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Inside Washington

Blue Dogs Cash In

August 3rd 2009

Politics - Blue Dog Coalition

Whether the subject is health care reform, climate change, or pay-as-you-go budgeting rules, almost everyone, it seems, suddenly wants to talk with the Blue Dogs. President Obama’s White House meeting with members of the fiscally conservative Democratic coalition earlier this week is but the latest indication that the Blue Dogs — 52 members strong — have deftly turned themselves into a key voting bloc at the nexus of power. With them, the Democrats do not need a single Republican to back their legislation; without them, the Democratic agenda would be in serious peril. And as their clout has expanded, fundraising has grown accordingly, not just from traditionally Democratic contributors, but from unexpected quarters as well.

The numbers are stunning. Nearly 54 percent of the Blue Dog PAC’s contributions this year have come from three sectors: health care PACs, energy PACs, and financial services PACs. As the Blue Dog Coalition’s clout has grown, their fundraising has mushroomed. In the first half of 2009, their PAC raised over $1.1 million — more than in all of 2003-2004. The Blue Dog PAC’s fundraising his increased in each complete cycle, taking in $2,636,273 in contributions in 2007-2008 (up from $1,239,516 in 2005-2006). Read more ..


Arabs and the West

Original Mideast Peace Plan Recognized Jewish State in Return for Arab Nation in Syria

July 27th 2009

Book Covers - Banking on Baghdad

This article is based on the Banking on Baghdad--Inside Iraq's 7,000-Year History of War, Profit, and Conflict (Dialog Press). Buy it here

Every day, politicians and pundits talk of another chance at Mideast peace missed, delayed or subverted. The focus is always on Palestinians and Israelis as the keystone to a global settlement with the West and across the region. But in the original peace arrangement between the Jews, Arabs and the Western powers, it was not settlements and Jerusalem that were at the heart of the problem. In fact, the Arabs originally agreed to a Jewish state complete with massive Jewish immigration. For Arabs, the prize was not Palestine, it was Syria.

This is the story of how the original Middle East Peace Plan crafted among all sides in the aftermath of World War I was subverted—not by Jews or Zionists, but by the French.

It begins at the Paris Peace Conference, on January 1919, in a flag-bedecked, battle-scarred—but victorious—Paris. There, the great top-hatted Allied men of vision and illusion gathered to remake the world and invent the post-Ottoman Middle East. At those fateful meetings, the Arabs and Jews formally agreed to mutually endorse both their national aspirations and live in peace.

This was the deal: The Jews could have an unrestricted Zionist state in Palestine. The British could have Iraq and its fabulous, albeit still undrilled, oil. The Arabs only wanted Syria and the holy cities of Mecca and Medina in the Arabian Peninsula.

During the first days of the League of Nation’s Paris Peace Conference, Faisal, accompanied by T.E. Lawrence, widely dubbed "Lawrence of Arabia," met in Paris with Zionist Organization president Chaim Weizmann. Following up on meetings the two leaders had held the previous June in Aqaba, Faisal signed an enlightened and tolerant nine-point agreement endorsing the Balfour Declaration and inviting the Zionists to coexist in Palestine. The text includes great specificity about mutual national aspirations. But the chief goal of the Arabs for an Arab national state at that time was not Palestine—but Syria. The text: Read more ..


Edge on Homeland Security

Eighty Congressional Committees Now Oversee Tangled Homeland Security Mess

July 20th 2009

Politics - Capitol Building at night

Tom Ridge, the Department of Homeland Security’s first secretary, testified before the 9/11 Commission on a May morning in 2004. Ridge spoke before a hall packed with emotional New Yorkers, about two miles from the site of the World Trade Center. His subject, however, was Washington.

When Commissioner Tim Roemer asked for suggestions on improving DHS, Ridge brought up an institution in which both he and Roemer had served: Congress. It would be helpful, Ridge said, if Congress took a look at the number of committees that had power over DHS.

"I think we could be even more effective in what we’re doing," he began, "if there was some means of reducing, frankly, the multiple layers of interaction that we encounter every single day."

"Well, sir, you’re very polite about it," Roemer responded. "It is absolutely absurd that Congress would require you to report to 88 different subcommittees and committees when we’re supposed to be fighting al-Qaeda."

Five years ago, the 9/11 Commission, a congressionally mandated panel investigating al-Qaeda’s 2001 attacks, made 41 recommendations on such topics as improving screening at airports and creating a director of national intelligence. Commissioners say Congress and the executive branch have enacted 80 to 90 percent of their suggestions. The recommendation that Congress "create a single, principal point of oversight and review for homeland security" is a notable exception. Read more ..


America and Iran

U.S.-Iranian Military Clashes in the Persian Gulf in the 1980s - The Inside Story

July 13th 2009

Energy Topics - Burning Oil Platform

In the 1980s, the United States faced significant security challenges in the Persian Gulf. The Islamic Revolution in Iran had replaced Washington’s ally, the Shah, with a decidedly hostile regime in Tehran. In September 1980, Iraqi president Saddam Hussein seized upon the chaos in Iran by sending Iraqi forces to capture the oil resources located across the border in southern Iran.

However, Iran fended off the assault and drove Saddam’s forces back into Iraq, where the fighting bogged down. Despite repeated offensives costing hundreds of thousands of lives, the Iranians were unable to defeat Iraq, and the war stalemated into a bloody struggle, eerily reminiscent of the First World War.

Fearing an Iranian victory and the export of its Shiite  revolution to Iraq, the pro-Western Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nations—Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE)—provided Iraq with US$25–$65 billion in assistance. Kuwait allowed weapons destined for Iraq to transit its ports; in one week alone, ships arrived at Kuwaiti harbors delivering nearly a brigade’s worth of T-72 tanks. In 1984, the Iran-Iraq War spilled into the Persian Gulf: In an attempt to force Iran to accept a ceasefire, Iraq initiated the so called Tanker War by attacking Iranian oil tankers.  Iran responded by attacking ships destined for Iraq’s financial supporters, particularly Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

Inside NYPD's Counterterrorism Operations

July 6th 2009

Crime Topics - NY Cops

The NYPD has a highly developed counterterrorism program, due in large part to the strong support of city and department leaders such as Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, who are both committed to having a strong counterterrorism program that effectively complements federal efforts. Our department is by far the largest police department in the country. While most police departments have only a few hundred employees, the NYPD has 53,000 men and women plus an operating budget of $4 billion. In addition, the city currently has a very low crime rate. All of these factors make it relatively easy for the NYPD to devote significant resources to counterterrorism.

