Posts Tagged ‘United States’

Local Injuns Ordered to Stay Away From Thanksgiving Festivities

December 4, 2010 Leave a comment

Local Holiday Action Alert

Angry Arrested Indian - Freehold, Iowa CountyFreehold, Iowa – Each year local savages in our God-fearing community insist on playing a role in our historical retelling of the true story of Thanksgiving at Landover Baptist Church. Each year, by the grace of God, they are turned down, told to back away, and arrested, if need be. “Before anyone starts in,” Pastor Deacon Fred tells the media,  “Let’s make it clear that that we hold no hatred toward the Injun people, even though they committed hate crimes against the wonderful Christian folks who founded our country.  As decent Christians, we love them dearly, convenience permitting.

Quite frankly, it is Injun sin that we hate. We hate alcohol, drug use, foul language, loitering, cheating, stealing, lying, gambling, horseplay, lewd attire, the flinging of feces, misuse of leather goods, jewelry on men, and and long hair on men who don’t kill themselves for our sins. If we were to let Injuns into our festivities, and onto our properties, it would be like welcoming the Devil into Heaven.  It is nothing against the Injun people. It is against who they are and what they promote as a people. Our Godly church will not taint our respectable Christian image with such an obvious and abhorrent association. Praise the sweet and living name of our precious savior, Jesus Christ! Amen!”

Downtown Freehold and areas near the Landover Baptist Church are Iowa state and private Baptist properties. Injuns have crawled out of their trailers and casinos, high on dope, and drunk on moonshine. They stay drunk all year and sober up for one day, Thanksgiving, and assume lily-white Christian folks will have pity on their wretched souls, and roll out the red carpet. They lay on our streets and sidewalks in protest. They lobby for a demonic presence at our local Thanksgiving Play, they insist on being invited, even though they are unsaved, like their Satan-worshipping ancestors.

“Landover Baptist’s Two Tons of Turkey and Trimmings Feast on the Lawn is a Godly event, for God’s people,” says Pastor Deacon Fred. “And these Injuns spread their germs and venomous lies to corrupt the minds of local youth.

The Gates of Landover BaptistPastor Deacon Fred presented this question to the town council recently, “Why would we want the descendants of a people who murdered the Godly Christian Pilgrims who came in peace to this country to have an equal seat at our table?”

In Freehold Iowa, each member of the town council is a saved, Bible Believing, God Fearing, sin hating, member of Landover Baptist Church. All citizens of Freehold Iowa, are members of Landover Baptist, except Marshall Denton, and Peggy Talbert, who have been locked up in county jail since 1963. Pastor noted, “American Indians are nothing more than ‘crooners,’ they are greedy gamblers, drunkards with a taste for Christian blood!

If we let them attend our Thanksgiving Day ceremonies and festivities, you mark my words! Our women will be raped, our men killed, our children kidnapped, and our churches and Christian homes burned—just as they did when our ancestors came to take this great land for God, over 361 years ago. Watch your scalp around these heathens!”

Two thousand drunk Injuns from the Satan worshipping Sioux, Apache, and Keekabul tribes, litter the streets of Downtown Freehold, Iowa and camp outside the main gates of Landover Baptist’s Corporate Church Headquarters. They mock and spit upon the faces of Godly Christians as they pass by, sometimes hacking up their rancid phlegm and cursing at churchgoers in a drunken rage!

“The Injuns are trying to conjure up their red-skinned master, Satan!” Says town sheriff, Alvin Hinkleworth.  “Their grimacing red faces frighten children and the elderly!” He says. “When it all comes down to it though, Injuns are always trying to put on a show to get a handout.  They will never be satisfied that the White Man who, with God’s grace, overpowered them, took pity on them and gave them a piece of the land we rightfully won by our own strength and the Lord’s own words.”

Landover Baptist Church and all surrounding Christian communities refuse to budge on persecution!  “Every November we go through the same thing with these drunken fools!” Says Pastor Deacon Fred. “I will say it again as I’ve said it countless times in the past! There will not be an Injun presence at our Baptist Thanksgiving Pilgrim Play, nor will there be any Injun costumes or dress worn by anyone.

“We are going to celebrate Thanksgiving the right way, God’s way!” We are going to celebrate this sacred day in the only way which is pleasing unto Jesus Christ and His followers! The demonic presence of those who killed our precious ancestors, is out of the question – in fact, it is absolutely ridiculous to anyone with an ounce of dignity and common sense!

