Saturday, October 27, 2007

Bush and Press Cartoon

The New World Order's Endgame

For the New World Order, a world government is just the beginning. Once in place they can engage their plan to exterminate 80% of the world's population, while enabling the "elites" to live forever with the aid of advanced technology. For the first time, crusading filmmaker ALEX JONES reveals their secret plan for humanity's extermination: Operation ENDGAME.

Jones chronicles the history of the global elite's bloody rise to power and reveals how they have funded dictators and financed the bloodiest wars—creating order out of chaos to pave the way for the first true world empire.

* Watch as Jones and his team track the elusive Bilderberg Group to Ottawa and Istanbul to document their secret summits, allowing you to witness global kingpins setting the world's agenda and instigating World War III.

* Learn about the formation of the North America transportation control grid, which will end U.S. sovereignty forever.

* Discover how the practitioners of the pseudo-science eugenics have taken control of governments worldwide as a means to carry out depopulation.

* View the progress of the coming collapse of the United States and the formation of the North American Union.

Never before has a documentary assembled all the pieces of the globalists' dark agenda. Endgame's compelling look at past atrocities committed by those attempting to steer the future delivers information that the controlling media has meticulously censored for over 60 years. It fully reveals the elite's program to dominate the earth and carry out the wicked plan in all of human history.

Endgame is not conspiracy theory, it is documented fact in the elite's own words
.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

A day in the life of an Imperial Storm Trooper...



Reminds me of a time and planet far, far away....

Nukes Over America: All a Stupid Mistake. Sure It Was

The Air Force’s Friday report on the August 29-30 nuclear weapons incident which saw six armed cruise missiles flown across the continental US in launch position on a B-52H bomber leaves all the big questions unanswered, attempting to shuck the whole thing off as an “unacceptable mistake.”

To be sure, Air Force Secretary Michael W. Wynne and Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations Maj. Gen. Richard Newton, said that after a six-week investigation, five officers, including Col. Bruce Emig, commander of the Fifth Bomb Group at Minot AFB in North Dakota, where the flight originated, have been relieved of duty, and 65 other Air Force personnel were also removed from their duties, and both Barksdale and Minot were decertified for their strategic nuclear responsibilities. But that’s still pretty small beer for an incident so serious it’s never happened before in half a century of nuclear weapons handling.

There are, at this point, no court martials being contemplated, and nobody’s been discharged from the military.

Put simply, six 150-kiloton warheads were improperly attached to six Advanced Cruise Missiles, all loaded onto a wing launch pod, and then mounted on the wing of a B-52 H Stratofortress at Minot, along with six similar missiles with dummy warheads, which were loaded onto a launch pod on the plane’s other wing, an all 12 were improperly and illegally flown across the country to Barksdale AFB in Louisiana.

The Air Force, following its “investigation,” is saying the same thing it said before the investigation: it was all a big “mistake”—the result of “widespread disregard for the rules” regarding handling of nuclear weapons.

A few guys at Minot “inexplicably” screwed up and loaded the nukes and then there were a chain of mistakes because no one else treated the nuclear-tipped missiles as if they were armed with nuclear weapons.

The trouble with this theory, or story line if you will, is that while nobody at Minot, supposedly, noticed what was happening—even though ground crew workers spent eight hours laboring to get the pod with the six nuke-tipped missiles mounted on the plane’s wing. This despite the warheads are clearly visible and identifiable by the silver coating they exhibit when viewed through a little window in each nosecone cover, and because there are red coverings on the nuke nosecones—once the plane got to Barksdale, the ground crew there, which had no reason on earth to suspect it was looking at nuclear warheads, spotted them immediately upon going to the plane.
They had no reason to expect nukes because for 40 years it has been illegal for the military to carry nuclear weapons on bombers over US territory, and indeed since 1991, it has been illegal to even load nuclear weapons on a plane, period, even for training purposes on the ground.

How can it be that Air Force ground crew people at Barksdale could spot the nukes in a flash while nobody at Minot—not the workers who mounted the warheads on the missiles in the heavily guarded bunker, not the guards who are supposed to guard those weapons with their lives and prevent any unauthorized removal from the bunkers, not the ground crew that loaded them onto the plan, and not the pilot and crew of the bomber, who are supposed to check every missile before they take off—noticed they were nuclear warheads? (The weapons went unnoticed for 10 hours in Barksdale, but that’s only because no groundcrew visited the plane for that long, but when they did go to it, they reportedly spotted the nukes right off the bat.)

The Air Force, at a press conference announcing the results of its investigation, didn’t answer this question. It appears they reporters at the session didn’t ask it either.

Certainly the AP reporter didn’t ask it, because if she had, she would surely have included the Air Force’s answer, or it’s non-answer, in her story.

Nobody, apparently, asked the Air Force either about six mysterious violent deaths of Air Force personnel from Minot and Barksdale, and from a mysterious Air Force Special Commando Group, all of which occurred in the days and weeks immediately before, during and after the incident. Two of those deaths—of the Special Commando Group officer and of a Minot weapons guard—were reportedly “suicides.”

In an article in the current issue of American Conservative magazine, currently on newsstands, I report that incredibly, no federal investigators from the Pentagon or the federal government even bothered to contact the police investigators or medical examiners who investigated those six deaths—an remarkable failure of due diligence, given the seriousness of this incident.

One retired Navy officer who contacted me during my investigation, who worked in electronic warfare, told me it would be simply impossible for those weapons to have been moved out of the storage bunker. He claims to know for a certainty that all nuclear weapons in the US arsenal are equipped with high-tech tags (“like they have at WalMart and Kmart only better”) that would instantly trigger alarms when the weapons are moved, unless they were deliberately disarmed.

So what we have is pretty clearly a cover-up here.

A cover-up of what though?

Here we’re into speculation.

One thing we need to keep in mind is that Barksdale AFB, on its website, advertises itself proudly as the base that prepares B-52s for duty in the Middle East Theater.

Another thing we need to keep in mind is that Vice President Dick Cheney is trying hard to gin up a war against Iran, against the better judgment of top military leaders and Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

And a third thing to remember is that these particular six warheads, called M80-1 warheads, are able to be adjusted to have a power of anywhere from 150 kilotons down to just 5 kilotons—a so-called “tactical” size.

Perfect for a tactical strike on an Iranian nuclear processing or research site, or for a “false flag” type attack that could be blamed on a fledgling nuclear power…like Iran.

Of course this is all speculation.

What we do know is that for 36 hours, six nuclear warheads went missing. Nobody at the Pentagon in authority knew they were gone or where they were. And when they were discovered, the initial Pentagon response was to cover it all up. The only reason we know about this incident is that three Air Force officers became whistle-blowers and contacted a reporter at Military Times, a private newspaper trusted by and popular with the rank-and-file military.

And what we know is that this couldn’t have been what the Air Force, six weeks and one “investigation” late, is calling a “mistake.”

Saturday, October 20, 2007

What is the US Federal Reserve System?

Grandich Letter Special Alert: Man Your Battle Stations







And definitely finally, here’s the recruitment video for the “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” crowd on Wall Street ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZKK61P76WX4 )

GRANDICH PUBLICATIONS, LLC.
P.O. Box 243 o Perrineville, NJ 08535
www.Grandich.com
phone: 732-642-3992
email: Peter@Grandich.com



By Peter Grandich

Oct 15 2007 4:05PM
www.grandich.com



Text Box: DJIA   14,093  S & P 500   1.561  NASDAQ   2,805  Gold   $748  Silver   $13.77  Platinum   $1,415  Palladium   $377  Copper  $3.68  Uranium   $75  XAU Index   179  U.S. Dollar Index   78.16  Oil   $83.77

"Good advice is always certain to be ignored, but that’s no reason not to give it." - Agatha Christie

Editor’s Note: In this edition of the Grandich Letter, we have provided our readers with many links to off-site articles, commentary and video. Note that we cannot guarantee the links will work on all browsers and all computers, and we cannot vouch for the files. We have supplied these links to help support our discussion and enlighten our readers. We apologize if all links are not functional at the time you click on them.

As a new stockbroker 23 years ago,

I began publishing The Grandich Letter in lieu of having to cold-call prospective clients. What really began as an alternative sales tool soon blossomed into a medium of expression for me and my thoughts on the world of finance. It wasn’t long before this newsletter gained notoriety. In August of 1987, while Head of Investment Strategy for a New York Stock Exchange Member firm, I wrote about an expectation of a market crash within weeks. Just two months later, the crash occurred. Proving even a blind squirrel can find a nut or two, the day after the crash I predicted a new, all-time high for the DJIA in two years. The DJIA did indeed rebound… and then some.

I was by no means a roaring bull through the 90s, but by the time the new millennium arrived, I had once again become so concerned about a danger for a major fall that I wrote a piece suggesting that by the summer of 2000, a major top could occur that would be followed by a sharp fall. Sure enough, the Internet craze came crashing down and with it the NASDAQ and to lesser extents, other key market averages.

Again, I by no means turned to a pounding-the-table-bullish position. Until recently, however, I spoke of a belief that the U.S. stock market couldn’t top out until the Federal Reserve reversed its tightening mode to clear easing. A few weeks ago they did and I have stated that that was the final silver bullet for who I’ve long coined, “The Don’t Worry, Be Happy Crowd” on Wall Street. Their bag of tricks is now empty (except for outright market manipulation by the PPT-Plunge Protection Team ) at a time when an unprecedented economic tsunami hits America beginning in 2008.

What I’m about to write about is not pretty. In fact, it’s downright scary. Trust me; it won’t earn me invitations to many financial services firms’ Christmas parties. Most American investors won’t beat a path to my door. But in my heart of hearts, it’s not a question of “if?” but “when?” much of what I’m about to write will unfold.

Most of what I’m forecasting is not for the next month or year but for many years into the future. The exact timing of it hitting home is not important for me because by the time the average American realizes it’s at hand, it will be far too late for them to do much about it.

Before I begin, I want to tell you what happened to me back in August of 1987 when, as Head of Investment Strategy for a New York Stock Exchange firm named Philips, Appel & Walden, I forecasted a stock market crash that happened just two months later. My boss called me in after I issued my forecast and “urged” me to retract it. I asked why and his response taught me a valuable lesson about how Wall Street really works and thinks.

While it’s now over twenty years ago, it went something like this:

"Peter, 90% of our clients will never sell all their stocks as you suggest. They will look to keep some, if not most. If you end up wrong, and I believe you will be, they will laugh at you and never listen to you again because you would have cost them their gains. If you end up right, they will be in no position to take advantage when you decide it’s time to buy stocks again.