To say that the NYPD is filling in the gaps in federal counterterrorism efforts is not a criticism of the federal government, which is very good at acquiring information on individuals connected to overseas terrorist organizations. Rather, our department has something the federal government lacks: plenary police power, which gives the department a broad ability to maintain public order, and a unique and important role in overall counterterrorism efforts. The NYPD counterterrorism bureau comprises several main elements. Read more ..


Financing Terrorism

Terrorism and Tobacco--How Cigarette Smuggling Finances Jihad and Insurgency Worldwide

June 29th 2009

Palestine Topics - Gaza Tunnel Smuggler

For centuries, blue-turbaned nomadic Tuareg tribesmen have led caravans of camels across the expanses of the Sahara. Laden with millet and cloth from Africa’s West Coast, the caravans traveled unmarked paths to trade for salt and dates in Timbuktu, across the sand plains of Niger, and into the mountain oasis of the Algerian south.

Smugglers take the same routes today — driving SUVs along paved roads or with guidance from the Tuareg and satellite phones — to move weapons, drugs, and, increasingly, humans — through the Sahara for transport across the Mediterranean Sea. The paths are no longer known as the Salt Roads of the Tuareg, but as the “Marlboro Connection,” named after the most lucrative contraband along this 2,000-mile corridor.

Among those who control this underground trade is al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), an Algeria-based terrorist organization widely believed to have been backed by Osama Bin Laden. Descended from the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (known by its French acronym, GSPC) the group has hundreds of members and is blamed for a bloody campaign of bombings, murders, and kidnappings across North Africa and Europe. The lead smuggler, Mokhtar Belmokhtar, 37, is blamed for the 2003 kidnappings of 32 European tourists and the 2006 murder of 13 Algerian customs officials. “They are a significant threat,” says Lorenzo Vidino, author of Al Qaeda in Europe. “Of all Islamic terrorist groups, they have the most extensive and sophisticated network in Europe… And among their activities, smuggling is particularly important.” Read more ..


North Korea's Nukes

North Korea Missile Threat Against Hawaii and Alaska Has Been Expected for Ten Years—Iran Regime a Full Partner

June 22nd 2009

Korea Topics - Gates Inspecting Missile
Defense Sec. Gates Inspects Alaska Silos

This continuing coverage of America’s oil crisis arises from the The Plan: How to Save America When the Oil Stops—or the Day Before (Dialog Press). Buy it here.

In a frantic race with high winds, bone-chilling ice storms and rattled political nerves, the American defense establishment has been rushing to meet the threat now faced by Hawaii, Guam, Alaska and possibly the West Coast of the United States mainland—an advanced North Korean Taepodong-2 missile. The now-contested regime of Iran’s president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been a full partner in the development.

Bellicose and prone to tantrums, North Korea’s bizarre strong man Kim Jong-Il has ordered a missile test of the new advanced Taepodong-2 missile, apparently in the direction of U.S. territory. Hawaii, Guam and Alaska are in the crosshairs. The defense establishment is convinced the decisive moment will once again come provocatively on America’s national holiday, July 4. This moment has been coming for more than a decade, and the Pentagon, North Korea and Iran have been preparing for it.

Alarm first sounded in 1999 when American defense officials realized that the Taepodong 1 missile, which doubled as an Iranian Shabab, was just the first phase of a decade-plus program by North Korea and Iran to develop an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM). Named for the Taepodong village where it is developed, the long-range Tae-pondong-1 was capable of 2,000 km, enough to threaten its neighbors. But the new Taepodong-2 could achieve double that range, more than 4,000 km—most of the way to Hawaii—and was, therefore, approaching the status of ICBM. With the right wind conditions, this newer missile when further developed could reach the outer territories of the United States. If armed with a reduced-weight payload, and favorable weather conditions, a properly guided TD-2 could reach the United States, perhaps far inland, American defense planners feared. Read more ..


Iran's Nukes

ElBaradei and IAEA Admit Iran Poised to Have Nuclear Weapons

June 17th 2009

Iran - Ahmadinejad at Iranian nuclear plant

"My gut feeling is that Iran definitely would like to have the technology ... that would enable it to have nuclear weapons if they decided to do so." This was the latest conclusion by Mohamed ElBaradei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), pronounced in an interview with the BBC. He added, Iran sees nuclear weapons as an "insurance policy" against perceived threats from Israel or the United States.

ElBaradei, whose term of office is to expire in November, said in the interview that countries in possession of nuclear weapons were treated differently from others, citing the example of North Korea, which was invited to negotiations while Iraq under Saddam Hussein -- which did not have a nuclear capability -- was “pulverized.” Read more ..


Iran's Voter Revolt

How to Steal an Election in Iran

June 15th 2009

Iran - Iran Election

With Iran's presidential campaign now under the microscope the challengers to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and indeed many in the world are understandably expressing intense concern about the possibility of election fraud and manipulation of the election. How do elections work in Iran? Not only are there complaints about regime influence on the campaign, such as biased coverage by state-run television, the voting itself can be manipulated in numerous ways.

According to Iranian law, the Interior Ministry administers elections. In each ward or county, the ministry forms an executive committee that consists of the ward or county head, the local head of the National Organization for Civil Registration, the chief prosecutor or his representative, and eight respected local figures.

The Guardian Council has the duty of supervising the electoral process at each polling station and has created observation committees with more than 130,000 members. Each candidate has the right to send an observer to each fixed polling station to observe both the voting process and the ballot count. Read more ..


Iran's Voter Revolt

Iranian Election Leads to Chaos in the Streets

June 15th 2009

Iran - Iran Election Protest

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinijad claimed a 60 percent victory in this week’s elections, bit the people of Iran refuse to believe he was the real victor.

The Iranian people took the streets this weekend in protest of what many called a stolen election, while Iran's leading opposition candidate, Hossein Mousavi, called the election a "coup" and demanded the international community not recognize the official results.

