Friday, October 29, 2010

What About the Separation of Corporations & State?

I am busy researching information for a blog post I will publish on the sham election about to take place next week that will detail exactly which dark actors are responsible for making next Tuesday's election a sham. But until then, here's some late breaking news on one of the biggest stories of the year which I have covered extensively on this blog:

BP, Halliburton knew Gulf oil rig cement was faulty: commission

By Raw Story
Thursday, October 28th, 2010 -- 4:28 pm

 BP, Halliburton knew Gulf oil rig cement was faulty: commission
The presidential commission investigating the Deepwater Horizon oil spill says BP and its cement contractor, Halliburton knew the cement mixture used in the construction of the well could allow oil leaks.
According to a letter from Fred Bartlit, Jr., the commission's lead investigator, Halliburton carried out four tests of the cement mixture between February and April of this year, shortly before the rig exploded, and three of them showed the mixture to be faulty. A fourth, final one showed the mixture to work, but BP apparently only ever saw the results of one of the tests -- one that failed.
CNN reports:
According to the letter, the cement was poured to stabilize the well on April 19 and 20, the day of the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig above that killed 11 workers and caused the worst oil spill in U.S. history.
"Halliburton and BP both had results in March showing that a very similar foam slurry design to the one actually pumped at the Macondo well would be unstable, but neither acted upon that data," the letter said.
"Halliburton (and perhaps BP) should have considered redesigning the foam slurry before pumping it at the Macondo well," the letter continued.
The news "appears to conflict with statements made by Halliburton Co., which has said its tests showed the cement mix was stable. The company instead has said BP's well design and operations are responsible for the disaster," reports AP.

Two words come to mind to describe what happened: criminal negligence. So why I do I highlight this on the eve of an election where matters of state seem to dominate the headlines more than matters of corporations? Perhaps it is because we so often confuse the two as being the same thing. So many times I've heard that the election next week is a referendum on President Obama, even though you won't find his name on any ballot. Perhaps it is a fair assessment, there is so much he is responsible for that our Congress has either followed his lead on or obstructed that in a sense it is a referendum on what he has done and whether we should empower those who follow him or those who obstruct.
But one thing President Obama is not responsible for that I resent like hell seeing him get blamed for is the Deepwater Blowout. Those who label this tragic travesty as "Obama's Katrina" are shameless propagandists either ignorant of history or just flat-out lying. The only similarity I see between the two catastrophes is that, like Halliburton, Bush had foreknowledge of the potential for calamity and took no proactive measures to mitigate it. But whereas the New Orleans levees fell under the purview of government responsibility, Deepwater Horizon was a 100% corporate operation, therefore 100% of the responsibility for damage associated with 4.9 million barrels of oil leaking into the Gulf of Mexico and the surrounding areas lies with the corporations involved. Period. Any suggestion otherwise is either financed by or plays into the hands of the same guilty corporatists eager to make you, the American public, absolve them of their crimes this coming Tuesday.
More on that in my next blog post.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Mumbai Attacks Update: The DEA Connection

Almost two years ago, there were a series of coordinated terror attacks on multiple targets in Mumbai, India that killed 166 people, including six Americans. At the time, I wrote a blog post about it titled Who's really responsible for Mumbai? Dick Cheney doesn't want you to know. It explored how the primary suspects in the terror attacks, Dawood Ibrahim and the terror group Lashkar-e-Toiba, were connected with Dick Cheney through their mutual financial profiteering via the A.Q. Khan nuclear proliferation network. There was also reports cited that the attackers might not have all been Arab or Pakistani; the possibility of a Chechen connection was explored because of tactical similarities and eyewitness accounts of "foreign looking, fair skinned" men with "blonde hair" and "a punkish hairstyle".

Since then, there has been minimal exposure in American mainstream media (MSM) regarding investigations into the Mumbai attacks. But recently, there has been a bombshell revelation:

Feds Confirm Mumbai Plotter Trained With Terrorists While Working for DEA

by Sebastian Rotella
ProPublica, Oct. 16, 2010, 11:04 p.m.


