TBR News January 15, 2013

Jan 15 2013

The Voice of the White House

 

          Washington, D.C. January 15, 2013: “It is interesting to observe what is happening to the once-powerful New York Times. With a rapidly dwindling circulation, the frantic efforts of the management to resurrect the paper are more than entertaining. The Times has closed various departments (such as the Environmental one), laid off many middle-level workers and blocked access to its online articles except for those willing to pay for the somewhat dubious privilege. At first, one could view, and download a maximum of twenty articles per month. Then this was reduced to ten but for viewers only. Any downloads must be for subscribers to their electronic service. At one time, the New York Times was a valuable news source, in spite of their overly close contact and cooperation with the CIA but now, there are very few articles worth bothering with. One can get far better news from the British Guardian which has the advantage of having no connection with the corrupt Murdoch empire. Poor Rupert would be better off in a nursing home rather than plotting to put a hand-puppet General into the White House!”

Chuck Hagel nomination creates rare partisan fight over Pentagon post

January 8, 2013

by Tom Hamburger and Peter Wallsten,

The Washington Post

The nomination of former senator Chuck Hagel to lead the Pentagon has set in motion a highly unusual campaign-style brawl over a Cabinet post long considered above politics.

Supporters and opponents are raising money and building political organizations in anticipation of a grueling and contentious Senate confirmation process.

The opponents, led by a conservative group called the Emergency Committee for Israel, began airing attack ads soon after the Nebraska Republican’s name surfaced weeks ago and on Monday rolled out a Web site, chuckhagel.com, to lay out its case against him. The group has questioned Hagel’s commitment to the security of the Jewish state and accused him of being soft on Iran.

White House officials, meanwhile, have begun an aggressive push to introduce “the real Chuck Hagel,” recruiting high-profile endorsements and contacting potential critics in an effort to neutralize opposition. For the first time since his name was floated, “the White House is putting its full muscle” behind Hagel, said a person familiar with the process.

In the past week, fundraising has become a priority for both sides, introducing a new element of electoral-style politics into a realm that has seldom, if ever, seen it before.

A group of Hagel’s backers, led by Richard Burt, a senior diplomat in the Reagan administration, formed a nonprofit organization and solicited contributions from donors active in foreign policy and defense. Burt said the aim was to prepare a public response to what they said was unfair criticism and make sure “Hagel was not whittled down” before he was nominated. With President Obama officially naming Hagel on Monday and the White House bolstering its defense of the nominee, Burt said his group will refund the donations.

As Burt’s group was getting started, another organization, the Bipartisan Group, hired the Podesta Group, a lobbying firm, to promote Hagel’s credentials.

The escalating campaigns come amid what has already been a flurry of published letters, op-eds, and print and broadcast advertisements.

Officials at the Emergency Committee for Israel said Monday that they are ramping up a substantial online ad campaign, buying Google keywords and placing ads on Facebook and Twitter to drive traffic to their new anti-Hagel Web site. “Anyone concerned about Chuck Hagel is going to see what we have to contribute to this debate in the coming weeks,” said Noah Pollak, the group’s executive director.

The Log Cabin Republicans, a group that supports gay rights, purchased a full-page ad in Monday’s Washington Post recalling Hagel’s 1996 statement supporting the Defense of Marriage Act, as well as a statement he made in 1998 referring to an ambassadorial nominee as “openly, aggressively gay.” The ad notes Hagel’s recent regret for his past comments and labels the apology “Too little, too late.” Gregory T. Angelo, the group’s interim executive director, declined to say how much money the group raised for the anti-Hagel ad.

The battle lines are being drawn so sharply because of the high stakes on all sides.

For neoconservatives, who dominated foreign policy during George W. Bush’s presidency, Hagel represents a threat to their continued influence at the Pentagon. He was critical of Bush foreign policy initiatives in Iraq and Afghanistan and has challenged the influence of pro-Israel activists on U.S. foreign policy.

Obama, who is seeking to define a strong foreign policy at the start of his second term, wants to avoid another nomination setback. Susan E. Rice, his top choice for secretary of state, withdrew from consideration last month amid relentless criticism from Republicans.

“I don’t think the president can afford to lose another skirmish,” said Abraham Foxman, president of the Anti-Defamation League.

Foxman has been a leading critic of Hagel’s record and past statements. After a call over the weekend from a White House official, he issued a carefully modulated statement Monday saying that “Hagel would not have been my first choice, but I respect the President’s prerogative.”

In some cases, the White House’s entreaties have met with resistance. When an official spent 20 minutes on the phone with David Harris, executive director of the centrist American Jewish Committee, arguing that there was “no need to worry” about administration positions on Israel and Iran, Harris said he responded, “We’re going to be watching the Senate confirmation hearings, listening carefully, and we’ll determine then our position.”

White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett called gay rights groups last month to try to reassure them. Obama aides have called liberal allies and others in recent days to seek support — or at least neutrality — from activist groups.

Talking points distributed Monday to liberal commentators and activists featured Hagel’s recent apology and statement expressing his support for the gay rights movement. The talking points also detailed Hagel’s record as a decorated Vietnam War veteran and included a series of pro-Israel statements, according to a person who received the e-mails.