"Now let’s look at the 10% who may listen to you. I’ll bet half of them will be too scared to jump back in when you tell them, leaving only 5% of all our clients benefiting from your advice. Peter, no firm on Wall Street can survive with only 5% of our clients profiting from our advice.”

When you stop and think about it from a strictly business standpoint, it made good business sense. And he was right in that most ended up not listening. That’s why I’m convinced that the Archangel Michael could visit most firms’ Market Strategists in their sleep and convince them that a dramatic market fall was coming, but their firms would never allow them to make such a dire forecast. If this is true, then most forecasts aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on as their process of judgment is badly flawed. Hence, why I believe the vast majority of non-fully-independent financial advisors/firms are card-carrying members of the “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” crowd. The party line is always what they will tow until there’s nothing left to tow.

"Delay always breeds danger." - Miquel de Cervantes

While I hope to identify several factors that have set the stage for economic, social and political upheaval unlike anything America has ever faced, I can cut to the chase in a sense by urging you to watch this 11-minute video. It’s front and center on the number one economic factor that makes me so concerned for 2008 and beyond. If, after watching it, you disagree with the video’s assessment, don’t bother reading further as there’s nothing more I can say or do to convince you my argument is the correct one. If, after watching it, you concur, I urge you not only to read the rest very carefully, but pass this on to everyone you care about.

American Has Been Robbing Peter to Pay Paul, But Peter is Tapped Out

While I’m as patriotic as the next guy, I’m sorry to say that Uncle Sam is no longer Beloved Uncle to the world. In past generations, one could count on one hand the number of countries where Americans were truly not welcomed. Today, that same hand can count what countries welcome us with open arms. Canada is a perfect example: I’ve been traveling there regularly since the late 1980s. Up until the current Bush as President, the deepest arguments I ever had with my Canadian friends were over whether or not they were responsible for Cold Fronts and about how my three-time Stanley Cup Champion NJ Devils were mostly Canadian players. But since Iraq, I get an earful about how messed up we are and how bad George Bush is to the point that I think it’s best for me to start wearing a button on my trips north saying, “I voted for Kerry”.

There are two factors that lead me to the most bearish stance I have ever taken in my entire career:

  • Aging crisis
  • Geopolitical Time Bombs

I believe they are mega-crises in themselves and together will lead to the darkest period ever for America.

Too Much Stuff -

Canada has been a home away from home for me and I have no better friends in the world, including America, than Canadians. So it came as no surprise to me that a beautiful Canadian lady, Shania Twain, could sing such a perfect song about how too many Americans live their lives. Listen to the lyrics (as hard as that can be with Shania in the video). It’s the 50 and under American crowd, no ifs, ands or buts. Americans have been led by Wall Street and Madison Avenue to believe that more money equals more happiness. They would like us to believe that the owner of a bus company is always happier than a guy driving the bus when, in fact, nothing could be further from the truth. The fact is, Americans have too much stuff.

Both of my grandfathers passed away before I was born, but I always imagined them visiting me back in the late 1990s before I became a recovering materialist. I pictured them visiting my 5,000 square foot home on five acres, a home the size of which only the mega-rich had back in their generation. I envisioned telling them about how many of my neighbors had even bigger homes, and I tried to justify why a home five times the size of the home in which my father and mother were raised was necessary. I don’t know whether or not they would have accepted my reasoning, but when I took them out on a main road, they would surely have discovered how screwed up we had become in just two generations. You see, they would see a sign that says “Public Storage” and ask what that was for? I would tell them people like me, with homes five times bigger than theirs, pay these places to keep our stuff. My grandfathers would certainly conclude we now have far too much stuff – and we don’t truly “own” most of it. Our parents and grandparents didn’t need public storage, yet somehow they got through it.

In a country where we spend $41 billion a year on our pets (more than the gross domestic product of all but 64 countries in the world), and where our media would sooner spend hours covering the trials and tribulations of Britney Spears than how tens of millions of Americans will go to bed hungry tonight, it’s no wonder Shania and her husband could write such an appropriate song.

BOOYAH can KILLYAH! -

Only in America can an always-in-need-of-attention former money manager (Cramer) become the poster child for the “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” crowd, thanks to a cable station whose call letters ought to be TOUT-TV instead of CNBC-TV. They are, undoubtedly, the Pied Pipers of the financial media, almost always requiring “rose-colored glasses.” While just one of their on-air personnel tries to be “fair and balanced” (Rick from Chicago), the rest of the crew ranges from the epitome of arrogance (Haines) to the-cup-is-always-half-full five-star-general of the Don’t Worry, Be Happy crowd, Larry Kudlow. Anyone with the slightest bit of understanding of financial markets only need watch 10 minutes of Bloomberg Television (U.S.) or Business News Network (Canada) to realize how bad TOUT-TV really is. Given what faces America on several fronts, the vast majority of the investing public is far too complacent. The millions of coming casualties will pile up outside the pom-pon doors of CNBC in Fort Lee, NJ.

Economic calamity knocking on the door –

Who shall we believe: the merry men and women of TOUT-TV or the man in charge of our nation’s financial books… one who is not beholden to any political party, financial service firm or advertisers?

As noted at earlier, I believe this video will be viewed as one of the great prophecies of the 21st century. (http://www.grandich.com/video/) Mr. Walker has again spoken out about the “unsustainable policies and practices with fiscal deficits, chronic healthcare underfunding, immigration and overseas military commitments” facing America, as reported here: (http://www.trinityfsem.com/docs/ft_8-14-07.pdf)

Thankfully, many in the financial media don’t suffer the biases commonly seen on TOUT-TV. An absolute bulls-eye article was written back in September on MSN Money about what one of the world’s foremost experts on credit derivatives, Mr. Satyajit Das, had to say about the credit crisis. While TOUT-TV claims the crisis is over, author Jon Markman stated in the article “Das… suggest[s] that we're actually still in the middle of the national anthem before a game destined to go into extra innings. And it won't end well for the global economy.”

(SAIGON CHARLIE NOTES: See Satyajit Das speak with Australia TV about the mortgage meltdown and use the word 'ponzi scheme' to describe it.

The investing public truly has no real comprehension of exactly how big the first real global asset-class bubble is. They have been sold a bill of goods, told that the plethora of new and ingenious financial instruments were designed to protect them, not hurt them by spreading risk around. The fact is, they’ve been designed to hide risk and confuse buyers. To say that the credit crisis simply will work out okay in the end is foolish since no one really knows how the hundreds of interlocking and often novel factors will turn out.

"Running into debt isn’t so bad. It’s running into creditors that hurts." - Unknown

We’ve gone from a nation where many of our parents and grandparents didn’t even have a credit card to where owing money has become the American way. We’ve become the world’s largest debtor nation in part because we no longer ask ourselves “can we afford it?” but instead, “can we make the first payment?”

US Spending charts

US comptroller general David Walker is, IMHO, the only 100% pure financial advocate American citizens have in Washington these days. He has not only correctly pointed out the advanced financial cancer from which we suffer, but he has been sounding a warning that the U.S. economy is vulnerable to hostile financial actions by nations that are not its “allies”. He warns that the huge holdings of American government debt by countries such as China, Saudi Arabia and Libya has placed a powerful financial weapon in the hands of countries that may be hostile to U.S. corporate and diplomatic interests. Make no mistake about it: these countries realize what leverage this gives them-especially behind closed doors.

Mortgage Map

"Never spend your money before you have it." - Thomas Jefferson

Since 2005, Americans have been spending more than they have been taking home - a pattern not seen in over 70 years. Thanks to the real estate bubble, the American home became an ATM for many. But with the burst of the housing bubble, that “buy now, pay later” tool is no longer available for most.

Consumer spending, the jet fuel that supplies 70 percent of economic activity, has sprung a leak thanks to mounting credit card debt and falling home prices. The subprime meltdown may have been the attention-getter recently, but a monster lurking below the surface is a credit card crisis. “The last life preserver of home equity loans has just been ripped away, so families are now alone in a sea of debt,” said Harvard Law School’s Elizabeth Warren, a law professor and expert on consumer debt. “Whether they drown quickly or slowly is an open question, but they will drown,” Warren said (she can forget about appearing on TOUT-TV now). She added, “The numbers don’t lie on this; there aren’t any other options here.”

American consumers, the ones Shania Twain sings about, have been living way beyond their means, thanks in part to the wealth effect caused by the rapidly rising value of their homes. According to the public policy group Demos, homeowners tapped $1.2 trillion in home equity from 2001-2006, often to cover credit card debt. The Federal Reserve recently stated that the amount of revolving debt, mostly on credit cards, held by American families grew by 21 percent to $907 billion over the last five years (sing it again, Shania.) Wage growth during that period fell way short of spending so refinancing and new home loans kept the debt binge going. Unfortunately, that punch bowl is now dry.

It comes as no surprise that in the first quarter of 2007, Americans paid off their credit card debt at a slower rate compared to the previous year, according to Moody’s Investors Service. “We are already seeing a rise in the number of people who simply no longer can pay,” said Christian Weller, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress.

So why does this matter? Debt-ladened consumers have been a boon to the economy, but are now staggering to find another punch bowl. As Shania so poignantly identified, the credit card occupies center stage in the average American household. And while the buying binge is clearly unsustainable, the safety nets our parents and grandparents prided themselves in, personal savings, have totally disappeared. The nation’s savings rate has fallen to a Great Depression–era low of just 0.4 percent of disposal income. Make no mistake about it; consumers are caught in a vice of debt and their own government is even worse.

"And to preserve their independence, we must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. We must make our election between economy and liberty, or profusion and servitude." - Thomas Jefferson

Another budding economic crisis is the plight of public and private pensions. The net effect of more people for the system to support, longer life spans, higher costs of health care, and in many cases serious underfunding, has made this another crisis not yet on most people’s radar… but it’s about to hit the fan. Case in point: New Mexico’s public pension plan, which is sinking deeper and deeper into a hole. Over the past four years, it has accumulated a $937 million deficit, at a time when many of its workers are depending on it to pay for those so-called golden years. In hopes of boosting returns, last year their state legislature gave managers the authority to put money into alternative investments such as real estate, private equity and yes, hedge funds.

pension fund problem graphic

Sadly, despite the recent “hiccup” (Booyah!), state pension plans show no sign of abandoning their recent push into hedge funds and other nontraditional investments. Like junkies, they really can’t afford not to “spin the wheel” as state pension plans have deteriorated from a $20 billion surplus in 2001 to a $381 billion deficit last year, according to the National Association of State Retirement Administrators (NASRA). This deficit means the assets they have in their portfolios today aren’t enough to cover the present value of the long-term retirement promises they made!