Feds Confirm Mumbai Plotter Trained With Terrorists While Working for DEA [1]

U.S. Embassy Didn’t Pass Along Tip About Headley’s Ties to Terrorists [2]
Federal officials acknowledged Saturday that David Coleman Headley, the U.S. businessman who confessed to being a terrorist scout in the 2008 Mumbai attacks, was working as a DEA informant while he was training with terrorists in Pakistan.

Federal officials, who spoke only only on background because of the sensitivity of the Headley case, also said they suspect a link between Headley and the al Qaeda figures whose activities have sparked recent terror threats against Europe.
Courtroom drawing of David Coleman Headley, left. Dec. 9, 2009. (Verna Sadock/AP Photo)
Courtroom drawing of David Coleman Headley, left. Dec. 9, 2009. (Verna Sadock/AP Photo)
The revelations came after a report Friday [3] by ProPublica and the Washington Post that the FBI had been warned about Headley’s terrorist ties three years before the Mumbai attacks. Headley wasn’t arrested until 11 months after the attack.
After Headley was arrested in a 2005 domestic dispute in New York City, his wife told federal investigators about his long involvement with the terrorist group Lashkar-i-Taiba and his extensive training in its Pakistani camps. She also told them he had bragged about being a paid U.S. informant while undergoing terrorist training.


Quite an astounding revelation! Yet except for reporter Sebastian Rotella having his article reprinted in the Washington Post and a related story in the New York Times, MSM has been strangely silent on this story. Perhaps this is excusable to the predominate focus on the upcoming election in November. But still, an American confessing to involvement in the 2008 Mumbai attacks turns out to be a DEA informant, turns out the FBI was warned of his terrorist links three years prior to the attacks, yet this story doesn't merit nationwide front page headlines? No morning talk or evening cable news interviews with the ex-wife, or with the DEA or FBI? A more likely reason for MSM muting of this story is Deep Politics. As long as the links between government, intelligence, drugs and terrorism are not officially acknowledged, how are we to know they exist?

Friday, October 15, 2010

October Surprise - The 30th Anniversary

As we head into the last few weeks leading up to Election Day, both sides look to gain lasting momentum over the other which will hopefully translate into substantial victories. Both hope for that one big down-to-the-wire incident that resonates in voters' minds as they head into the voting booth that encapsulates why their side is the best, or at least why the other side sucks more. It's called the October Surprise. Sometimes it is truly a surprise, some event unforeseen, beyond anyone's control. But there are occasions when it is orchestrated purposefully to take advantage of an uncertain electorate.

What may or may not have occurred in October of 1980 was not the first time an October Surprise was purposefully orchestrated, but is certainly one of the most famous. As wikipedia summarizes:

