Sunday, May 15, 2011

police speeds without lights, and kills 2 innocent teens

Thought For The Day From Mike Rivero


"America is a nation desperate to believe they remain a just and moral people even as they carry out unjust and immoral wars upon other nations. Those (far too many) Americans who lack the courage to stand up to a government gone wrong are grasping at any symbol that allows them to pretend they remain decent human beings. They won't oppose the violence in Iraq, so they scream about violence on TV. They cannot face up to the reality of torture of innocent victims so they complain about "decency" in movies. They bash gays. They demand religious mythology replace science on the schools. They scream for the Ten Commandments to be displayed in the offices of government while blind to that government's violation of those same commandments. And, of course, they scream for Terri Schiavo to prove to the world (and themselves) that they really do care about every single human life, despite having sat in silence while hundreds of thousands of people were killed and the survivors showered with radioactive waste in wars started with lies and deceptions. If hypocrisy were an Olympic event, Americas would take home the gold, silver, AND bronze!" -- Michael Rivero

Indiana Supreme Court Says You Can't Resist Criminal Cops (Mike Rivero)

Movie Review: Restrepo (on Netflix Instant)

British defence chiefs want Nato to step up attacks on Gaddafi's forces

British defence chiefs want Nato to step up attacks on Gaddafi's forces | World news | The Guardian
General Sir David Richards
General Sir David Richards wants Nato to increase the bombing attacks on Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's forces. Photograph: David Rose / Rex Features

British defence chiefs are applying pressure on other Nato countries to intensify the bombing campaign against Muammar Gaddafi's regime amid deepening concerns that military action will end in stalemate.

Nearly two months since the start of air strikes against Libya, Nato chiefs fear divisions within the alliance, and at the UN, will lead to fewer air strikes just at a time when, they claim, the regime is starting to feel the pinch and even its core support showing signs of cracking.

They want Nato to expand its targets, as the UK and a number of smaller Nato nations already have done, to include more static targets such as command and control centres and not only those posing a direct and clear threat to Libyan civilians, such as tanks and artillery.

Well-placed British government officials made this plain on Sunday asGeneral Sir David Richards, chief of the defence staff, said that he wanted the rules of engagement changed so that attacks can be launched against the infrastructure propping up Gaddafi's regime.

"The vice is closing on Gaddafi, but we need to increase the pressure further through more intense military action," Richards told the Sunday Telegraph.

"We now have to tighten the vice to demonstrate to Gaddafi that the game is up and he must go," he added. "We need to do more.

"If we do not up the ante now there is a risk that the conflict could result in Gaddafi clinging to power."

Richards added: "At present Nato is not attacking infrastructure targets in Libya. But if we want to increase the pressure on Gaddafi's regime then we need to give serious consideration to increasing the range of targets we can hit."

Though he said that Nato forces were not targeting Gaddafi directly, the Libyan leader could become a legitimate target if he was discovered directing attacks against Libyan civilians.

The UN security council resolution allowed Nato to use "all necessary means" to protect civilians.

How to Keep a Damaged Financial and Economic System Afloat?

How to Keep a Damaged Financial and Economic System Afloat?

The elitists who run America from behind the scenes have serious problems in trying to keep a badly damaged financial and economic system afloat. Ironically, these same characters are the ones responsible for the system and the condition that it is in today. It is not only confined to the US, but it prevails in England, Europe and other countries as well. Central bankers are all in constant touch with each other to employ tactics that will extend the current system in the hope that something they are doing will turn into at least a temporary solution. The US maintains virtually zero interest rates and floods the economy with money and credit. The European Central Bank, the ECB, raises interest rates, but continues injecting money and credit into the system. In Europe the higher interest rates are supposed to offset the inflation caused by the increase in money and credit. On the short term it isn’t going to work. On the long term much higher rates will work, if the increase in money and credit is lowered or stopped. The unpalatable problem with that is this medicine will collapse their economies. All these parties should have purged the system in the early 1990s when they had the chance, or just three years ago, when they had another chance to do so. The result is the inflation we see today, 6% in Europe, 12% in Britain and 10% in the US. The path these bankers have laid out will lead to hyperinflation and ultimately to deflationary depression. The approaches employed by both the US and Europe won’t work and the elitists know they won’t work. Historically these conditions are nothing new. We have seen them over and over again. More often the solution is to have another war, which can take the blame for the monetary, fiscal and economic profligacy and at the same time relieve the world of copious useless eaters.