Like it or not, there are only two possible courses of action: ask state and local contributors already strapped to make higher contributions or find a way to juice investment returns (music to the ears of the Don’t Worry, Be Happy” financial institutions who have a bevy of products that almost can’t miss – but for who?).

Here in New Jersey, despite increasing a public worker’s retirement age from 55 to 60 and requiring new retirees to contribute toward health care, NJ is far behind in its obligation to pay for retiree’s health care to the tune of about $58 billion. How did we get to this point? Former NJ Governor Christine Todd Whitman (the same person who said the air quality at Ground Zero was fine, only to see so many good people who tried to help there now sick, dying or dead) in 1994 stopped putting aside money to pay for health care it promised to retired public workers on the “reasoning” that health care inflation had leveled off and it looked like a new national health insurance system would take the burden off the state. For several years, NJ swept this problem under the rug but a new accounting rule requiring all state and local governments to make projections on costs has now brought this problem to the surface. The good news (if that’s what one wants to call it) is the New York Times reported that it appears no state is as far behind at funding its health commitment as New Jersey (and when you throw in local towns, counties and other NJ government entities, the shortfall reaches $68 billion.)

"The trouble with ignorance is that it picks up confidence as it goes along." - Arnold Glasgow

Geopolitical Concerns Will Have Lasting Impact

There’s a long list of other economic problems, some I will discuss later in my markets segments, but geopolitical concerns here and abroad are, IMHO, going to impact the markets unlike anything in recent memory. I believe they can have a profound effect on a number of fronts and are not currently priced into most markets.

" What the American public doesn't know is exactly what makes them the American public." - Actor Dan Akroyd

" Tommy Boy "

As noted earlier, Uncle Sam is no longer the world’s favorite Uncle. Unfortunately, most Americans are unaware of how important this fact is to their future. Even worse, almost all Americans have little or no understanding of how serious the so-called “War on Terror” really is. First and foremost, we face an enemy unlike no other in our entire history. Unlike former enemies Germany, Japan and the Soviet Union, who wanted us dead but wanted to live to enjoy the fruits of their labor, we now face an enemy who thinks killing us and dying while doing so actually is the ultimate victory (although I never understood why these suicide bombers don’t cop on to their handlers that if they are indeed going to be rewarded with 14 virgins, why aren’t their handlers strapping bombs around their own bodies?).

Islamic extremism –

It’s totally politically incorrect to discuss the following, but my allegiance is to express my thoughts and let the chips fall where they may. I think the following is crucial to understand, as the ramifications from it are not remotely priced into the markets except to some extent in oil and, even less, in gold.

Formal Islamic theology, unlike Christian theology, doesn’t allow for the separation of state and religion: they’re considered to be one. Before Muslim extremism grew, Islamic jurists had set rules of interaction between Dar ul-Islam (the Land of Islam) and Dar ul-Kufr (the Land of Unbelief) to cover almost every matter of trade, peace and war. Unfortunately, radicals and extremists have taken these rules three steps farther. The first is to argue that, since there is no pure Islamic state, the whole world must be Dar ul-Kufr. Secondly, since Islam must declare war on unbelief, they have declared war upon the whole world. And finally, since they now believe the world is a Land of War (Dar ul-Harb), the sanctity of the five rights that every human is granted under Islam--life, wealth, land, mind and belief--are allowed to be destroyed, including the treachery and cowardice of attacking civilians. I’m not saying who’s right or wrong, just trying to get you to understand the significance.

The Middle East, soon to be front and center -

While most Americans have become accustomed to troubles in the Middle East, I don’t believe they have a real clue on how many different fronts these troubles are close to impacting them (and their gas-guzzling SUVs). I will attempt to give a brief overview, but urge serious investors to earnestly comprehend the factors coming together in this area of the world.

Iraq -

While I’ll leave it up to the politicians to decide what happens in Iraq, I do believe this much: a cut and run will not have the same serendipitous aftermath as Vietnam. Unlike Iraq, Vietnam was a peripheral arena of the Cold War and strategic resources were not at stake. Vietnam was a pawn, not a pillar to the world stage. The Middle East, by contrast, is what Israel’s fabled former Defense Minister Moshe Dayan has called the “elephant path of history”. The world’s worst political and religious pathologies, combined with oil and gas, terrorism and nuclear ambitions call it home.

There’s little doubt that a Democratic victory for presidency in 2008 is all but likely to lead to a much softer stance towards Iraq than President Bush’s. What also happens in the region, especially with Iran (more in a moment), will also have a great impact. It’s hard to imagine, but I truly believe Iraq is just the opening act to much more complex events set to unfold.

"The essential element in personal magnetism is a consuming sincerity - an overwhelming faith in the importance of the work one has to do." - Bruce Barton

A significant part of my Middle East outlook is based on my personal belief that President Bush believes he’s being called by his faith to take certain actions in the Middle East and the War on Terror. Because of this, I don’t believe he’s going to leave office without further serious military action, particularly regarding Iran. I don’t agree or disagree but believe he’s a man of his convictions and therefore he’s not done on the world stage.

Iran -

It’s the main act yet to be played out. Part of the reason I feel President Bush will take military action and/or support Israel against Iran is the fact that he feels a multiple of sundry warnings to Iran have gone unheeded. In early 2002, he cautioned Iran that “if they in any way, shape or form try to destabilize the Afghan government, the coalition will deal with them.” In mid-2003, following revelations about the extent of Iran’s secret nuclear programs, Bush insisted the U.S. “will not tolerate the construction of a nuclear weapon.” At the beginning of this year, as evidence mounted that Iran was supplying sophisticated, armor-penetrating munitions to Shiite militias in Iraq, Bush said, “We will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq.” Just last month, in a speech to the nation, President Bush said, the destructive ambitions of Iran must stop.”

A recent action in the Middle East, one that received very little press, is, IMHO, the straw that broke the camel’s back and can give Bush the cover for the inevitable military action against Iran. The New York Times wrote that one Bush official said Israel had carried out reconnaissance flights over Syria before this raid and took pictures of possible nuclear installations that Israeli officials believed might have been supplied with materials from North Korea. This is a powder keg development and while not a market mover today, is going to become one, and light a very short fuse in the Middle East.

With only 14 months left in Bush’s term, I’m convinced we’re going to see a serious attack on Iran before long. Many of the expected pieces to the puzzle have been coming together:

  • The designation of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps as “specially designated global terrorist by the U.S.”

  • France, once almost automatically opposed to anything the U.S. desires to do, has been almost outspoken in its siding with the U.S. versus Iran’s nuclear ambitions. France’s new government under the leadership of Nicolas Sarkozy recently called for European Union-wide sanctions against Tehran.

  • Even Saudi Arabia, notorious double agents, said that Iran’s standoff with Western powers over its nuclear program is heading toward a confrontation.

  • The US has been training Gulf air forces for war with Iran.

  • The “fighting words” are all coming together:

Lebanon -

Not the main act but fuel for the fire. Just a few weeks ago, the fourth anti-Syrian member of the Lebanese parliament in two years was assassinated. He was the latest victim of a protracted political crisis in Lebanon that both preceded and was exacerbated by the February 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri. While a mass uprising after the assassination put an end to Syria’s 29-year military presence in Lebanon, Syria has been looking to reassert control again. I suspect Hezbollah, which presides over a semi-autonomous territory with a private army of its own within Lebanon, will begin a new terror campaign against Israel. They need Syria to gain control over Lebanon again in order to best continue its struggle against Israel, and Iran needs Syria in order to expand its reach in the Middle East. So, both continue to funnel support to Hezbollah.

Hezbollah’s leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah has made it known it can now fire rockets into all of Israel. Why is this important? It’s just another potential trigger to the coming explosion in the Middle East.

"One of the most striking differences between a cat and a lie is that a cat has only nine lives." - Mark Twain

al-Qaeda -

It saddens me to say that in my heart of hearts, it’s not a question of “if” another terrorist attack takes place on American soil, but “when”. And when it does, 9/11 will sadly not be the “exception” to the rule – which, when it comes to terrorist attacks, is what most Americans now believe.

Despite being severely undermined as an organization in the six years since 9/11, al-Qaeda has seen the violent fanaticism it promotes not only survive, but thrive in many parts of the world. While severe crackdowns in Saudi Arabia and to a lesser extent, in Indonesia, have seemingly reduced the jihadi threat there for now, new frontlines are opening in North Africa and Lebanon. Attacks by al-Qaeda-inspired militants may not have come close to the scale of 9/11, but they have multiplied in number and diversified in geographic reach. What’s most alarming about this are reports that mosques and religious schools are not the main hunting ground for new blood, but instead the Internet is fast becoming al-Qaeda’s best marketing tool.

al-Qaeada Map

Again, I believe geopolitical surprises are totally not priced in financial markets and al-Qaeda is a front runner to be part of the negative surprises awaiting the markets.

Two Other Flashpoints

Pakistan -

A reported strong ally of ours in the War on Terror, Pakistan is at a crossroads. On one hand, General Pervez Musharraf has done an admirable job on the economic side of things. When he seized power in a military coup in 1999, Pakistan was nearly bankrupt, under international sanctions, at daggers drawn with India and - through the illicit dealings of A.Q. Khan, father of the Islamic bomb - the world’s leading proliferator of nuclear technology. Islamabad was also the Taliban’s best friend and enabler. Today, it finds its annual GDP for the last three years averaging 7.2% and inflation rate down from 24% in 2000 to single digits. Direct foreign investment has increased almost seven-fold in five years.

Despite all this, the General has had numerous political battles of late that some think has weakened his strong hand or even begun the beginning of the end for him as a potent leader. Pakistan bears watching.

Afghanistan -

While it’s not front-page news like Iraq or Iran, Afghanistan is yet another burning match.

A Major Concern

Geopolitical concerns abroad are, without a doubt, one of my major concerns. But, here in the gold ole USA, I have spoken in the past about my expectation of the Democrats and Republicans becoming the Hatfields and McCoys of the 21st century. I’ve felt that the fighting would become so bad that any real new legislation of merit would grind to a halt at a time when America faces some of its worse economic and social issues. It’s been my belief that this will badly impact us on the world stage by causing our creditors to wonder if we will ever get our house back in order.

"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." - Albert Einstein

Okay, I assume if you read this far, you either have nothing better to do (my sympathies) or you concur with me that what David Walker is predicting is very real… even if the financial markets don’t seem to concur at the moment. I’ll also assume you appreciate my belief that geopolitical events are going to move to the forefront and they, too, are un-consuming at the moment to the “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” crowd.