The dispute over Hagel’s nomination spread Monday to Capitol Hill, where Republicans were sharply critical of Obama’s announcement and even some of the president’s closest allies stopped short of promising to confirm the nominee.

“Chuck Hagel, as a former colleague and a patriot with a decorated service record, has earned the right to nothing less than a full and fair process in the Senate,” said Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.). “I look forward to fully studying his record and exploring his views.”

Some Democrats expressed unqualified support. Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (Nev.) lauded Hagel’s “deep understanding of the national security establishment.” He added: “Few nominees have such a combination of strategic and personal knowledge of our national defense needs.”

There have been fights in the past over presidents’ nominees, but longtime observers say the attacks on Hagel’s policy positions are unprecedented.

“I have never seen anything like this,” said Lawrence J. Korb, an assistant secretary of defense during the Reagan administration. He and others recalled the clash over former senator John Tower’s nomination to be defense secretary in 1989. But the objections in the Texas Republican’s case turned on questions of morality and character, not policy. Korb added that he is optimistic that Hagel will be confirmed.

Opposition to Hagel may be softening

 

January 8, 2013

by Laura Rozen

The Back Channel
 

“Chuck knows war is not an abstraction,” Obama said in a ceremony in the White House East Room. “He understands that sending young American to fight and bleed in the dirt and the mud is something we only do when absolutely necessary.”

 

Several groups and political leaders said Monday they would not formally oppose the choice, though some admitted to being lukewarm. Among them, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the Anti-Defamation League, and former Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), who earlier said he opposed the choice.

 

“I was hoping the president wouldn’t nominate him,” former Rep. Barney Frank told the Boston Globe  Monday. However, Frank added, while he resented what Hagel said in 1998 regarding the candidacy of an openly gay ambassador nominee, for which he has since apologized, “the question now is going to be Afghanistan and scaling back the military. In terms of the policy stuff, if he would be rejected [by the Senate], it would be a setback for those things.”

 

“Senator Hagel would not have been my first choice, but I respect the president’s prerogative,” Abraham H. Foxman, ADL’s national director, said in a statement Monday.

 

“AIPAC does not take positions on presidential nominations,” the group’s spokesman Marshall Wittman said by email Monday. Perhaps easing the group’s concerns about the appointment, the Atlantic’s Jeff Goldberg reported, the fact that White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew reached out to AIPAC’s executive director Howard Kohr last week to argue the case for Hagel.

 

Meantime, two former officers with the Republican gay rights group the Log Cabin Republicans took to Twitter Monday to say they dissented with the group’s ads opposing Hagel’s nomination.

 

 

 

“This Hagel is ‘anti-gay’ smear campaign is disgraceful and a damn lie,” Chris R. Barron, the former national director for Log Cabin Republicans, wrote on Twitter. “Fact: Chuck Hagel has a better record on gay rights than Mitt Romney.”

 

Indeed, opposition to the Hagel nomination appeared to be waning so quickly in the face of his actual nomination that one pro-Hagel 501c4 group formed to campaign for his confirmation, headed by former Reagan administration envoy Steven Burt, has stood down before taking any action, CNN reported Monday.

 

The most vocal anti-Hagel activists on Monday appeared to be the Bill Kristol-led GOP outfit, the Emergency Committee for Israel (which previously ran ads opposing Obama’s election), the Republican Jewish Coalition (which also opposed Obama’s election), the head of the Israel Project, a non-profit group; WashingtonPost.com columnist Jennifer Rubin, and the current leadership of the Log Cabin Republicans, which took out newspaper ads against Hagel in recent days. (The Emergency Committee for Israel bought the ChuckHagel.com Internet domain on January 2nd, Buzzfeed reported.)

 

House Majority Leader Rep. Eric  Cantor (R-Virginia), the only Republican Jewish member of Congress, also expressed opposition to the nomination Monday, though his chamber of Congress doesn’t vote on the matter.

 

In the body that does, the Senate, both Texas Republican Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, as well as South Carolina’s Lindsay Graham suggested in recent days they were likely to vote against Hagel.

 

However, fellow former Vietnam veteran Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona), a leading Senate hawk who has a long and complicated friendship with the Nebraska Republican, released a nuanced statement, congratulating Hagel for his nomination and praising him for his honorable service in Vietnam. But, McCain said, he has “serious concerns” about some of Hagel’s positions on national security matters he would be asking about in his confirmation hearing.

 

If confirmed, Hagel would be the first former enlisted soldier and Vietnam combat veteran to lead the Pentagon.

 

President Obama said that experience has made Hagel a champion for the troops sent to fight and die—in implicit contrast to Washington’s cadre of armchair warriors. “My frame of reference is geared to the guy at the bottom who is doing the fighting and the dying,” Obama cited Hagel.
Putin Preps Russian Navy for Biggest Exercise Since the Soviet Union

 

January 3, 2013

by Robert Beckhusen

Wired

 

 

The Russian navy is about to stage its largest war exercise in a long time — possibly the largest since before the breakup of the Soviet Union. It’s a chance for President Vladimir Putin to show off his military might, of course. But the exercise may also be a subtle warning to the United States: Stay clear of waters that traditionally lie in Russia’s sphere of influence.