These Injuns, or “Natives,” as they demand to be called, work to overthrow the Godly American system our forefathers set up  in this great land. They are trying to put Satan back into control, and we ain’t gonna let ‘em. I got one word for them Natives—Manifest Destiny!  Praise the sweet and precious name of the Lord, Jesus Christ!  Glory! Glory to God!

 Submitted by Luc Majno


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New Study Questions Safety of Proposed Biodefense Laboratory (My Comment. If you build 34 new labs with a 70% chance or release at any one lab then the is a lot higher than 70%)

November 26, 2010 Leave a comment


This November 16 article should have stated that a calculation that there is a nearly 70 percent chance a pathogen could escape the planned Bio and Agro-Defense Facility in Kansas was made by a National Research Council panel based on data from a U.S. Homeland Security Department risk assessment. The NRC panel also estimated economic losses of between $9 billion and $50 billion from a postulated foot-and-mouth disease outbreak.

WASHINGTON — An expert panel said yesterday the U.S. Homeland Security Department has not adequately gauged the potential risks associated with a proposed multimillion-dollar infectious-disease research laboratory in Kansas (see GSN, May 20 ).

There are “several major shortcomings” in a department risk assessment of its planned National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility near Manhattan, Kansas, according to a report by the National Research Council, an arm of the National Academy of Sciences. The proposed site is roughly 120 miles west of Kansas City.

The facility’s construction is expected to cost between $500 million and $700 million. The 520,000-square-foot center, slated to begin construction in 2012, would study highly infectious animal-borne pathogens, some of which could pose a threat to humans. It would replace the Plum Island Disease Center located near Long Island, New York, which was established in 1937.

The new site would also be the world’s third Biosafety-Level 4 Pathogen laboratory to work with large animals. The other two such facilities are in Australia and Canada.

The council calculated that based on estimates in the DHS assessment, which wrapped up in June, that there is a nearly 70 percent chance a disease would escape the laboratory during its planned 50-year operational lifespan. The DHS report estimated the economic losses from a postulated foot-and-mouth disease outbreak at $9 billion to $50 billion.

However, yesterday’s 146-page NRC analysis states that the actual amount could be “significantly higher” because the department’s assessment did not consider the dangers associated with daily upkeep of large animal holding rooms.

The earlier evaluation was also criticized for inadequately accounting for the planned facility’s proximity to Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine clinics, where large numbers of sick animals are treated, as well as the university’s football stadium, which has a capacity over 55,000. The large animal and human populations at those sites would be potentially susceptible to infections with a zoonotic agent, the report states. About 9.5 percent of the entire U.S. cattle inventory is raised within 200 miles of the Manhattan site.

The DHS assessment also did not account for the lack of adequate medical care in the surrounding area to deal with a potential disease outbreak, the analysis states. There is one medical center nearby and it lacks the resources to handle such an event, according to the report.

“Building a facility that is capable of large animal work on a scale greater than other high-containment laboratories presents new and unknown risks that could not be accounted for in the DHS risk assessment because of a lack of data and experience,” Ronald Atlas, who chaired the research council committee, said yesterday during a telephone press conference.

“The risk assessment should be viewed as a starting point, and given more time, it could have progressed further. As more information emerges, an updated analysis could be appropriate,” said Atlas, co-director of the Center for Health Preparedness at the University of Louisville in Kentucky.

Despite its critique, the newly minted report does not question the basic requirement for such a research center.

“There is a need for a facility like the NBAF to be constructed and operated in the United States,” it states.

In July the Government Accountability Office released a report that said the Homeland Security Department had used “inadequate” site information in its NBAF selection process and labeled the decision to place the new facility in a natural disaster-prone state as “scientifically indefensible.”

Federal auditors noted that the facility would be located in the heart of “tornado alley,” a region of the country prone to tornadoes.

Based on those concerns, Congress instructed the department to complete a site-specific “biosafety and biosecurity risk assessment” of the proposed laboratory before construction funds would be obligated. Lawmakers also directed the National Research Council to conduct an independent evaluation of that study to determine its adequacy and validity.

Atlas stressed that the council evaluated the project’s overall safety, not whether its location is appropriate, though the panel did take the location’s risk into account during its review.

The committee made no recommendations about whether or how the project should proceed, though individual panelists yesterday offered some suggestions about how the group’s concerns could be addressed.