While I will touch on my views for the next month to a year, my main purpose of this newsletter is to discuss factors that I believe can impact us for years to come. With that in mind, I pay little heed to the market’s direction day to day but concentrate fully on the ever-increasing social, economic and political developments that, IMHO, are only getting worse.

U.S. Stock Market -

I have personally shorted the market via the purchase of two ETFs (Exchange Traded Funds) ULTRASHORT QQQ PROSHARES (symbol QID) and ULTRASHORT S&P500 PROSHARES (symbol SDS). I can count on one hand how many times since 1984 I have actually done this. I’m not suggesting anyone do the same but tell you this to let you know how personally bearish I am.

As Shania Twain so aptly noted in Ka-Ching, American consumers have been over-consuming and over-investing, mostly in housing, for quite a while. The broadest measure of household behavior, the financial balance, dipped into significant deficit in 1999 for the first time ever and hasn’t looked back since. This balance represents the net flows of household income minus consumption and investment. The deficit has continued to rise and in 2006 hit 5.1 per cent of GDP. To return to the long-run average surplus before 1999, households need to cut consumption and investment by more than $900 billion per year. To appreciate how much of a cut that would be, please note all residential investment spending in 2006 was $765 billion.

It would be foolhardy to think a return to surplus could take place in a single year, as it would cause a very serious recession. However, the bad news is the adjustment eventually has to happen, as deficits can only exist if they can be financed and the two key sources that finance consumers into this deficit--cheap mortgages and rising house prices--are going bye-bye.

This fact of life, something TOUT-TV and its five-star general Larry Kudlow (and the talking heads he wheels on to support his flawed economic outlooks) seem to be missing, is undeniable. And what these rose-colored glasses folks can’t explain is how a consumer correction is far different than what occurs in typical downturns. In a normal economic slowdown, corporate excess is unwound by lay-offs, plant closings, fire sale of inventories and financial restructuring. This is usually achieved relatively quickly, albeit painfully. A consumer correction is different because the single biggest problem is over-investment in housing. It’s not impossible for everyone to downsize at the same time so the correction lasts a lot longer. Lowering interest rates is not the cure-all, because those who are over leveraged are not holding much higher borrowing rates than where the Fed can bring rates down to without destroying the U.S. Dollar (more shortly).

"A generation which ignores history has no past and no future." - Robert Heinlein

“Mergers of industrial corporations and of banks were taking place with greater frequency than ever before, prompted not merely by the desire to reduce overhead expenses and avoid the rigors of cut-throat competition, but often by sheer corporate megalomania. And every rumor of a merger or a split-up or an issue of rights was the automatic signal for a leap in the prices of stocks affected – until it became altogether too tempting to the managers of many a concern to arrange a split-up or a merger or an issues rights not without a canny eye to their own speculative fortunes.”

Does this above quote sound like an analogy of the private equity bubble we saw up until the credit crunch in August? Actually, it’s a quote from Frederick Lewis Allen’s “Only Yesterday” book about the 1929 stock market crash.

Pool operators ran things up to the crash of 1929. I think today’s pool operators are hedgefunds and just like their predecessors, who ignored macroeconomic and corporate deterioration, are partying as never before. Interestingly, in Allen’s book (which was written in 1931), he said, “One could indulge in all manner of dubious financial practices with an unruffled conscience so long as prices rose. The Big Bull Market covered a multitude of sins. It was a golden day for the promoter...” Replace promoter with hedgefund and I believe it describes the market today.

Another misleading factor touted is the health of the American corporation balance sheet. Please read http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/5a4bbbba-568c-11dc-ab9c-0000779fd2ac.html)

"There are invisible rulers who control the destinies of millions. It is not generally realized to what extent the words and actions of our most influential public men are dictated by shrewd persons operating behind the scenes." - Edward L. Bernay

Market manipulation -

I have a cheap bridge for sale if you don’t believe the markets are manipulated.

Manipulation may win the battle but never the war. The very fact that such drastic actions are needed to take place tells me how dire the real picture is. And as always, the investing public will end up holding the bag.

U.S. Dollar - Buddy, can you spare a dollar?

Throughout 2006 and 2007, I have stated, “The only party who doesn’t know the U.S. Dollar is dead is the U.S. Dollar.” It has fallen more than 20% in that period. While it’s oversold technically and a bear market rally of 5% to 10% is possible, my comments here are not for the next few months but for the next several years.

US Dollar chart

The biggest joke has been the so-called “Strong U.S. Dollar” policy by the US administration. Jim Willie, someone with whom I have not always seen eye to eye, penned a compelling and accurate commentary centered around the U.S. Dollar.

The BooYah gang has no real understanding of two independent crises playing out in successful fashion: one is the crisis of the securitized financial markets; the other is the crisis of global imbalances, a micro and macro event respectively. While the debated-about global imbalances that raged in 2004 and 2005 died down, the problems have not been resolved.

In 2004, two economists wrote a very important paper about this. They constructed a model that shows in detail how global imbalances are likely to unwind. They argued that the process would begin with a sudden shock – they presciently envisaged a US recession brought about by a fall in housing prices. As part of this process, they said, the value of the dollar would fall significantly. Hello????????

Global imbalances occurred because despite the constant dribble from TOUT-TV, America is no longer the economic powerhouse; its empire has begun to fall in earnest, just like all past great empires, including the Roman and British empires.

Bottomline

As I noted at the outset, one doesn’t have to go past this video, IMHO, to know what lies ahead for the US. However, when you combine it with a laundry list of serious economic and geopolitical events unfolding, the best course of action for Americans until further notice is to be a live chicken versus a dead duck.

"If stock market experts were so expert, they would be buying stock, not selling advice." - Norman Augustine

Markets Commentary

The late Kennedy Gammage, the finest gentleman ever to publish a market newsletter, used to say, “Those of us who make a living looking into the crystal ball end up learning how to eat lots of broken glass.” With that in mind, let me make an educated guess (at best) on the following markets:

U.S. Stock Market -

As noted earlier, my bearishness for U.S. stocks (not including precious metals and uranium related) has become so acute that I have taken a very rare step for me and shorted the S&P 500 and NASDAQ. Because I see no long term way of avoiding a plethora of social, economic and political ills and the short swoon in August as a gift–from-God-warning of things to come, I would sooner be 100% cash versus 100% long. Knowing as my old boss stated 20 years ago that almost no one sells everything or close to everything, I want you to recall how you felt in August and remember the old saying, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me!

Gold -

Outside of a couple of fortunate side steps to avoid a correction, I’ve been aggressively bullish on gold since just north of $300. Much of what kept me long and strong remains intact:

  • Consistent physical demand, especially on corrections, signifying strong pent-up demand.

  • The weakening U.S. Dollar. While it can consolidate recent losses and even have a bear market rally, the historical inverse relationship of the dollar and gold remains the single strongest advocate for being long gold. I think my comments in this issue make it abundantly clear that the long-term direction for the U.S. dollar is still lower. Knowing that about 85% of the time gold moves in the opposite direction of the dollar, the Dollar remains a bullish factor.

  • Central Bank Sales are less and less a factor. Gold has demonstrated the ability now to withstand Central Bank sales, something that used to cap it or knock it lower for a long period not too long ago.

  • New gold supply is tough to come by as the mining industry faces many hurdles (more shortly).

  • Manipulation. Bill Murphy, GATA and Dimitri Speck have long argued (and successfully, in my book) that the gold price has been manipulated and/or capped. Such actions no longer seem to have any long lasting effect and have helped set gold up for a powerful third leg up in its secular bull run, a move I think can take us to new all-time highs above $850 in 2008. Buckle up, as volatility is going to lead to big swings where daily trading ranges can be at least $10 or more from highs to lows. The shorts are losing the war but will throw in everything, including the kitchen sink, before it’s all said and done.

Silver -

Has lagged gold for a while now and while always “second fiddle” in my book to gold, appears to be setting up technically for a meaningful run.

PGMs -

For several years now, the experts have predicted this is the year supply finally surpasses demand, yet, platinum is near record highs. Palladium is the poor man’s platinum like silver is to gold. It, too, should remain in platinum’s shadow except for a couple of peeks out.

Base metals -

While copper has not fallen, other key metals like nickel and zinc have fallen more than enough to justify my bearish stance toward base metals over precious metals this year. While I feel we could have a tradable rally this quarter, I desire to remain heavily weighted towards precious metals and uranium for the foreseeable future.

I have a growing concern about another potential impact on base metals and markets in general and that is China’s runaway stock market and economy. The stock market has doubled since the start of the year and has only had momentary interruptions. My concern now is valuation. While declared earnings growth is around 75 percent, growth in operating earnings (profit from actually running a business) is 33 percent. Most of the rest comes from property and other investments. Take out these gains and the average PE is around 60. Please understand the fact that the difference between net and operating profits means these companies are speculating in the stock market themselves. While their market remains grossly unregulated, you have to believe if it ever wants real credibility not only will the heavy corruption have to wane, but more realistic valuations will need to take hold. Getting to that could be ugly.

China’s inflation rate is heading higher and could be troublesome down the road. But, the real straw that breaks the camel’s back is the continuing pressure building in Washington for sanctions on trade with China. President Bush has managed to avoid labeling China as a currency manipulator, which would by law require the U.S. Treasury Department to initiate bilateral negotiations or pursue a claim with the IMF. More and more lawmakers believe China deliberately undervalues its currency to give Chinese companies an unfair advantage in international trade. I have no doubt the Democrats will talk this up as we get closer to the general election in November 2008. Meanwhile, the Chinese government has threatened to use their trillion dollar reserves as a “nuclear option.”

I’ve not had any real big concerns about China, but with seemingly no one in the bearish camp and standing room only in the bullish camp, I think it’s time to be a Maytag repairman in the bearish camp.

Uranium -

First and foremost, I am now officially jumping back in the bullish camp. A much needed but painful correction is all but over and as previously forecasted, I believe only companies with clearly defined production or real deposits that have more than average chances to become producing mines will rule the day. The risk on uranium prices is $50 to the downside and
$150 to the upside.

The world is now addicted to electricity for business and pleasure. We live in an “always on” world. From computers to cell phones and air conditioning to streetlights, we need more and more juice. In fact, experts say we’ll need 40% more electricity by 2030. While nuclear alone won’t get us there, it’s winning out over most other avenues. New power plants fueled by coal have been put on hold in the U.S. because conventional coal plants are too dirty to build and the cost of cleaner plants is too high. Geothermal power and wind are useful but won’t even come close to being the main source for electricity. On the producer side, I fancy Denison over
Cameco and find Uranium One interesting. On the development side, I think Aurora,
Laramide and especially Ur-Energy are worthy of your interest.

