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The Bush-Obama Doctrine: A 12-Step Program for Seizing Control

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Patting Ourselves on the Back

Shortly before Christmas, President Obama called Yemen President, Ali Abdullah Saleh, to congratulate his success in their recent air strikes.  On the surface, this would seem odd, since Obama was the one who ordered the deployment of the U.S. missiles and drones that successfully blew apart upwards of 80 to 100 human beings, many of them collateral damage, as they’re called  — the innocent men, women and children who were killed during the pre-Christmas blitzes. Odder, still, are the mixed messages that came from the White House in the wake of the air strikes. In one breath, we were told that President Obama ordered the  bombings (which is, yes, every bit as odd as if some foreign president were to order air strikes on U.S citizens to retaliate for our leaders’ terrorist acts). In the next breath, we were told that America could neither confirm nor deny a U.S. role in the air strikes. “We are not going to get into any details at this point,” one US official said.

Odd.

But if you consider the source for a moment, it begins to make better sense.

The Strange Case of Doctor Obama and Mr. Bush

There are two Americas, you see. One is the idealized America. This is the America that created the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights; the America that finally found the gumption, even if it was an act of self-preservation, to put an end to slavery. This is the America that initiated the New Deal during the Great Depression; the America that — 45 years ago this week — waged a War on Poverty and created programs such as Medicare and Head Start and, for a while, made progress in dismantling the cycle of illiteracy, poverty and oppression; the America that passed the Voting Rights and Civil Rights Acts; the America that created national parks and has at times, despite opposition, persevered to protect the environment. This is the America that drafts historic documents professing our aspirations to the democratic ideal that all men are created equal, endowed with certain unalienable Rights, among these life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. This is the America that voters overwhelming voted for in the fall of 2008.

The other America, our alter ego, is not quite the stuff of lofty, historic documents but, instead, weaves history from the shadows. Our alter ego is, for lack of a better word, the real America. This is the America that was secreted to North American shores with the Puritans and unleashed onto the Salem witch hunts; the America that justified the industry of kidnapping and selling human beings into slavery; this is the America that turned a blind eye to the Red Shirts and to Jim Crow law; this is the America that stonewalled anti-lynching laws; the America that violently fought to preserve slavery then, 100 years later, violently fought to preserve segregation; this is the America that replaced slave code with black code with Jim Crow with racial code; the America that dismantled Johnson’s War on Poverty and told us that greed and ostentatiousness were sterling qualities, if not inalienable Rights. This is the America that touts the values of democracy, then overthrows democratically elected leaders so that we may install corrupt dictators of our choosing; the America that sleeps in the shadows with Pol Pot, Pinochet, Rios Mont,  Noriega, Sadaam Hussein and Osama bin Laden; the America that simultaneously demonizes, yet arms, trains and funds war criminals from Israel to Afghanistan and Colombia; the America that trades arms, drugs and money to bankroll our crimes against humanity, then pretends under oath to not recall these deeds.

On special occasions, our alter ego parades its idealized twin, vociferously waving flags and extolling the virtues of our Constitution, our Bill of Rights, our Declaration of Independence, while secretly loathing and warring against both the spirit and letter of the law contained within these documents.

When politicians such as Michelle Bachmann and Sarah Palin talk about the “real America,” this is the one to which they are referring — our alter ego — the America of Westwood Pegler, Joseph McCarthy, Lee Atwater and Karl Rove; the secret America of Richard Nixon, Oliver North, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, George Bush Jr. and Sr. This is the America that believes that the ends (money, oil, gas, gold, diamonds, titanium, etc.) justify the means (death squads, torture, extraordinary rendition, buying corrupt leaders, dealing in drugs, funding and arming terrorists, genocide, covert wars, and bending & breaking the spirit and the letter of the law). This is the America of Dick Cheney. Turns out, this is also — much to the dismay of the American voters — the America of Barack Obama.

Given the source, then, Obama’s congratulatory call to Yemen President is not really so odd. The mixed messages coming from the White House are understandable, given the inherent difficulty of keeping the facts straight on those occasions when necessity summons our alter from the shadows to perform front and center on the world stage. Americans will surely forgive Obama, too, for his lack of recall on who actually ordered the bombings. After all, we are engaged in a (call it what you will) war on terror, which means anything goes.

Bonfire of the Panties

According to the official version of the story, our best intelligence tells us that there are “credible threats” being waged against our interests in Yemen. As proof, we need look no further than the outrage being expressed by the Yemen people over the bombings, followed in quick succession by the underpants bomber. The official version, however, has neatly ignored three other facts that have been alleged to be part of the story: (1) that a well-dressed Indian man tried to assist the underpants bomber to board the plane without a passport in Amsterdam, (2) that one, possibly two men videotaped the flight from Amsterdam to Detroit, and (3) that a second man from this same flight was arrested at the airport after being fingered by bomb-sniffing dogs, while waiting in the room with the other passengers who had been sequestered for questioning in Detroit.

Regardless of the facts, it is clear to anyone watching the news or listening to our president that Yemen is — as accused — a hotbed of al Qaeda danger, intent on attacking American “interests” in the area.

What has not been made clear is the exact nature of our “interests” in the area. Sure, we have embassies there. And these embassies have been the target of threats for decades now. Why the sudden impetus for a pre-emptive strike on the people of Yemen? It can’t be oil. After all, as the media has repeatedly and painstakingly tutored us over the past week or so, Yemen is slated to run out of oil in 10 years. This proves that the recent air strikes and the underpants bomber are not, as the more skeptical among us have become conditioned to automatically suspect, another war for oil.  Therefore, it must indeed be true: Yemen has replaced Afghanistan (and, later, Iraq) as the new world hub of terrorist activity.

Either that, or its the gas.

According to a 2007 issue of the Oil and Gas Journal, Yemen’s proven natural gas reserves totaled 16.90 trillion cubic feet.  Construction began in 2005 to build the $4.1 billion plant to liquefy the natural gas for shipment, with Hunt Oil (part of the Bush-Cheney rat pack) holding a 17.2% stake in the project and poised to share with Asia two-thirds, or 4.5 million tons of Yemen’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports per year. The first LNG shipments reportedly left Yemen within the last 2 months. Also integral to U.S. “interests” in Yemen is, of course, its location (location, location) on the Bab el-Mandeb Strait that connects the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden, through which the U.S. must pass to ferry its loot.

The Yemen LNG deal is similar, albeit not nearly as lucrative as the LNG deal tentatively struck in Iraq via the 2008 “‘Heads of Agreement” with Shell, (aka “the Shell gas agreement rip-off”), set to be finalized after the Iraqi elections in early 2010. This agreement would give Dick Cheney’s partners in crime at Shell full control of all the Iraqi gas wealth in the south for 25 years. Add to this whatever other progress the Cheney rat pack has made with privatizing Iraqi gas and oil, plus the various PSAs, PSCs, TSAs and other acronyms that now form the jewels in America’s crown in the wake of our heroic battle with al Qaeda in Iraq, and you have what George W. Bush might call, “Mission Accomplished.”

Our pipe dreams in Afghanistan are a bit more complex and yet to be fully hammered out, but the tentative arrangement is to send a surge some 30,000 troops who will be deployed at strategic locations along the pipeline in time for the TAPI construction start sometime in late 2010 or early 2011.

Regardless of the ends, the means are more or less the same, no matter what the country — Iraq, Afghanistan, Colombia, Nigeria, Somalia, Sudan or Yemen. The blueprint works something like this:

The Bush-Obama Doctrine (or, A 12-Step Program for Seizing Control of  a Country’s Assets)