Real inflation is now at about 10% based on earlier formulas, as opposed to present official government doctored figures. These are close to the numbers of the1980s. Officially those numbers were 10%, but we were there and the numbers were 14%. We expect real inflation of 14% or more by the end of the year as QE1 and stimulus 1 effects play havoc with consumer purchasing power. Presently the PPI, the Producer Price Index, is 10% and that same figure applies to the cost of imported goods as well. As long as interest rates remain at zero and the creation of money and credit continues, inflation will climb ever higher. The Fed tells us that there will be no change in rates until after September. The Fed just observed the ECB raising rates. The next rise was set for June and we have already been told that won’t happen. Except for Germany all of the EU, not just the euro zone, is faltering. Europe and the US may not see higher rates until inflation exceeds 25% next year. As long as interest rates remain below the real rate of inflation little will be accomplished to bring inflation under control. These numbers are all within the confines of QE1 and QE2 and stimulus 1 & 2. We see no way to avoid QE3. Who will buy the Treasury’s debt? That being the case inflation three to four years out could reach 50%. Needless to say, rates would have to exceed 50% to slow down the economy and that would eventually entail a deflationary depression. During such a process as rates reached a peak, commodity prices would falter and begin to reverse. Gold and silver would lose their assisting inflationary impetus, and their course would depend on the strength of currencies. Both could strongly represent the only real money as they have in the past. We won’t know the final outcome until we get there, because many other factors could enter the equation, such as world war.

Higher oil and food prices cannot go on indefinitely nor can the creation of money and credit. Much higher prices would collapse demand and higher rates might not be needed. We are sure of one thing world trade will diminish as all this goes forward and we believe it is only a matter of time before the un-level playing field of trade prompts congressional action to institute tariffs on goods and services. China is a major exporter to the US, but they have tariffs. As an example, they have a 30% to 50% advantage in the sale of luxury boats. That is certainly deliberate and such action can only invite retaliation eventually. China has had it all their way for 15 years due to US debt problems. Now that China is reducing its US dollar-denominated position they have lost a great deal of leverage. If they indiscriminately dump dollars they will shoot themselves in the foot.

China already has very strong inflation. Raising bank reserves and interest rates have yet to arrest inflation, but at the same time such actions strengthen the yuan, China’s external currency. China also has its problems. They have made many of the same mistakes that the US and Europe have made. China, even though they are deeply involved in the use of commodities, will become victims of their higher prices that will be passed on in the form of inflation and higher export prices. China will as well become a major exporter of inflation. The question then arises, will commodities rise too quickly and will they collapse, which would stem inflation? The answer is we don’t know. If prices rise at a moderate pace that might not happen. We won’t know until we get there. As you should know economics is not an exact science, it is an art form.

The US then has the issue of 22% unemployment, much of which consists of permanently unemployable and discouraged workers who are existing on welfare of one kind or another. We have lost nine million jobs over the past 11 years to free trade, globalization, offshoring and outsourcing. Many of those companies and jobs would return to America. It is not a cure-all, but it would certainly help. In many instances time has raced ahead of many of the unemployed and their skills are no longer in demand, or technology has left them behind. The evolutionary process has been interrupted deliberately by shipping some of the best jobs overseas for profit for transnational conglomerates, who pay no taxes on those profits and destroy the structure of manufacturing and services.

Wages are increasing in baby steps as price inflation rages at 10%. Except in certain areas in certain countries inflation is high in most countries and very high in some, like the UK and the US. The Fed says such inflation is temporary. Three years ago it was 14%. Inflation fell to 6% and now at 10% it is climbing to 14% by yearend and that is only the effect of QE1 and stimulus 1. Next year we’ll see the inflation of QE2 and stimulus 2 taking it to 25% to 30%. A QE3 could take inflation to 50%. What do workers do then - starve while Wall Street and banking scoop up billion dollar bonuses? Purchasing power will not expand to augment these conditions. The government and banking will not be unhappy as debt will be repaid with deeply depreciated dollars as those dollars plunge in value not only versus other currencies, but more importantly versus gold and silver. Keynesians live in cloud coo-coo land. Purchasing power will not expand and commodities have not and will not increase in cost at a moderate rate, but at an exponential rate. We could very well be looking at another Weimar experience, only time will tell. To think that official inflation will peak at 10% is totally irresponsible. We are already at 10% via the 1980 formula.

As a result of massive debt there is a weak dollar. A reflection of that is the threat that over the next two years the US could lose its AAA rating. S&P says there is a 1/3 chance that they’ll lower the rating after the next election. The collusion between S&P, Washington, banking and Wall Street is simply criminal. This is the same S&P that was never indicted for bond fraud regarding the false ratings they put on mortgage securities.

The answer from Treasury’s Mr. Geithner as he spoke at the Council on Foreign Relation, CFR, was that there was no risk of downgrading. He has instructed congressional leaders to bring down the budget deficit and set it on a declining path. The problem is that won’t happen until 2015, three and a half years from now. Most Americans and most investors worldwide didn’t read or hear about what Mr. Geithner had to say because little is reported to the outside world of what goes on in the inner sanctum of the nefarious CFR. Mr. Geithner, “Our policy has been and will always be for a strong dollar that is in the best interest of America.” He said, we will never weaken our currency to gain economic advantage at the expense of our trading partners. Of course that is not true, but on the other hand other nations, since WWII have all deliberately depreciated their currencies to gain economic and export advantage. The US never said much regarding such cheating until recently regarding China. The cheaters bought the US’s massive debt so it tended to be an even swap. In recent years it has been secret policy to force the dollar lower. This is the Orwellian world we live in. All nations are equal, but some are more equal than others. This is the stamp of realization that government has become dictatorial socialism. The Fed is supposed to have a policy of stability and maximum employment. All the Fed does is save the financial sector from insolvency and purchase government debt with money created out of thin air, unemployment is still 22% and inflation is 10%. That doesn’t sound like a successful policy to us. Stability has proved elusive with oil up 23% and the CRB commodity index up almost 9%. A good part of higher prices for petroleum products has been a lower dollar, which has fallen more than 7% as of late. This is a reflection of the corporate fascist model, which unfortunately is practiced in most every nation today. Government is married to corporations and all policy serves those corporate interests. The crumbs are thrown to the people. All in that realm are too big to fail. Thus, the tightening noose of totalitarianism engulfs the people as you are now seeing in the US. This control planning gives Wall Street and banking a big advantage in competing with the public. They do not use inside information; they create it. That is how brokers can go three months without losing money in trading. They know what is going on inside, others do not. These interests own 95% of Congress, so corporations have stimulus programs on demand. Then there are the sweetheart loans from the Fed to the banks, and the purchase of toxic waste mortgage bonds from these lending institutions. This process had led to instability and massive inflation and will continue to do so.