Oil -

One of the biggest moves in quite some time is nearing. I believe we could see a $10-$20 move in a matter of days or weeks. The only difficulty is I don’t know for sure which way (anybody got a coin?). There are two wholly opposite scenarios as far as I can see with no middle ground (so bet on middle ground as the winner). On one hand, hot money continues to drive oil higher on the belief that the risk premium (supply interruption from weather and/or geopolitical) will continue (estimates the premium is anywhere from $15-$20). The small amount of bears argue crude inventories are at their best levels in several years, refiners are in much better shape and the slowdown in the U.S. is getting more pronounced and could spill over into other key areas of the world. My best guess is that we have a few dollars left to the upside ($85-90 being the absolute top) and could see a print in the $60s before next summer. But, $70 oil is still not going to be cheap until a few years from now when we break $100.

U.S. Dollar -

Other than some corrections and bear market rallies, the only thought that should enter your mind when thinking of the future of the U.S. dollar is this:

Mining and exploration shares -

While we’ve witnessed numerous mergers and acquisitions (which should continue strong through 2008) and had some big individual winners, given how well metal prices have done, mining and exploration stocks have underperformed.

The old argument of leverage is what has always driven investors to shares versus the metals themselves. It worked like this: stable operating costs and a rising metals price would grow bottom-line profits substantially. An example would be this:

Acme Mining’s total cost to produce an ounce of gold is $300. Gold is $400. Profit is $100 or about 33%. Everything stays relatively the same except gold rises to $500. Gold rose $100 or about 25% (from $400) but profits are now 66% or doubled ($500 -$300 = $200 divided by $300 cost is 66%). That’s the leverage that mining shares used to offer. But with mining companies facing nearly worldwide geopolitical, environmental and regulatory hurdles, plus an acute shortage of skilled labor and rising costs for parts and equipment, the sex appeal has worn off to some extent. Throw in how metal exchanged traded funds (especially gold) have also absorbed a fair sum of capital that used to go into mining stocks, and you can begin to appreciate how much of a battle the mining and exploration industry has on its hands…despite sky-high metal prices.

The global mining industry as a whole, which provides about two-thirds of the annual gold supply, should not expect its structural problems to go away anytime soon. That’s why global gold production is flat to down despite what one would assume would have been ratcheted up greatly given the fact that gold prices have basically tripled since the new millennium began in earnest. We can expect M & A activity to continue and for the majors to begin to work their way down the food chain as most of the big players have found a dancing partner.

Special Note:

It seems a day doesn’t go by when we don’t hear of a tragedy regarding our youth. Many cry for answers and while many meaningful things are done for our future generation, I believe only one hope is the answer ( http://www.godtube.com/view_video.php?viewkey=ee73e63418003b47d7d5 )

PLEASE DON’T WATCH THIS IF YOU’RE TROUBLED BY RELIGIOUS VIEWS!

***


US strategies to overthrow 7 governments in 5 years

"Seven countries in five years"

Wesley Clark's new memoir casts more light on the Bush administration's secret strategies for regime change in Iran and elsewhere.

By Joe Conason

10/12/07 "Salon" -- - While the Bush White House promotes the possibility of armed conflict with Iran, a tantalizing passage in Wesley Clark's new memoir suggests that another war is part of a long-planned Department of Defense strategy that anticipated "regime change" by force in no fewer than seven Mideast states. Critics of the war have often voiced suspicions of such imperial schemes, but this is the first time that a high-ranking former military officer has claimed to know that such plans existed.

The existence of that classified memo would certainly cast more dubious light not only on the original decision to invade Iraq because of Saddam Hussein's weapons and ambitions but on the current efforts to justify and even instigate military action against Iran.

In "A Time to Lead: For Duty, Honor and Country," published by Palgrave Macmillan last month, the former four-star general recalls two visits to the Pentagon following the terrorist attacks of September 2001. On the first visit, less than two weeks after Sept. 11, he writes, a "senior general" told him, "We're going to attack Iraq. The decision has basically been made."

Six weeks later, Clark returned to Washington to see the same general and inquired whether the plan to strike Iraq was still under consideration. The general's response was stunning:

"'Oh, it's worse than that,' he said, holding up a memo on his desk. 'Here's the paper from the Office of the Secretary of Defense [then Donald Rumsfeld] outlining the strategy. We're going to take out seven countries in five years.' And he named them, starting with Iraq and Syria and ending with Iran."

While Clark doesn't name the other four countries, he has mentioned in televised interviews that the hit list included Lebanon, Libya, Somalia and Sudan. Indeed, he has described this same conversation on a few occasions over the past year, including in a speech at the University of Alabama in October 2006, in an appearance on Amy Goodman's "Democracy Now" broadcast last March, and most recently in an interview with CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer on "The Situation Room." On "Democracy Now" he spoke about the meetings and the memo in slightly greater detail, saying that he had made the first Pentagon visit "on or about Sept. 20."

Clark says he didn't read the memo from Rumsfeld's office. When the general first held it up, he remembers asking, "Is it classified?" Receiving an affirmative answer, he said, "Well, don't show it to me." He also says that when he saw the same general last year and reminded him of their conversation, the officer said, "Sir, I didn't show you that memo! I didn't show it to you!"

During the Blitzer interview, Clark backed off slightly, conceding that the memo "wasn't [necessarily] a plan. Maybe it was a think piece. Maybe it was a sort of notional concept, but what it was, was the kind of indication of dialogue around this town in official circles ... that has poisoned the atmosphere and made it very difficult for this administration to achieve any success in the region."

Clark's book also describes a telling encounter nearly a decade earlier with neoconservative eminence Paul Wolfowitz, the former deputy secretary of defense under Rumsfeld who resigned under a cloud of scandal from the World Bank last spring. In May 1991, according to Clark, he dropped in for a conversation with Wolfowitz, then the third-ranking civilian in the Pentagon, to congratulate him on the success of the Gulf War.

"We screwed up and left Saddam Hussein in power. The president [then George H.W. Bush] believes he'll be overthrown by his own people, but I rather doubt it," he quotes Wolfowitz lamenting. "But we did learn one thing that's very important. With the end of the Cold War, we can now use our military with impunity. The Soviets won't come in to block us. And we've got five, maybe 10, years to clean up these old Soviet surrogate regimes like Iraq and Syria before the next superpower emerges to challenge us ... We could have a little more time, but no one really knows."

More than a decade and a half later, the neoconservative obsession with regime change persists and flourishes in the upper reaches of the Bush administration, where Vice President Dick Cheney is reportedly pressing for action against Iran. (Of course, by overthrowing Saddam and putting the Shiites in control of Iraq, Cheney and President Bush have already done more to empower Tehran than the ruling mullahs could ever have imagined in their fondest fantasies.) The stated reasons range from Iran's suspected sponsorship of attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq to its worrisome pursuit of nuclear power, but Clark's allegations strongly suggest American policymakers chose war years ago, no matter what Tehran ended up doing.

Perhaps it is time for the appropriate Senate and House committees to start asking harder questions about this administration's secret strategies for the Mideast. They might begin by interviewing Clark behind closed doors about that classified memo -- and to what extent such extreme ideas have promoted the "permanent war" policy that is fundamental to neoconservative ideology.

Joe Conason writes a weekly column for Salon and the New York Observer. His new book is "It Can Happen Here: Authoritarian Peril in the Age of Bush."

Copyright ©2007 Salon Media Group

Monday, October 15, 2007

Vietnam's Zippo lighters


War's lighter side
Amid Vietnam's apocalypse, soldiers etched an explicit, and ultimately enduring, archive of their fears, lusts, and dissent
October 14, 2007

Feature Writer

"Look at these lighters, man, I haven't seen these for a long time, really a long time. S---, I lost mine or it was stolen, difficult to remember, but I do remember the inscription I had on it: `I Love Hoa,' was on one side, she was my girl for a while, and on the other it said: `Water? Don't Drink the Stuff — Fish F--- In It You Know.' I wonder where that damn Zippo is now."

Le Loi Street. Saigon. 1992. Bradford Edwards meets a Vietnam vet named Dan. Wide-brimmed brush hat. Burly build. "He just smelled like a vet," Edwards recalls. "He was in that age range, and he had a safari outfit on. He just looked like a vet."

The street vendors on Le Loi had piled their tables high with artifacts. Dog tags. Watches. Goggles. "Just all sorts of stuff," says Edwards. "Anything that they thought tourists might be interested in. Everything that they could get their hands on.

"Inevitably on these tables were stacks of Zippos," Edwards continues. "Literally three, four, five vertical stacks of Zippos."

Edwards is an American artist who spends more than half the year in Hanoi. Until he met Dan, he hadn't given much thought to the Zippo, the standard-issue, chrome-plated, brass lighter that GIs could buy at the PX for $1.80.

He hadn't considered that tens of thousands of Zippos would have been left behind in a country which, in 1992, appeared right out of The Twilight Zone with, as Edwards says, "almost no Western references to anything post 1975."

He had no reason to be aware that within the Zippo archive one could find the occasional counter-culture Zippo.

"Most of the Zippos that I found – this is after 10 years of collecting them seriously – most of them are uncarved. The ones that are carved are mostly with straight military emblems. And then you have the group of what I call alternative-sensibility Zippos ...What I was interested in were the black humour, the alternative, the disgruntled, discontented Zippos."

Many of them say F--- You.

Or spout Black Power slogans, or are stamped with the peace sign – "Why Me?" – or feature Snoopy cursing the Red Baron and a pregnant Lucy cursing, "Goddam You Charlie Brown."

Uncle Sam points beneath a peace sign saying not, "I want you" but "I screwed you." God, of course, grows His own. "Ours is not to do or die, ours is to smoke and stay high."

"I looked at a lot of lighters," says Edwards. "100,000 at least. And I just started culling the best of the best. I have about 300."

At first, Edwards wanted to source as many Zippos as he could for his mixed-media artwork, "portraits of Zippos," he calls them.

But the historical and cultural significance of the lighters has now led to a book: Vietnam Zippos: American Soldiers' Engravings and Stories 1965-1973. "Vietnam Zippos became the ideal protest vehicle," writes author Sherry Buchanan in the book's foreword. "They escaped the brass's attention more easily than Afros, Buddhist swastika medallions, Tibetan prayer beads and the Make Love Not War slogans on helmets that incurred the disapproval of the powers that be."