  1. Determine what you want from the country (e.g. control of oil, gas and other minerals, and/or control of pipelines and shipping lanes).
  2. Build a case for a war on terror.
  3. If there is no terrorist group in the country, just make something up. Your paid AIPAC counterterrorism experts can help you with this by fabricating evidence of  terrorism and terrorist plots. Alternately, you can create a terrorist/insurgent/rebel presence by  staging a pre-emptive, covert war, which will not only destabilize the government, but will cause a spike in violence that can be blamed, rightly or not, on al Qaeda. (NOTE: Sometimes a terrorist attack — either “real” or thwarted — can help to rally a stubborn American public into supporting a war. Here, your pals at the CIA and the aforementioned counterterrorism experts at SITE, IntelCenter and MEMRI will be invaluable, as they can raise false flags faster than you can say, “underpants,” plus manufacture the necessary evidence, such as fake audios, videos and intercepted terrorist communications to substantiate the terrorist attacks and/or threats).
  4. Direct your media to report 24-7 on the official story, giving them ample fodder for speculation and fearongering. Stick to your story no matter what. And don’t worry if your facts don’t add up, or if the only leaks you can provide are from White House sources and military officials who are “only authorized to speak on the condition of anonymity.” As Dick Cheney proved, when it comes to terrorism, people are so easily scared, that they will view any threat of a terrorist plot as credible, no matter how flimsy the set-up.
  5. Ignore people who complain that the facts don’ t match up. If witnesses come forward and dispute the official story(as the Haskells and others did with the underpants bomber story), either forbid them to talk, (in the interest of national security) or ignore them. This way, no one will listen to them but the alternative and “fringe” media, which will brand these witnesses as crackpots or conspiracy theorists.
  6. Pat yourselves on the back as you watch Congress and the American people — as if on cue — begin waving flags, thumping Bibles and demanding war.
  7. Escalate the existing war, meting out both clandestine and overt efforts as Congressional funding and oil/gas-field strategy dictate.
  8. When international humanitarian and civil rights groups express outrage at the massive human suffering (genocide, ethnic cleansing, violence, brutality, murder, rape, starvation, disease, etc.) we’ve inflicted on the innocent citizens of the country, either blame it on the terrorist/insurgents/rebels, or declare the accusations to be nothing but a bunch of liberal propaganda lies. If Amnesty International or any of your other enemies accuses you of war crimes, label them naive terrorist appeasers.
  9. Grease the requisite palms to foster the creation of a specialized NGO humanitariaGn relief agency, and/or utilize some of the existing Christian relief agencies (such as Save the Children,  CARE and others who similarly funded by the defense industry) to respond to the humanitarian crisis in the country. The promise of protection, food, shelter and medical care to a brutalized population of sick, starving, scared, homeless people is an excellent tool for coercing  cooperation and compliance. Too, these relief agencies are very efficient at re-directing their contributions into the “right” pockets.
  10. When the citizens in the attacked country fight back (aka “playing right into your hands”) label them terrorists, insurgents and/or rebels, which will neatly vindicate your justifications for going to war in the first place.
  11. Escalate the war to crush the terrorists/insurgents/rebels.
  12. Repeat steps 10 and 11 until you’ve achieved your goal (see Step 1).

Or fester like a sore…

Once upon a time, Barack Obama conjured dreams of our forefathers, of the men upon whose shoulders he stood. He spoke to the American dream — to that idealized notion of a country and a people who aspire to do good things, to live up to that democratic ideal that all men are created equal, endowed with certain unalienable Rights, among these life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. This is the America that voted Obama into office, and this is the America that will suffer the repercussions of his turncoat presidency. But it was, for a time, a lovely dream, wasn’t it?

America simply cannot continue on this path. The need to drastically change our energy policy is no longer a debatable proposition. It is not a question of whether, but how; not a question of if, but when. For the sake of our security, our economy, our jobs and our planet, the age of oil must end in our time. Barack Obama, May 2007

Our cause is just, our resolve unshaken.Barack Obama, speaking in early December, 2009, on his decision to deploy a surge in Afghanistan

America will forgive Obama for omitting words such as liquefied natural gas, profit sharing agreements, TAPI, pipelines, death squads, mercenary armies, torture, war crimes, or extraordinary renditions to CIA black sites in Yemen in his Nobel Peace Prize speech and in his recent statements on Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan, Israel, Iraq and Afghanistan. We’ll forgive him, too, for neglecting to mention crimes against humanity in the soaring rhetoric of his lovely speeches. After all, we are embroiled in a war on terror. This is no time to quibble over semantics.

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by Mantis Katz for the canarypapers

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FOR A CLOSER LOOK:

American Everyman Blog – An informative compendium of well-researched information contained in 3 articles from the author’s “Understanding the Panty Bomber Mythology” series:

Library of Congress (Federal Research Division) Country Profile: Yemen, August 2008 (see page 11 for info on Yemen’s proven natural gas reserves plus info on 2/3 split (4.5 million tons per year) slated to be exported to the U.S. and Asia beginning in 2009)

The Public Record: Halliburton, KBR Plead Guilty to Cheney-Era Bribery Charges (February 2009) Article detailing the bribes paid by Cheney-Halliburton-KBR and Shell to the notoriously corrupt Nigerian dictator Sani Abacha and some of his subordinates to win a lucrative construction contract for a natural gas liquefaction plant.

Voltaire.net’Nigerian Terrorist Patsy Yet Another CIA Ploy in US-backed Buildup of al Qaeda in Yemen Civil War’ (includes video)

Voltaire.net – Interview with Webster Tarpley : “The War on terror is a myth” Webster Tarpley’s analysis of U.S. imperialism and the events since 9-11, including Obama’s war on Pakistan and on the geopolitical relationships between the U.S., Russia, Iran, Pakistan and China.

Voltaire.netAfricom’s Covert War in Sudan: Under the Guise of Humanitarian Intervention (by Keith Harmon Snow)

Canarypapers: The U.S. War Machines Leaves an Ugly Slick of Oil & Blood Takes a closer lo0k at Africom and the coincidence of alleged al Qaeda activity near the shipping channels, mineral mines and oil/gas fields where, for years now, the clandestine U.S. wars on terror have been reaping lucrative deals for the Cheney rat pack.

Radio Free Europe: U.S. Airport Terminal Closed Over Security Alert U.S. authorities temporarily closed a terminal at the Newark, New Jersey, airport in the eastern United States after a man walked through a screening checkpoint exit into the secure side of the terminal without apparently undergoing a security check. (RHETORICAL QUESTION ON THE ABOVE ARTICLE: Are we to believe that a man simply walked past security at the screening checkpoint? Does any one who’s been to an airport in recent years actually believe this story?)

Salon: Cruise Missile Attacks in Yemen by Glenn Greenwald

LA Times: Yemen Dismisses al Qaeda Threat as “Exaggerated”

St. Pete for Peace: This site has a host of links detailing Obama’s statements, stances and “accomplishments” throughout his political career

Telegraph UK: Abu Ghraib abuse photos ‘show rape’ – Photographs of alleged prisoner abuse which Barack Obama is attempting to censor include images of apparent rape and sexual abuse, it has emerged.

Washington Post: U.S. announces more security aid to Yemen; Britain to host meeting on nation Typical media article that parrots the official story.

ThinkProgress: Hersh: Cheney ‘Left A Stay Behind’ In Obama’s Government, Can ‘Still Control Policy Up To A Point’ Article on Seymour Hersh interview with Terry Gross (NPR). Quote from interview:

“They call it a stay behind. It’s sort of an intelligence term of art. When you leave a country and, you know, you’ve driven out the, you know, you’ve lost the war. You leave people behind. It’s a stay behind that you can continue to contacts with, to do sabotage, whatever you want to do. Cheney’s left a stay behind. He’s got people in a lot of agencies that still tell him what’s going on. Particularly in defense, obviously. Also in the NSA, there’s still people that talk to him. He still knows what’s going on.”

Asia Times: Big Oil’s ‘secret’ out of Iraq’s closet Article that untangles the web of lucrative oil, gas and pipelines deals that have emerged from the U.S. wars on terror in Iraq and Afghanistan

Dennis Kucinich interview in which he proposes to restore the constitutionally mandated role of Congress in declaring (or not) war.

Lastly, consider these words — any of which would not sound at all odd coming from the mouth of Barack Obama:

Five days or five weeks or five months, but it certainly isn’t going to last any longer than that. It won’t be a World War III…. It has nothing to do with oil, literally nothing to do with oil. It has nothing to do with the religion…. People say ‘Where’s the smoking gun?’ Well, we don’t want to see a smoking gun from a weapon of mass destruction. With a weapon of mass destruction you’re not talking about 300 people or 3,000 people being killed, but 30,000 or a hundred thousand.”” — excerpts from Donald Rumsfeld’s CBS interview in November 2002 (4 months before the start of the Iraq war) explaining both the brevity of the impending war, along with the insistence that the impending pre-emptive strikes were about weapons of mass destruction, period. Not oil.

If we were to allow our enemies to prevail in Iraq, the violence that is now declining would accelerate — and Iraq would descend into chaos….  Out of such chaos in Iraq, the terrorist movement could emerge emboldened — with new recruits, new resources, and an even greater determination to dominate the region and harm America. An emboldened al Qaeda with access to Iraq’s oil resources could pursue its ambitions to acquire weapons of mass destruction to attack America and other free nations. — George W. Bush March 2008

For us to walk away from Iraq I think would have at least that bad an effect, probably worse, because if al Qaeda were to take over big parts of Iraq, among other things, they would acquire control of a significant oil resource. Iraq has almost 100 billion barrel reserves, producing 2.5-3 million barrels of oil a day. If you take a terrorist organization like al Qaeda and give it that kind of revenue, there’s no telling the amount of trouble they could get into.– Dick Cheney April 2008

The United States pursues no claim on Iraq’s territory or resources.Barack Obama, February 2009

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UPDATED: The U.S. War Machine Leaves an Ugly Slick of Oil & Blood

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UPDATE — DECEMBER 31, 2009: The post below, originally published on July 26, 2008, was written as an outcropping of our disgust over the genocide and ethnic cleansing taking place in the United States’ brutal covert war in Somalia. We never finished this post and never will (see note at bottom of this page). However, the information herein continues to be as relevant today as it will be tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow. (Think Obama constitutes a change from the Bush Administration’s warmongering for oil under the guise of fighting terrorism? Think again.)