 

The Russian defense ministry says its the “first time in decades” it’s launched naval exercises on this scale. The drills involve warships from all of Russia’s fleets: “the Northern, Baltic, Black Sea and Pacific,” noted a statement from the ministry. The exercise will be reportedly held in late January, and involve amphibious landings in the Caucasus and naval exercises in the Mediterranean.

 

Putin has undertaken a major $659 billion arms buildup through 2020. On Thursday, the Defense Ministry in Moscow also announced the scale of its ongoing naval increase. By 2016, a statement noted, Russia will have 18 new warships, “and also 30 special-purpose and counter-subversion vessels,” along with six new submarines. One of these vessels, the Borei class ballistic missile sub Yuri Dolgoruky, joined the fleet this week.

 

What’s odd is the timing, and location. The choice of the Black Sea and Mediterranean has led to some speculation that the exercises are cover for an evacuation of Russian citizens from Syria, with estimates ranging from 9,000 to 30,000 people. Could be. Syria’s civil war has been drastically getting worse. But Russia also has more practical reasons for putting on a show of force in area. As far as some in Moscow see it, the Black Sea is under threat.

 

In November, Anna Glazova, a military analyst at the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, wrote in the Russian defense magazine National Defence that the U.S. is seeking to “take military control of the Black Sea region.” The evidence: Washington has moved to install missile defense interceptors in Turkey and Romania — ostensibly to shoot down Iranian missiles — but with the Russians seeing it as aimed at them. Romania and Bulgaria joined NATO in 2004, which in Moscow’s eyes, meant “the Americans actually took control of the western Black Sea coast,” wrote Glazova.

 

That’s a bit strong. The U.S. has been restricted by treaty since 1936 in the number of warships it can sail through the Turkish-controlled Bosporus Straits, and how long Washington can keep them in the Black Sea. On the other hand, over the past two years, U.S. cruisers have visited ports in Ukraine and Georgia. Among them included the cruisers Vella Gulf, Philippine Sea and Monterrey, each equipped with Aegis ballistic-missile defense systems.

 

But the Black Sea is a great setting for this drama to play out. Historically, it’s in Russia’s backyard, so to speak. But the U.S. isn’t about to send an aircraft carrier into the sea to help out Georgia in the event of another war. During the 2008 war between Georgia and Russia, the Pentagon planned to send two hospital ships into the sea, but were blocked by Turkey. (Istanbul doesn’t allow more than 45,000 tons of warships into the Black Sea for countries not bordering it.) But a relative decline in Russia’s influence is enough to put on a big show.

 

“That leaves honor — or, more accurately, national redemption — as the main propellant for endeavors like this exercise. It’s all about demonstrating that Russia remains a sea power to be reckoned with,” says Jim Holmes, an associate professor of strategy at the Naval War College.

 

Later this month, we’ll have to chance to see to what extent. It’ll also be interesting to see if Putin has any surprises in store.

 

First Borey Class Nuclear Sub to Join Russian Navy on Sunday

December 30, 2012

RIA/Novosti

 

ST. PETERSBURG, December 30 (RIA Novosti) – Russia’s first Borey class ballistic missile nuclear submarine, the Yury Dolgoruky, will be officially put into service with the Russian Navy on Sunday, the designer of the sub said.

 

“The hoisting of the flag and the signing of the acceptance act will be held at the Sevmash shipyard in Severodvinsk on Sunday, December 30,” the Rubin design bureau said in a statement on Saturday.

 

On the same day, the Sevmash will float out a third Borey class submarine, the Vladimir Monomakh.

 

A second Borey class vessel, the Alexander Nevsky, is undergoing sea trials and could join Russia’s Pacific Fleet in 2014.

 

The Borey class submarines are expected to form the core of Russia’s strategic submarine fleet, replacing the aging Project 941 (NATO Typhoon class) and Project 667 class (Delta-3 and Delta-4) boats. Russia is planning to build eight Borey and Borey-A class subs by 2020.

 

A Borey class strategic submarine is 170 meters (580 feet) long, has a hull diameter of 13 meters (42 feet), a crew of 107, including 55 officers, a maximum depth of 450 meters (about 1,500 feet) and a submerged speed of about 29 knots.

 

All the Borey class strategic submarines will carry up to 16 Bulava ballistic missiles with multiple warheads.

 

 

 

Japan and China step up drone race as tension builds over disputed islands

Both countries claim drones will be used for surveillance, but experts warn of future skirmishes in region’s airspace

 

January 8, 2013

by Jonathan Kaiman in Beijing and Justin McCurry in Tokyo

The Guardian,

 

Drones have taken centre stage in an escalating arms race between China and Japan as they struggle to assert their dominance over disputed islands in the East China Sea.

 

China is rapidly expanding its nascent drone programme, while Japan has begun preparations to purchase an advanced model from the US. Both sides claim the drones will be used for surveillance, but experts warn the possibility of future drone skirmishes in the region’s airspace is “very high”.