Edwards deconstructs his favourite. On one side is an acid-etched image of the ace of spades – the death dealer's card – and "No Quarter," as in, no mercy. The words Chu Lai are imprinted alongside the etched emblem. Chu Lai was a marine air base about 80 kilometres south of Da Nang, and the Zippo's owner was a member of Coastal Division 16.

"Here's what I think happened," says Edwards. "Zippo did a lot of acid etching." (The Zippo Manufacturing Co. has been customizing Zippos almost since its creation in the thirties.) "That lighter was probably passed out to everyone in that unit."

The flip side is hand-stamped in stout capital letters: "You Can Surf Later."

"That was just so cool," says Edwards of his discovery. "He stamped those letters into that lighter. That's a home-made one, and that's rare."

What could be the story behind the lighter? "This guy, whoever he was, was on a riverboat. You've got to remember the riverboat was one of the most dangerous duties. You're a sitting duck. You're just getting shot at à la Apocalypse Now. So here's this guy on a riverboat and he's lighting a joint or a cigarette or whatever he's doing. An opium pipe. Who knows?"

And he's a surfer, no less, an undoubtedly small sub-culture of GIs.

In Vietnam Zippos, Sherry Buchanan writes of the China Beach Surf Club and the alleged daylight ceasefire deals between the North Vietnamese and the wave-riders. The image came alive for cinema goers via Apocalypse's Lieutenant Colonel Kilgore: "If I say it's safe to surf this beach, Captain, then it's safe to surf this beach."

"It's just too good," says Edwards of this favourite totem of his. "You can surf later. In other words, you can surf after this is all over. I've just got to get through this. I've got to `get short,' which means little time left. I've got to get off this boat and I can surf later."

Half a dozen years ago, at a barbecue in Santa Barbara, Edwards ran into Sam Bottoms, who played the acid tripping surfer dude Lance in Apocalypse. "To have gotten one of the few surfer Zippos in the war and from one of the few to actually get on a boat and then to meet `Lance' and then to tie into this pop culture circle. It's the most amazing coincidence of my life thus far."

Vietnam-Era Zippo Lighters As Works Of Art
SANTA BARBARA, Calif., Oct 20, 2007


(CBS) In one Santa Barbara gallery, the portraits bring back memories for Vietnam vet Hap Desimone. But they're not portraits of soldiers, they're portraits of Zippo lighters.

CBS News correspondent John Blackstone asked him if it seems strange to see the lighters depicted as art.

"No," he says. "It doesn't seem strange at all."

In Vietnam, every soldier, it seemed, had a Zippo.

"I carried one," Desimone says. "I had it engraved."

With the engravings Zippos became the one place soldiers could express themselves.

"A lot of these sentiments I heard before, 'We're the unwilling led by the unqualified doing the unnecessary for the ungrateful'," he says. "It rings a bell."

Zippos by the thousands were left behind in Vietnam. Fifteen years ago artist Bradford Edwards began collecting them at Vietnamese flea markets.

"Here's an interesting one," Edwards says, "a broken peace sign on a bracelet."

In a new book chronicling his work, Edwards explains that each Zippo tells a story - the disgruntled soldier, the lonely soldier, the bored soldier. Edwards became captivated by the engraved Zippos and began recreating them in his own art: larger than life portraits in metal, in stone, in lacquer and mother of pearl.

"When they're done in this artistic fashion, I think they celebrate and extol the virtues and highlight the carving," Edwards says.

Just the sound of a Zippo opening is iconic, and Zippos sparked controversy in one of the most famous images from Vietnam.

After Morley Safer reported in August 1965 that a village was lit on fire with lighters, the Zippo became an image of a war going the wrong way. But to Edwards the Zippos are not about the big issues, but about the individual soldier.

"You had people who were discontent people who wanted to express heartfelt emotions," he says. "And here was a small canvas."

"They look like a collection of tombstones," Edwards says. "And they maybe the last thing some of these guys had to say."

While some of the soldiers may never have made it home, now their Zippos are here illuminating the past.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The ever 'Vigilant' Dick Cheney-Part 2

October 13, 2007

Dick Cheney & Vigilant Shield: Will a Missing Nuke from the B-52 Incident be used in a Simulated Terrorist Attack?

By Michael Salla

From October 15 to 19, 2007, a set of military and civil exercises will be held in Oregon, Arizona and Guam. The exercises, TOPOFF 4 and Vigilant Shield 08, are designed to test official responses to the detonation of radiological dispersal devices on U.S. territory. The exercises will be overseen by Vice President Dick Cheney who will travel specifically to Portland to coordinate all Federal departments and agencies responses to the simulated attacks. This has led to a number of civilian groups expressing alarm that TOPOFF and Vigilant Shield might be used as a cover for False Flag operations that replicate what occurred during the 911 attacks . On September 11, 2001, Dick Cheney was overseeing a series of simulated terrorist attacks involving hijacked airplanes hitting buildings that was called “Vigilant Guardian”. Vigilant Guardian was run simultaneously with NORAD training exercises called Vigilant Warrior and Northern Vigilance that altogether involved as many as eleven hijacked airplanes. This created much confusion and led to stand down orders for the US Air Force that was unsure if the 911 attacks were part of the simulated exercises or real attacks. This confusion accounted for the long delays between initial reports of hijacked planes being used in ‘terrorist’ attacks, and Air Force intercept missions being launched using the few planes not involved in the Northern Vigilance exercise.

What makes TOPOFF 4 and Vigilant Shield especially concerning is that they follow upon an incident involving five (later revised up to six) nuclear cruise missiles found on a B-52 sitting on a tarmac at Barksdale Air Force Base on August 30. The Air Force has launched an official inquiry and so far has announced to the public that the B-52 incident was nothing more than an unusually high number of errors. A Washington Post article on September 23 summarized the main arguments for this explanation which has effectively put to an end any further investigations by mainstream media sources. In contrast, a number of researchers have argued that the B-52 incident could not have occurred without very senior officials giving orders, and others refusing to comply with such orders. According to Wayne Madsen a number of Air Force personnel refused to allow the nuclear armed B-52 to fly in a covert mission to Iran outside the normal chain of military command. Madsen describes the nature of the internal conflict over the B-52 incident: “Command and control breakdowns involving U.S. nuclear weapons are unprecedented, except for that fact that the U.S. military is now waging an internal war against neo-cons who are embedded in the U.S. government and military chain of command who are intent on using nuclear weapons in a pre-emptive war with Iran.”

Madsen is alluding here to the most plausible explanation for the source of orders leading to the B-52 incident. The orders emanated from the office of the Vice President, and in particular Dick Cheney himself. Cheney’s orders were opposed all the way up the Department of Defense hierarchy including Admiral William Fallon, Commander of Central Command, and Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates. This is supported by a recent report in the Telegraph newspaper that Gates has become the chief opponent to Dick Cheney’s plans to commit the U.S. to another war against Iran and is encouraging military officers to be more candid in their assessments of a new conflict.

What makes the B-52 incident even more disturbing is that six nuclear cruise missiles left Minot Air Force Base, and the initial Military Times report on September 5 reported that five nuclear warheads were discovered at Barksdale Air Force Base. This was subsequently revised by the Military Times to six in an updated story five days later on September 10. How could the Air Force mix up how many nuclear weapons were initially involved in the incident? The most plausible explanation is that there had been a discrepancy in the number of nuclear weapons that had left Minot and what had been later discovered at Barksdale? The nuclear armed B-52 had been sitting on the tarmac in an unsecured military environment for up to 10 hours before its nuclear payload was discovered. This offered plenty of time for the removal of one of the nuclear weapons. Such an event had to be covered up for national security purposes which is why the Military Times revised its initial report. The possibility of a missing nuclear weapon is augmented by an unprecedented official standown by the Air Force on September 14 where all planes were grounded allegedly to review Standard Operating Procedures. Was the Air Force really conducting an emergency inventory to locate any missing nuclear weapons?

This raises the disturbing possibility that not only was the B-52 ordered to participate in a covert mission to attack Iran outside the regular chain of military command, but that one of its nuclear weapons was secretly siphoned off for another covert mission. If Dick Cheney did give the order for the nuclear weapons to be loaded on to the B-52, it is highly likely that he is aware of the location and potential use of the missing nuclear missile. A number of serious questions therefore need to be asked about the appropriateness of Cheney being in charge of TOPOFF 4 and Vigilant Shield. This is even more urgent if there is a missing nuclear warhead that was taken from the B-52 for a yet undisclosed mission. Could this mission be related to the TOPOFF and Vigilant Shield exercises?

In a Presidential Statement released on May 21, 2001, President Bush gave Vice President Cheney the power to coordinate national efforts in response to terrorist attacks: “I have asked Vice President Cheney to oversee the development of a coordinated national effort so that we may do the very best possible job of protecting our people from catastrophic harm.” An “Office of National Preparedness” was created to implement the “national effort overseen by Vice President Cheney” and would “coordinate all Federal programs dealing with weapons of mass destruction consequence management within the Departments of Defense, Health and Human Services, Justice, and Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency, and other federal agencies.” Effectively, this means that during TOPOFF 4 and Vigilant Shield, VP Cheney will be responsible for all efforts to respond to weapons of mass destruction. He will have the power of override any Department of Defense objections to activities concerning “consequence management” of nuclear weapons. If there was a missing nuclear weapon from the B-52 incident, then TOPOFF and Vigilant Shield could provide the cover for its use.

The possible use of the B-52 missing nuclear weapon could trigger the martial law scenario found in National Security Presidential Directive (NSPD) 51 after the declaration of a “Catastrophic Emergency.” NSPD 51 defines a “Catastrophic Emergency” as “any incident, regardless of location, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the U.S. population, infrastructure, environment, economy, or government functions.” Once declaring such an emergency, President Bush or his successors according to Continuity of Government provisions, can take over all governmental functions at local, state and national levels, as well as private sector activities, to ensure the U.S. emerges from the emergency with an "enduring constitutional government."

So far, the Air Force inquiry is classified and information on a possible missing nuclear weapon has not been disclosed. It is unlikely that much information will be disclosed to the public for national security reasons. The only U.S. Congressman calling for an official public inquiry into the B-52 incident is Dennis Kucinich. As long as the role of Dick Cheney in the B-52 incident is not investigated and the missing nuclear weapon is not located, Cheney should be removed from any position of authority in coordinating civil and military responses to any simulated terrorist attack. Such exercises provide him the opportunity and authority to secretly approve the covert use of a nuclear device that can be used to trigger a declaration of a “Catastrophic Emergency.” U.S. National Security is not served by Dick Cheney having a prominent role in leading TOPOFF 4, Vigilant Shield and any future simulated terrorist attacks involving weapons of mass destruction.