Many think Wall Street and banking depend upon government. The truth is that they control government. They own the Fed and the Treasury and policy is what they say it will be. The victims are small and medium sized businesses and the public. The public generally knows what is going on, but doesn’t know what to do about it. Politicians believe government spending is their entitlement and part of their reelection process along with bribes - that is campaign contributions, to return them to Congress where they believe is where they belong. Thus, in America there will be little austerity and light tax increases, as we close in on the next presidential election.

The short-term government debt extension has to be at least $2.2 trillion to fund basic necessities by debt government. The Republicans want $300 billion cut from the Budget. Those decisions are to be made in July.

The Federal Reserve continues to strive to gain or to keep the confidence of the average American. That is not easy to do when Mr. Bernanke has to tell consumers that the official government inflation is 1.9%, when they know it is really 10%. Everyone shops so they know what is going on. This is far from price stability. This past month U6 unemployment rose back to 15.9% from 15.7%. That puts real unemployment at 22.2% if you eliminate the birth/death ratio. These both are Fed mandates and the fed has failed miserably in supplying the American public with policies that will bring about stability and growing employment.

Faith in the system has tenuously been maintained by creating a colossal amount of money and credit. First they were injected into the financial sector and then used to support the Treasury market. Such usage may have kept the financial system from failure, but it has done little to help Americans. As a result perhaps 60% of the people are hoping the Fed can hold it all together. The other 40% are far more skeptical and most believe the system is in serious trouble. The public is tired of the subterfuge and wants much better performance. Little do they realize the Fed is trapped. Perpetual creation of money and credit is the only avenue left open to them. That is why they have to support the financial sector, fund the Treasury and keep the stock market afloat, while suppressing commodity, gold and silver prices.

We don’t see higher official interest rates for at least a year and probably much longer. As a result of QE3, or whatever it will be called, we see an increase in money and credit of at least $1.5 trillion and by perhaps as much as $2.5 trillion by June 2012. Not only will 80% of Treasuries and Agencies have to be funded, but so will the economy. We see no help coming from Congress, which hopes to cut costs. The last two sets of stimulus coming from Congress were $850 billion and $862 billion.

As a result of such programs the USDX shows an 8% fall in the dollar this year. We believe that is somewhat misleading because we believe that the US dollar was deliberately allowed or forced to go lower to provide a higher euro, as a buffer for the possible default of Greece. That doesn’t mean the dollar is not headed lower, it is. All that monetized money and credit is coming home to roost in the form of monetization and much higher inflation. Most say they don’t know what will happen next, we do. The Fed will print until it cannot anymore. We will go to hyperinflation and then to the worst deflationary depression in the last 300 years.

Bob Chapman is a frequent contributor to Global Research. Global Research Articles by Bob Chapman

Banks are 'hounding borrowers to suicide'

Banks are 'hounding borrowers to suicide' - National News, Frontpage -

By Dearbhail McDonald and Tim Healy

Thursday May 12 2011

BANKS are driving some borrowers who can not pay their debts to suicide, the Master of the High Court warned last night.

Ed Honohan, brother of Central Bank Governor Patrick Honohan, told the Irish Independent he decided to speak out against the banks and other creditors because he had dealt with several debt cases where the borrowers had subsequently taken their own lives.

He added that he also decided to speak out as many borrowers who can not repay their loans, such as mortgages, credit cards and personal loans, are being pursued by banks who have already written off the debts.

This was leading to "meaningless accountancy exercises" that were driving some people to suicide, he said.

In an extraordinary intervention on the deepening debt crisis, Mr Honohan strongly criticised banks and other creditors for pursuing "to the bitter end" debtors who cannot pay judgment mortgages.

Banks are still required to chase debts and maximise recovery from borrowers even if they have written them off in their books.

Mr Honohan, a barrister, said most of the debt cases arose due to circumstances beyond the control of borrowers -- because the economy shut down as a result of the banking collapse.

He criticised the banks as he called for the updating of legislation to protect people unable to pay debts and to introduce a level of "debt forgiveness".

He said there had been a surge not only in mortgage cases but also instances where banks had chased borrowers for personal loans and then sought for judgments to be registered against family homes.