While many of the general conclusions reached by the Homeland Security Department’s risk assessment were valid, the evaluation did not fully account for how the site’s BSL-3 agriculture laboratory and BSL-4 pathogen laboratory would operate; how pathogens might be released; and which animal populations might be exposed, according to Atlas.

Overall the NRC committee concluded that the government analysis lacked a “comprehensive” mitigation strategy, including an early-release detection system, for addressing major issues related to a pathogen release, he said.

The development of a contingency plan would have to be drawn up to address that concern, James Roth, a committee member and professor at the Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine, told reporters.

The research council and Homeland Security agree that local and regional training for rapid responses to potential outbreaks would have to be increased, he added.

DHS spokesman Chris Ortman said the council’s 70 percent calculation for a potential disease outbreak “was based on a notional facility and did not account for any of the recommended mitigation measures that DHS has committed to incorporating into the final design.”

The department “will not build or operate the NBAF unless it can be done in a safe manner,” he added.

Local and federal proponents of the estimated $650 million dollar project were quick to criticize the 12-member panel’s findings.

The research council committee ignored standard mitigation techniques and safety redundancies incorporated into all research facilities, Ron Trewyn, vice president of research at Kansas State University, and Tom Thornton, president of the Kansas Bioscience Authority, said yesterday in a statement.

“This troubling approach is not only misleading and without precedent, it exaggerates risk to an extreme, nonsensical level that would call into question the entire American biocontainment research enterprise, including at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” Trewyn said.

Meanwhile, the Sunflower State’s entire six-member congressional delegation issued a joint statement saying that construction of the facility “must move forward.”

The NRC study “is helpful to DHS as it continues in its design phase of the NBAF facility,” said the lawmakers, five Republicans and one Democrat. “However, we are concerned that some of the findings do not seem to account for mitigation and safety plans that DHS has already said would be put in place. These efforts should not be discounted.”

“We are confident this facility will be the safest research laboratory in the world and its mission is critical in order to protect our nation’s food supply,” the statement adds.

However, Representative Timothy Bishop (D-N.Y.), whose district includes Plum Island — home to the Plum Island Animal Disease Center — voiced concerns about the safety and ultimate cost of the Kansas site.

“The National Research Council report confirms that DHS has not properly accounted for the significant risk that a dangerous animal pathogen could escape from NBAF into the heart of cattle country, with devastating consequences,” Bishop said today in a statement to Global Security Newswire. “DHS also has not properly accounted for the cost of the facility, which is spiraling towards a billion dollars.”

Congress budgeted $32 million last year for work on the facility. The majority of that funding is to go toward design and planning. President Obama’s fiscal 2011 budget proposal called for another $40 million for the proposed laboratory.

Atlas yesterday declined to say whether Congress should now release funds intended for the biodefense center, saying lawmakers should reach their own conclusions from the research council’s study.

He and other committee members also said their analysis made no judgment on what amount of risk pertaining to the facility would be acceptable.

“We did recognize that there’s a risk to not having a facility like this,” Roth told reporters. “There’s no zero risk. It will never be zero risk for building it and it’s also not zero risk for not building it.”

Submitted by dan fey


Obama to honor Buffett with medal of freedom

November 26, 2010 Leave a comment


WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — President Barack Obama will honor billionaire investor Warren Buffett with the presidential medal of freedom, the White House announced Wednesday. Buffett, who runs Berkshire Hathaway Inc. /quotes/comstock/13*!brk.b/quotes/nls/brk.b (BRK.B 79.53, -0.38, -0.48%) , will be one of 15 people to be awarded the medal, which is the country’s highest civilian honor. It is given to people who have made “especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors,” according to the White House.

Buffett is a longtime supporter of Obama’s. Buffett wrote an op-ed in the New York Times on Wednesday thanking the government for intervening in the financial crisis.

My Comment:

The country’s highest civilian honor is being given to a man who launders money for the Mexican drug cartels. That 28,000 Mexicans have been killed by the drug cartels is of no concern to either Obama or Buffett.

How to Schedule a War: The Incredible Shrinking Withdrawal Date

November 26, 2010 Leave a comment

By Tom Engelhardt,

Going, going, gone! You can almost hear the announcer’s voice throbbing with excitement, only we’re not talking about home runs here, but about the disappearing date on which, for the United States and its military, the Afghan War will officially end.