Many Americans would be surprised to know that, throughout the course of our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the U.S. has also been busy with wars elsewhere in the world. Only, we don’t call them wars. We call them things like peacekeeping missions, nation-building or “low intensity conflicts.” Or, as is the case in Colombia, where the U.S. is at work wresting control of oil pipelines and trying to destabilize the bordering oil-rich countries, such as Venezuela, while demonizing the leaders of these countries, we call it a “war on drugs” — even as the U.S. is the pusher man working out of Colombia, using the proceeds from our drug sales to fund our war machine in South America. (Think about it. Has cocaine ever been cheaper or more available than since Clinton and Bush began their war on drugs in Colombia? The same is true of heroin in the Afghanistan drug trade). And we don’t, as a rule, fight these wars ourselves. Instead, we buy off corrupt dictators and/or destabilize and overthrow democratically elected leaders and install corrupt dictators of our own choosing. Then we build armies for them — funding, training and arming these paramilitaries to the tune of millions, so that they can fight our various covert and proxy wars on terror around the globe, which are, coincidentally, in the most mineral-strategic countries on the planet — from South America to Africa and the Middle East. It is no coincidence that the U.S. is the world’s largest arms supplier, our war machine generating loyalties, death and destruction in over 174 states and territories.


These wars are given little scrutiny on the media radar, even as they’re claimed to be part of the larger war on terror — or, in the case of, say, Sudan, they fly under the guise of humanitarian efforts. Much like Somalia, Yemen is not so strategic for its oil reserves, but for its natural gas reserves. Oh, and there’s also that matter of its location (location, location). Specifically, Somalia and Yemen are located across from each other, like mirrors, on either side of the opening from the Bab el-Mandeb Strait. This strait connects the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden through which our oil and gas laden ships must pass.The U.S. has been covertly warring for years to control this shipping lane. As such, news stories — past present and future — on Ethiopia, Djibouti, Yemen, Somalia and, yes, pirates are inseparable from this larger story, a story about a superpower that will use any ruse to get what it wants, up to and including climbing in and out of bed with friends, enemies and even the terrorists we claim to be fighting.

As for the collateral damage from our clandestine wars — genocide, ethnic cleansing and untold millions of human lives ground into starvation, disease, misery, death and civil war — America alternately ignores and feigns outrage. When it becomes strategically feasible and/or necessary, the U.S. military steps out of the shadows, setting up high-profile military installations, so that we may help these poor victims, or protect them from the “bad guys,” with whom we may or may not still be in bed. This is the story being replayed in countries throughout the world. Yemen is no exception.

Considering that during the months before 9-11, the FBI had their finger on the pulse of the pre-9-11 terrorist network in Yemen (to which the Bush Administration was in
“ignore” mode), it is curious that U.S.has subsequently enjoyed the sort of relationship with Yemen over the past 8 years, where we could rendition detainees there to be tortured at our CIA black sites in Yemen. Which makes it somehow ironic that the media is using the Yemen connections of the recent underwear bomber, Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab
/AbdulMutallab, to help us recall and re-ignite our anger over 9-11. It seems the American public is now being signaled that it’s time to switch from from ignore-mode to the outrage-mode being feigned by our leaders. This is, of course, our cue, as patriotic, freedom-loving Americans to rally behind our pre-Christmas bombing campaign waged on the innocent men, women and children in Yemen, which promises to be an ongoing campaign in the war formerly known as Bush’s war on terror. It is no coincidence that this latest bombing campaign was already underway when the underpants bomber boarded the plane for America. Nor is it a coincidence that the trail of the underpants bomber is littered with questions that, for the official record, go unasked and unanswered.

Such has been the nature of America’s war on terror, beginning with 9-11. Our leaders can afford to be arrogant and sloppy because, truth be known, the U.S. is untouchable. We encourage those interested in these stories to do their own research. This page is a good starting point. Our apologies that we cannot finish our own effort out, and for any dead links on this page.


An odd coincidence: Pick any oil-rich spot on the globe, and you will find the U.S. engaged in the war on terror.

In this vein, why has there been such a preponderance of al Qaeda terrorists (or, rather, a preponderance of **propaganda about **al Qaeda) surrounding the oil fields of the world over the past 7 years?

The current war in Iraq is not the first U.S. war for oil. Nor is it the first war for oil that has claimed massive civilian casualties, which were then concealed by the U.S. media. This is the first war for oil, however, fought on the grounds that a foreign country posed a direct threat to the U.S. — false grounds — which our government intentionally deceived us into believing. This is also the first war for oil fought under the mantle of spreading freedom and democracy, even as the U.S. government funds and arms both sides in a civil war: Shiites against Sunnis and Sunnis against Shiites — who then terrorize, torture, slaughter and commit ethnic cleansing of the very Iraqi populations we’re supposedly fighting to “save” from the evil terrorists. There’s a term for the type of warfare being waged by the U.S. in Iraq. It’s called war crimes.


That the American people have not demanded accountability from Congress, and have largely remained silent about the atrocities of this war – whether through complacent ignorance or sheer disbelief that our government could actually commit such atrocities — has only served to condone this war and the policies of this administration. Our collective silence has, in effect, given Bush-Cheney carte blanche to wage other wars on terrorism – wars now being fought in countires throughout the world, with scarcely a mention in the U.S. media.

Unknown to most Americans is that dozens of countries throughout the world have now been accused of harboring al Qaeda terrorists. Unknown to most Americans is that the Bush-Cheney Administraion is and has been waging clandestine wars in these countries, under the banner of “fighting terrorism,” sometimes called “peacekeeping missions” and “nation-building.” Unknown to most Americans is that we are currently spending millions of dollars in each of these countries, to fight mere handsful of alleged al Qaeda terrorists, whose existence — in many instances — is based on “intelligence” as leaky as the intelligence that sent us to war in Iraq. The potential and the reality (as seen in both Iraq and Afghanistan) is that these wars result in “chasing needles by burning haystacks,” as entire populations of innocent civilians are brutalized by the Bush-Cheney war machine , as it pursues small handsful of terrorists, who may or may not even exist.

In Iraq, alone, the Bush-Cheney war machine left in its wake over 4 million “displaced” Iraqi citizens — driven from their homes through violence and ethnic cleansing. From this point forward, if there were any questions left regarding the true intention of the U.S. forces, one need look no further than the billions of U.S. dollars spent building the enormous network of permanent U.S. bases over the past 7 years. These mega-bases have been built with every U.S. lifestyle amenity imaginable — from Baskin Robbins to Burger King, from miniature golf to swimming pools, from Hertz Rent-a-Car to department stores, and from football stadiums to movie theatres — not to mention air-conditioning, satellite internet access, cable television and international phone service.
The average Iraqi citizen has not enjoyed some of these amenities — such as electricity, food, water, shelter, sanitation and health care — since the days of Saddam Hussein. Ironically, construction on the permanent U.S. bases in Iraq proceeded swiftly toward completion, while U.S. work on to restore the most rudimentary of services for Iraqis — such as water purification, food, health care and electricity — fell to the wayside.

A Crude Awakening

Despite what we, in America, hear on the evening news, the words ‘victory’ and ’success’ do not belong in the same sentence with the word ‘Iraq.” The situation in Iraq is one of humanitarian crisis. Five years into the U.S. invasion of their country, Iraq is now deemed, the worst humanitarian crisis in the Middle East since 1948. Human rights and relief agencies throughout the world (International Red Cross, Amnesty International, Oxfam) have described the situation as “disasterous,” as a “dire humanitarian crisis,” calling Iraq, “one of the most dangerous countries in the world…. a place of carnage and despair.” Our vice-president, Dick Cheney, recently described Iraq as a “successful endeavor,” a sentiment we hear echoed daily from our mainstream U.S. media. Would the American public be silent, if they knew that we are waging similar wars in dozens of countries?
Question: When is a war a war?
Is it a war, if it’s called a ‘low-intensity conflict’? Is it a war, if only a small number of U.S. military troops are sent in? And is it a war, if the soldiers are from private mercenary armies hired through U.S. corporations? And is it a war, if our military funds, trains and arms rogue armies to fight these wars? Is it a war if the military’s stated purpose is ‘peacekeeping’ or to lend humanitarian aid? And what if it’s a little of each? Is it a war?
The answers lie in the oil fields: If U.S. military engagement and/or aid results in the U.S. gaining control of a country’s oil/mineral profits — at the expense of the native populations, who suffer impoverishment, torture, ethnic cleansing and/or genocide as a result of our actions — then that military engagement is, indeed, a war. It is a war for oil.  
Curious to know just how many wars are being fought for oil, we decided to take a head count of each and every country where the U.S. is fighting the war on terror. Our bet is that each and every one is also, ultimately, a war for oil. Whether the resulting silence from this truth is deafening, or not, is anyone’s guess.