According to Iranian bloggers, so convinced is the population that the election results are a fraud that they have been making the joke that “George Orwell has requested to change his book's name from 1984 to 1388." This is the year 1388 according to the Iranian calendar.

Mousavi asserts that he had been informed of his victory by the interior ministry on Friday night. That claim was first published on the website of Mohsen Makhmalbaf, a celebrated Iranian film director based in Paris and influential Mousavi supporter asked to speak on behalf of the candidate because of the clampdown on his organization in Iran. Authorities detained top Mousavi aides, including the head of his webcampaign, but many were released Sunday after being held overnight. Makhmalbaf’s website was subsequently closed down by a cyber attack.

"This semi-democratic country has taken an important step towards dictatorship," Makhmalbaf said. Read more ..


America and Israel

Obama and the Israel Question—Many Now Queasy

June 8th 2009

Obama Admin Topics - Barack Obama with Flag

Many supporters of Barack Obama who are also supporters of Israel— from both the Jewish and Christian communities—are now wondering whether their faith in America’s charismatic new president was misplaced on this key issue.

At the core of the queasiness is the Obama Administration’s sudden publicly strident approach against Israel. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton has become the Administration’s chief megaphone for the new policy, fond of publicly scolding Israel on settlements. "The president was very clear,” she stated, “when Prime Minister Netanyahu was here. He wants to see a stop to settlements—not some settlements, not outposts, not natural growth exceptions. We think it is in the best interests of the effort that we are engaged in that settlement expansion cease. That is our position. That is what we have communicated very clearly, not only to the Israelis but to the Palestinians and others. And we intend to press that point.”

At first, many Obama devotees simply muttered quietly about the harsh public tone taken against Israel. It began at the level of the “close listeners,” those who follow the minute-to-minute developments and promulgations of the Arab-Israel dynamic. Eventually, the national leadership began verbalizing concern as well, and then local leaders joined in. If leadership jitters continue, the rank-and-file from among Israel’s supporters could begin distancing themselves from Obama’s Mideast policy and even joining the loyal opposition on a range of issues. One seasoned Washington correspondent quipped, “It has not yet reached the Jimmy Carter level.”

The first articles reporting the jitters began appearing weeks ago in mainstream Jewish media outlets such as the JTA and the Forward. Indeed, the latest reporting by veteran JTA Washington correspondent Ron Kampeas bears the headline, “Some Israeli-U.S. Officials move to keep the volume down.” Kampeas’s current article quotes an e-mail from the White House to Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the umbrella body for public policy groups. "While we may have some differences of view with Israel at the moment over settlements,” the White House e-mail explains, “we are trying to work through them quietly, professionally, and without rancor or ultimatums, as befits a strong relationship with an important ally. We are confident we can do that."

The present clash functions at a number of domestic and international levels—some of them contradictory, and all of them granulated. Read more ..


America's Economic Collapse

Lenders Pushed Appraisers to Inflate Home Values--and then the Bubble Burst

June 1st 2009

Economy - Foreclosure

In 2004, years before plummeting real estate values turned Fort Myers, Florida, into a top five foreclosure capital, appraiser Mike Tipton faced a dilemma. Tipton’s employer, eAppraiseIT, sent him to value a two-bedroom home in a new subdivision built by the developer D.R. Horton. Paperwork given by the appraisal management company to Tipton included a $245,000 estimated value.

But after inspecting the home and comparing it to five similar houses that had recently sold, Tipton set the value at $237,000--$8,000 less than the estimate. He knew the difference might disappoint DHI Mortgage, the prospective buyer’s lender, which is a subsidiary of developer D.R. Horton. And indeed it did. The lender, in a process appraisers say was common in the boom days before the housing bubble burst, asked Tipton to redo the appraisal. It sent paperwork through eAppraiseIT asking him to reconsider the value. It gave him different homes to use for comparisons.

"If you read between the lines, they wanted a larger value," Tipton said. "I told them no, I wasn’t changing my report."

Read more ..

America's Economic Collapse

Predatory Lending: A Decade of Warnings as Congress and the Fed Fiddled

May 25th 2009

Politics - Capitol Building at night

A little more than a decade ago, William Brennan foresaw the financial collapse of 2008.  As director of the Home Defense Program at the Atlanta Legal Aid Society, he watched as subprime lenders earned enormous profits making mortgages to people who clearly couldn’t afford them.

The loans were bad for borrowers — Brennan knew that. He also knew the loans were bad for the Wall Street investors buying up these shaky mortgages by the thousands. And he spoke up about his fears. “I think this house of cards may tumble some day, and it will mean great losses for the investors who own stock in those companies,” he told members of the Senate Special Committee on Aging in 1998.

It turns out that Brennan didn’t know how right he was. Not only did those loans bankrupt investors, they nearly took down the entire global banking system.

Washington was warned as long as a decade ago by bank regulators, consumer advocates, and a handful of lawmakers that these high-cost loans represented a systemic risk to the economy, yet Congress, the White House, and the Federal Reserve all dithered while the subprime disaster spread. Long forgotten Read more ..


America's Economic Collapse

Billion Dollar Bailout Banks Financed the Subprime Industry and America’s Economic Meltdown

May 18th 2009

Economy - Bundles of Cash

The top subprime lenders whose practices are largely blamed for triggering the global economic meltdown were owned or bankrolled by banks now collecting billions of dollars in bailout money—including several that have paid huge fines to settle predatory lending charges.

These big institutions were not only unwitting victims of an unforeseen financial collapse, as they have sometimes portrayed themselves, but enablers that bankrolled the type of lending that has threatened the financial system.

These are among the findings of an analysis of government data on nearly 7.2 million "high-interest" or subprime loans made from 2005 through 2007, a period that marks the peak and collapse of the subprime boom. The computer-assisted analysis also reveals the top 25 originators of high-interest loans, accounting for nearly $1 trillion, or about 72 percent of such loans made during that period.

Investigation found that U.S. and European investment banks invested enormous sums in subprime lending due to unceasing demand for high-yield, high-risk bonds backed by home mortgages. Those banks made huge profits while their executives collected handsome bonuses until the bottom fell out of the real estate market.