Practically speaking, the answer to when it will be over is: just this side of never. If you take the word of our Afghan War commander, the secretary of defense, and top officials of the Obama administration and NATO, we’re not leaving any time soon. As with any clever time traveler, every date that’s set always contains a verbal escape hatch into the future.

In my 1950s childhood, there was a cheesy (if thrilling) sci-fi flick, The Incredible Shrinking Man, about a fellow who passed through a radioactive cloud in the Pacific Ocean and soon noticed that his suits were too big for him. Next thing you knew, he was living in a doll house, holding off his pet cat, and fighting an ordinary spider transformed into a monster. Finally, he disappeared entirely leaving behind only a sonorous voice to tell us that he had entered a universe where “the unbelievably small and the unbelievably vast eventually meet, like the closing of a gigantic circle.”

In recent weeks, without a radioactive cloud in sight, the date for serious drawdowns of American troops in Afghanistan has followed a similar path toward the vanishing point and is now threatening to disappear “over the horizon” (a place where, we are regularly told, American troops will lurk once they have finally handed their duties over to the Afghan forces they are training).

If you remember, back in December 2009 President Obama spoke of July 2011 as a firm date to “begin the transfer of our forces out of Afghanistan,” the moment assumedly when the beginning of the end of the war would come into sight. In July of this year, Afghan President Hamid Karzai spoke of 2014 as the date when Afghan security forces “will be responsible for all military and law enforcement operations throughout our country.”

Administration officials, anxious about the effect that 2011 date was having on an American public grown weary of an unpopular war and on an enemy waiting for us to depart, grabbed Karzai’s date and ran with it (leaving many of his caveats about the war the Americans were fighting, particularly his desire to reduce the American presence, in the dust). Now, 2014 is hyped as the new 2011.

It has, in fact, been widely reported that Obama officials have been working in concert to “play down” the president’s 2011 date, while refocusing attention on 2014. In recent weeks, top administration officials have been little short of voluble on the subject. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates (“We’re not getting out. We’re talking about probably a years-long process.”), Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Admiral Mike Mullen, attending a security conference in Australia, all “cited 2014… as the key date for handing over the defense of Afghanistan to the Afghans themselves.” The New York Times headlined its report on the suddenly prominent change in timing this way: “U.S. Tweaks Message on Troops in Afghanistan.”

Quite a tweak. Added Times reporter Elisabeth Bumiller: “The message shift is effectively a victory for the military, which has long said the July 2011 deadline undermined its mission by making Afghans reluctant to work with troops perceived to be leaving shortly.”

Inflection Points and Aspirational Goals

Barely had 2014 risen into the headlines, however, before that date, too, began to be chipped away. As a start, it turned out that American planners weren’t talking about just any old day in 2014, but its last one. As Lieutenant General William Caldwell, head of the NATO training program for Afghan security forces, put it while holding a Q&A with a group of bloggers, “They’re talking about December 31st, 2014. It’s the end of December in 2014… that [Afghan] President Karzai has said they want Afghan security forces in the lead.”

Nor, officials rushed to say, was anyone talking about 2014 as a date for all American troops to head for the exits, just “combat troops” — and maybe not even all of them. Possibly tens of thousands of trainers and other so-called non-combat forces would stay on to help with the “transition process.” This follows the Iraq pattern where 50,000 American troops remain after the departure of U.S. “combat” forces to great media fanfare. Richard Holbrooke, Obama’s Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, was typical in calling for “the substantial combat forces [to] be phased out at the end of 2014, four years from now.” (Note the usual verbal escape hatch, in this case “substantial,” lurking in his statement.)

Last Saturday, behind “closed doors” at a NATO summit in Lisbon, Portugal, Afghan War commander General David Petraeus presented European leaders with a “phased four-year plan” to “wind down American and allied fighting in Afghanistan.” Not surprisingly, it had the end of 2014 in its sights and the president quickly confirmed that “transition” date, even while opening plenty of post-2014 wiggle room. By then, as he described it,our footprint” would only be “significantly reduced.” (He also claimed that, post-2014, the U.S. would be maintaining a “counterterrorism capability” in Afghanistan — and Iraq — for which “platforms to… execute… counterterrorism operations,” assumedly bases, would be needed.)

Meanwhile, unnamed “senior U.S. officials” in Lisbon were clearly buttonholing reporters to “cast doubt on whether the United States, the dominant power in the 28-nation alliance, would end its own combat mission before 2015.” As always, the usual qualifying phrases were profusely in evidence.