Pick a Continent, Any Continent…

Say, Africa. Although Africa is but one stop on Dick Cheney’s proposed world tour for oil, it’s a good place to start, since the entire continent stands to be devoured, beginning with its name. Renamed in February 2007 (for military purposes only, mind you) Africa is now called the U.S. African Command (USAFRICOM or AFRICOM). As shown on this map, USAFRICOM was created from the existing United States European Command (USEUCOM), United States Central Command (USCENTCOM) and United States Pacific Command (USPACOM). Whatever that means. It is with some haste, then, that we inventory the African countries involved in Bush-Cheney’s global war on terror.

Lost in all the flurry of Bush’s February 2007 announcement of the surge in Iraq was his concurrent announcement of another surge — this one on the continent of Africa. Having neatly accomplished ‘Iraqi solutions for Iraqi problems’ in their war for oil distribution in Iraq, Bush-Cheney — poised, now, to undertake another empire — easily won congressional approval for “African solutions to African problems.” aka, U.S.AFRICOM: the U.S. African Command and its military arm ACOTA. A Department of Defense military operation, AFRICOM was created by Bush-Cheney to enhance our efforts to bring peace and security to the people of Africa. Started in October 2007, and set to be fully operational by September 30, 2008, AFRICOM is installing military commands in a total of 53 African countries – that’s all of Africa, except Egypt.

In an August 2007 congressional briefing, State and Defense Department officials emphasized to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that AFRICOM’s aim is to boost cooperation on anti-terrorism and peacekeeping activities, and programs that promote regional stability. In this same briefing, Theresa Whelan, Deputy Assistant for African affairs, echoed this sentiment — assuring Congress that AFRICOM is focused on security, not combat. On the heels of this assurance, however, she nonetheless cautioned: ” I would anticipate that there would be an increase in the amount of exercises we conduct and other military-to-military cooperation activity.”

Many in Africa are understandably suspicious. Believing, perhaps, that past is prologue — the majority of countries are protesting the presence of AFRICOM, as are many individuals around the world, including some high-profile activists, such as Danny Glover , who consider the ongoing U.S.-British militarization of Africa to be little more than a strategy toward gaining control of Africa’s natural resources, most notably its oil. As one critic noted: “Peace operations” and “nation building” are what the military and the mercenaries call their activities. But just like Bush’s “healthy forests” and “clear skies” initiatives, the names mean the opposite of what they do.


The Oil Fields of Africa: Black Gold, Texas Tea

The conundrum the Bush-Cheney Administration faces in Africa is the same all the world over: how to pry the mineral rights from the rightful owners — the African people, in this case — while convincing Congress and the American public that our presence is purely benevolent? The events of September 11th provided an easily path: wage war on terror. This path is all the easier in Africa, where so many countries are already under the control of corrupt, suppressive dictators, whose loyalties are easily purchased.

The tactics used by Bush-Cheney are generally the same, however, no matter what the county. First, they make a case for terrorism in the country – preferably al Qaeda. Then, and not necessarily in this order, they (1) provide U.S. military assistance to fight terrorism, (2) accuse any one who disagrees with the U.S. military presence of being a terrorist insurgent, (3) incite existing cultural tensions toward divisiveness or civil war, (4) fund and arm the “goods guys” and/or the “bad guys” (aka terrorists) to physically remove — through either ethnic cleansing and sometimes genocide — the native populations living on the lands around the oil fields and pipelines, (5) if these populations protest, label them as terrorist insurgents.

Throughout each step of the process, U.S. oil interests are expanded and secured — under the guise of “economic development” for the host country. When all is said and done, however, it is the U.S. who owns the controlling interests in their oil fields. Of course, by the time AFRICOM was created, Bush-Cheney had already done the legwork, having identified terrorist influences in most of the oil-rich African countries set to receive AFRICOM’s military commands. And in a few countries — such as Somalia and Sudan — they’d already accomplished steps 1 through 5.

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As an aside, a smattering of quotables on the topic:

After the end of the Cold War, U.S. policy toward Africa was driven by President George H. W. Bush’s vision of a “New World Order.” …. President Bush announced in his 2006 State of the Union Address his intention to “to replace more than 75 percent of our oil imports from the Middle East by 2025,” …. analysts estimate that Africa may supply as much as 25% of all U.S. oil imports by 2015. — from the Report for Congress, “Africa Command: U.S. Strategic Interests and the Role of the U.S. Military in Africa,” March 10, 2008.

Today that new world is struggling to be born, a world quite different from the one we’ve known. A world where the rule of law supplants the rule of the jungle. — From President George H.W. Bush’s speech, “Toward a New World Order,” delivered before the nation and a joint session of Congress, September 11, 1990

Along with Latin America, West Africa is expected to be one of the fastest growing sources of oil and gas for the American market. African oil tends to be of high quality and low in sulfur, making it suitable for stringent refined product requirements, and giving it a growing market share for the refining Centers on the East Coast of the U.S.Dick Cheney, May 16, 2001

In the aftermath in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, it is increasingly clear that the United States ignores Africa at its peril….The continent’s failed states and huge swaths of ungoverned territory offer sanctuary to terrorist groups.American Enterprise Institute May 2004 conference bulletin: Leave No Continent Behind: U.S. National Security Interests in Africa

Oh, and one other dirty little secret from 5,000 years of history: Ethnic cleansing works. Armed Forces Journal, June 2006. “Blood Borders: How a Better Middle East Would Look,” by Ralph Peters

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It is easy to understand, then, the fears of African citizens, who feel helpless to the incoming U.S. military presence in their countries. Some in America know this same helplessess, as we’ve seen war protesters branded as terrorist sympathizers or “homegrown terrorists” in recent years. The difference between Americans and Africans is that we do not have a history (up to this point, anyway) of being forced from our homes by the U.S. military, or of witnessing the mass slaughtering of our families, neighbors, communities, of whole towns of people, who protested the policies of the U.S. government. The fear of these African countries is understandable, then, as America’s war on terror turns its calculating eye toward the oil fields of Africa.

U.S. Oil & Mineral Claims vs. Terrorist Claims in Africa:
An Alphabetical Compendium of Coincidences
 
**Benin (important for its proximity to Nigeria oil and its political-economic relationship w/ECOWAS)
**Burkina Faso (important for its proximity to Nigeria oil and its political-economic relationship w/ECOWAS)
**Cape Verde (important for its proximity to Nigeria oil and its political-economic relationship w/ECOWAS)
Guinea-Bissau
**Lesotho
Liberia
**Madagascar
**Malawi
**Mali
**Mozambique
**Namibia
Niger
Senegal
Sierra Leone
Swaziland
**Tanzania
Togo
Zambia
Zimbabwe
** these countries receive aid through compacts with the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), a U.S. government corporation, created by Bush in 2002, to “undercut terrorism by attacking poverty overseas.” While most of these countries lack significant oil reserves, their geographical & political relationships with oil-rich countries lends a strategic importance to U.S. interests in Africa.
* * *
 
 
EDITOR’S NOTE: Our original idea with this post was to document every mineral/gas/oil-rich country in the world where the U.S. is engaged in various military operations. Frankly, the task is too disgusting to continue. To anyone interested in such things, just google to find which countries have rich reserves of oil and gas (or gold, diamonds and other minerals). Then google the name of any of these countries + “al Qaeda” or “insurgents” or “Dick Cheney” or “U.S. military,” or “USNORTHCOM” or “Blackwater,” or “mercenary armies,” or the name of either Bush Jr. or Sr.
Dig just a little, and you will find the U.S. in the thick of it, secretly funding covert and proxy wars, arming and training paramilitaries. You can also google terms such as: genocide, ethnic cleansing, humanitarian crisis, starvation, rape, death squads, disease, etc. and find your way to the U.S. through the back door, so to speak. One notable exception to the rule will be Darfur, where China beat us to the punch. In Sudan, however, the U.S. and China seem to be in partnership, each country jockeying for their fair share of oil and carnage.
Depending on the country, you may also find a “war on drugs,” particularly in South America, but also in Afghanistan. This is how the U.S. funds some of it’s illegal wars, as there is only so much money that can be hoodwinked out of Congress to fund our covert wars. But drug money is only one of the many ways the U.S. gets around the inconvenience of laws that forbid us to provide military aid to countries engaged in genocide, torture, renditions, illegal imprisonments and so on.

The Idolatry of Lesser Gods: Bogeymen and Heroes in the Bush Age

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No faith justifies these murderous and craven acts. No just and loving god looks upon them with favor. — President Obama, speaking at the Fort Hood memorial service on November 10, 2009

Listening to the radio yesterday, I heard Obama speak at the memorial for the 13 slain soldiers at Fort Hood. I listened to another mourner call the shooting rampage a “mini 9/11.” I listened to Obama.

At the risk of committing blasphemy, I’m going to state the obvious. When it comes to honoring tragedy, violence and death, Americans rise to the occasion. But only so long as these can be turned into a cause, of sorts: a cause for waving the flag and waxing patriotic about how great we are, as a people and a country — a cause, ultimately, for uniting against a common enemy. Because  without our enemies, we’d be nothing.

pro war
More than 200 demonstrators gathered at a Lafayette, California hillside in 2007 to voice their support for Bush and the Iraq War. The more than 3,000 crosses in the background represent the soldiers killed in Iraq.