1980 Carter vs. Reagan

During the Iran hostage crisis, the Republican challenger Ronald Reagan feared a last-minute deal to release the hostages, which might earn incumbent Jimmy Carter enough votes to win re-election in the 1980 presidential election.[2][3] As it happened, in the days prior to the election, press coverage was consumed with the Iranian government's decision—and Carter's simultaneous announcement—that the hostages would not be released until after the election.[3]
It was first written about in a Jack Anderson article in the Washington Post in the fall of 1980, in which he alleged that the Carter administration was preparing a major military operation in Iran for rescuing U.S. hostages in order to help him get reelected. Subsequent allegations surfaced against Reagan alleging that his team had impeded the hostage release to negate the potential boost to the Carter campaign.[4]
After the release of the hostages on the same day, literally 5 minutes following Reagan's inauguration on January 20, 1981, some charged that the Reagan campaign made a secret deal with the Iranian government whereby the Iranians would hold the hostages until Reagan was inaugurated, ensuring that Carter would lose the election.[3]
Gary Sick, member of the National Security council under Presidents Ford and Carter (before being relieved of his duties mere weeks into Reagan's term) [5] made the accusation in a New York Times editorial [4] in the run-up to the 1992 election. The initial bipartisan response from Congress was skeptical: House Democrats refused to authorize an inquiry, and Senate Republicans denied a $600,000 appropriation for a probe.
Eight former hostages also sent an open letter demanding an inquiry in 1991 [5] In subsequent Congressional testimony, Sick said that the popular media had distorted and misrepresented the accusers, reducing them to "gross generalizations" and "generic conspiracy theorists." Sick penned a book on the subject and sold the movie rights to it for a reported $300,000. [6] His sources and thesis were contested by a number of commentators on both sides of the aisle. [7] [8]
Bani-Sadr, the former President of Iran, has also stated "that the Reagan campaign struck a deal with Teheran to delay the release of the hostages in 1980," asserting that "by the month before the American Presidential election in November 1980, many in Iran's ruling circles were openly discussing the fact that a deal had been made between the Reagan campaign team and some Iranian religious leaders in which the hostages' release would be delayed until after the election so as to prevent President Carter's re-election"[6] He repeated the charge in "My Turn to Speak: Iran, the Revolution & Secret Deals with the U.S."[7][8]
Two separate congressional investigations looked into the charges, both concluding that there was no plan to seek to delay the hostages' release.[3] At least three books have argued the case.[9]

Campaign '80
Which message will resonate with voters?

Carter Reagan
"Let's talk better mileage"
- Jimmy Carter
"Kill the Bastards"
- Ronald Reagan
Fascinating history. But beyond just illuminating the 30 year passing of a conspiracy theory, I wanted to report some recent research that the mainstream media failed to shine a light on. Since Project Censored neglected to cover this story, I shall probably write about it in greater detail in my annual UNDER THE RUG blog post in December. I give full credit and applause to George Polk Award winning investigative reporter Robert Parry for continuing to dig up fresh dirt on a 30 year old story:

Key October Surprise Evidence Hidden

By Robert Parry (A Special Report)
May 6, 2010

A Russian government report, which corroborated allegations that Ronald Reagan’s presidential campaign interfered with President Jimmy Carter’s Iran-hostage negotiations in 1980, was apparently kept from the Democratic chairman of a congressional task force that investigated the charges a dozen years later.
Lee Hamilton, then a congressman from Indiana in charge of the task force, told me in a recent interview, “I don’t recall seeing it,” although he was the one who had requested Moscow’s cooperation in the first place and the extraordinary Russian report was addressed to him.
The Russian report, which was dropped off at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow on Jan. 11, 1993, contradicted the task force’s findings – which were released two days later – of “no credible evidence” showing that Republicans contacted Iranian intermediaries behind President Carter’s back regarding 52 American hostages held by Iran’s Islamic revolutionary government, the so-called October Surprise case.
I was surprised by Hamilton’s unfamiliarity with the Russian report, so I e-mailed him a PDF copy. I then contacted the task force’s former chief counsel, attorney Lawrence Barcella, who acknowledged in an e-mail that he doesn’t “recall whether I showed [Hamilton] the Russian report or not.”
In other words, the Russian report – possibly representing Moscow’s first post-Cold War collaboration with the United States on an intelligence mystery – was not only kept from the American public but apparently from the chairman of the task force responsible for the investigation.

If the name Lee Hamilton sounds familiar, you might remember he was the vice chairman of the 9/11 Commission.
As I said before, I'll analyze this story in greater detail in December. Until then, happy anniversary!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps

I'm a big fan of the 1987 Oliver Stone film Wall Street. But when I saw the previews for his sequel, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, I felt a little trepidacious. Why did Gordon Gekko spend eight years in prison for a crime that real-life inside traders like Ivan Boesky and Michael Milken served a fraction of time in comparison? Why do we see a daughter in the trailer but not the son, who appeared as a little boy in the original? And what is Gekko going to do with that monstrously oversized cell phone? I went with a friend to the Los Feliz 3 Cinemas to find out.