Read more ..

Iran's Nukes

Has the Obama-Israel Joint Policy on Iran's Nukes Ruptured?

May 11th 2009

Obama Admin Topics - Obama-Peres

There is no reason for so much as a "crack" in relations between our government and Obama's, Shimon Peres said this week. He's wrong. On Iran, the Israeli and American red lines are drawn in very different places.

Welcoming the 2002 Arab League peace initiative, all but endorsing a two-state solution, insisting that the new Israeli government was determined to make peace, President Shimon Peres turned in a vintage performance at the AIPAC annual Policy Conference this week.

He sent chills with his warnings about the aggressive Iranians' nuclear threat and hegemonic ambition, warmed hearts by talking of his two great-grandchildren, Ella and Ari, as their adorable features flashed on the giant video screens, and served as the model visitor by paying a warm tribute to the host nation and its new leader.

Barack Obama's election, he declared, had unleashed a "tsunami" of hope - and we in Israel, he promised, were going to help Obama realize it by opening our arms to reconciliation with the Arab world. Read more ..


GM's Toxic Legacy

GM's Toxic Legacy for America: Poisoned Citizens and Communities Across the Nation

May 5th 2009

Environment Topics - China Urban Pollution

The Love Canal environmental disaster taught us the environomental realities of the industrial age. General Motors has earned a special place in the gallery of toxic monsters who have damaged the environmental health of this nation and the physical health its citizens.

At the Love Canal, it became painfully obvious that where we live and work, we see the inexcusable consequences of toxic chemicals being quietly dumped into the local earth and air. This infamous New York canal was a half-mile trench dug during the 1890’s. It became an industrial dumpsite in the 1920’s, was covered up, and a community of homes and a school were built upon it. All seemed traquil, but the chemical clock was clicking.

By 1978, this toxic time bomb began to burst, releasing more than 80 different chemical compounds, including 11 carcinogens rising upwards through the earth into the homes, yards and schools. Read more ..


Justice on Edge

Why Jonathan Pollard is Still in Prison

May 2nd 2009

Edwin Black

On January 7, 2002, former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stepped through the two-doored entry chamber of a prison sallyport. After the first fudge-brown steel and armored glass door slowly closed right-to-left behind him, Netanyahu passed his hand beneath a black light reader along the left wall. It illuminated a small security stamp on his hand, not unlike the type disco clubs use. Behind opaque, silver-tinted windows, watchful security officers in the control room completed their checklist, approving Netanyahu’s access. Then in a low mechanized rumble, the entry chamber’s long second door opened left-to-right, admitting Netanyahu to an inner corridor of the prison. He was ushered just down the hall and then into a large room on the right, filled with vending machines and tables. There, waiting for him was the man Netanyahu wanted to see.

The prison was not in Israel, it was in North Carolina. Netanyahu had flown to Raleigh Durham and then driven the forest-lined 20 minutes to the Federal Correctional Institution at Butner. It was all to talk to America’s most controversial Jewish prisoner, now serving his 17th year of incarceration. The prisoner, 09185-016, was Jonathan Jay Pollard, the American Jew who pleaded guilty in 1986 to spying for Israel, and was abruptly sentenced to life imprisonment despite a binding plea bargain that restricted any request for so harsh a term.
For the next few hours, within earshot of a National Security Agency monitor, Netanyahu and Pollard spoke about the anguish of his imprisonment and practical ideas to set him free. “Contrary to perfidious rumors about his manner,” remembers Netanyahu in a telephone interview, “Pollard was absolutely clear and in control—both intellectually and emotionally. Remember, he did not work for anyone but Israel, yet continues in jail after 17 years. However, others did work for other countries, and they were set free long ago. A great injustice has been perpetrated by keeping Pollard endlessly in jail.”

Netanyahu’s crusading tone is now a common feature of the Jonathan Pollard saga. Since that tumultuous afternoon, March 4, 1987, when federal Judge Aubrey Robinson stunned his courtroom by imposing a life sentence, Pollard has been the cause célèbre of an international movement to free him. The roster of the renowned passionately advocating for Pollard’s release, or the overturn of his sentence, is nothing less than spectacular. It includes every Israeli Prime Minister since the crime, from Yitzhak Rabin to Ariel Sharon; Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel, who has visited Pollard twice in prison; numerous members of Congress led by Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY); a collection of distinguished law professors, such as Harvard’s Charles Ogletree and American University’s Michael Tigar; a cast of Hollywood luminaries; and an armada of America’s most celebrated defense attorneys, including Harvard’s flamboyant Alan Dershowitz and Theodore Olsen, now the U.S. Solicitor General. Legions of grass-root supporters both within America’s Jewish community and the Israeli electorate, emotionally agitate as well for Pollard’s immediate release. Read more ..


What if the Oil Stops

Italian CNG Exec Charges Honda with “Mafia-like” Conduct over Fuelmaker as Sale Nears

April 30th 2009

Automotive - IMI FuelMaker
IMI Fuelmaker Exhibition

This continuing coverage of America’s oil crisis arises from the The Plan: How to Save America When the Oil Stops—or the Day Before (Dialog Press). Buy it here.

Update May 1. The day after The Cutting Edge News released its story about the impending sale of Fuelmaker, probably to Fuel Systems Solutions, the actual sale to Fuel Systems Solutions was announced. See related story in Energy.

“It is a very bad situation. I am not good. I am desperate,” declared Haimo Staffler, president of IMI, the exclusive Italian distributor of home and office compressed natural gas (CNG) refueling devices manufactured by Honda Fuelmaker. The devices include the Phill unit designed to be the home refueler for the much touted restricted-production Honda Civic GX. The GX runs exclusively on CNG and holds the promise of untethering its owners from oil use and gas stations. Fuelmaker devices refuel not just Honda vehicles but any compatible CNG vehicle from forklifts to Fiats. Staffler’s experience with Honda executives and their conduct in the Fuelmaker case has left him shocked and angry, accusing them of extreme misconduct.

“These people from Honda,” he asserts, “they are driving me crazy. What they have done is terrible.”