I say this not to dishonor the victims of this horrible tragedy, but because it is incomprehensible that the American people have not embraced, with an equal degree of passion and mourning, the estimated 738 innocent American lives that have been lost — due to the simple inability to afford medical care — since the November 5th shooting rampage at Fort Hood.

Traditionally, Americans don’t rally around common enemies like poverty, racism or injustice. Quite the opposite, in fact. Our enemies are whatever bogeyman currently embodies our centuries-long hatred of other races, of other cultures,  and most especially of non-Christians.  And — as we learned during the Bush-Cheney Administration — it makes no difference whether these enemies are real or imaginary. The important thing is that we have them.

Without our enemies, around whom would we unite? Against what would we fight? What would be our common cause? Certainly not a reverence for the living.

If we’ve learned nothing from the health care wars of 2009, it’s that here in American, there are some folk who wouldn’t give a slug nickel to buy a poor man 5 minutes with the doctor — and who would, in fact, fight to the death to ensure he doesn’t get a red cent. By no coincidence, these are the same folk who have proved they don’t give a rat’s ass how big the price tag, when it comes to war.

The proof of this is in the pudding of the last 8 years. The rabid mobs who took to the streets this summer in protest against health care reform are the same folk who raised nary a squeak over the trillions of their grandchildrens’ futures that were mortagaged by Bush, Cheney & Co. Not a single pip was heard over the trillions that have been squandered to foot the bill for two wars that were waged on false pretenses and lies — wars which have accomplished little more than generating new armies of enemies, while making billionaires out of oil men, defense contractors and the myriad other for-profit agents of modern warfare. 

And in the wake the shootings at Fort Hood, we’ve learned something else. Americans easily unite to shed tears and decry the tragedy of 13 soldiers whose lives were brutally cut short by an irrational act of insanity. Yet we, as a people, are unable to extend this same level of sadness and outrage over the 123 Americans whose lives are brutally cut short each and every day — lives that could be saved, were these human beings simply given access to medical care.    

child-of-warIn America, we readily unite around our wars, our enemies and our soldiers. We generously open our pocketbooks to bullets and bombs and missiles. And we turn a blind eye to the repercussions of our purchases — millions maimed and slaughtered, falsely imprisoned and tortured, the women and children forced by American mercenaries into servitude and sex slavery, the uncounted number of babies born grossly deformed and dead in the wake of our depleted uranium bombs. Even as we don’t dare look our deeds in the eye, we rejoice in their righteousness. 

Yet, we fracture at the prospect of peace; ridicule peacemakers as weak; label them “terrorist appeasers.” We resent humanitarian causes, squabble over whose job it is — and isn’t — to protect and care for the sick, the oppressed, the hurt, the weak and the hungry. 

It should come as no surprise, then, that we were unable, as a country, to unite during the summer of 2009 to ensure that — never again — would any American citizen suffer fear, hunger, destitution, bankruptcy or homelessness due to medical bills  — or, worse, that any American citizen would die for simple a lack of money to pay for medical care. It should come as no surprise, but yet it caught us all by surprise to find our nation split in two, with many citizens taking to the streets with guns and threats of violence, sedition, assassination and lynching. 

Could it be that — for all our claims of being a godly nation — the moral pulse of our country is driven less by love than by hatred? Could this be the reason why Christians want to embed their religion into our laws, post their commandments in our national parks, plaster their piety on bumper stickers — cramming their hypocritical holiness down the throat of every non-Christian — so that we may, as a country, legitimize greed, ignorance, fear and intolerance? So that we may, on paper, divide the godly from the godless — and, in doing so, elevate our wars, our hatreds, and our petty missions into something they’re not? Is this why — whenever our leaders have attempted to pass legislation to protect people from racism, discrimination, lynching and hate crimes, or to protect the earth, feed the hungry or heal the sick — the Christians are the ones who take to the streets, armed to the teeth in protest? 

Could this be the reason why the American people seem almost obsessed with the need to know that the tragedy in Texas was not a random act of insanity but was, indeed, the long hand of the Muslim bogeyman reaching out to get us?  

Here, the tension is palpable. Patriotic Americans everywhere are waiting with bated breath — flags in hand — for the answer to that question. The media and our leaders wait with us, their fingers on the trigger, ready at a moment’s notice to shoot the answer to this all-encompassing question: Was Nidal Hasan’s shooting rampage part of a *gasp* Muslim terrorist plot?

They hope the answer is yes. 

They hope the answer is yes: permission granted to loathe and fear Muslims. Permission granted to believe that all Muslims are secretly planning to wage jihad against America. Permission granted to label all Muslims — and anyone who resembles, sympathizes or socializes with Muslims — as terrorists. Permission granted to elevate them all to the status of enemy.  And because all foreigners look alike to Americans, permission granted to fear and loathe all foreigners. 

They hope the answer is yes. Otherwise, Nidal Hasan’s rampage wouldn’t be so different than that of a disgruntled, white Protestant American worker who — perhaps suffering one more ounce of burden, stress or perceived injustice than he could handle — simply snapped. He succumbed to insanity; we went “postal” and slaughtered innocent people. 

By the same token, what if Nidal Hasan were, indeed, on a self-appointed mission from God? Americans have never, in the wake of similar tragedies, waged war against postal workers or factory workers. Nor have they persecuted Christians in the wake of crimes by men such as Timothy McVeigh, Jim Jones, Warren Jeffs and others who have committed equally heinous acts, including mass murder, under the delusion that they were on a mission from God:

Gog and Magog are at work in the Middle East…. The biblical prophecies are being fulfilled…. This confrontation is willed by God, who wants to use this conflict to erase his people’s enemies before a New Age begins.” — George W. Bush in early 2003, before the US-led invasion of Iraq began, speaking to French President Jacques Chirac, in the hope of drawing his country into the “coalition of the willing.”

I am driven with a mission from God. God would tell me, ‘George go and fight these terrorists in Afghanistan’. And I did. And then God would tell me ‘George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq’. And I did.George W. Bush four months after the U.S. led invasion of Iraq, speaking before a Palestinian delegation in Egypt during the Israeli-Palestinian summit, four months after the US-led invasion of Iraq began. 

As the child and grandchild of World War veterans, I am grateful to those who lay their lives on the line to protect America and our allies from real enemies. But being an American does not commit me to leave my mind and my conscience on the doorstep every time the decision is made to go to war. History has already shown — and one day the history books will catch up: America’s invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan — be they Christian crusades, wars for oil, or a crude mix of the two — were unnecessary and avoidable.  

Had the shoe been on the other foot — had, say, Timothy McVeigh et al been accused of flying suicide planes into the heart of Afghanistan, we would have responded exactly as the Taliban did in the wake of 9-11:  Show us the evidence that these people committed this horrible crime, and we will turn the criminals over to the courts for prosecution. Specifically, America was told:

“Punishment must only be brought once clear evidence of the crime has been established, and that must come through the relevant judicial channels.”

Judicial channels. What a novel concept. The Bush cabal cast such quaint notions aside, in what was to be their first successful abuse of the “state secrets” priviledge to deny accountability for their actions. To provide evidence that al Qaeda was responsible for 9-11 would have been “in conflict with the imperative of keeping intelligence information secret.”

The United States is going to do nothing that jeopardises the investigation,” opined Condi Rice.

The American people take encouragement from the fact that this government will not have loose lips,” bragged White House spokesman Ari Fleischer.

But “In the near future,” promised Colin Powell, “we will be able to put out a paper, a document, that will describe quite clearly the evidence that we have linking him to the attack.” Of course, these documents never materialized. And the American people, it seems, didn’t really care, anyway.   

bush praying

"I accept the legal conclusion of the Department of Justice and determine that none of the provisions of Geneva apply to our conflict with al Qaeda in Afghanistan or elsewhere throughout the world..." Bush memo, dated February 7, 2002

And as the 8 years wound on, around the world, in dark, secret places, America accumulated prisons full of accused bogeymen — prisoners for whom, we were assured, the normal judicial channels and international law didn’t apply. Indeed, to have provided things like evidence, formal charges and jury trials against any man on the planet accused of terrorism would have also been “in conflict with the imperative of keeping intelligence information secret.” These bogeymen were so very bad, that they didn’t even deserve the normal channels of justice. In fact, these men were so evil that the only way to proving their crimes was to torture them into making confessions.   

Imagine a court of law in Podunk, USA pronouncing a man guilty of murder, yet refusing to allow the evidence of his guilt, based on the argument that to do so would jeopardize the police investigation. Or that the only way to proving his guilt was to torture him — beat him, starve him, keep him awake for weeks on end, cut his genitals, rape him with broom handles, suffocate him with water, threaten to torture or kill his wife, his sons, his daughters — whatever means were necessary to making him ‘fess up.     