 

Tensions over the islands – called the Diaoyu by China and the Senkaku by Japan – have ratcheted up in past weeks. Chinese surveillance planes flew near the islands four times in the second half of December, according to Chinese state media, but were chased away each time by Japanese F-15 fighter jets. Neither side has shown any signs of backing down.

 

Japan’s new conservative administration of Shinzo Abe has placed a priority on countering the perceived Chinese threat to the Senkakus since it won a landslide victory in last month’s general election. Soon after becoming prime minister, Abe ordered a review of Japan’s 2011-16 mid-term defence programme, apparently to speed up the acquisition of between one and three US drones.

 

Under Abe, a nationalist who wants a bigger international role for the armed forces, Japan is expected to increase defence spending for the first time in 11 years in 2013. The extra cash will be used to increase the number of military personnel and upgrade equipment. The country’s deputy foreign minister, Akitaka Saiki, summoned the Chinese ambassador to Japan on Tuesday to discuss recent “incursions” of Chinese ships into the disputed territory.

 

China appears unbowed. “Japan has continued to ignore our warnings that their vessels and aircraft have infringed our sovereignty,” top-level marine surveillance official Sun Shuxian said in an interview posted to the State Oceanic Administration’s website, according to Reuters. “This behaviour may result in the further escalation of the situation at sea and has prompted China to pay great attention and vigilance.”

 

China announced late last month that the People’s Liberation Army was preparing to test-fly a domestically developed drone, which analysts say is likely a clone of the US’s carrier-based X-47B. “Key attack technologies will be tested,” reported the state-owned China Daily, without disclosing further details.

 

Andrei Chang, editor-in-chief of the Canadian-based Kanwa Defence Review, said China might be attempting to develop drones that can perform reconnaissance missions as far away as Guam, where the US is building a military presence as part of its “Asia Pivot” strategy.

 

China unveiled eight new models in November at an annual air show on the southern coastal city Zhuhai, photographs of which appeared prominently in the state-owned press. Yet the images may better indicate China’s ambitions than its abilities, according to Chang: “We’ve seen these planes on the ground only — if they work or not, that’s difficult to explain.”

 

Japanese media reports said the defence ministry hopes to introduce Global Hawk unmanned aircraft near the disputed islands by 2015 at the earliest in an attempt to counter Beijing’s increasingly assertive naval activity in the area.

 

Chinese surveillance vessels have made repeated intrusions into Japanese waters since the government in Tokyo in effect nationalised the Senkakus in the summer, sparking riots in Chinese cities and damaging trade ties between Asia’s two biggest economies.

 

The need for Japan to improve its surveillance capability was underlined late last year when Japanese radar failed to pick up a low-flying Chinese aircraft as it flew over the islands.

 

The Kyodo news agency quoted an unnamed defence ministry official as saying the drones would be used “to counter China’s growing assertiveness at sea, especially when it comes to the Senkaku islands”.

 

China’s defence budget has exploded over the past decade, from about £12.4bn in 2002 to almost £75bn in 2011, and its military spending could surpass the US’s by 2035. The country’s first aircraft carrier, a refurbished Soviet model called the Liaoning, completed its first sea trials in August.

 

A 2012 report by the Pentagon acknowledged long-standing rumours that China was developing a new generation of stealth drones, called Anjian, or Dark Sword, whose capabilities could surpass those of the US’s fleet.

 

China’s state media reported in October that the country would build 11 drone bases along the coastline by 2015. “Over disputed islands, such as the Diaoyu Islands, we do not lag behind in terms of the number of patrol vessels or the frequency of patrolling,” said Senior Colonel Du Wenlong, according to China Radio International. “The problem lies in our surveillance capabilities.”

 

China’s military is notoriously opaque, and analysts’ understanding of its drone programme is limited. “They certainly get a lot of mileage out of the fact that nobody knows what the hell they’re up to, and they’d take great care to protect that image,” said Ron Huisken, an expert on east Asian security at Australian National University.

 

He said the likelihood of a skirmish between Chinese and Japanese drones in coming years was “very high”.

 

US drones have also attracted the interest of the South Korean government as it seeks to beef up its ability to monitor North Korea, after last month’s successful launch of a rocket that many believe was a cover for a ballistic-missile test.

 

The US’s Global Hawk is piloted remotely by a crew of three and can fly continuously for up to 30 hours at a maximum height of about 60,000 ft. It has no attack capability.

 

The US deployed the advanced reconnaissance drone to monitor damage to the Fukushima nuclear power plant in the aftermath of the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami on Japan’s north-east coast.

 

Bradley Manning granted 112-day reduction in possible sentence

Judge rules that Manning had suffered excessively harsh treatment but reduction falls far short of defence team’s hopes

 

January 8, 2013

by Ed Pilkington at Fort Meade, Maryland

The Guardian

 The US soldier accused of being behind the massive WikiLeaks publication of state secrets has been awarded a 112-day reduction in any eventual sentence on the grounds that he was subjected to excessively harsh treatment in military detention.

 

Colonel Denise Lind, the judge presiding over Bradley Manning‘s court martial, granted him the dispensation as a form of recompense for the unduly long period in which he was held on suicide watch and prevention of injury status while at the brig at Quantico marine base in Virginia where he was detained from 29 July 2010 to 20 April 2011.