Specifically, Staffler accuses Honda of extreme misconduct in the recent sudden bankruptcy the Japanese carmaker forced on Fuelmaker. Overnight, that engineered bankruptcy has vaporized IMI’s distribution agreements and product launches for Fuelmaker in Italy. Read more ..


Inside Islam

Somali Pirates and the Islamist Jihad

April 20th 2009

Piracy - Somali Pirates Land
Somali Jihadi Pirates

As the news of the successful US Navy SEALS rescue of Captain Richard Phillips, who was taken hostage by Muslim pirates off the coast of Somalia last week, slides off the headlines into oblivion, we can begin to look more deeply into the matter of piracy off the East African coast.

What is clear is that US government is treating the matter as a criminal case because officials have “found no direct ties” between the East African pirates and regional or international terror groups.

But in fact, those labeled as mere “criminals” are actually Jihadist Muslim pirates, and they make that clear to anyone who will listen. To begin, Somali pirates do not think of themselves as “pirates,” but instead consider themselves devout Muslims protecting Somalia against the infidel West. As one pirate put it to a Reuters journalist just days ago, “We are Muslims. We are marines, coastguards -- not pirates." Read more ..


The Iran Threat

Iran Ramps Up Proxy War in Iraq

April 13th 2009

Iran - Iran's Revolutionary Guard

In December 2008, shortly before assuming office, President Barack Obama called for "tough but direct diplomacy with Iran." As the new administration moves forward, it must realize that U.S.-Iranian negotiations will take place while Iran is killing Americans in Iraq and increasing its support for armed Iraqi factions. Like its predecessor, the Obama administration must prepare for the challenge of negotiating under fire.

In addition to significant economic investment and relationship building among Iraq's political parties, Iran develops influence in Iraq by providing Iraqi militants with training, shelter, money, and equipment. Analysis of declassified interrogation and other intelligence material published by the West Point Counterterrorism Center, the Institute for Studying War, and the Long War Journal, has publicly revealed what military intelligence professionals have been piecing together for longer than five years: that Iran has been developing a covert action program in Iraq for decades, one that is open-ended, resilient, and well-funded, and that utilizes a broad range of Iraqi proxies. Read more ..


What if the Oil Stops

Honda Suddenly Kills Fuelmaker In Stunning Move That Outrages CNG Movement

April 6th 2009

Energy / Environment - Honda GC refueling at home

This continuing coverage of America’s oil crisis arises from the The Plan: How to Save America When the Oil Stops—or the Day Before (Dialog Press). Buy it here.

Amidst charges that embattled American Honda is systematically suppressing its compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicle program, the company has suddenly fueled that impression by throwing into bankruptcy its wholly-owned CNG refueling company, Fuelmaker.

Toronto-based Fuelmaker was arguably the linchpin of CNG’s future as a bridge solution to alternative fuel. The firm manufactured and distributed the essential refueling appliance that allowed home-based and fleet refueling of CNG vehicles worldwide, including the Honda Civic GX heralded as the “greenest car in America.” Read more ..


America's Financial Collapse

America Once Ruled the World--The Last Bubble is Bursting

March 30th 2009

Social Topics - Stature of Liberty Sunset

In less than two generations, America has squandered the human sacrifice, blood, sweat and tears of  more than seven decades. We have been an independent country for 226 years. From 1783 until 1946 America was an unrelenting upward trajectory for the beacon of the free world.

With the end of World War II, America was the last country standing. Germany and Japan were in shambles. Russia had lost millions of citizens, with Stalin about to murder millions more. Great Britain was a shell of its former self. The American Empire had been born. We were the manufacturer to the world. We rebuilt Europe and Japan. Our military was dominant. We made the best automobiles. We built 41,000 miles of national highway over two decades. In 1946, one in three U.S. workers was employed in the manufacturing industry.

Today, less than one in ten workers makes something.

In the years following World War II, the United States ran trade surpluses of 2 percent to 4 percent of GDP. We regularly ran surpluses until the late 1970’s. Since the late 1970’s, the United States has run increasingly large trade deficits, reaching 6 percent of GDP in 2007. For the last three decades, Americans have tried to spend their way to prosperity. Read more ..


Iran's Nukes

F-22 Fighter Can Buy Time in Israel's Nuclear Showdown with Iran

March 23rd 2009

Military - F-22s at Sunset

On February 19, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) released its most recent report on Iran's nuclear activities, indicating that the Islamic Republic may have produced enough low-enriched uranium for its first nuclear weapon (if further enriched). Meanwhile, Israeli prime minister-designate Binyamin Netanyahu is putting together a right-leaning government that, in his own words, would consider an Iranian nuclear weapon as "the gravest threat to [Israel's] existence since the war of independence." Complicating matters, Russia is considering the sale of the advanced S-300 air defense system to Iran -- a "game changing" move that could affect Israel's calculus about whether, and when, to launch a preventive strike against Iran's nuclear infrastructure. This confluence of events -- and the prospective transfer of the S-300 in particular -- underscores the need for the United States to consider actions that could buy additional time to enable diplomacy to work.

The S-300 Game Changer

Reports of a possible Russian transfer of the S-300 to Iran are cloaked in uncertainty; questions remain as to which version is even being discussed. The S-300PMU-2 is a highly advanced, extremely capable air defense system known in the West as the SA-20. It is a highly mobile system, capable of intercepting low-altitude cruise missiles, ballistic missiles, and high-altitude bombers. It can engage targets from altitudes as low as 30 feet up to 90,000 feet, and from a range of inside of 3 miles out to 95 miles. As a result, the former commander of U.S. Air Force Air Combat Command, Gen. (Ret.) Richard Hawley, commented last August to aviation trade journalists: "For non-stealth aircraft, the SA-20 represents a virtual no-fly zone." Read more ..


America’s Economic Collapse

Grand Illusion – Secrets of the Federal Reserve

March 16th 2009

Economy - Money Money Money

The whole world is in a state of complete confusion. Americans are coming to the realization that their lives have been a grand illusion. You thought your neighbor had it made. They were driving a Mercedes, spent $40,000 on a new kitchen with granite countertops and stainless steel appliances, sent their kids to private school, had a second home at the shore, and took exotic vacations all over the world. Now their house is in foreclosure and you are paying to bail them out. The anger and outrage in the country is at the highest level since the Vietnam War.