"We can not wait for 18 months before the Government introduces new personal insolvency laws," Mr Honohan said. He was referring to the March 2012 deadline imposed by theEU/IMF for reform of our outdated debtor's laws.

Borrowers might think they are "outlaws in uncharted territory", he said, but stressed that even members of the "new debt set" have legal rights.

Mr Honohan said it was a criminal offence to demand repayment so frequently that it would cause alarm, distress or humiliation; to tell a debtor they are guilty of a criminal offence or to pretend to be officially authorised by law to enforce payment.

Several of the tragic deaths that had crossed his desk had been reported in the media, he said.

His court is a central hub for debt actions that go to law.

The Free Legal Advice Centres (FLAC) said that some borrowers had taken their own lives as a result of stress caused by being chased for their debts.

Paul Joyce, FLAC's senior policy researcher on consumer credit law, said that many borrowers did not realise that their homes could potentially be at risk if creditors converted judgments obtained on foot of consumer loans by registering them against their property.

Last night the Irish Bankers' Federation (IBF), which represents mainstream domestic and international banks operating in Ireland, said that it fully supported calls for reform of Ireland's outdated personal insolvency laws.

Half Empty: The Slow, Painful Demise of Rural Germany

Half Empty: The Slow, Painful Demise of Rural Germany - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

A massive exodus is causing cities across Germany to swell while draining rural areas of people, money and life. While funds are needed elsewhere, should more be done to save dying communities? By SPIEGEL Staff


"Just stay calm," Josef Daum thinks. "Remember your heart." His wife has already cast a worried glance around the corner. Ever since his heart attack last September, Daum has had to be a little more careful. But that's easier said than done -- especially in his position as the mayor of the northern Bavarian town of Nordhalben.

Just take the figures: 85 out of the town's 820 houses are empty. The town had 3,000 inhabitants not too long ago, but now there are only 1,900. When elderly citizens have passed away, there has been no one there to replace them.

"Nobody lives there anymore either," Daum says, pointing to a mint-green single-family house. The industrial bakery moved to the east, he explains, and the area in front of the former garden furniture factory is full of dandelions. The Edeka grocery store closed its doors for good last year, and no trains have passed through the town since 1994.

And don't get Daum started on money issues. Most state contributions to municipalities depend on their population figures. But since people are moving away from Nordhalben, it has had to borrow €3.5 million ($5 million) just to make ends meet. "We're now taking out loans just to pay off our other loans." Daum says. "If we were a company, we'd be a classic case of insolvency."

To make matters worse for Daum, even his daughter has moved away now, to Munich, because that's where the jobs are.

'A Declaration of War on the Provinces'

Nordhalben is a municipality in its death throes even though it is located in the relatively wealthy state of Bavaria. Indeed, Bavaria is the most self-confident of Germany's 16 federal states, enjoying the greatest purchasing power, the highest economic growth and the lowest unemployment rate. Just recently, owing to federal rules that require richer states to give some of their proceeds to poorer ones, the Bavarian government even had to hand over €3.5 million.

But despite this prosperity, parts of Bavaria are doing very poorly. According to analysts at Switzerland's Prognos institute, Bavaria is already the state "with the greatest disparities between individual regions." While some are chic, others are "problematic." While home prices are skyrocketing in Munich, there's a mass exodus from the rural areas of northeastern Bavaria.

Politicians can do little to counteract the trend. Erwin Huber, the former head of the Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavarian sister party of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU), praises his people's "pride in their own identity." Konrad Kobler, a CSU parliamentarian in Passau, rails against the threatening "liquidation of Lower Bavaria." And the business-friendly Free Democratic Party (FDP) fears "a declaration of war on provincial areas."

The 'Special' and the Empty

Horst Seehofer, Bavaria's governor, has appointed a "Future Council" to look into the problem -- and its suggestions have been causing uproar in several areas for weeks. For example, the council has suggested expanding what it calls "potent cities" into national centers of excellence. It has called for cash injections into these "clusters" and less for outlying areas.

Indeed, the council says that "business as usual" is no longer an option. "Special regions" -- that is, those experiencing financial hardship -- should start "orienting" themselves toward alliances with other nearby regions. According to this vision, Upper Franconia should work together with Saxony, Passau with Austria, and W├╝rzburg with Frankfurt. The "special regions" have got the message -- and, not surprisingly, they feel abandoned.

Mississippi floods highlight decay of US infrastructure

Mississippi floods highlight decay of US infrastructure
By Clement Daly and Naomi Spencer
14 May 2011

As floodwaters swell past record levels in the Mississippi River and its tributaries, the US Army Corps of Engineers is preparing to throw open a floodway north of Baton Rouge. The opening of the Morganza Floodway, planned for as soon as this weekend, will impact 25,000 mainly poor rural residents and flood three million acres of prime Louisiana farmland.

The action is a bid to prevent catastrophic flooding of the capital Baton Rouge and the state’s largest city, New Orleans. Some levees, particularly in New Orleans, are at risk of collapsing if the water pressure is not relieved upriver. The city’s levees are designed to withstand a 20-foot crest, but the force of the water may undermine the earthen barriers at their base, causing the levees to slide into the river. Entire parishes in the below-sea-level city, especially those devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, would again be submerged.