It would be equally unjust, under the scenario above ( with Timothy McVeigh being accused of flying a suicide mission into the heart of Afghanistan)  if Afghanistan simply refused to follow judicial channels and, instead, chose to invade American soil and kill tens or hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women and children. Or if Afghanistan were to go on a worldwide crusade to round up and imprison whatever Christians they deemed terrorists. No evidence necessary, of course, beyond whatever confessions could be extracted under torture. After all, as we now know, Christians can and do commit heinous crimes under the delusion that they are on a mission from God. 

My heart goes out to the victims and the families who suffered from the brutal violence and murders commited by Nidal Hasan at Fort Hood on November 5, 2009. My gripe is not with those who fight real enemies. My gripe is with people who hurt innocent people. My gripe is with those who try to elevate ignorance, fear, intolerance, indifference, greed and violence into something they are not. Namely patriotism, capitalist enterprise, or a mission from God. There is nothing noble or heroic in murdering or allowing harm to come to innocent people, no matter what your religion, nationality or office, and no matter how justifiable your fear, anger or rage.   

A blind reverence to those institutions and individuals who claim license to kill innocents flies in the face of all gods. Obama got that much right yesterday.    

No faith justifies these murderous and craven acts. No just and loving god looks upon them with favor. — President Obama, speaking at the Fort Hood memorial service on November 10, 2009

Similar words were spoken 3 years ago, by the United States Conference for the World Council of Churches, in their criticism of the Bush Administration’s response to the 9/11 attacks:

We are citizens of a nation that has done much in these years to endanger the human family and to abuse the creation. Our leaders turned a deaf ear to the voices of church leaders throughout our nation and the world, entering into imperial projects that seek to dominate and control for the sake of our own national interests. Nations have been demonised and God has been enlisted in national agendas that are nothing short of idolatrous.

 

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by Mantis Katz for canarypapers

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Making Silk Purses Out of Swine Flu

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 When I was in my twenties, I rented a small house previously occupied by a pig farmer. Fortunately, the only vestige of the former tenant (aside a thick layer of grease about the kitchen) was a subscription to a hog farming magazine, which dutifully arrived every month. I read the things with a mix of engrossment and horror, learning all sorts of curious facts about pig farming. For instance, I never knew before then that — despite the best efforts of pig farmers — a certain percentage of pigs are sent to slaughter with hypodermic needles still imbedded in their flesh, accidentally broken off during the various vaccinations and treatments to which pigs are subjected during their incarceration. From this group, a certain percentage of this needled meat (having slipped under the radar of the metal detectors used in packing plants for this very purpose) arrives at the grocery store, where the meat is then attractively packaged for sale — needle fragments intact. In this same vein, needle sticks were (and still are) one of the most common on-the-job accidents among workers at hog farms, where the same hypodermic needle is repeatedly used on animal after animal. These accidents not only put workers at risk for accidental injection of medications, but also to infection by an antibiotic-resistant strain of bacteria. I never quite saw pork in the same light after reading those magazines. All of this is to say that I’m no newbie to the annals of pig farming.   

DEU VOGELGRIPPE TAMIFLUSo I was unsurprised to learn this week that the World Health Organization — bowing to concerns by pig farmers who are suffering lagging sales due to public fears over eating pig meat — decided on a name change for our most recent pandemic threat:     

Rather than calling this swine flu … we’re going to stick with the technical, scientific name, ‘H1N1 Influenza A,'” said WHO spokesman Dick Thompson.     

Good idea. Simply rename the thing and hope the euphemism will stick. This way, people can feel warm and fuzzy again about eating pigs. This way — even as this latest strain of swine flu threatens to be that much-touted pandemic the officials keep warning will eventually decimate the better part of the human population on this planet — at least the profits of factory farming industries (such as Smithfield, implicated in the Mexico outbreak), won’t suffer too much.

Pssst…. I have an even better idea. Why not just call the virus SIV, as the pig farming industry has been doing for years? Or would calling it something close to HIV just open a whole new can of worms?

What the WHO hopes will get lost in the translation between swine flu and H1N1 Influenza A is the fact that this virus is, indeed, 2-parts pig. It’s such an efficient cocktail of animal DNA, really, that one can’t help but wonder why nature didn’t think of this recipe eons ago: 1-part domestic pig, 1-part Eurasian pig, 1-part chicken and 1-part human DNA. Fact is, no matter how much the WHO shakes, stirs and spins this cocktail, they can’t pretty up the truth that swine flu — just like its sister virus, avian flu — is inextricably linked to factory farming

Or can they? Oddly, the topic of factory farming is almost entirely absent from the evening news and the 24-7 round-robin pageantry of media coverage on this virus, and is utterly nil in the CDC’s dialogue, as they serve their role of public relations liason between the U.S. government and its citizens on matters of public health. They do assure us, tho, how very ordinary this business is of viruses jumping from one species to another. Still, no mention of factory farms (also called CAFOs, or ‘confined animal feeding operations’).  No mention of the curious fact that yet another brand spanking new virus strain has emerged on the scene already immune to two anti-viral medications, amantadine and rimantadine. No questions about how this may have occurred.

The pig farms of my childhood — back in the day when my elementary school class was reading Charlotte’s Web — averaged 53 pigs per farm, with the pigs running freely in open pens, living more or less normal pig lives until the day of slaughter. Today, the average number is 1,000 pigs per farm, described by one writer as “a transition from old-fashioned pig pens to vast excremental hells, containing tens of thousands of animals with weakened immune systems suffocating in heat and manure while exchanging pathogens at blinding velocity with their fellow inmates.”

This can be said of any factory farm operation, whether the commodity is chickens, turkey, fish, cows or pigs.  Animals are warehoused in huge sheds, stacked like cordwood in cages so small that many are forced to spend their entire lives standing up, while others are crammed together in one cage, packed so tightly that they are forced to stand one on top of the other — the result of either method being a population of filthy, stressed animals plagued with disease and deformity, ever-teetering on the brink of death. To this end, farmers utilize a vast aresenal of chemicals, pesticides, hormones, vaccines and drugs, with factory farmed animals consuming 70% of the antibiotics in this country. This enables farmers to house animals in the most crowded, inhumane, feces-ridden, disease-inducing conditions imaginable, while keeping mortality at bay. While costly, these remedies translate to higher profits than the humane animal husbandry practices of yore.  

  laying-hens2

Aside from the stomach-wrenching inhumanity that causes most people, upon viewing the reality of these farms, to either become vegetarians or plunge their heads into the sand, there are myriad problems arising from these farms that cannot be wished away, no matter hard we try to ignore them. Choose your poison: 

  • The drugs, hormones, vaccines and pesticides that have been passed from factory-farmed animals into the human food chain over the past several decades have been directly linked to serious human health issues, ranging from immune disorders, to early puberty, to the emergence of drug-resistant diseases, such as MRSA (also known as the flesh-eating disease), which causes 18,000 deaths in the U.S. every years — more deaths, even, than AIDS. 
  • The demand for the cheapest, most profitable feed for these animal populations has resulted in the practice of feeding animal wastes to animals, with the menu of any chicken, turkey, cow or pig (or household dog and cat, for that matter) likely to include a mix of feces, blood, feathers, fur, brains, bone, etc. from any or all of the above. While this feeding practice has been directly tied to the introduction of certain diseases (such as, say, mad cow disease, which rarely goes by its techical, scientific name ‘bovine spongiform encephalopathy’) into the food chain, the practice has yet to be discontinued in the U.S., which is why meat imports from the U.S., like China, have been banned in many countries. 
  • Massive tons of animal waste — from feces, to urine to blood — are routinely, but illegally dumped into the lands and waterways surrounding these farms, resulting in dead zones that extend for miles — not only decimating native flora, fauna and fish, but sickening and killing human beings, as well. For reasons about to be disclosed, our government turns a blind eye to these crimes.
  • The agriculture lobby industry is as powerful as the banking industry lobbyists on Capitol Hill. So powerful, in fact, that when our lawmakers are considering laws to protect the U.S. consumer, they defer to the judgment and ‘science’ provided by lobbyists, who are the most generous contributors to their personal and campaign coffers. Within this system, the CDC, the USDA and the FDA have followed accordingly, evolving to little more than government-funded public relations firms, their role being to polish the images of these industries and provide damage control, as needed, to allay the public’s fears. 

With regard to swine flu, the topic of factory farming is especially pertinent — not only because this virus arrived on the scene already resistant to two anti-viral medications (amantadine and rimantadine), but because it arrived right as a bill was introduced into Congress that implicates the indiscriminate use of antimicrobials by factory farmers in the emergence of drug-resistant human diseases.

Introduced in the Senate by Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and in the House by Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) — Congress’ only microbiologist — the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (called H.R. 1549 and S.619, in case you want to weigh in on this issue) intends to phase out the non-therapeutic use of medically important antibiotics on farm animals. Designed to protect human beings, not animals, per se, this bill would nonetheless have the incidental effect of forcing factory farmers to adopt more humane methods of animal husbandry which, by extension, translates to a cut in the profit margin. This promises to be a contentious issue, not only among factory farmers, but among the American public.   