The American public is being misled by government officials, politicians, and the Federal Reserve regarding the causes of this crisis and the solutions needed to solve our economic tribulations.

The average American does not know much about the Federal Reserve. The government and the Federal Reserve prefer to operate in the shadows. If the American public understood what their policies have done to their lives, they would be rioting in the streets. Most Americans believe that the Federal Reserve is part of the government. They are wrong. It is a privately held corporation owned by stockholders. The Federal Reserve System is owned by the largest banks in the United States. There are Class A,B, and C shareholders. The owner banks and their shares in the Federal Reserve are a secret. Why is this a secret? It is likely that the biggest banks in the country are the major shareholders. Does this explain why Citicorp, Bank of America and JP Morgan, despite being insolvent, are being propped up by Ben Bernanke and Timothy Geithner? Read more ..


Tracking the Nazi Nexus

American Corporate Complicity Created Undeniable Nazi Nexus

March 9th 2009

Book Covers - Nazi Nexus

This article is based on the just released book, Nazi Nexus: America's Corporate Connection's to Hitler's Holocaust (Dialog Press). Buy it here.

Adolf Hitler was completely responsible for the Holocaust. But Hitler had help.

When zealous Nazis were motivated to wage war against an imaginary generation-to-generation Jewish conspiracy… when Nazis created ghastly extermination plans to help ensure their master race would rule the world… when the German military was enabled to smash across Europe with lightning speed in heavy Blitz trucks, bomb mercilessly from the air in advanced JU-88s, and create carnage across the seas with deadly torpedoes… when Josef Mengele saw the scientific need to undertake heinous medical experiments on twins in Auschwitz… when the Reich was enabled to identify the Jews everywhere in Europe and then systematically pauperize and destroy them… when all these terrible things were done, the shape and scope of the horror was pivotally determined by major American industrial giants.

Now the dots can be connected. They create an undeniably Nazi nexus between iconic American corporations and the greatest crime of the twentieth century: the Holocaust.

Who gave Hitler the initial basis for transmogrifying centuries of outgroup religious hatred into a new twentieth century political anti-Semitism? It was Henry Ford, acting directly through the Ford Motor Company. In 1920, the gullible but mercurial Ford acquired a forged typescript convincing him of an evil international Jewish cabal determined to subjugate the world through devious manipulation of the world’s governments, newspapers, and economic systems. The revelations were contained in the notorious and fake Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

To purvey this new brand of Jew hatred to the world, Ford purchased a failed newspaper, the Dearborn Independent, which serialized The Protocols for 91 weeks. His company then published the series as a book, The International Jew. Using the techniques of mass production, Ford was able to escalate the Protocols from a negligible, randomly circulated irritant to a national sensation of 500,000 copies. Devoting the national sales force and the assets of the Ford Motor Company to the task hatred made Henry Ford the first to organize political anti-Semitism in America. Indeed, he was the hero of anti-Semites the world over. Read more ..


America's Economic Collapse

As General Motors Goes, So Goes the Nation

March 3rd 2009

Automotive - GM CEO Wagoner
GM CEO Rick Wagoner

General Motors was founded in 1908 in Flint, Michigan and grew to be the largest corporation in the world. Its market capitalization reached $50 billion in 2000. In the past week its market capitalization has dropped below $1 billion to levels last seen during the 1920’s.

The story of General Motors is in many ways the story of America. In 1953, at the peak of its dominance, its President Charles Wilson declared before Congress that what was good for the country was good for GM and vice versa. Edwin Black’s award-winning book Internal Combustion quotes his exact words when during a Congressional hearing Wilson was asked whether he saw a conflict of interest in his becoming Secretary of Defense: “I cannot conceive of one." replied Wilson, "because for years I thought what was good for our country was good for General Motors, and vice versa. The difference did not exist. Our company is too big.”

GM’s rise to power and decline towards insolvency parallels the rise and fall of the Great American Republic. Overconfidence, hubris, lack of courage, foolish decisions made and crucial decisions deferred have been the hallmarks of GM and U.S. Read more ..


Iran's Nukes

Iran-Israel Nuclear End Game Now Much Closer

February 23rd 2009

Israel Topics - Israeli Jets Parked

This continuing coverage of America’s oil crisis arises from the just released book, The Plan: How to Save America When the Oil Stops—or the Day Before (Dialog Press). Buy it here.

In recent days, four key developments have clicked in to edge Iran and Israel much closer to a military denouement with profound consequences for American oil that the nation is not prepared to meet.

What has happened? First, Iran has proven it can successfully launch a satellite into outer space as it did on February 2. Tehran claimed to the incredulity of Western governments that the satellite was to monitor earthquakes and enhance communications. Few believe that, especially since America’s own space program continuously launches unpublished military satellite missions. Tehran plans three more satellites this year, creating an easily weaponized space net that worries American military planners. Read more ..


The Obama Edge

Retrofitting Nation’s Gas Guzzler Fleet Unstimulated in Latest Bailout

February 16th 2009

Economy - Green Jobs

This continuing coverage of America’s oil crisis arises from the just released book, The Plan: How to Save America When the Oil Stops—or the Day Before (Dialog Press). Buy it here.

Now that the $787 billion stimulus package has become law, a key emphasis is “green jobs” and energy rescue. But the single most important program in becoming energy independent and regaining financial health is never mentioned in the massive Congressional text.

Without that program, it will take one to two painful decades to kick our national addiction to oil. Without that program, our vulnerability to an oil interruption due to a petropolitical or terrorist blockage of the Strait of Hormuz continues as a clear and present danger. Without that program, America’s economic house of cards will continue to weaken as we continue to send approximately a $1 trillion overseas, primarily to OPEC suppliers. Without that program, hundreds of thousands of auto industry workers have no real chance of rapidly returning to secure work. That undiscovered program is vehicle “retrofitting” to create a Retrofitting Revolution. Read more ..