Authors Website: www.exopolitics.org

Authors Bio: Dr. Michael Salla is an internationally recognized scholar in international politics, conflict resolution, US foreign policy and the new field of 'exopolitics'. He is author/editor of five books; and held academic appointments in the School of International Service& the Center for Global Peace, American University, Washington DC (1996-2004); the Department of Political Science, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia (1994-96); and the Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University, Washington D.C., (2002). He has a Ph.D in Government from the University of Queensland, Australia, and an M.A. in Philosophy from the University of Melbourne, Australia. He has conducted research and fieldwork in the ethnic conflicts in East Timor, Kosovo, Macedonia, and Sri Lanka, and organized peacemaking initiatives involving mid to high level participants from these conflicts.

TOPOFF 4 and Vigilant Shield 08: a view from the "feverish fringe"

Special Reports
TOPOFF 4 and Vigilant Shield 08: a view from the "feverish fringe"
By Warren Pease
Online Journal Contributing Writer


Oct 8, 2007, 01:02

"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we." --George W. Bush, Aug. 5, 2004, in a rare moment of unscripted candor.

Mass media is fond of creating labels and lumping people of certain philosophical or political persuasions into groups of designated societal misfits, all carrying some pejorative nickname intended to clearly define the borders between "them" and "us."

This helps the citizenry distinguish between the members of certain marginalized -- and therefore untrustworthy -- groups who take a somewhat jaundiced view of the actions and motivations of authoritarian institutions, and the great American mainstream that can always be counted upon to internalize and recite the most preposterous nonsense as long as it carries the official stamp of institutional authority and mass media approval.

A recent case in point: a group based in Portland called the Oregon Truth Alliance aired their concerns and objections regarding a series of upcoming anti-terrorism/national security drills scheduled to take place in their city this month. They were rewarded for their efforts in an October 2 editorial in The Oregonian, the local daily, that snickered:

It's hard to know what's scarier: the idea of responding to a terrorist attack in Portland or the idea that the government is using a drill as a pretext to seize power, declare martial law and, possibly, attack Iran. The average Portlander doesn't give much thought to either notion, but a feverish fringe sees a disaster drill as evidence of a future police state . . .

At issue is a series of simulations scheduled to begin October 15 in Portland (as well as in Phoenix and Guam) that has caused much concern among locals, ranging far beyond the "feverish fringe" of activists, a convenient "them" to which The Oregonian would prefer to attribute exclusive ownership of such imbecilic notions.

But surprise, surprise. The mainstream is waking up and it's not particularly fond of what it's seeing. Thanks to occasional peeks behind the curtain that reveal unprecedented levels of corruption, insatiable lust for oil and power and disdain for the Constitution, the lines are blurring between "us" and "them" on many issues involving the conduct of the Bush administration.

These days, particularly in this bluest of blue cities, many people of varying political viewpoints are united in their concerns over possibly nefarious government-sponsored exercises and maneuvers, particularly when they're taking place in their own backyards.

Fears and objections notwithstanding, though, Portlanders are being asked to welcome thousands of armed strangers -- from the DHS, FBI, DoD and other federal security agencies, NGOs, National Guard, local law enforcement -- as they gather to enact a week's worth of anti-terrorism drills called TOPOFF 4 and Operation Vigilant Shield 08.

TOPOFF 4 (short for "top officials") is an exercise that simulates (we hope) the detonation of a "dirty bomb" near Portland's Steel Bridge. Vigilant Shield 08 simulates (we hope) imposition of martial law to control the civilian population in the aftermath of the radiological event.

Why Portland?

Well, why not? Somebody's got to be the target. Putting random chance aside, there are several good reasons why Portland was chosen to host this year's main anti-terrorist event. We're told Portland's mayor and Oregon's governor actually requested that Portland be included in the exercises. I'm assuming those requests were made with one arm pinned behind their backs by an ex-pro wrestler turned spook who keeps raising the wrist just a tiny bit more.

In any case, the feds graciously honored the request and here they come, the honchos of the national security apparatus.

So why is Portland on the short list for a simulated nuclear terrorist attack on a major American city that may just "go live?" First, it's reachable by water, which preserves the old "suitcase nuke delivered by boat to a harbor near you" scenario we've all heard for years. Second, it's among the bluest of American coastal cities and, while San Francisco must present a tempting target, it's home to several major banks, insurance companies and other GOP infrastructure favorites. Third, LA and Seattle, a couple more anti-GOP cities with bull's-eyes on their civic centers, are too strategic to what's left of the economy. And fourth, Portland's kind of . . . disposable.

It's particularly anti-Bush/Cheney. It's politically left of just about any other major US city. Portland detests the Bush administration (and there's a near-riot to prove it every time one of these hacks tries to sneak into town for a fundraiser). There are no really serious corporations headquartered here (Intel has a large facility, but it's mostly engineers who could eventually be replaced by a new wave of H-1B visa holders). Shipping is vital to this part of the northwest all the way down the Columbia towards Idaho, so a hit in or around the port -- like the one depicted in the map just below -- would truly punish the city commercially.

And to top it off, people in Portland don't seem to respond with the appropriate levels of hysteria to things like Islamic radicals, phony wars on terror, color-coded alerts or the predictive rumblings of Chertoff's gut. They're more inclined to be concerned about the US shift from democratic republic to national security state, environmental abuse sanctioned and exacerbated by the Bush administration, the vanishing Constitution, massive corruption and profiteering both within the administration and among their favorite cronies -- and other stuff nobody's supposed to notice.

So, is Portland the scene of the "next 9/11?" This map depicts ground zero, the immediate kill zone, the less lethal surrounding areas and the projected path of the radiation plume. This is from a report called "The Day After: Action Following a Nuclear Blast in a U.S. City" authored by a think tank at Harvard called the Belfer Center and released in May of this year. Interestingly, Portland is only identifiable by street names and knowledge of local geography. Two similar blast area maps from the same source are clearly labeled "Washington, D.C."

Don�t worry, be happy

Compounding the ambient nervousness is the pattern of government-sponsored drills "going live," meaning that real events occur simultaneously with the scripted scenarios and mirror them to such a precise degree that coincidence theory is rendered laughable. As a result, complicity at the highest decision-making levels of government becomes a viable, and sometimes inevitable, conclusion. For these reasons, TOPOFF 4 and Vigilant Shield 08 have set the alarm bells ringing in the Portland metro area, and not just among the feverish fringe. Recent history teaches us that, despite the protestations of those who believe in artificial synchronicity, there are reasons to question the purity of the US government's motives.

On the morning of 9/11/01, US northeastern air defenses were crippled by a Cheney-Rumsfeld production that combined at least four exercise scenarios -- Vigilant Warrior, Vigilant Guardian, Northern Guardian and Northern Vigilance -- and which, per script, diverted to northern Canada or Alaska many of the NORAD fighter jets that would have been scrambled per standard operating procedure in the event of a suspected hijacking. And the few planes left out of the exercise were not airborne until 80 minutes after the first hijacking alert -- about 70 minutes longer than normal.

As part of the exercises, false radar blips showed up on air traffic controllers' screens that masked the flight patterns of the four hijacked jets and led controllers to believe that as many as 22 planes had been hijacked. Per standard procedure, various regional air traffic control centers notified the FAA, which passed on the alerts to NORAD, which couldn't respond because they hadn't enough fighters available to handle that many hijackings. Because of the ongoing drills, they didn't even know which blips represented actual threats.

Also noteworthy is a fifth exercise taking place at the same time, this one conceived by the National Reconnaissance Office (the NRO operates the US network of spy satellites) and carried out by CIA operatives. This exercise was designed to test emergency response capabilities in the event that an off-course plane crashed into one of the NRO's four office towers.

According to an Associated Press wire service story:

Agency chiefs came up with the scenario to test employees' ability to respond to a disaster, said spokesman Art Haubold. To simulate the damage from the plane, some stairwells and exits were to be closed off, forcing employees to find other ways to evacuate the building.

"It was just an incredible coincidence that this happened to involve an aircraft crashing into our facility," Haubold said. "As soon as the real world events began, we canceled the exercise."

Believers in cosmic synchronicity apparently see no reason why these events should call into question the official story. Nor do they see why this series of unlikely coincidences should invalidate repeated official denials of 9/11 foreknowledge from the administration.

Here's one delivered to the 9/11 Commission on May 16, 2002 by then National Security Advisor Condi Rice, who actually said, "I don't think anybody could have predicted that these people would take an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Center, take another one and slam it into the Pentagon; that they would try to use an airplane as a missile, a hijacked airplane as a missile." There are no reports that she was immediately struck by lightening, nor that the esteemed commissioners collapsed in an amorphous heap of manic hilarity.

Of course not. Only feverish fringe types would view such denials with suspicion, considering that intelligence services from at least a dozen countries warned US officials of an impending attack involving the use of hijacked airliners as missiles. The FBI was on top of the story, too. At least, several field agents were. But their warnings got spiked by higher-level administrators and disappeared into the thin air of a glorious blue sky in early September.

A little C-4 with your morning tea?

In addition to the ties between simulations and real events on 9/11/01, a similarly eerie set of "coincidences" occurred in London on 7/7/05. A British firm called Visor Consultants that calls itself a crisis management advisory organization was running a series of exercises on behalf of an unnamed client testing London's capacity to respond to a terrorist attack on its transportation system. The scenario involved detonating bombs at three preselected underground tube stations, as well as on a double-decker London bus.

At about 8:50 that morning, just as the exercise was beginning, three bombs went off within 50 seconds of each other at those same three stations, duplicating the specifics of the drill to an inexplicable level of accuracy. For added excitement, the bus that was blown up in the scenario was, in fact, blown up in London at 9:57 that morning. Fifty-six people, including the four alleged bombers, died in the blasts. About 800 others were injured.

This is a tough one to hang on the patsies because those very same suspects couldn't have been where they had to be to commit these atrocities. It seems they were caught by a security camera at Luton Station at 7:22 that morning. London police claim the bombers then rode the 7:40 train to King's Cross, where they were photographed again. But according to the actual train timetable, the 7:40 train was cancelled that day and even had it not been cancelled, it would not have arrived in time for the men to be photographed at King's Cross at 8:26.