Throughout these weeks, the “tweaking” — that is, the further chipping away at 2014 as a hard and fast date for anything — only continued. Mark Sedwill, NATO’s civilian counterpart to U.S. commander General David Petraeus, insisted that 2014 was nothing more than “an inflection point” in an ever more drawn-out drawdown process. That process, he insisted, would likely extend to “2015 and beyond,” which, of course, put 2016 officially into play. And keep in mind that this is only for combat troops, not those assigned to “train and support” or keep “a strategic over watch” on Afghan forces.

On the eve of NATO’s Lisbon meeting, Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell, waxing near poetic, declared 2014 nothing more than an “aspirational goal,” rather than an actual deadline. As the conference began, NATO’s Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen insisted that the alliance would be committed in Afghanistan “as long as it takes.” And new British Chief of the Defense Staff General Sir David Richards suggested that, given the difficulty of ever defeating the Taliban (or al-Qaeda) militarily, NATO should be preparing plans to maintain a role for its troops for the next 30 to 40 years.

War Extender

Here, then, is a brief history of American time in Afghanistan. After all, this isn’t our first Afghan War, but our second. The first, the CIA’s anti-Soviet jihad (in which the Agency funded a number of the fundamentalist extremists we’re now fighting in the second), lasted a decade, from 1980 until 1989 when the Soviets withdrew in defeat.

In October 2001, in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, the Bush administration launched America’s second Afghan War, taking Kabul that November as the Taliban dissolved. The power of the American military to achieve quick and total victory seemed undeniable, even after Osama bin Laden slipped out of Tora Bora that December and escaped into Pakistan’s tribal borderlands.

However, it evidently never crossed the minds of President Bush’s top officials to simply declare victory and get out. Instead, as the U.S. would do in Iraq after the invasion of 2003, the Pentagon started building a new infrastructure of military bases (in this case, on the ruins of the old Soviet base infrastructure). At the same time, the former Cold Warriors in Washington let their dreams about pushing the former commies of the former Soviet Union out of the former soviet socialist republics of Central Asia, places where, everyone knew, you could just about swim in black gold and run geopolitically wild.

Then, when the invasion of Iraq was launched in March 2003, Afghanistan, still a “war” (if barely) was forgotten, while the Taliban returned to the field, built up their strength, and launched an insurgency that has only gained momentum to this moment. In 2008, before leaving office, George W. Bush bumped his favorite general, Iraq surge commander Petraeus, upstairs to become the head of the Central Command which oversees America’s war zones in the Greater Middle East, including Afghanistan.

Already the guru of counterinsurgency (known familiarly as COIN), Petraeus had, in 2006, overseen the production of the military’s new war-fighting bible, a how-to manual dusted off from the Vietnam era’s failed version of COIN and made new and magical again. In June 2010, eight and a half years into our Second Afghan War, at President Obama’s request, Petraeus took over as Afghan War commander. It was clear then that time was short — with an administration review of Afghan war strategy coming up at year’s end and results needed quickly. The American war was also in terrible shape.

In the new COIN-ish U.S. Army, however, it is a dogma of almost biblical faith that counterinsurgencies don’t produce quick results; that, to be successful, they must be pursued for years on end. As Petraeus put it back in 2007 when talking about Iraq, “[T]ypically, I think historically, counterinsurgency operations have gone at least nine or 10 years.” Recently, in an interview with Martha Raddatz of ABC News, he made a nod toward exactly the same timeframe for Afghanistan, one accepted as bedrock knowledge in the world of the COINistas.

What this meant was that, whether as CENTCOM commander or Afghan War commander, Petraeus was looking for two potentially contradictory results at the same time. Somehow, he needed to wrest those nine to 10 years of war-fighting from a president looking for a tighter schedule and, in a war going terribly sour, he needed almost instant evidence of “progress” that would fit the president’s coming December “review” of the war and might pacify unhappy publics in the U.S. and Europe.

Now let’s do the math. At the moment, depending on how you care to count, we are in the 10th year of our second Afghan War or the 20th year of war interruptus. Since June 2009, Petraeus and various helpers have stretched the schedule to 2014 for (most) American combat troops and at least 2015 or 2016 for the rest. If you were to start counting from the president’s December surge address, that’s potentially seven more years. In other words, we’re now talking about either a 15-year war or an on-and-off again quarter-century one. All evidence shows that the Pentagon’s war planners would like to extend those already vague dates even further into the future.