 

burger2

Because, make no mistake, such a bill would force changes upon the American consumer. No more 99-cent fast food sandwiches, layered in a 1-pound medley of sliced pig, cow, turkey and cheese. The cost of the meat in monster burgers would certainly rise, compelling the average American to eat fewer pounds of animal flesh per day.

With so much fodder for conflict, it’s hard to imagine why the mainstream media has sidestepped covering this new bill, seemingly oblivious to its importance in the current dialogue on swine flu. It’s not like they don’t know pig farms exist. I’ve seen several pig farms on the news, all of them peopled with gaggles of happy pigs being doted over by concerned farmers. Here’s one I pulled up off google, designed to allay fears over eating pork, which is a far sight from the reality of these farms: 

Equally absent in the media dialogue are the glaring inconsistencies in the CDC’s public relations blitz around swine flu. For instance:

  • While I understand that fully-cooked meat is essentially sterilized of flu germs, how can the CDC tell us that it”s safe for people to handle raw pork (which is, like any factory-farmed meat, routinely contaminated with bodily secretions from every conceivable part of a pig), considering that, according to the pork industry, swine flu is spread to humans “not just by inhalation of aerosolized virus, but also by eye and nose contact with droplets of respiratory secretions” which is why the industry urges its workers to avoid “hand to face contact,” and to change their clothes and wash-up before going home from work?
  • And what does the CDC mean when it reassures us that “… the current flu cases have been transmitted from person to person, that the swine flu strain is not from the U.S. swine herd and that U.S. pork is safe to eat.” Does that mean that this swine flu strain is from a non-U.S. herd? And does it mean that non-U.S. pork is unsafe to eat? And if this is the case, how’s a consumer to know whether their pork came from the U.S. or China or elsewhere?
  • Does the location of the disease epicenter (Smithfield pig farm in Mexico) have anything to do with the CDC”s advice that it’s safe for Mexicans to travel to the U.S. (e.g. “the cow’s already out of the barn”) while U.S. citizens are advised to exercise caution, traveling to Mexico only by necessity?

Such questions are left to those of us still puzzling over the origin of this latest pandemic threat. One thing is for sure. The answers won’t be found on the evening news, nor in the officious missives of the CDC, USDA, FDA or even in the halls of Congress, well-intentioned as some of its members may be in pushing for the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act — a bill that doesn’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell of being passed, so long as the agriculture lobbyists are still writing the laws that regulate their industry. 

But I digress. According to statements by WHO yesterday, while scientists don’t know exactly how H1N1 Influenza A jumped from pigs to humans, they insist that it’s being spread from human to human, NOT  from contact with infected pigs. Got that through your head? “There is no evidence of infection in pigs, nor of humans acquiring infection directly from pigs,” insists WHO (even as this utterly contradicts the news — both  old and new — from the pig farming industry). Further, the WHO warns, “Killing pigs will not help to guard against public or animal health risks, ” and is “inappropriate.” 

Agreed.

But changing the way factory farmers do business is appropriate. Because no matter how strongly the WHO, the CDC and the USDA insist — along with the various other government agencies and entities working in coalition with the pork lobbyists — the fact remains that the agricultural industry has long been putting the human population on this planet at risk for a full-blown pandemic capable of wiping out a huge swath of the human race. That, in itself, is scary enough.

But scarier, still, are those governent entities that are so far off the media’s radar screen, that they’re relegated to the minions of conspiracy theorists. Here reside the darker truths about diseases, such as swine flu — which, itself,  has seen over 60 years of research and development into its use as a biowarfare weapon and has even seen successful trial runs in this capacity, such as the 1971 swine flu outbreak in Cuba, as reported in a January 1977 issue of the San Francisco Chronicle.

Necessity being the mother of invention, there is at least a silver lining to this swine flu scare. A silk purse, if you will. Turns out, the pharmaceutical industry — another of Capitol Hill’s more lucrative lobbyists — will turn a handsome profit on the sale of the anti-viral drug, Tamiflu and on any future vaccines, regardless of whether the pandemic pans out. But that’s a a different story, much as it, too, emanates from swine.   

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by Mantis Katz for the canarypapers

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For more reading:

Pew Commission Report on Industrial Farm Animal Production: FINAL REPORT: Putting Food on the Table: Industrial Farm Animal Production in the U.S. (Executive Summary pdf)  (full report pdf)

Pew Charitable Trusts: Human Health & Animal Farming: Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria in Animals

Rolling Stone: Pork’s Dirty Secret 

Huffington Post: Swine Flu Outbreak – Nature Biting Back at Industrial Animal Production?

PETA article and video: Undercover Investigation Reveals Hormel Supplier’s Abuse of Mother Pigs and Piglets[warning: graphic images]

Biosurveillance: Swine Flu in Mexico: Timeline of Events

Global Research: Flying Pigs, Tamiflu and Factory Farms

Global Research: (2005 article) Who Owns the Rights on Tamiflu: Rumsfeld To Profit From Bird Flu Hoax

tamiflu-stockpiles

The pig industry’s efforts to defend itself in the wake of the swine flu outbreak:  

Swine Flu: Wrong Name

Industry Stresses Pork is Safe

CDC, USDA Emphasize Pork and Hogs are Safe [Considering the careful PR campaign being devoted to pork safety, I find it curous that there is no explanation in this article to what they mean by “safe handling” of pork meat in the context of pork safety during a swine flu epidemic.] 

 

Capitol Hill Applauds Israel’s War Crimes: Money Buys the Darndest Things

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“Cowardice asks the question – is it safe? Expediency asks the question – is it politic? Vanity asks the question – is it popular? But conscience asks the question – is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because it is right.” ~Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

In case you missed it, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (so often the running joke between politicians and talking heads) once again stood firmly on the side of right this past week, as he spoke twice on Capitol Hill, arguing for the rule of law from our lawmakers on Capitol Hill. It seems that, in the midst of so much condemnation of Israel’s war crimes by the international community, the Senate and the House felt inspired to draft an official Resolution to pledge their  “unwavering commitment” of support for Israel’s war on Gaza.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich’s statements were directed — not only toward the contradictory message this resolution sent toward our supposed goal of peace — but to the actual U.S. laws that govern how Israel is allowed to use the billions of American dollars worth of  F-16s, tanks, Apache helicopters, phosphorus shells, depleted uranium, cluster bombs, and so on that Israel is using in violation of the Geneva Convention to commit said war crimes against the mothers, fathers and chilren of Gaza.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009
Friday, January 9, 2009

Silly Dennis. Will he never learn? We’re not a nation of laws. The tinkering of the past 4 administrations has left us a nation of endorsements,  with the greatest deference given to those with the deepest pockets to fill our politicians’ campaign coffers.

In real-speak, this means that our politicians (now having much in common with trained seals) clap on command — indifferent to right or wrong — their job reduced to authoring (or subcontracting this work to lobbyists) and authorizing bills, resolutions and laws that will best serve their most generous benefactors — oil & energy moguls, media magnates, pharmaceutical & insurance industry titans, financial & banking tycoons, Zionist-AIPAC barons (the latter being of special importance to this week’s resolution, as the Israel Lobby provides upwards of 60% of the campaign contributions to our Democratic lawmakers).   

A little man like Dennis Kucinich doesn’t stand a chance among big men.

Even armed with the law of the land, or with big documents, such as the U.S. Constitition or the Bill or Rights, Dennis Kucinich nearly always comes up short — his voice carrying about as much stature as a blue-bottle fly, buzzing about a putrid feed trough. He is nonetheless to be commended for his ethics, his patriotism and, most certainly, his bravery.

According to Ronnie Lipschutz, professor of politics at UC Santa Cruz, withholding support for pro-Israel, AIPAC measures is not common, and often carries grave political consequences for members of Congress. “They are thinking what are the costs of voting against it, not what are the benefits,” said Lipschutz.

Perhaps this is what inspires statements, such as the one that Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, proclaimed before the vote: “Our resolution reflects the will of the state of Israel and the will of the American people.”

The will of the American people? Au contraire, Mr. Reid. Your resolution reflects the will of your biggest campaign supporters: the giants. In this case, AIPAC.

Because, make no mistake — your resolution passed, despite the will of the American people. Your resolution passed despite the protests of the American people in every major American city. Your resolution passed, despite thousands upon thousands of phone calls, faxes, letters and emails sent by the American people to their Senators in Washington. And, as if it mattered, your resolution passed, despite the United Nations resolution calling for an immediate truce (a resolution passed, no thanks to the U.S., on the same day you passed your resolution of praise for Israel); and your resolution passed despite that Israel has fired on and killed several United Nations workers in Gaza. Your resolution passed despite Israel’s refusal to allow Red Cross workers to reach the wounded women and children of Gaza. Your resolution passed despite that Israel has been repeatedly accused of war crimes and violations of international humanitarian law and the Geneva Convention. These accusations have come from the United Nations (from the onset of this war, up to today) and from humanitarian workers and the Red Cross in a statement released 2 days ago:

The Red Cross “believes that in this instance the Israeli military failed to meet its obligation under international humanitarian law to care for and evacuate the wounded. It considers the delay in allowing rescue services access unacceptable.”