Thousands of residents in Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Mississippi have been flooded, including low-lying neighborhoods in Memphis and entire small towns further south. (See, “Mississippi towns submerged in floodwaters.”)

While the Army Corps has repeatedly asserted that the flood management system is sound, disaster response has been chaotic and borne primarily by state and local agencies. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has dispatched a regiment of the state’s National Guard to hastily construct a f lood barrier at the confluence of the Atchafalaya and Mississippi rivers. The regiment has been ordered to work around the clock. Impoverished municipalities in the Delta region have struggled to sandbag against newly developed sand boils, or seepages at the bases of levees, along the Yazoo River.

The historic flooding in the Mississippi watershed casts a spotlight on the crumbling and patchwork state of America’s physical infrastructure. An aged and unsound levee system is the only defense against disaster for hundreds of thousands of people.

The Army Corps of Engineers has reported that nine percent of the levees it maintains are expected to fail in a flood event.

In a recent report on the state of US infrastructure, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) found that “there is no definitive record of how many levees there are in the US, nor is there an assessment of the current conditions and performance of those levees.” Grading the nation’s levee system a “D-,” or on the brink of total failure, the ASCE warned that “43 percent of the US population lives in counties with levees.”

The federal government does not oversee all of the levees, and there is no assessment of the many privately-maintained floodwalls along the Mississippi. Similarly, the Army Corps regulates only one-tenth of the county’s dams, many of which are considered at high risk of collapse by the ASCE.

In addition to the flood management system, the country’s roads, bridges, water and sewage systems are all increasingly dilapidated and under-funded. Overall, the ASCE report gave US physical infrastructure a grade of D.

American roads were given a D-. The ASCE graded US bridges at a C, concluding that “more than 26 percent, or one in four of the nation’s bridges, are either structurally deficient or functionally obsolete.”

The resources required to address the nation’s burgeoning inventory of deteriorating bridges have far outstripped the stagnant levels of funding made available. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) estimated in 2009, the last time such an estimate was made, that it would require $70.9 billion to address the nation’s deteriorating bridges. Congress appropriated only $5.2 billion that year to the Federal Highway Bridge Program, which is tasked with repairing and replacing deficient bridges throughout the country.

Five states have more than one in five of their bridges in need of significant maintenance. Pennsylvania ranked worst with 26.5 percent of its bridges considered structurally deficient. The situation is only expected to worsen as a greater proportion of the federal bridge inventory exceeds the typical expected 50-year lifespan. At present the average lifespan of an American bridge is 42 years. As of last year, nearly one in three of the nation’s bridges was over 50 years old.

The sheer recklessness of the neglect of infrastructure is evident in the fact that every day, an average of 282,672,680 vehicles pass over one of the nation’s 69,223 deficient bridges.

Last week marked the bicentennial of the National Road—the first federally funded road in the US. The National Road linked Cumberland, Maryland, across the Appalachian Mountains into the heartland of Illinois, ending initially at the city of Vandalia, the state capitol at the time. Conceived of as a means of unifying the young and expanding country, the National Road was established through congressional legislation in 1806 and signed by President Thomas Jefferson.

Public works projects of the 20th Century transformed the US into a modern, mass society by connecting far-flung cities, electrifying rural regions, and mitigating the dangers of the environment. Half a century ago, the government undertook “the greatest public works project in history”—the Interstate System, declared by President Eisenhower to be “essential to the national interest.”

In however limited a form, the ruling class of this earlier period viewed infrastructure as essential for economic development. The ruling elite of today shares no such commitment. On the contrary, in the midst of mass unemployment and tattered social conditions, the Obama administration has explicitly refused to undertake any public works program to mitigate the crisis. Instead, the political establishment has starved the country’s infrastructure, like every other social resource including education, health care, libraries and cultural institutions.

The attack finds its expression in the refusal to upgrade life-saving levees around New Orleans, the drive to “right-size” industrial cities such as Detroit, and many other aspects of social conditions affecting the day-to-day lives of millions of people.

A recent report in Minneapolis/St. Paul Star Tribune entitled “Making a rural comeback: The old gravel road,” for example, details the growing practice of tearing up paved roads in rural America, especially the Midwest, for lack of resources to maintain them. In Michigan, 100 miles have already been converted back to gravel, while South Dakota has torn up 120 miles. The practice is spreading throughout the Midwest, including Iowa, North Dakota, and Minnesota, where communities have seen 40-year-old roadways ripped out.

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J.P. Morgan's hunt for Afghan gold

J.P. Morgan's hunt for Afghan gold - Fortune Management

Villagers assembled for a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the gold mine in Qara Zaghan. The U.S. government estimates that minerals worth nearly $1 trillion lie beneath Afghanistan's soil.

FORTUNE -- Qara Zaghan, Afghanistan: The four Black Hawk helicopters sweep down on this remote river valley, flying fast and single file. Snow covers the mountains' peaks, but the lower slopes look like rust -- dry, rocky, and bare. As we bank around the river bend, we see our first flash of green in the fields below and then the rectangular mud huts of the village, where hundreds of Afghans mass to greet us.