Mexican Drug Wars

Mexican Narco-Traffickers Wreak Deadly Havoc Against Law Enforcement

February 9th 2009

Mexican Topics - Mexican Drug Violence

Mexico is struggling to wage war against its ultra-violent drug traffickers. More than 6,000 people were murdered in 2008, including innocent people, law enforcement officers and military men, as well as narco-traffickers themselves. The gruesome conflict is spilling over into American territory into the lives of U.S. citizens vacationing south of the border. Mexico's drug war is in fact more threatening and bloody now than at any point in history.

The numbers are staggering. In 2008, some 530 police officers were killed. In January 2009 alone, some 493 murders were attributed to drug-related violence, nearly doubling the figure for January 2008. These murders were gruesome. Many of the dead were decapitated and showed signs of torture. Minors and women have not been spared from the violence.

The Mexican government admits that a number of the police killed were also working for the narco-traffickers and were in fact murdered by rivals. Escalating violence has American authorities worried. Read more ..


America’s Economic Collapse

Must America Learn Painful Lessons from Japan’s Economic Crisis?

February 2nd 2009

Economy - Japanese Economic Crisis

Every day seems worse than the previous day for our economy. Five hundred thousand people are getting laid off each month. Our banking system is on life support. Retailers are going bankrupt in record numbers. The stock market keeps descending. Home prices continue to plummet. Home foreclosures keep mounting. Consumer confidence is at record lows.

You would like to close your eyes and make it go away. Not only is the news not going away, it is going to get worse and last longer than most people can comprehend. The Great Depression lasted 11 years, but the more pertinent comparison is Japan from 1990 until today.

A two-decade downturn has a high likelihood of occurring in the United States. There are many similarities between the U.S. and Japan, but in many areas the U.S. has a much dire situation. If the next decade resembles the Japanese experience, there will be significant angst and social unrest. Read more ..


The Obama Edge

Barack Obama and the Triumph Over American Eugenics

January 26th 2009

Presidential - Barack Obama with Flag

Among Barack Obama’s many historic achievements is the ultimate triumph over American eugenics. No one in America should forget that about 100 years ago, the American intellectual and academic elite created the race science known as eugenics. This genocidal pseudoscience claimed that humanity was destined to be comprised solely of blonde, blue-eyed Nordic Americans. Anyone who did not conform to this racial stereotype was not worthy of existence on Earth. The list of undesirables included Southern Italians, Eastern Europeans, Hispanics, brown-haired hillbillies, Jews, American Indians and of course African Americans. Above all, all race-mixing was taboo, a concept eugenicists called “race suicide.”

This bizarre pseudoscience arose in the early 1900s, following the rediscovery of Mendel’s principles of heredity as applied to peas and horses combined with the corrupted views of Francis Galton, the quirky British scientist who originated the idea of eugenics at the end of the 19th Century. Galton almost whimsically hoped that if rich, talented people married other rich talented people, then rich, talented offspring would result. In the hands of early 20th Century American racists, Galton’s and Mendel’s ideas were transmogrified into a racist ideology: American Eugenics.

According to eugenic thought, blacks and other “undesirables” were lazy, shiftless, disease prone, and genetically predisposed to a criminal life, including prostitution and thievery. You were not born into poverty. Poverty was born into you. Racist intelligence tests, known as the Alpha and Beta Test, were concocted to prove that some 70 percent of tested Negroes were Morons. Indeed, the word “moron” was a scientific term invented by the academics to help damn the destiny of those who did not resemble themselves. Read more ..


America's Economic Collapse

Ghost Malls Will Be Appearing

January 19th 2009

Economy - Out of Business

America’s economy supports more than 1.1 million retail stores. There are approximately 1,100 Malls in the United States, not counting the thousands of strip mall centers. That will soon change as once thriving malls become ghost malls. By 2011, America’s malls within two years will have an entirely different set of numbers.

International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) chief economist Michael Niemira tries to put a good face on the gloom. He says, “In the midst of all this doom and gloom, it's hard to imagine it getting better... But keep in mind, what happens in strong downturns is there's a hefty pent-up demand. It's wrong to extrapolate these conditions for the next year or two."  Read more ..


The Surge Against Hamas

Has Israel Used "Disproportionate Force" in Gaza?

January 5th 2009

Israel Topics - Gaza bomb damage
Gaza Bomb Damage

Israeli population centers in southern Israel have been the target of over 4,000 rockets, as well as thousands of mortar shells, fired by Hamas and other organizations since 2001. Rocket attacks increased by 500 percent after Israel withdrew completely from the Gaza Strip in August 2005. During an informal six-month lull, some 215 rockets were launched at Israel.

The charge that Israel uses disproportionate force keeps resurfacing whenever it has to defend its citizens from non-state terrorist organizations and the rocket attacks they perpetrate. From a purely legal perspective, Israel's current military actions in Gaza are on solid ground. According to international law, Israel is not required to calibrate its use of force precisely according to the size and range of the weaponry used against it.

Ibrahim Barzak and Amy Teibel wrote for the Associated Press on December 28 that most of the 230 Palestinians who were reportedly killed were "security forces," and Palestinian officials said "at least 15 civilians were among the dead." The numbers reported indicate that there was no clear intent to inflict disproportionate collateral civilian casualties. What is critical from the standpoint of international law is that if the attempt has been made "to minimize civilian damage, then even a strike that causes large amounts of damage—but is directed at a target with very large military value—would be lawful."

Read more ..

The Surge Against Hamas

A War “to the Bitter End” says Israel while Arab Officials “Blame Hamas"

December 29th 2008

Palestine Topics - Israel destroys Hamas installation
Israel Destroys Hamas Installation

The surge against Hamas will be fought to “the bitter end,” Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak has declared. Israel is now determined to undo the Hamas terror state that has emerged in Gaza, targeting all of its installations, tunnels, and infrastructure.

Hamas squads have lobbed thousands of rockets into southern Israel since it seized power in a coup against the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority in June 2007. Once in power, Hamas established a Taliban-style rule, forcing secular Palestinians to abide by Islamic fundamentalist precepts, massacring supporters of the Palestinian Authority, and forging extensive military connections with Iran and its surrogate, Hezbollah. In the process, it has waged a daily war of rocket launches and terrorist attacks against nearby Israeli towns and cities. Read more ..


