly used ECUs, made by Bosch of Germany.

Whatever the causes of Michael Hastings’s crash, the need to make cars secure against hacking will only become more acute. The next version of Vázquez Vidal and Garcia Illera’s device won’t even need plugging in to the target car. “I am already working on a wireless version,” Vázquez Vidal says.

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Add Hacking news:

Hacker Barnaby Jack dies in San Francisco aged 35


Barnaby Jack, who became famous after demonstrating an ATM hack, died on Thursday – but coroners did not give details. He was 36.A prominent professional hacker who discovered a way to have ATMs spit out cash, Mr. Jack died Thursday, authorities and his employer said. The cause of death is under investigation, San Francisco Deputy Coroner Kris Barbrich said.Craig Brophy, a spokesman for computer security firm IOActive, where Mr. Jack was director of embedded device security, confirmed his death and said the company would be issuing a statement.Mr. Jack was scheduled to speak Thursday at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas. The title of his talk was “Implantable Medical Devices: Hacking Humans,” according to the Black Hat conference website.Mr. Jack planned to reveal software that uses a common transmitter to scan for and “interrogate” individual medical implants, the website said.
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Jackals circle Detroit

Department of first things first:

Even as the city of Detroit goes bankrupt, Michigan’s state legislature approved Wednesday a $450 million bond offering that would form the public backbone of a new stadium for the Detroit Red Wings.  The bonds will be floated by the Michigan Strategic Fund, which handles all of the state’s private development funds. The public, $283 million portion of the bonds will come from the Downtown Development Authority, which earmarks a slice of downtown Detroit property taxes for reinvestment there.

In the US of A, billionaire sports owners are not to be held responsible for building their own stadiums, that is the public’s job.  Their job is to rake in the profits.  Meanwhile, the city itself will not be allowed to collect these earmarked downtown property taxes for such things as schools, police, infrastructure rebuilding and the like, or for retirement obligations to its workers, who might just have to find a cheaper grade of cat food.

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Add Detroit

No need for annotation here. An inspired rant from Firedoglake:

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing said on ABC’s “This Week With George Stephanopoulos” that one option not on the table is a federal bailout. “I think it’s very difficult right now to ask directly for support,” he said.

Well yeah. It is difficult to ask directly for support. It’s not like you’re a financial institution, after all.

It’s not like you spent the past 15 years putting the entire national economy on red in Vegas.

It’s not like you bet against your own customers and then sold them out without telling them.

It’s not like you took your federal bailouts and then backed a greedy fuck in the next election whose campaign did nothing but bash the entire CONCEPT of federal government.

It’s not like you reacted to the slightest attempt to regulate your business like someone who just watched his puppy gunned down in the street, and then demanded the rest of the world treat your feelings like a national emergency.

If you were one of those guys, hey, no problem. The free money pile is that way. Here’s a wheelbarrow. May we push it for you? Wouldn’t want you to strain your back.

Now come vulturous fucks Kevyn Orr and Rick Snyder to tell other people it’s time to get “real,” because apparently losing your house and a retirement income YOU WERE PROMISED and facing the possibility of living in your car as a reward for working your whole life for the public isn’t “real.”

Now come Kevyn Orr and Rick Snyder, scraping their beaks on the bones of the wounded, to explain how they have no choice but to take everything away from people who have nothing, because sometime in the past somebody had the stupid idea that we should take responsibility for the people who take responsibility for us.

Kevyn Orr, by the way, is getting paid $275,000 to tell people who made $35,000 a year their whole lives to get real. Just in case your irony meter wasn’t already buried in the red zone. The public has no choice but to pay him, I assume, the same way it has no choice but to act like people who retired because they had every expectation of being able to retire because they had done literally everything in their lives right at this point are the anchor dragging Detroit down.

If only they’d crashed the entire trading floor, left the housing market in ruins, and bitched to the WSJ’s editorial board about how mean everybody was. Then they could belly up to the federal bar and order a double of whatever the banks are having.

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You’re Shitting Me, right?

Another installment of those stories that moved that you can’t even believe are true, as if writers for The Onion were generating headlines. We live in times that sorely test one’s capacity for satire, and herin is the proof:

Remember the geniuses that gave us this a couple of weeks ago?