"That's the mine over there," one of my companions says, pointing to the cliffs rising above the village.

That's it? That's the gold mine? It doesn't look all that different from the forbidding country we've been traversing: just another pile of rocks and scree. The jet-lagged man in the seat across from me knows better. His sleepy eyes are suddenly alert. If anyone can wrest a fortune from Afghanistan's rubble, it is this man, Ian Hannam.

Arriving in a developing nation with his iPad and his enigmatic smile, Hannam personifies the soft side of Western power. He doesn't bend people to his will with weapons or threats. But there is no mistaking the dealmaker's impact: In his wake, mountains are razed, villages electrified, schools built, and fortunes made.

To Hannam, chairman of J.P. Morgan Capital Markets, Afghanistan represents a gigantic, untapped opportunity -- one of the last great natural-resource frontiers. Landlocked and pinioned by imperial invaders, Afghanistan has been cursed by its geography for thousands of years. Now, for the first time, Hannam believes, that geography could be an asset. The two most resource-starved nations on the planet, China and India, sit next door to Afghanistan, where, according to Pentagon estimates, minerals worth nearly $1 trillion lie buried. True, there is a war under way. And it's unclear how the death of Osama bin Laden will impact the country's political and economic environment. But Hannam is not your usual investment banker: A former soldier, he has done business in plenty of strife-torn countries. So have all the members of his team, two of them former special forces soldiers who have fought here.

Attending the ribbon cutting were (from left) mine owner Sadat Naderi; Mining Minister Wahidullah Shahrani; J.P. Morgan's Ian Hannam; and (behind Hannam) investor Pairoj Piempongsant.

As he flies to the mine for the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Hannam thinks back over the past 12 months. This little mine, where operations have yet to commence, is puny by J.P. Morgan's (JPM) standards, but he knows it might be the project for which he is remembered. A lot of powerful people, including the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, Gen. David Petraeus, are counting on him to demonstrate that the country is safe for foreign investors. Hannam has chafed at times under the pressure from the Pentagon, and the cold-eyed realist in him wonders whether unrealistic expectations are being placed on this business venture.

Hannam ducks his head and climbs out of the chopper, necktie flapping in the prop wash. As he trudges up the hill, even the jaded, 55-year-old banker seems swept away by the pageantry of the moment: the village elder in a ceremonial robe, the silhouettes of women watching from the ridges, the saluting Afghan soldier. Hannam is enveloped in a crush of local tribesmen chattering excitedly in Dari. One of them puts a garland around his neck. Another hands him a Ziploc bag containing a chunk of Afghan gold. A mullah utters prayers. Afghanistan's minister of mining gives a long speech.

Fukushima Nuclear Meltdown Confirmed

Fukushima Nuclear Meltdown Confirmed :: :: informazione dal medio oriente :: information from middle east :: [vs-1]
May 14, 2011

Visual evidence now confirms what earlier was known: namely, that Tokyo Electric's (TEPCO) Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station experienced at least one core nuclear meltdown, perhaps much worse than now admitted.

An earlier article explained, accessed through the following link:

Nuclear expert Karl Grossman calls it the ultimate nuclear nightmare, a real time China Syndrome, portrayed fictionally in the 1979 film by the same name.

On May 12, Hiroshima Peace Institute Professor Robert Jacobs told Russia Today TV that plant conditions "are much more serious than we were told earlier."

In fact, confirming a coverup, he explained:

"We were not told that for a long time....I have a rule of thumb, which is that anything that is publicly stated is probably around 10 to 20% of what's true. It will take us years to know the extent of the contamination and the extent of the fuel melting. The best case scenario in this situation is that it will take months to begin to stop leaking radiation from the reactors."

As a result, plant conditions are extremely serious, perhaps out of control, but don't expect government or media reports to admit it. Short of that, on May 12, TEPCO said low water levels fully exposed Fukushima's Unit No. 1, grudgingly confirming a meltdown of nuclear fuel rods.

According to Junichi Matsumoto, TEPCO's general manager:

"The water level is one meter below the base of the fuel assembly....Melted fuel has dropped to the bottom of the pressure vessel and is still being cooled...(Entombment) plans need to be revised. We can't deny the possibility that a hole in the pressure vessel caused water to leak."

Moreover, other fuel rods are also affected, AP saying:

"other fuel (melted) to the bottom of the pressure vessel and is thought (but not confirmed) to be covered in water....The findings also indicate a greater-than-expected leak in that vessel."

At issue is one or more core nuclear meltdowns, a worse case scenario. On May 12, London Telegraph writer Julian Ryall headlined, "Nuclear meltdown at Fukushima plant," saying:

Visual evidence confirms that "(one Fukushima reactor) did suffer a nuclear meltdown. (TEPCO admitted that) the top five feet or so of (Unit No. 1's) core 13ft-long fuel rods had been exposed to the air and melted down. Now (it appears likely) that the molten pool of radioactive fuel may have burned a hole through the bottom of the containment, causing" large amounts of contaminated water to leak, posing an extremely serious health hazard to many countries besides Japan.