 

During that time he was held under constant surveillance, had his possessions removed from his cell and at times even his clothes, often in contravention to the professional medical opinion of psychiatrists.

 

Lind’s ruling was made under Article 13 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice that protects prisoners awaiting trial from punishment on grounds that they are innocent until proven guilty. The recognition that some degree of pre-trial punishment did occur during the nine months that the soldier was held in Quantico marks a legal victory for the defence in that it supports Manning’s long-held complaint that he was singled out by the US government for excessively harsh treatment.

 

However, the ruling falls far short of the hopes of Manning’s defence team. At best, the soldier’s lawyers had pressed for a dismissal of all 22 counts that he is currently facing relating to the transfer of hundreds of thousands of US diplomatic cables and war logs to the whistleblower website WikiLeaks.

 

Dismissal of all charges is listed as a possible remedy for an Article 13 violation. But Lind said it should be used only under the most egregious circumstances where the US government has engaged in outrageous conduct.

 

“The charges are serious in this case and there was no intent to punish. There is no argument to dismiss the charges,” the judge said.

 

Beyond dismissal, the defence had called for a diminution of Manning’s sentence according to a ratio of 10 days reduction for every day of excessive treatment, to run for the entire duration of the nine months of the soldier’s confinement at Quantico. That would have resulted in more than seven years being taken off his sentence.

 

But in the end, the judge agreed only to a straight day-for-day ratio, and further limited the duration of the reduction to narrowly defined periods where she found excessive treatment had taken place.

 

Specifically, she granted Manning seven days off any sentence for the seven days when he was kept on the most restrictive regime, known as Suicide Risk, against the advice of psychiatrists – the only Article 13 violation accepted by the prosecution; 75 days off sentence for when he was kept on the only slightly less onerous status of “prevention of injury”, also against professional opinion; 20 days for having his underwear removed unduly after he made a joke that he could use that to harm himself; and 10 days for being granted just 20 minutes of recreation outside his cell every day when he should have been given a full hour.

 

In her ruling, Lind rejected several of the key arguments that had been put forward by the defence as evidence of pre-trial punishment. Manning’s legal team tried to show that the military hierarchy had taken an inappropriate interest in the terms of Manning’s confinement right up to the level of Lt Gen George Flynn in the Pentagon.

 

But Lind ruled that Flynn had acted appropriately to ensure that the brig staff followed procedures correctly and that they took the “high ground”. She found that there had been no intention to punish the inmate on the part of the brig staff or the chain of command, who were motivated purely by a desire to ensure that the soldier did not harm himself and that he would be available to stand trial.

 

She also dismissed complaints concerning Juan Mendez, the UN rapporteur on torture, and the former US congressman Dennis Kucinich, who were both refused permission to visit Manning in Quantico. Lind said there was no requirement under military regulations to grant them access, and they were not on the prisoner’s visitation list.

 

The battle for the defence now turns to the charges that Manning is facing. The most potentially devastating is the accusation that by passing information to WikiLeaks, he effectively made it available to al-Qaida and its affiliate terrorist organisations.

 

That charge, that he “aided the enemy” carries a possible maximum sentence in this case of life in military custody without any chance of parole. Manning is certain to plead not guilty to that charge, and has offered to plead guilty to a range of lesser charges in the hope that the prosecution will drop the “aiding the enemy” count.

 

 

Burning ‘Deep Purple’: Australia So Hot New Color Added to Index

An ‘unparalleled setting of new heat extremes’ continues

 

January 8, 2013

by Jon Queally, staff writer

Common Dreams

Wild fires continue to rage across Australia Tuesday and temperatures have become so hot the country’s Bureau of Meteorology was forced to add a new color—deep purple—to show areas that have exceeded all-time heat records.

Previously the Bureau’s heat index was capped at 48°C (118.4°F), but now recorded temperatures of over 50°C (122°F) have pushed the limit of the scale to an unheard of 54°C, which is equivalent to 129°F.

“The scale has just been increased today and I would anticipate it is because the forecast coming from the bureau’s model is showing temperatures in excess of 50 degrees,” David Jones, head of the bureau’s climate monitoring and prediction unit, told reporters.

Indicating that the worst may yet to come, Jones added that, “The air mass over the inland is still heating up – it hasn’t peaked.”

Climate scientists in Australia—with Jones among them—say the fires and the heat are unprecedented in scale and intensity, but that Australians should understand the destructive temperatures and ensuing fires across Tasmania and southern sections of the country are the new normal of runaway climate change.

‘The current heatwave – in terms of its duration, its intensity and its extent – is now unprecedented in our records,’’ Jones was quoted as saying in The Age.

‘‘Clearly, the climate system is responding to the background warming trend. Everything that happens in the climate system now is taking place on a planet which is a degree hotter than it used to be.’’

“Those of us who spend our days trawling – and contributing to – the scientific literature on climate change are becoming increasingly gloomy about the future of human civilization,’’ Liz Hanna, convener of the human health division at the Australian National University’s Climate Change Adaptation Network, told The Age in a separate interview.