Harry Reid, your resolution does not reflect the will of the American people!

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A wounded Palestinian boy is helped as he arrives at a hospital on January 4 in  Gaza City.

 

Your resolution — and the relative complicity of so many Americans — reflects the success of Israeli-U.S. propaganda campaign.  (Because, you see, the American people don’t know the truth this war. But you do. What’s your excuse?) It also reflects the success of the fearmongering campaigns that you and your esteemed colleagues, most notably George W. Bush & Dick Cheney, have ‘unwaveringly’ perpetuated over the past 8 years — a heaping dollop of which you, yourself, served-up in your rhetorical WWJD-esque question, posed in the final minutes before the passage of this illicit resolution:

“I ask any of my colleagues to imagine that happening here in the United States. Rockets and mortars coming from Toronto in Canada, into Buffalo New York. How would we as a country react?”

And then, as if responding on cue, the trained seals echoed something to the effect of “Hear! Hear!” and “The Israelis are responding exactly the same way we would!” before voting unanimously to approve the resolution.

Of course, there was no mention of war crimes during all this praise, nor in the language of the Senate resolution. Instead, the resolution went onto the House the next day and passed with flying colors, as 390 approved the resolution, 22 voted present, and a pathetically small, but courageous total of 5 voted against it:

Dennis Kucinich (D-OH)
Ron Paul (R-TX)
Maxine Waters (D-CA)
Gwen Moore (D-WI)
Nick Rahall (D-WV)

To this, I have a few rhetorical questions of my own to ask: 

What would the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. do? What would Mahatma Gandhi do?  What would Abraham Lincoln do? Or, to put it more succinctly, what would George W. Bush do?

Americans well-learned the answer to that last question. But what many Americans have yet to learn, is that (the will of the American people be damned) the answer to the question is the same today — and has been for years now — no matter who we turn to in Washington: Bush, Bush, Cheney, Reid, Pelosi, Clinton, Clinton, and so on….

 

And this is especially true in matters of U.S.-Israeli policy because — when you get right down to it —  the same giants who have so generously lined the pockets of Bush-Cheney & Co. over the past 8 years are the same giants who line your pockets, Harry Reid, and who also line the pockets  (or scare the bejeebers out of) all but 5 of our representatives on Capitol Hill — not to mention the past 4 presidents of the United States and, apparently, our current President-Elect.

There Must Be a Special Place in Hell for Those Who Would Vote for McCain, Based on the Color of Obama’s Skin

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On an altar of prejudice we crucify our own, yet the blood of all children is the color of God. — Don Williams, Jr., American poet and novelist

As American voters head off to stand in line for two (or three or five or eight or ten or more) hours today to cast their votes, the question bears repeating: Exactly why would anyone vote for McCain?

We’ve watched over the past two months as Republicans of sound mind and good conscience have jumped ship to Barack Obama, citing, among other things, the differences between Obama’s and McCain’s temperament, judgment, ability to handle crises, the moral tenor of their campaigns and — last but not least — their inclusiveness (or not) within their vision of the American story for ALL Americans: people of every class, race, generation, nationality, across every region of this country. 

Except for the criminally stupid and gullible — those hapless souls who, God bless them, actually believe Sarah’s stump speeches and are convinced that Obama is not only the anti-Christ, but is an Muslim, socialist, abortion-crazed terrorist, bent on turning our country into a communist state and shutting down the coal industry, to boot — who is left to vote for John McCain?  

Only the racists — those voters to whom issues of economy, jobs, education, health care, war and peace take a back seat to the color of a man’s skin. God help us all if the Republican vote stealing campaign trumps the voice of the American people. God help us, because these people have been whipped into such a frenzy by John McCain, Sarah Palin and their sidekick, Joe the Plumber, that they’re ready for blood. Anyone’s blood. And John McCain is just the leader to deliver.

Got War?

Lost in the flurry of the economy over the past 2 months has been discussion on the wars. Not just Iraq, but the wars of the future — those wars we have yet to see. As John  McCain would be the first to tell you, war is his specialty. Peace is not. As Pat Buchanan says in the video, below, about McCain: “He will make Cheney look like Gandhi”

Veterans for Peace: Commie Appeasers or Reality Checks?

What do these veterans of the Vietnam War, the Korean War and the Iraq War have in common?

For Now We See Through a Glass, Darkly

If we learned nothing over the past 8 years, it’s that the only thing worse than a warmonger is an ignorant, dishonest warmonger. 

Sarah’s Job Description for Vice-President, Part II (Checkpoint Chickie Rides Again)

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In my August 30th post, where I first described, for the sole benefit of Sarah Palin, the job description for the Vice-President of the United States, I told her, “While there is no precedent in modern U.S. history for a person of your credentials serving as Vice President, it is theoretically possible for a third-grader to perform the actual duties of Vice-President. Your lack of education and/or experience with constitutional law shouldn’t be much of an impediment to serving, so long as the President doesn’t die or resign.” 

I was wrong. Either she never bothered to read the job description, or she simply didn’t comprehend it. Either way, it turns out that Sarah Palin’s lack of education and/or experience does present a serious impediment to the job for which she is applying. And  you’d have to be a simpleton, a die-hard racist, or the most tenacious of Republicans to have not realized this by now.

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For those who missed it, here is Sarah Palin’s answer to second-grader, Brandon Garcia, who asked “What does the Vice-President do?”

[T]hey’re in charge of the U.S. Senate so if they want to they can really get in there with the senators and make a lot of good policy changes that will make life better for Brandon and his family and his classroom.

EARTH TO CHECKPOINT CHICKIE:

Here again — for your edification, Sarah Palin — are the job duties for the Vice-President as specified in the U.S. Constitution. I’ve taken the liberty of translating the legal gobbledygook into terms so simple that even a third grader could understand them.  This way, if you’re ever again confronted with another of those third-grade “gotcha” questions, you can answer without fear of sounding inordinately ignorant and thereby causing the rest of us to keel in horror and/or fits of maniacal laughter. 

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THE GOBBLEDYGOOK: In case of the removal of the President from office or of his death or resignation, the Vice President shall become President. (25th Amendment, clarifying Article II, Section 1)

TRANSLATION: If John McCain died, resigned or was impeached, you’d become President.

THE GOBBLEDYGOOK: The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no vote, unless they be equally divided. (Article I, Section 3)

TRANSLATION: While your official title is “President of the Senate,” you would actually have no power whatsoever in the Senate except to cast a tie-breaking vote, in the event of a deadlock.

THE GOBBLEDYGOOK: The President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates, and the votes shall then be counted. The person having the greatest number of votes shall be the President…. (Article II, Section 1)

TRANSLATION: On January 7, 2013, in front of the Senate and House of Representatives, you would open the sealed, certified tallies of electoral ballots (cast the previous November for president/vice president) so that the total votes could be officially counted. 

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EARTH TO McCAIN-PALIN CAMP, SUPPORTERS & SURROGATES:

The $150 million dollars that Barack Obama’s campaign received during the month of September is not evidence of some secret al Qaeda terrorist plot to elect Obama, but is what you might call a preponderance of tangible evidence that there are millions of U.S. citizens out here who are scared shitless over the uniquely dangerous combination of, uh, qualifications shared by both John McCain and Sarah Palin. These donations can also be interpreted as an outright rejection of the lying, the cheating and the hatemongering vitriol of your campaign.   

Here I could almost wish that there were… I don’t know…. a Congressional bill of some sort that would bar presidential or vice-presidential candidates and other leaders from, say,  “adopting or promoting an extremist belief system for the purpose of facilitating ideologically based violence to advance political, religious, or social change.”

 

But wait. Such a bill* already exists, having been passed one year ago this week, designed to interface with all the other laws passed over the past 8 years to address “homegrown terrorists.” Of course, these laws don’t apply to leaders who might abuse and exploit their powers to terrorize the citizens of this country. No, they apply only to the citizens would protest (or even think about protesting) against such laws and such leaders.  Lucky for us, these particular laws are being overseen by Attorney General Michael Mukasey**, the same Bush-Cheney henchman who the Obama campaign recently wrote, requesting an investigation into the voter fraud campaign being conducted by the Bush Administration and the Republican Party to steal the votes from Democrats who would vote for Barack Obama.
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In this light, the only hope for this country is that Obama will be elected by such a overwhelming landslide that, for the first time in 8 years, all the cheating, lying and dirty tricks in the world won’t be enough for the Bush-Cheney gang to again subvert that very democratic process that has sustained this country for over two centuries — ever since our forefathers authored our now-ravaged Constitution and Bill of Rights, those very documents that are apparently of so little importance to Vice-Presidential candidate, Sarah Palin, that she has yet to even bother reading them. 
  
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by Mantis Katz for the canarypapers
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** For more info on Mukasey, simply google “Bush Cheney Mukasey” and you”ll find a wide and well-marked trail of sourced detailing the cover-ups, legal sleights-of-hand, cronyism and other abuses of power committed by the Bush-Cheney-Mukasey gang.