On Ticking Clocks in Washington and Kabul

Up to now, only one of General Petraeus’s two campaigns has been under discussion here: the other one, fought out these last years not in Afghanistan, but in Washington and NATO capitals, over how to schedule a war. Think of it as the war for a free hand in determining how long the Afghan War is to be fought.

It has been run from General Petraeus’s headquarters in Kabul, the giant five-sided military headquarters on the Potomac presided over by Secretary of Defense Gates, and various think-tanks filled with America’s militarized intelligentsia scattered around Washington — and it has proven a classically successful “clear, hold, build” counterinsurgency operation. Pacification in Washington and a number of European capitals has occurred with remarkably few casualties. (Former Afghan war commander General Stanley McChrystal, axed by the president for insubordination, has been the exception, not the rule.)

Slowly but decisively, Petraeus and company constricted President Obama’s war-planning choices to two options: more and yet more. In late 2009, the president agreed to that second surge of troops (the first had been announced that March), not to speak of CIA agents, drones, private contractors, and State Department and other civilian government employees. In his December “surge” address at West Point (for the nation but visibly to the military), Obama had the temerity as commander-in-chief to name a specific, soon-to-arrive date — July 2011 — for beginning a serious troop drawdown. It was then that the COIN campaign in Washington ramped up into high gear with the goal of driving the prospective end of the war back by years.

It took bare hours after the president’s address for administration officials to begin leaking to media sources that his drawdown would be “conditions based” — a phrase guaranteed to suck the meaning out of any deadline. (The president had indeed acknowledged in his address that his administration would take into account “conditions on the ground.”) Soon, the Secretary of Defense and others took to the airwaves in a months-long campaign emphasizing that drawdown in Afghanistan didn’t really mean drawdown, that leaving by no means meant leaving, and that the future was endlessly open to interpretation.

With the ratification in Lisbon of that 2014 date “and beyond,” the political clocks — an image General Petraeus loves — in Washington, European capitals, and American Kabul are now ticking more or less in unison.

Two other “clocks” are, however, ticking more like bombs. If counterinsurgency is a hearts and minds campaign, then the other target of General Petraeus’s first COIN campaign has been the restive hearts and minds of the American and European publics. Last year a Dutch government fell over popular opposition to Afghanistan and, even as NATO met last weekend, thousands of antiwar protestors marched in London and Lisbon. Europeans generally want out and their governments know it, but (as has been true since 1945) the continent’s leaders have no idea how to say “no” to Washington. In the U.S., too, the Afghan war grows ever more unpopular, and while it was forgotten during the election season, no politician should count on that phenomenon lasting forever.

And then, of course, there’s the literal ticking bomb, the actual war in Afghanistan. In that campaign, despite a drumbeat of American/NATO publicity about “progress,” the news has been grim indeed. American and NATO casualties have been higher this year than at any other moment in the war; the Taliban seems if anything more entrenched in more parts of the country; the Afghan public, ever more puzzled and less happy with foreign troops and contractors traipsing across the land; and Hamid Karzai, the president of the country, sensing a situation gone truly sour, has been regularly challenging the way General Petraeus is fighting the war in his country. (The nerve!)

No less unsettling, General Petraeus himself has seemed unnerved. He was declared “irked” by Karzai’s comments and was said to have warned Afghan officials that their president’s criticism might be making his “own position ‘untenable,’” which was taken as a resignation threat. Meanwhile, the COIN-meister was in the process of imposing a new battle plan on Afghanistan that leaves counterinsurgency (at least as usually described) in a roadside ditch. No more is the byword “protect the people,” or “clear, hold, build”; now, it’s smash, kill, destroy. The war commander has loosed American firepower in a major way in the Taliban strongholds of southern Afghanistan.

Early this year, then-commander McChrystal had significantly cut back on U.S. air strikes as a COIN-ish measure meant to lessen civilian casualties. No longer. In a striking reversal, air power has been called in — and in a big way. In October, U.S. planes launched missiles or bombs on 1,000 separate Afghan missions, numbers seldom seen since the 2001 invasion. The Army has similarly loosed its massively powerful High Mobility Artillery Rocket System in the area around the southern city of Kandahar. Civilian deaths are rising rapidly. Dreaded Special Operations night raids on Afghan homes by “capture/kill” teams have tripled with 1,572 such operations over the last three months. (These are the tactics on which Karzai recently challenged Petraeus.) With them, the body count has also arrived. American officials are eagerly boasting to reporters about their numerical efficiency in taking out mid-level Taliban leaders (“…368 insurgent leaders killed or captured, and 968 lower-level insurgents killed and 2,477 captured, according to NATO statistics”).