KTVU, the Oakland Fox affiliate station that reported four fake, racially insensitive names for pilots of Asiana flight 214 on a July 12 broadcast, has responded to the embarrassing gaffe by firing three veteran producers after an in-house investigation.

Amid the fiasco, ousted producer Roland De Wolk attempted to defend his reputation to The Wrap when reached via email. Unfortunately for him, his defense was undermined by misspellings that TheWrap presumed “unintentional”:

“My hard-earned reputation is intack. There are lawyers, so eager as I am to anser all questions, I must refrain.”

More damaging for De Wolk, though, is a report from SF Weekly that challenged the supposed “intackness” of De Wolk’s reputation, instead calling it “somewhat checkered.”

___________________

#NoNeedToSatirize: McCain promises strippers that $1 coins means bigger tips

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) says he’s got a stimulus package for the strippers of America.

The former Republican presidential nominee is one of several senators supporting the COINS Act to replace the dollar bill with a dollar coin. They argue that the the move would save billions in printing costs.

But Daniel Harris, the owner of Archibald’s Gentleman’s Club in Washington, D.C., told The Hill in 2011 that he couldn’t sign on to the plan because his dancers relied on paper dollars.

“You can’t put a coin in a garter belt,” Harris said. “I think it would be very awkward for everyone involved. How much more would a coin weigh than a dollar bill? It would be very hard.”

On Thursday, The Hill asked McCain to think of the strippers.

“Then I hope that they could obtain larger denominations,” the senator quipped. “Fives, tens, one hundreds!”

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Open Season on Minorities, post-Martin verdict

#NoNeedToSatirize: National Review: Stay Away from Black Men (Again)

The National Review has warned its readers to stay away from black men.

In a column titled “Facing Facts About Race,” National Review writer and military historian Victor Davis Hanson explained how racism is passed from generation to generation of men in his family.

He begins by sharing his father’s warnings about “black youths” before claiming, “the advice was not about race per se, but instead about the tendency of males of one particular age and race to commit an inordinate amount of violent crime.”

Next, he let readers in on his own racist child rearing. “It was after some first-hand episodes with young African-American males that I offered a similar lecture to my own son. The advice was born out of experience rather than subjective stereotyping.”

Finally, Hanson laments, “I expect that my son already has his own warnings prepared to pass on to his own future children.”

***

#NoNeedToSatirize: GOP chairman: I don’t really care for the word tolerance 

Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus assured social conservatives on Monday that the GOP was not going to embrace “tolerance” as part of its rebranding efforts.

“I don’t know if I’ve used the word ‘tolerance,’ I don’t really care for that word myself,” he told theChristian Broadcasting Network. “I don’t have a problem with it, I just think it has another meaning politically that can go the other direction.”

Priebus said Republicans would continue to oppose same-sex marriage and seek to ban abortion in the United States. He described both as “foundational issues,” but said Republicans needed to adopted a more tolerant tone.

“If you’re looking at the evidence, what you will see is a party that embraces life, a party that embraces marriage and a chairman that understands that there’s only one sovereign God and that we ultimately aren’t dependent on what happens in politics,” Priebus explained. “What ultimately matters in our lives is that we’re salt and light in the world and that we’re honoring God in the things that we do every day. I get that. I think our party gets that and there’s never been a movement away from that.”

 

***

Add Tolerance

#NoNeedToSatirize: Gohmert likens minorities to prairie chickens and ‘various lizards’

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) on Wednesday mocked an effort by Democrats to protect the rights of African-Americans by saying their amendment was actually meant for “the snail darter, various lizards, the lesser prairie chicken, the greater sage grouse and so many other insects.”

During a House Judiciary Committee hearing on the Sunshine for the Regulatory Decrees and Settlements Act, a Republican-sponsored bill that Democrats say is unnecessary and is written so broadly that it could block individual discrimination lawsuits brought forth by federal employees.

Think Progress obtained video of Gohmert objecting to an amendment offered by Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) that would have stopped third parties from blocking regulatory actions that were intended to prevent discrimination based on sex, race or national origin.

The Texas Republican argued that the amendment was more about protecting wildlife than minorities and other groups.