‘‘We are well past the time of niceties, of avoiding the dire nature of what is unfolding, and politely trying not to scare the public,” she said. “The unparalleled setting of new heat extremes is forcing the continual upwards trending of warming predictions for the future, and the timescale is contracting.’’

Responding to the news from Australia, The Guardian‘s Damian Carrington put the heat and fires in a global context:

We already know that climate change is loading the weather dice. Scientists have shown that the European heatwave of 2003, that caused over 40,000 premature deaths, was made at least twice as likely by climate change. The Russian heatwave of 2010, that killed 50,000 and wiped out $15bn of crops, was made three times as likely by global warming and led to the warmest European summer for 500 years.

The extreme weather forecast is even worse. Mega-heatwaves like these will become five to 10 times more likely over the next 40 years, occurring at least once a decade, scientists predict.

Work by the most authoritative group of scientists, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, found that it is 90% certain that heatwaves will increase further in length and severity, as will extreme high tides. It is 66% likely that hurricanes and typhoon winds will get faster and that intense rain will increase, as well as landslides. It is more likely than not that droughts will intensify in Europe, North and Central America and, most dangerously given the poverty there, Southern Africa. There are uncertainties of course, but the basic physics is that heat-trapping carbon emissions mean more energy is being pumped into the system, increasing climate chaos.

The two nations in which the fringe opinions of so-called climate sceptics have been trumpeted most loudly – the US and Australia – have now been hit by record heatwaves and, in the US, superstorm Sandy. The scientists are turning up the volume of their warnings, but whether this leads to loud and clear political action to curb emissions or more shouting from sceptics and the vested fossil fuel interests that support them remains to be seen.

According to the special bulletin (pdf) on the record heatwave from Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology:

A particular feature of this heatwave event has been the exceptional spatial extent of high temperatures. The table below gives the national and state/territory average maximum temperature for each day of the heatwave event. Australia set a new record for the highest national area-average temperature, recording 40.33 °C and surpassing the previous record set on 21 December 1972 (40.17 °C). To date (data up to the 7 January 2013) the national area-average for each of the first 7 days of 2013 has been in the top 20 hottest days on record, with 6 January the fifth hottest on record and the first time 6 consecutive days over 39 °C has ever been recorded for Australia.

Blessed Prozac Moments! All the latest from NuttFringe Nuse

What Really Happened At Sandy Hook?

January 6, 2013

by Brother Nathanael Kapner

NuttFringe Nuse
 
 
            There are so many unanswered questions regarding the Sandy Hook killings that it not only boggles the mind but inspires anger and legitimate outrage.

            Even Lieutenant Paul Vance, head of the Connecticut State Troopers, admits that much information surrounding the crime is being withheld.

.           And what about the first responders? Why were they not allowed to enter the school until DAYS after the murders? Why haven’t we heard from even one of them?

            We are we being told that every parent who lost a child in the incident is sequestered by specially-appointed state troopers so that they will not be ‘bothered’ by journalists and that any contact would be prosecuted as “criminal harassment.”

            “It’s a time of mourning,” is the excuse given to forbid access to the aggrieved.
Isn’t there one single parent who is angry about the murder of his or her child and would like some answers? … Like, “Who did it?”… “How did it happen?”

            Isn’t there a single parent who is against tighter gun control who wishes to say, “Gun control is not the answer?”

            Instead, we’re only hearing the scripted Jewish agenda out of the mouths of one or two carefully selected parents. Why not those with an opposing view?
 
            No way! Banning guns is NOT the answer. It’s a RELIGIOUS problem. Americans have abandoned Christ and their accountability before God. That’s the problem … NOT guns.

             Moreover, I know that if it were my child I’d be hollering for answers. Instead, more and more questions keep piling up.

            First of all we have the medical examiner, Wayne Carver, who stated that clearly it was a “long gun” and NOT “hand guns” that fired multiple shots into the bodies of the children.
Clip: “All the wounds that I know of at this point were caused by the long weapon.” “So the rifle was the primary weapon?” “Yes.”

            But now we’re being told—contrary to Carver’s AND the Lieutenant’s testimony—that the supposed killer, Adam Lanza, had in his possession “two hand guns,” one of which he shot himself with.

            No rifle, we are told, was in his possession at the scene of the crime.

            When Carver was asked if Lanza killed himself with the “rifle,” Carver answered, (and this is crucial): No. I don’t know yet. I’ll examine him tomorrow morning. But I don’t think so.”
Clip: “Did the gunman kill himself with the rifle?” No. I don’t know yet. I’ll examine him tomorrow morning. But I don’t think so.”

            Yet, there has been NO subsequent press conference or statements regarding Carver’s autopsy on Lanza…why?

            How then did Lanza die? Or, is he dead? Or was Lanza not even the primary ingredient in this nightmare, as some are suggesting?

            Was Carver told to shut up? If so, who told him to shut up? Why did he say at the outset of the interview that he hoped that he and his team AND the people of Newtown don’t have a “crash on their heads” later on?

            What could come “crashing down on their heads” later on?…that we’ve been told a bunch of lies?…That there’s more to Sandy Hook than what the Jewish-run press has been telling us? And what Carver is forbidden to reveal?