In the districts around Kandahar, a newly reported American tactic is simply to raze individual houses or even whole villages believed to be booby-trapped by the Taliban, as well as tree lines “where insurgents could hide.” American troops have also been “blow[ing] up outbuildings, flatten[ing] agricultural walls, and carv[ing] new ‘military roads,’ because existing ones are so heavily mined… right through farms and compounds.” And now, reports Rajiv Chandrasekaran of the Washington Post, the Marines are also sending the first contingent of M1 Abrams tanks (with a “main gun that can destroy a house more than a mile away”) into the south. Such tanks, previously held back for fear of reminding Afghans of their Russian occupiers, are, according to an unnamed U.S. officer he quotes, bringing “awe, shock, and firepower” to the south.

None of this, of course, has anything to do with winning hearts and minds, just obliterating them. Not surprisingly, such tactics also generate villagers fleeing embattled farmlands often for “squalid” refugee camps in overcrowded cities.

Flip of the COIN

Suddenly, this war for which General Petraeus has won his counterinsurgency warriors at least a four- to-six-year reprieve is being fought as if there were no tomorrow. Here, for instance, is a brief description from a British Guardian reporter in Kandahar of what the night part of the war now feels like from a distance:

“After the sun sets, the air becomes noisy with US jets dropping bombs that bleach the dark out of the sky in their sudden eruptions; with the ripping sound of the mini-guns of the Kiowa helicopter gunships and A-10 Warthogs hunting in the nearby desert. The night is also lit up by brilliant flares that fall as slow as floating snowflakes, a visible sign of the commando raids into the villages beyond. It is a conflict heard, but not often witnessed.”

None of this qualifies as “counterinsurgency,” at least as described by the general and his followers. It does, however, resemble where counterinsurgencies have usually headed — directly into the charnel house of history.

Chandrasekaran quotes a civilian adviser to the NATO command in Kabul this way: “Because Petraeus is the author of the COIN [counterinsurgency] manual, he can do whatever he wants. He can manage the optics better than McChrystal could. If he wants to turn it up to 11, he feels he has the moral authority to do it.”

We have no access to the mind of David Petraeus. We don’t know just why he is bringing in the big guns or suddenly fighting his war as if there were no tomorrow. We don’t know whether he fears the loss of the backing of an American president or the American people or even the U.S. military itself, whether he despairs of President Karzai or the Taliban, or the whole mission, or whether he has launched his version of a blitz in the most hopeful of moods. We don’t know whether he sees the contradiction in any of this, though no one, the general included, should be surprised when, for all the talk of rational planning and strategy, the irrationality of war — the mass killing of other human beings — grabs us by the throat and shakes us for all we’re worth.

Petraeus has flipped a COIN and taken a gamble. However it turns out for him, one thing is certain: Afghans will once again pay with their homes, farms, livelihoods, and lives, while Americans, Europeans, and Canadians will pay with lives and treasure invested in a war that couldn’t be more bizarre, a war with no end in sight. If this goes on to 2014 “and beyond,” heaven help us.

Tom Engelhardt, editor of, is co-founder of the American Empire Project and author of The American Way of War: How Bush’s Wars Became Obama’s.
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Attack on Michelle Obama shows Palin’s ignorance of history

November 25, 2010 Leave a comment

Michelle Obama, official White House portrait.

Michelle Obama, official White House portrait.

By Richard Cohen

When I was 11, my father thought it was time to show my sister and me the nation’s capital. I have only vague memories of that trip – the heat, the expanse of the White House‘s grounds, the Jefferson Memorial. I do remember we took Route 1 through Baltimore (no I-95 yet) and it was there that I saw my first sign with the word “colored” on it – a rooming house, I think. This was 1952, and the United States was an apartheid nation.

It is Sarah Palin who brings back these memories. In her new book, she reportedly takes Michelle Obama to task for her supposedly infamous remark from the 2008 campaign: “For the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country because it feels like hope is finally making a comeback.” Instantly, Republicans pounced. Among the first to do so was Cindy McCain, who said, “I have and always will be proud of my country.” It was a cheap shot, but her husband’s selection of Palin for the ticket and plenty of cheap shots from Palin (“death panels,” etc.) were yet to come.