There are other inexplicable "coincidences" the official story either ignores or brushes aside. Surveillance cameras in nearly all the bombed subways and the bus were conveniently turned off or out of order. Witnesses and physical evidence indicate that the bombs were not placed in backpacks by "terrorists" but actually attached underneath the trains, indicating a level of access to the train cars unavailable to outsiders. Bruce Lait, an injured witness said, �The metal was pushed upwards as if the bomb was underneath the train.�

Following the 9/11 scenario of removing first responders from the area, 1,500 officers from London�s Metropolitan Police, including many anti-terrorist specialists, were away in Gleneagles, Scotland as part of a force of 12,000 created to police the 2005 G-8 Summit.

These events left even the predictable cadre of coincidence acolytes scrambling for comforting rationales in support of the official story -- which centered on those four Muslim suspects carrying bombs in backpacks and identified as Al Qaeda members -- that Downing Street peddled to UK and international media.

The blogosphere tells us that one anonymous statistician calculated the likelihood of the litany of 7/7/05 variables lining up to create this marvelous bit of synchronicity at one in 3,715,592,613,265,750,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 -- a figure repeated uncritically as fact on any number of websites and blogs, although a source is never identified.

Other statisticians, perhaps a bit more phobic about commas and zeroes, have set the figure as low as one in 3.8 million. Obviously all such figures are open to conjecture and can be manipulated to raise or lower odds against by adding or subtracting variables. But even the lowest odds against coincidence, one in 3.8 million, are far beyond anything reasonable people would bet a nickel on. They suggest a magnitude of improbability that the coincidence crowd must struggle against in making their case for what is, at last analysis, statistically impossible.

Cui bono

A few minor details and outcomes that 9/11/01 and 7/7/05 share: Both events helped rescue failing administrations from irrelevance and political oblivion. Both created rationales to attack a sovereign nation (or, in the case of the UK, excuse its continued presence there) later proven to be neither complicit in these "terrorist" events nor a threat to the region, much less to the US or UK.

Both provided excuses for the right-wing government of the United States and its allies in Great Britain to curtail or eliminate centuries of legal protections against all forms of governmental intrusion into the private lives of citizens. In the US, everything became fair game -- from domestic surveillance to warrantless searches and seizures to imprisonment without charges or right to legal counsel to the establishment of "free speech zones" to keep the rabble away from the targets of their protests. In the UK, similar surveillance measures were adopted under the tired mantra of "fighting the war on terror."

And both events spawned a wave of unprecedented military spending that kept armaments manufacturers and petrochemical concerns -- as well as their benefactors in government -- rolling in multi-billion dollar no-bid contracts and nearly drowning in a sea of windfall profits.

Anti-terrorism exercises, the Iran problem and marketing 101

Which brings us back to the events scheduled to begin in a week here in Portland. There's a wealth of information available from mainstream sources that warn us of innocent-sounding government simulations and their occasional tendencies to morph into the exact events the exercises are supposed to help prevent.

As noted above, when these simulations "go live," the distinction between the exercise and real events blurs, confusing first responders and local authorities and undermining their ability to make quick decisions or mount an appropriate response. "Going live" also makes it easy to identify and blame the "patsies," those unlucky souls and their alleged backers who have been selected to bear the brunt of national outrage.

It's just classic marketing: identify the problem and sell the solution. In this case, the problem is said to stem from Iran's emerging threat as a nuclear power, and the solution reverberating through official Washington is another preemptive strike by the US, this time including the criminal and arguably insane use of "tactical" nukes against the allegedly hardened targets that house the sinister facilities that comprise Iran's alleged nuclear weapons program.

But that's not the administration's actual problem. Their real problem is how to sell that attack to a war-weary nation. Advocating attacks against Bush's "axis of evil" bogeymen has become an increasingly unpopular position with the public but remains a vital element in the neocon vision of "full-spectrum dominance" by the US in the Middle East, as articulated in the infamous PNAC report, called "Rebuilding America's Defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resources For a New Century." Their secondary problem is how to deal with anticipated acts of civil disobedience and possible mass violence that may erupt upon news of such an attack.

The solution? An exercise that "goes live" involving actual detonation of a dirty bomb in a major American city, instantly blamed on Iranian radical Islamists, resulting in a "counterstrike" on Iran and imposition of martial law at home. All this is done, of course, for the sole purpose of protecting the citizenry from evil dissenters who will poison their minds by opposing war against Iran, no matter the volume of manufactured evidence against some previously unknown group of Iranian fanatics. And yet, there's that pesky paper trail.

Imposing martial law for dummies

The rationales and blueprints for implementation of martial law are already on the books. Reasoning that the USAPATRIOT Act(s) and the Military Commissions Act weren't quite repressive enough, on May 9, 2007, Bush issued a document entitled "National Security Presidential Directive/NSPD 51" and "Homeland Security Presidential Directive/HSPD-20." This directive outlines the federal government's plan for maintaining continuity in the face of a "catastrophic emergency."

The document defines a �catastrophic emergency� as �any incident, regardless of location, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the U.S. population, infrastructure, environment, economy, or government function.� Well, that certainly narrows things down.

If any of these events occurs, Bush grants himself the power to lead the entire federal government, not merely the executive branch. And, recognizing his veneration of constitutional law, he graciously gives himself sole responsibility �for ensuring constitutional government.�

Translated into our native tongue, NSPD 51/HSPD-20 would impose martial law under the authority of the White House and the DHS. It would suspend constitutional government under the provisions of Continuity in Government (COG).

Since 2003, following the invasion of Iraq, Homeland Security (DHS) has contemplated time and again the possibility of a so-called code red alert "scenario" -- using a potential or possible Al Qaeda terrorist attack on American soil -- as a pretext for implementing martial law.

And why would such extreme crowd control measures be necessary? Simply put, people have just about had it with the Bush administration. The outrages keep on coming. Impeachable offenses keep piling up. The economy's nearly ruined, joblessness has hit the middle class and the dollar is worth about a third less than it was just seven years ago.

The latest figures report that our liberating presence in Iraq has murdered more than a million civilians and created about 5 million refugees. US troop fatalities in Iraq stand at 3,813 as of this writing, with tens of thousands more severely maimed and thrown into a new battlefield in the underfunded, overextended VA health care system.

Elsewhere in the Middle East, Iran is the next jewel in the PNAC's crown, while Syria is in line for an oratorical upgrade in Bush's demonization campaign. Domestic repression is edging its way toward the golden age of Stalinism. Given current levels of discontent among the populace and the potential to further inflame that discontent in a variety of ways, it would be weird indeed if the administration didn't have a plan to deal with the millions of malcontents who would view a bombing campaign against Iran -- possibly involving first-strike use of nuclear weapons -- as the absolute last straw.

Cheney goes nuk-u-lur?

All this and we recently learned that Caporegime Cheney may have just become the world's newest nuclear power as the result of a bizarre episode involving the unprecedented removal and transfer of six nuclear-tipped cruise missiles from Minot AB in North Dakota to Barksdale AB in Louisiana -- the main staging base for B-52s bound for the Middle East.

These aren't just normal nukes either, if such a thing as a normal nuke exists. The AGM-129 Advanced Cruise Missile only accepts a W80-3 variable-yield nuclear warhead that can be set to deliver blasts ranging from 5 kilotons to 150 kilotons. Just the ticket for turning an anti-terrorism drill involving detonation of a low-yield "suitcase nuke" into a real-life event.

Dial it down to minimum blast yield, explode it somewhere away from the main commercial areas, annihilate a few blocks of rustbelt-like industrial property, let local winds confine the radiation plume to a few areas where property values are low and the inhabitants aren't predominantly white and let the games begin.

Just to make things even more entertaining, one of these missiles seems to be missing. Reports from several sources say either five or six of them left Minot on August 30 on pylons attached to the B-52's wing hard-points -- or, to put it simply, in firing position (which is in itself an extremely grave violation of protocols regarding shipment of nuclear warheads).

Some reports say six arrived at Barksdale, other sources say only five. It's difficult to chase this point down because Google has apparently spent a good deal of time and effort eliminating links to web pages that put the missile count at five. Six is the official story, all warheads accounted for, everything under control, and Google is going to pitch in and purge URLs in the interests of national security.

But whether it's five or six, it's acknowledged by Air Force personnel that the nukes remained unsecured on the B-52 for at least 10 hours, parked in a relatively isolated area at Barksdale. If somebody in a position of serious authority wanted to steal a nuclear warhead, this is one way to go about it. And that still leaves a few "bunker-busters" for use against Iran.

Be sure to read these comments from current and ex-Air Force personnel regarding the sheer impossibility of any of these events occurring by mistake, much less the gross violations of nuclear custody, security and handling protocols by at least a dozen highly trained airmen who are constantly evaluated for the mental toughness and physical strength required to perform their duties. And yet, as ridiculous as the "multiple simultaneous mistakes" scenario seems, that's exactly what the Air Force and the US government so desperately want you to believe.

False flags over Portland?

At its most basic, a false flag op means pretending to be the enemy and carrying out strikes against one's own country, then blaming them on designated individuals or groups officially despised by the government. These "patsies" then become the embodiments of a state or sub-state group (such as Al Qaeda) against which the US wants to manufacture a case for military aggression. At its most obvious, a false flag op looks just like 9/11/01 or 7/7/05 -- and possibly 10/15/07.

Given a passing familiarity with even a few of the elements outlined above, many Portlanders are taking this one very seriously indeed -- members of the feverish fringe and the solid center alike. It doesn't take much imagination to ascribe malevolent motives to activities this administration claims are good for us.

All the pieces will be in place. The top officials in town. The Iranian problem presumably still unresolved. The usual alphabet soup of security agencies represented. The majority of the citizenry rendered fully docile by the reporting and editorial pablum of mass media narcotics purveyors like The Oregonian.

Then there's this interesting viewpoint from one who should know: "The greatest threat now is 'a 9/11' occurring with a group of terrorists armed not with airline tickets and box cutters, but with a nuclear weapon in the middle of one of our own cities . . . it�s a very real threat." Dick Cheney, April 15, 2007.

Coincidentally, as some would say, Cheney will be in Portland on October 16. To survey the damage? To push the button? To dine at Jakes? We don't know, and he's not talking.

Additional information sources

False flag operations:
Operation Northwoods
The Reichstag Fire
The Tonkin Gulf Incident
The 9/11 Timeline
London Train Bombings
Warnings of Coming False Flag Events

Recent presidential directives and executive orders:
Outlawing the anti-war movement
Martial law blueprint

More on the missing nuke(s):
Somebody just stole a nuclear weapon
Staging nukes for Iran?
A contrary viewpoint

Comments? Email the author at war_on_peas@yahoo.com and have a virtual conversation with an actual member of the feverish fringe.

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