The movie starts out with Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) being released from prison in 2001 after serving eight years, with no one arriving to pick him up. Cut to seven years later, where Gekko's daughter Winnie (Carey Mulligan) wakes her boyfriend, Jake Moore (Shia Lebouf). A top Wall Street broker for the firm Keller Zabel Investments, Jake's first instinct upon waking is to turn on CNBC. There, in addition to the everpresent ominous stat for the price of oil near $142 a barrel, is Gordon Gekko himself, promoting his new book titled Is Greed Good? Though Winnie throws the remote at the TV in disgust over her estranged father, who she blames for the suicide of her brother, Jake seems fascinated.

Jake's position at Keller Zabel seems secure, even though the board discourages his enthusiasm for a nuclear fusion project to bolster the firm's alternative energy assets. He receives a $1.5 million bonus from his managing director, Lewis Zabel (Frank Langella). Jake considers Lewis his mentor, so when Lewis soon after commits suicide in the wake of the collapse of Keller Zabel, Jake is distraught. He gets engaged to Winnie, then seeks out her father Gordon at a lecture he is giving. An interesting bond develops between Jake and Gordon where in exchange for opportunities to communicate with his estranged daughter, Gordon provides Jake with information to destroy Bretton James (Josh Brolin), who Jake believes profited from Keller Zabel's collapse and Gordon believes was responsible for his long jail sentence.

The intricacies of the plot are well executed, and I have to give the writers Allen Loeb & Stephen Schiff credit for creating an involving sequel that isn't just a retread of previous material. They also did a great job explaining that it wasn't just the securities fraud in the first film exposed by Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen, who has a hilarious cameo) that sent Gekko to prison for seven years, there was additional charges he believes Bretton, who he had a falling out with, was responsible for. I also think Oliver Stone did a masterful job of style and pacing. It was almost as though he reached back to his 80's style of elegant sweeping cinematic shots as opposed to the lightning quick edits of his 90's films. At times his visual allegory is a bit overstated, such as the multiple shots of floating bubbles, but I love how he highlighted the skyline of New York City as a visual metaphor for the rise and fall of the stock market. Plus this movie had great performances all around, but especially from Michael Douglas. He's not in as many scenes in this as in the original, but his presence is felt when he's gone. His effect on others and the world he inhabits is palpable; he's like the Hannibal Lector of the financial world: when and how he stakes his claim seem to be always on his seemingly all-powerful terms.

But there are some glaring problems with this film that keep it from greatness. I won't provide spoilers here, but the final scene is atrocious. Both in style and content, it's just too simple and sentimental to give any cinematic satisfaction. But I also had a problem with the way nuclear fusion was used as a deus ex machina to solve all our environmental and energy problems. I could buy using it as a plot device within some science fiction futuristic movie like Back to the Future, but within the realm of Wall Street as the Economic Meltdown of 2008 occurs, it just isn't plausible. Sure, there are companies out there exploring the technological possibility of nuclear fusion. But there wasn't a company two years ago on the verge of a realistic breakthrough, and there certainly isn't one now.

This was one of the issues I discussed with my friend over drinks at the Dresden Room after the movie. I think Stone was cleverly sly about the way he wove the issues surrounding oil production and energy use into the context of the story. He accurately detailed the financial reasons behind the 2008 Economic Meltdown such as sub-prime mortgages and debt in investment and commercial banking, but always in the background, whether through visual graphs or Gekko referring to alternative energy as "the next bubble", was the underlying issue of energy. I think Stone understands implicitly that while money represents the ability to do work, energy is the ability to do work. The problem Stone shares with the overwhelming majority of Americans, as evidenced by his yearning for a fusion energy future, is that he's still hanging on to the notion that there is something out there that can solve all our energy and environmental problems and still keep the economy growing. I've come to the conclusion the majority will maintain that notion until we're well past the peak of oil production. It's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when.