The Madoff Massacre

Merkin's Role in the Madoff Scandal Coming to Light As Lawsuits Fly

December 22nd 2008

Economy - Money Money Money

The largest financial fraud in history continues to reverberate throughout the far flung Jewish communities of the United States and beyond. The perpetrator of this fraud and the overwhelming majority of the victims are Jewish. There are more questions than answers at this point in the investigation. Could one man acting alone possibly run a $50 billion multi-decade long Ponzi scheme? Where did the money go? Were there accomplices that either actively supported or were complicit in the scheme? The answers to these questions will be answered in the coming months, but the pain inflicted upon Jewish charities, Jewish communities on Long Island, New York, Los Angeles, and Palm Beach will last a lifetime. Attention has now turned to a second prominent Jewish financier, Jacob Ezra Merkin. Merkin appears to be deeply involved in Madoff’s mess. Who is Merkin? Read more ..


Iran's Nukes

Obama Said To Threaten U.S. Nuclear Strike If Iran Nukes Israel

December 15th 2008

Military - A Bomber
American Nuclear Bomber

U.S. President-elect Barack Obama's administration will offer Israel a "nuclear umbrella" against the threat of a nuclear attack by Iran, a well-placed American source said earlier this week. The source, who is close to the new administration, said the U.S. will declare that an attack on Israel by Tehran would result in a devastating U.S. nuclear response against Iran.

But America's nuclear guarantee to Israel could also be interpreted as a sign the U.S. believes Iran will eventually acquire nuclear arms.

Secretary of State-designate Hillary Clinton had raised the idea of a nuclear guarantee to Israel during her campaign for the Democratic Party's nomination for the presidency. During a debate with Obama in April, Clinton said that Israel and Arab countries must be given "deterrent backing." She added, "Iran must know that an attack on Israel will draw a massive response." 

Read more ..

The Iran Threat

Iran Deploys Troops, Ballistic Missiles To Eritrea

December 8th 2008

Iran - Eritrea Iran meeting
Eritrean President Isayas Afwerki and Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad

Iranian ships and submarines have deployed an undisclosed number of Iranian troops and weapons at the Eritrean port town of Assab, according to opposition groups, foreign diplomats, and NGOs in the area.

The city of Assab sits at the Horn of Africa in the Arabian Sea. As such, Assab offers a strategic position as the world nervously eyes the precarious routes through which a seaborne oil traverses daily.

Local sources have reported that Iran recently sent soldiers and a large number of long-range and ballistic missiles. The military basing came after Iran signed an accord with Eritrea to revamp the Russian-built refinery used by the Eritrean Oil Company, also known as Assab Oil Company. As the world’s second largest import of gasoline, Iran is sensitive to a Western plan to obstruct its access to refined product as a part of broad sanctions provoked by Teheran’s nuclear activities. Iran needs nearby oil refining ability. Using protection of the Eritrean refinery as a pretext, Iran has set up its military operation there, and has been patrolling with unmanned surveillance drones. Read more ..


Mumbai Massacre

Murder in Mumbai Yields New Terrorist Threat: "Jihadi Infantry"

December 1st 2008

India Topics - Mumbai Massacre

As Indian security ended the terrorist attacks in the financial capital of the Indian region, a first evaluation of the attacks is now ongoing.

Jihadi Infantry Appears on Global Stage

According to emerging reports in Mumbai, the armed group has attacked at least ten targets inside the city including the iconic Taj Hotel, Oberoi Hotel, a railway station, the Leopold Café, the Trident Hotel, the Chabad Jewish center, a hospital and other locations. The terrorists fired indiscriminately against civilians but also targeted security officials and lobbed grenades. Indian security reports some 180 deaths, and hundreds more wounded. All known terrorists were presumably killed and one arrested. Indian security sources confirmed the use of AK-47s, small arms, grenade, etc. The operation, involved a dozen Jihadis "deployed" in several positions, after "landing" from sea.

In my book Future Jihad I coined these types of forthcoming strikes as "urban Jihad." Instead of bombers and suicide bombers, the command sends "Jihadi infantry." The tactical goal of these actions is to engage in different types of missions: random killings, chaos, killing of security officers and hostage taking.  Read more ..


The Detroit Bailout

2008 L.A. Auto Show: Was it the Kick off for the Big Three's Farewell Tour?

November 24th 2008

Economy - Big Three at Congress
GM's Wagoner, Chrysler's Nardelli, & Ford's Mullaly

Los Angeles, San Francisco, Detroit, Chicago, Philadelphia, New York…

That sounds like the city stops along a rock band’s national tour—and it could be.

But in this case these are major cities that make up part of the 2009 model-year auto show exposition tour that car companies will follow to display their products to the American public. For the Big Three—General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler, it could be their farewell tour.

While nearly everyone hopes this won’t be the situation, it doesn’t look particularly promising judging from what the U.S. carmakers unveiled—or more pointedly, didn’t unveil—last week at the Los Angeles Auto Show. 

Last Tuesday night, Ford debuted its latest muscle car, the 2010 Mustang. Yes, the Mustang has always been an American favorite, and the unveiling is obviously intended to blunt Chevrolet’s intended 2010 re-launch of Mustang’s longtime competitor, Camaro. But is this the right time to be talking about gasoline-guzzling muscle cars… regardless of how relatively fuel-efficient the new Mustang may be. Read more ..


Iran's Nukes

Israeli Air General Vows "We Won't Let Iran Go Nuclear"

November 17th 2008

Israel Topics - Israeli Jets Parked

Israel will not tolerate a nuclear Iran, Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Gilad, the head of the Defense Ministry's Diplomatic-Security Bureau, has stressed to this reporter in an unusually hard-hitting interview.

For now, Israel is backing diplomatic and economic efforts to thwart the Iranians, Gilad added, but it doubts these will work and it is keeping all options open.

Asked about the complexities of any resort to military action, particularly since Iran has built its facilities to withstand a repeat of the IAF's 1981 destruction of Saddam Hussein's nuclear reactor at Osirak, Gilad replied, tellingly, that domestic critics 27 years ago said the Osirak raid "couldn't be done. And the fact is, it succeeded."

"Iran is a country with smart people that have capabilities," he noted. "It really would be a considerable challenge. Come the day, if and when this or that option is adopted, what will matter is the outcome."

Read more ..


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