Michelle Obama quickly explained herself. She was proud of the turnout in the primaries – so many young people, etc. Evan Thomas, writing perceptively in Newsweek, thought – as I did – that she was saying something else. He dug into her senior thesis at Princeton – “Princeton-Educated Blacks and the Black Community” – to find a young woman who felt, or was made to feel, “more aware of my ‘blackness’ than ever before.” This was not a statement of racism. This was a statement of fact.

It’s appalling that Palin and too many others fail to understand that fact – indeed so many facts of American history. They don’t offer the slightest hint that they can appreciate the history of the Obama family and that in Michelle’s case, her ancestors were slaves – Jim Robinson of South Carolina, her paternal great-great grandfather, being one. Even after they were freed they were consigned to peonage, second-class citizens, forbidden to vote in much of the South, dissuaded from doing so in some of the North, relegated to separate schools, restaurants, churches, hotels, waiting rooms of train stations, the back of the bus, the other side of the tracks, the mortuary, the cemetery and, if whites could manage it, heaven itself.

It was the government that oppressed blacks, enforcing the laws that imprisoned them and hanged them for crimes grave and trivial, whipped them if they bolted for freedom and, in the Civil War, massacred them if they were captured fighting for the North. And yet if African Americans hesitate in embracing the mythical wonderfulness of America, they are accused of racism – of having the gall to know more about their own experience and history than Palin and others think they should.

Why do politicians such as Palin and commentators such as Glenn Beck insist that African Americans go blank on their own history – as blank as apparently Palin and Beck are themselves? Why must they insist that blacks join them in embracing a repellent history that once caused America to go to war with itself? Besides Princeton, Michelle Obama is a graduate of Harvard Law School. It’s hardly possible that she is not knowledgeable about the history of African Americans – no Ellis Island for them, immigrants in their colorful native dress waving at the camera. Should she forget it all simply because she went to Ivy League schools – be thankful for what she had gotten and the hell with the rest? Why should she be more grateful than Cindy McCain?

Sarah Palin teases that she might run for president. But she is unqualified – not just in the (let me count the) usual ways, but because she does not know the country. She could not be the president of black America nor of Hispanic America. She knows more about grizzlies than she does about African Americans – and she clearly has more interest in the former than the latter. Did she once just pick up the phone and ask Michelle Obama what she meant by her remark? Did she ask about her background? What it was like at Princeton? What it was like for her parents or her grandparents? I can offer a hint. If they were driving to Washington, they slowed down and stopped where the sign said “colored” – and the irritated Palins of the time angrily hit the horn and went on their way.


Homeland Security will tell you how to run your network

November 25, 2010 Leave a comment

Seal of the United States Department of Homela...

Seal of the United States Department of Homeland Security.

Policing standards

The Land of the Free, which revolted against a penny a year tax which was designed to pay for its defence, is ordering companies to turn over control of their networks to a government department.

New laws are being drafted up which will give the Department of Homeland Security some amount of regulatory control over private networks

“The Homeland Security Cyber and Physical Infrastructure Protection Act of 2010,” will empower DHS to set cybersecurity standards for some private networks that are considered critical infrastructure.

It will create a Cybersecurity Compliance Division which will pop around and see if network managers are doing what the spooks say they should.

The DHS will have to work with network operators, to develop tailored security plans that meet risk-based, performance-based standards.

However the DHS will have to share threat intelligence and protect proprietary information.

Part of the problem in the US has been that the local utility companies have monopolies and  thought that they could afford to skimp on security.

But the law could also apply to whichever company’s security is considered important to the defence of the US.

For example banks, Wall Street and Walt-Disney might come under Homeland Security’s powers.

The belief that a government department could tell Wall Street about security is a bit of a joke, but too much law based on terror fears often bring out dafter ideas.

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Corporate Profits Were the Highest on Record Last Quarter

November 25, 2010 1 comment


The New York Times

The nation’s workers may be struggling, but American companies just had their best quarter ever.

American businesses earned profits at an annual rate of $1.659 trillion in the third quarter, according to a Commerce Department report released Tuesday. That is the highest figure recorded since the government began keeping track over 60 years ago, at least in nominal or noninflation-adjusted terms.

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