            There’s more to this cover up that fortunately hasn’t escaped some astute observers’ eyes.
On December 14 2012, the local NBC affiliate showed local police inspecting a “long gun” from the trunk of a black car that was parked outside of the school.
Why did the “NBC Connecticut” network shut down this video?

            And why have “hand guns” replaced the original statement of Carver and that it was a “long gun” that fired multiple shots into the bodies of the children?
I will tell you why.

            It’s because the Jewish agenda is pursuing a National Gun Registry—Feinstein announced this herself…Clip: “What we’re looking at now is placing these weapons under the Federal Firearms Act. And this would require that they be registered.”…in order to eventually, inevitably REVOKE Concealed Weapon Permits specifically targeting HAND GUNS. Get ready dear gun owners, urine samples are coming soon.

            If you ever at any time took a prescription drug like Prozac, Valium, or even a strong pain killer like Percocet, your Concealed Weapon Permit will be revoked. And all future permits will be limited to a select few.

            And those select few will be under the control of that “select” same tribe—Feinstein, Blumenthal, Bloomberg, Schumer, Boxer—who want nothing more than to see the Goyim gun-less, disarmed, and their 2nd Amendment torn to shreds and trashed.

 

 

Comment: We will no doubt hearing more of this in the immediate future. Next, we will learn that nuclear Russian submarines ferried a battalion of Illuminati shock troops to the scene in furtherance of the One World Government and that bullets used against the school children were made in China by Israeli workers!

 

 

What are the End Days? A study in deception

January 4, 2013

by Frederick Norris

‘Armageddon’ is actually purported to be a battle. According to Pentecostal interpretations, the Bible states that Armageddon will be a battle where God finally comes in and takes over the world and rules it the way it should have been ruled all along. After this vaguely-defined battle of Armageddon, Pentecostals firmly believe that there will follow 1000 years of peace and plenty which, according to their lore and legend, will be the sole lot of their sect and no other.

            The actual scene of the fictional battle is referred to by Pentecostals as being clearly set forth in Revelation 16:14-16. It is not. The specific citation reads, in full:

  • “14. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.
  • 15. Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.
  • “16. And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.”

            This sparse mention of Armageddon has given rise to the elaborate but entirely fictional legend of the Final Battle between the forces of good and evil. There is no mention in Revelations 16: 14-15 whatsoever of Parusia or the second coming of Jesus, the apocryphal Anti-Christ, the Rapture or the many other delightful inventions designed to bolster the Pentecostal elect and daunt their adversaries. These adversaries consist of all other branches of the Christian religion with especial emphasis placed on Jews and Catholics. The Pentecostals also loathe Muslims, Buddhists, agnostics, atheists, and an endless list of anyone and everyone whose views clash with theirs, such as scientists and any academic who views the evolutionary theories of Charles Darwin and Gregor Mendel as anything but tissues of lies.

The Antichrist

The Antichrist is described by Pentecostals as the “son of perdition” and the “beast”!

They claim that this interesting creature will have great charisma and speaking ability, “a mouth speaking great things”.

The Antichrist, they allege, will rise to power on a wave of world euphoria, as he temporarily saves the world from its desperate economic, military & political problems with a brilliant sevenyear plan for world peace, economic stability and religious freedom.

The Antichrist could well rise out of the current chaos in the former Soviet Union. The prophet Ezekiel names him as the ruler of “Magog”, a name that Biblical scholars agree denotes a country or region of peoples to the north of Israel. Many have interpreted this to mean modern day Russia. It could also be Turkey, Greece, Macedonia, Croatia, Hungary, Poland, perhaps one of the Baltic States or even the lewd and dissolute Socialist Sweden.

His power base will include the leading nations of Europe, whose leaders, the Bible says, will “give their power & strength unto the beast.”

The Bible even gives some clues about his personal characteristics. The prophet Daniel wrote that the Antichrist “does not regard the desire of women.” This could imply that he is either celibate or a homosexual. Daniel also tells us that he will have a “fierce countenance” or stern look, and will be “more stout than his fellows”–more proud and boastful.

Unfortunately, the so-called Book of Daniel was written during the reign of the Roman Emperor Nero, not many decades earlier as its proponents claim, and has been extensively modified by early Christian writers to predict the arrival of their personal Messiah, or Christ, on the Judean scene. The so-called “wonderful” prophetic statements put into the mouth of Daniel are absolutely and wondrously accurate…up to the reign of Nero and then fall as flat as a shaken soufflé afterwards

It is well known that Pentecostals loathe homosexuals, among many other groups not pleasing to them, and would like nothing better than to shove them into a bottomless pit filled with Catholics, rock and roll fans, teenaged mothers, Communists, gun control advocates, Tarot card readers, Christian Scientists, abortionists, Wayne Newton fans, Asians, Jews, African-Americans and Latino Surnamed Hispanics.

The seven year peace-pact (or covenant) that is engineered by the Antichrist is spoken of a number of times in the Bible, and may even have already been signed in secret. The historic peace agreement signed between Israel and the PLO at the White House on September 13, 1993, vividly illustrates how dramatically events in the Middle East are presently moving in this direction eager Pentecostals, awaiting their Celestial Omnibus, will inform anyone who is interested and a greater legion of those who are not.