“There is nobody in this chamber who is more appreciative than I am for the gentleman from Tennessee and my friend from Michigan standing up for the rights of race, religion, national religion of the Delta Smelt, the snail darter, various lizards, the lesser prairie chicken, the greater sage grouse and so many other insects who would want someone standing for their religion, their race, their national origin and I think that’s wonderful,” Gohmert quipped.

He added that the original Republican bill would actually “protect interests” of minorities because it provided for greater transparency.

“It will not allow for some conservative or radical right-wing administration or group in the fish and wildlife to cut a deal with some right-wing radical group and we never know about it so nobody can intervene and stop it,” Gohmert insisted. “So you don’t have some group that is directly aligned with somebody in the administration at that point coming together, cutting a sweetheart deal between themselves, to the determent of the race, religion and national religion of snail darters and other animals and fish and wildlife.”

“I’ve got to express umbrage at the idea that African-Americans and Jews are like snail darters,” Cohen replied.

“The gentlemen will take note what this bill is about!” Gohmert shouted. “It’s not about race, it’s about endangered species.”

“The amendment is about civil rights!” Cohen shot back.

“If the gentlemen can point to an endangered species in this country that is a human being, I am with him 100 percent!” Gohmert exclaimed

Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) told Think Progress that Gohmert’s claim that the amendment was about wildlife was ridiculous.

“This is not a snail darter’s amendment, it is not an environmental amendment, it is a civil rights amendment, and we’re talking about the civil rights of people — the civil rights of people that have been violated egregiously for generations in this country,” Nadler explained.

In the end, Cohen’s amendment was defeated along party lines in a 13 to 16 vote.

_______________________________

California Cop Who Pepper-Sprayed Students Claims Psychiatric Damage

John Pike became, through his brutality and stupidity, an iconic image. Now he is playing the well practiced victim card often employed by the right.

A former University of California, Davis police officer who was fired after pepper spraying a group of students staging a protest in 2011, and whose actions went viral on the internet, is seeking workers’ compensation settlement, claiming the incident left him psychologically injured.

John Pike was fired in July 2012, following an internal affairs investigation regarding his actions at a November protest on the campus.  In a video that spread across the Internet, Pike can be seen aiming pepper spray in the faces of students sitting passively protesting tuition increases and in solidarity with the Occupy movement.

Pike has a settlement hearing scheduled for Aug. 13, according to the Department of Industrial Relations website.

His claim pertains to a “nervous system – psychiatric” injury according to department documents published online.

UC Davis officials confirmed Pike had filed a claim. “The university is required to follow the worker’s compensation process. We are not in agreement with the benefits being claimed,” said Andy Fell, a university spokesman.

Also here: http://www.businessinsider.com#ixzz2aL7uCCfm

 

_____________________________________

And perhaps the piece-de-resistance for the week

Pennsylvania police chief: F*ck all you libtards out there, you take it in the a**

The mayor of Gilberton, Pennsylvania is standing by her city’s police chief despite a series of profanity-laced and threatening videos.

In a video that has received wide attention, police chief Mark Kessler repeatedly tells those upset by his use of profanity to “go f*ck yourself” as he fires various automatic weapons.

Mayor Mary Lou Hannon told The Morning Call that Kessler had the right to express himself. The city would “not take action to quash free speech, whether or not each member of council or any member of council agrees with it.”

Kessler has uploaded several profanity-laced videos to YouTube. In one video, Kessler berates “libtards” and warns of an armed rebellion against the government.

“F*ck all you libtards out there, as a matter of fact, read my shirt,” he says, turning around to show a message on his back which read, “Liberals take it in the a**.”

“You take it in the ass and I don’t give a f*ck what you say so you can all just go f*ck yourselves. Period. I wont be going to D.C. and I don’t give a f*ck. If you f*cking maniacs want to turn this into an armed revolt, knock yourselves out. I’m not about that, so see you on the other side.”

In a video on basic pistol defense, Kessler repeatedly shoots a picture of a scary clown, which he says is Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). He calls Secretary of State John Kerry a “c*cksucker” in another video before firing off an automatic weapon.

Tuesday on his Facebook page, Kessler called for a massive rally to “show these tyrants we will not stand for any more violations on our constitution or our freedoms.”

____________________________________________

 

That’s it for this week’s lesson in lack of faith in humanity. We’ll try it again next week!

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