Moreover, conditions appear to be worsening, not improving. According to Friends of the Earth spokesman Tom Clements:

"TEPCO seems to be going backwards in getting the situation under control and things may well be slowly eroding with all (six) units having problems. At this point, TEPCO still finds itself in unchartered waters and is not able to carry out any plan to get the situation under control."

US nuclear expert Gene Corley said:

If fuel, in fact, melted through the reactor, "then the most likely solution is to encapsulate the entire unit. This may include constructing a concrete wall around the unit and building a protective cover over it. Because of the high radiation that would be present if this has happened, the construction will take many months and may stretch into years."

Major Media Coverage

Throughout the crisis, they've regurgitated official lies, suppressing what's vital to know about history's worst ever environmental disaster. Despite the significance of TEPCO's May 12 announcement, the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune ignored it, while New York Times writers Hiroko Tabuchi and Matthew Wald downplayed it, headlining, "Japanese Reactor Damage Is Worse Than Expected," saying:

New developments will likely "delay efforts to bring" Fukushima's crippled reactor "under control, the plant's operator said Thursday, (admitting) much more damage than originally thought...."

Avoiding the word "meltdown," Tabuchi and Wald said "exposed fuel has probably melted and slumped to the bottom of the vessel in little pellets....Still the worst fears did not materialize....a nuclear chain reaction (causing) a full meltdown and a catastrophic release of radioactive material."

In fact, that's precisely what likely happened, but coverup and denial won't confirm it, exacerbating an already catastrophic situation, affecting residents as far away as California, Boston, Iceland, Sweden and numerous other countries in the form of contaminated air, water, soil, food, and nuclear rain.

On May 3, New York Times writer William Broad wrote a disgraceful article headlined, "Drumbeat of Nuclear Fallout Feat Doesn't Resound With Experts," saying:

"The fear is unwarranted, experts say," quoting paid to lie ones, suppressing shocking truths too important to conceal, especially in feature Times reports.

Nonetheless, Broad said outside proximity to Fukushima, the risk of illness "is tiny, compared with numerous other sources of radiation, past and present."

He lied, ignoring what reputable experts affirm, especially about something this grave.

Though Wall Street Journal writers Mitsuru Obe, Phred Dvorak, and Rebecca Smith used the forbidden word "meltdown," it hardly mattered in their article headlined, "At Reactor, Damage Worse Than Feared," saying:

Fukushima's Unit No. 1 "likely suffered a substantial meltdown of its core....offering a fresh assessment," suggesting conditions are much worse than earlier reported short of "a catastrophic meltdown."

"The findings raise a host of questions," including perhaps "that radioactive water leaked into the reactor's basement in greater than believed quantities, likely dealing additional delays to the stricken plant's cleanup."

The best America's industry-controlled Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) could add was that conditions are "not exactly stable," according staff official R. William Borchardt, a contemptible comment about a global disaster showing no signs of abating.

New Problems Reported

On May 12, AFP headlined, "New water leaks at Japan's nuclear plant," saying:

TEPCO also reported a new water leak "and another spill of contaminated water into the ocean." Dousing operations "created massive amounts of highly contaminated runoff water."

As a result, seawater samples "taken near the plant contained cesium-134 at a concentration 18,000 times the permitted level...." Chief government spokesman Yukio Edano called the situation "deplorable."

On May 12, Greenpeace reported radiation levels in seaweed samples far above legal limits, based on tests conducted up to 40 miles out to sea.

Beginning later in May, fishermen will begin harvesting seaweed for public consumption, posing significant risks to those eating it, according to Greenpeace expert Ike Teuling, warning:

"(R)adioactive contamination is accumulating in the marine ecosystem that provides Japan with a quarter of its seafood, yet the authorities are still doing very little to protect public health."

Greenpeace is also evaluating seawater, fish and shellfish, and is expected to release full results next week. However, according to executive director Junichi Sato:

"(A)s the government has limited our research to the area outside of territorial waters, we could not achieve what we originally set out to do."

Since the March 11 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster, TEPCO and government officials deliberately suppressed full disclosure of an out-of-control crisis.

In her April 25 article titled, "Fukushima and Chernobyl - the Diabolical Nuclear Duo and the Alternative," environmental expert Dr. Ilya Perlingieri explained the connection between them, including:

-- "the unmitigated and heart-wrenching scale of these catastrophes," Helen Caldicott saying in March:

Twenty-five years later, "(f)orty per cent of Europe is still radioactive. (For) farms in Britain, their lambs are so full of cesium they can't sell them. Don't eat European food. But that's nothing compared to what's happening now," a disaster multiple times worse than Chernobyl.

-- "the devastation to all living creatures;

-- the poisoning of our entire food chain;

-- the continued cover-up by corrupt governments" and industry officials, still withholding what's likely the worst of what's now known; and

-- "the reality of how extremely dangerous nuclear energy continues to be," so much so, it should be banned, all functioning reactors decommissioned, and for sure no new ones built.

For now, however, "Fukushima's epic calamity continues to pose a major threat to the Japanese population (and) the rest of our planet."

Massive amounts of radiation keep leaking. "The magnitude of Fukushima's radiation is now off the scale," but its amount is deliberately suppressed - from up to six, not one, reactors.

On May 6, nuclear expert Arnie Gundersen called Fukushima's groundwater contamination the "worst in nuclear history" because thousands of tons of irradiated water are being dumped into the sea, a daily process because of so far uncontained reactor leaks.

As a result, Gundersen expects long-term trouble, exacerbated by groundwater moving inland. One town, he said, reported radioactive sewage sludge from groundwater and/or rain.

Worse still, potentially all six Fukushima reactors are at risk, though information about them is being carefully controlled to assure the worst of what's known is suppressed.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached Also visit his blog site at and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

Libya: Fox supports call for intensified campaign

BBC News - Libya: Fox supports call for intensified campaign

The Defence Secretary Liam Fox says he agrees with the head of the Armed Forces that Nato needs to intensify its campaign in Libya.

General Sir David Richards told the Sunday Telegraph direct attacks should be launched against the infrastructure propping up Colonel Gaddafi's regime.

He said it was necessary to prevent the Libyan dictator remaining in power.

But the UN's under-secretary general for humanitarian relief called for a temporary cessation of hostilities.

Baroness Amos, the UN's under-secretary for humanitarian relief, said there was an urgent need for an end to the conflict and she was concerned that "any upscaling" in the fighting would have a significant impact on innocent civilians.

Speaking to Radio 4's The World This Weekend, she said: "Of course there is a military imperative. Of course there is a political aspect to it. But there are others who are working on those aspects. My job is to make sure that we all remember that it is the innocent people who are suffering and that we need a political solution as quickly as we can."

The UK and other countries have been bombing Libya under a UN resolution authorising force to protect civilians.

The Security Council resolution authorises "all necessary measures" to protect civilians under threat of attack - short of an occupying force.

The views of Gen Richards, Chief of the Defence Staff, are said to be supported by other senior Nato officers.

They argue increasing the range of targets from direct threats such as tanks and command sites would be legitimate, but would require the backing of member states.

'Within rules'

Col Gaddafi's removal is not a specified military objective of the action.

But in the interview with the Telegraph, Gen Richards said it would be "within the rules" should he be killed in a strike on a command and control centre.

He said the "vice is closing on Gaddafi but we need to increase the pressure further through more intense military action".

He said: "The military campaign to date has been a significant success for Nato and our Arab allies. But we need to do more.

"If we do not up the ante now there is a risk that the conflict could result in Gaddafi clinging to power.

"At present, Nato is not attacking infrastructure targets in Libya. But if we want to increase the pressure on Gaddafi's regime then we need to give serious consideration to increasing the range of targets we can hit."

Gen Richards added there had been "hardly any civilian casualties as a result of the extreme care Nato has taken in the selection of bombing targets".

Boeing: Boeing to Begin Maintenance Work on SBX Missile Defense Radar

Boeing: Boeing to Begin Maintenance Work on SBX Missile Defense Radar

SEATTLE, May 12, 2011 -- Boeing [NYSE: BA] will begin maintenance and upgrade activities this week in Seattle for the Sea-based X-band Radar (SBX), which arrived in port on May 10, passing through Puget Sound and Elliott Bay.

SBX is an oceangoing radar that identifies, tracks, and assesses the flight characteristics of ballistic missile threats. It provides an advanced capability to the United States' overall ballistic missile defense system.

The U.S. Missile Defense Agency awarded Boeing a $27.1 million sole-source contract in April for the shipyard maintenance efforts, which are scheduled to be completed in August. Boeing has been the prime contractor for the SBX since 2003 and is responsible for all development, integration, testing and operations for the vessel platform and radar.

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Louisiana Floods Homes To Save Others

Louisiana Floods Homes To Save Others : NPR
The Army Corps of Engineers opened the Morganza spillway to protect Baton Rouge and New Orleans from flooding on Saturday. The emergency measure is diverting water from the Mississippi into communities along Louisiana's bayous that thousands call home. NPR's Greg Allen has the latest on potential flooding in and around Baton Rouge, La.

Israeli forces fire on protesters, at least 4 killed

Israeli forces fire on protesters, at least 4 killed - CBS News

MAROUN EL-RASS, Lebanon - Two Lebanese security officials say four people in Lebanon were killed when Israeli soldiers opened fire at protesters who approached the border with Israel.

The security officials said there were injuries as well. Both spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

Sunday's demonstration came as a large crowd of protesters also tried to cross into the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights from neighboring Syria.

At Gaza City, Israeli forces fired two tank shells and several rounds from machine guns as Gazans approached the heavily-fortified border with Israel on Sunday, wounding at least 15 youths, a Palestinian health official said. One of the wounded was in critical condition. The Israeli military had no immediate comment.

The unrest came as Palestinians marked the "Nakba" - Arabic for "catastrophe," the term they use to describe the uprooting they suffered at the time of Israel's founding three generations ago.

In the fighting over Israel's creation, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled their homes or were driven out. The dispute over the fate of the refugees and their descendants, now numbering several million people, remains a key issue in the Mideast conflict.

Websites had urged Palestinians and their supporters in neighboring countries to march on the border with Israel as part of nakba activities. Security officials tried to block such moves for fear of violence.

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