Under the final terms of the fictional Covenant, Jerusalem will likely be declared an international city to which Judaism, Islam and Christianity will have equal rights. Scripture indicates that the Jews will be permitted to rebuild their Temple on Mt. Moriah, where they revive their ancient rituals of animal sacrifice.

According to modern prophecy the Antichrist will not only be a master of political intrigue, but also a military genius. Daniel describes several major wars that he fights during his 7-year reign, apparently against the U.S. and Israel, who will oppose him during the second half of his reign.

For awhile, most of the world is going to think the Antichrist is wonderful, as he will seem to have solved so many of the world’s problems. But, three-and-a-half years into his seven year reign he will break the covenant and invade Israel from the North.

At this time he will make Jerusalem his world capitol and outlaw all religions, except the worship of himself and his image. The Bible, according to the Pentecostals, says that the Antichrist will sit in the Jewish Temple exalting himself as God and demanding to be worshipped. If this passage, and many others of its kind, actually appears in the King James Version of the Bible, no one has ever been able to find it

It is at this time that the Antichrist imposes his infamous “666″ one-world credit system.

It must be said that the Antichrist does, in point of fact exist. He can be seen on a daily basis on the walls of the Cathedral at Orvieto, Italy in the marvelous frescos of Lucca Signorelli. He looks somewhat like a Byzantine depiction of Christ with either a vicious wife or inflamed hemorrhoids .

Pentecostals strongly believe that U.S. public schools “departed from the faith” when in 1963 the Bible and prayer were officially banned. Now, Pentecostals believe with horror, thousands of these same schools are teaching credited courses in “the doctrines of devils”–the occult and Satanism.

Even a cursory check of curriculum of a number of American public school districts does not support this claim but then the Pentecostals have stated repeatedly that they represent 45% of all Protestants in America. The actual number, excluding the Baptists, is more like 4%.

What they lack in actual numbers they more than compensate for by their loud and irrational views so that at times it sounds like the roar of a great multitude when in truth, it is only a small dwarf wearing stained underwear and armed with a bullhorn, trumpeting in the underbrush

Frantic Pentecostals estimated that according to their private Census for Christ there are over 200,000 practicing witches in the United States and allege there are literally millions of Americans who dabble in some form of the occult, psychic phenomena, spiritualism, demonology and black magic. Their statistics claim that occult book sales have doubled in the last four years.

            What is seen by terrified Pentecostals as The Occult today is no longer the stuff of small underground cults. They believe that many rock videos are an open worship of Satan and hell that comes complete with the symbols, liturgies, and  rituals of Satanism, and the Pentecostals firmly and loudly proclaim to anyone interested in listening, that “millions of young people” have been caught in their evil sway.

Popular music is termed “sounds of horror and torment” that Pentecostals firmly believe is literally “driving young people insane and seducing them into a life of drugs, suicide, perversion and hell.” It is forgotten now but the same thing was once said about ragtime and later, jazz. If this had been true, perhaps the real reason behind the First World War, the 1929 market crash, the rise of Franklin Roosevelt and the lewd hula hoop can be attributed to Scott Joplin and Ella Fitzgerald.

It is also to be noted that the immensely popular Harry Potter series of children’s books are loudly proclaimed as Satanic books designed to lure unsuspecting children into the clutches of the Evil One. Any sane person who has read these delightful fantasy books will certainly not agree with these hysterical strictures. In point of fact, it would be exceedingly difficult to locate any person possessing even a modicum of sanity who would believe any of the weird fulminations of the Pentecostals.

Outraged Pentecostals now firmly state that in the beginning years of the Twenty First Century, “even the most shameless acts of blasphemy and desecration are socially acceptable.”

“Acts of blasphemy and desecration” sound like human sacrifices carried out on nuns at bus stops during the noontime rush hour or lewd acts with crucifixes performed by drug-maddened transvestites on commercial airlines.

In his weird Book of Revelation the lunatic John of Patmos claimed he foresaw that in the last days the world would turn away from God in order to worship and follow Satan.

Such a prophecy would have seemed believable to previous generations, but not so in our more enlightened and secular humanist day. Hard-core Satanism has been called by rabid Pentecostals noise-makers as: “the fastest-growing subculture among America’s teens”, and the revival of witchcraft & the occult is “one of the World’s fastest growing religions!”

 

Facebook charging $100 to send message to Mark Zuckerberg

Company says it is testing ‘extreme price points’ for scheme allowing users to contact high-profile figures for a fee

 

January 11, 2013

by Jemima Kiss

guardian.co.uk  

             Facebook is extending its experiment charging users to send messages, offering users access to the accounts of VIPs – including Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg – for as much as $100 (£61) per message.

The offer was spotted by Mashable reporter Chris Taylor who tried to message Zuckerberg, but was told the message would be routed to the less visible “other” folder, unless he paid the $100 fee.

A Facebook spokesperson confirmed to Mashable that the company is testing “some extreme price points to see what works to filter spam”.

The cost of sending a message is thought to vary according to the popularity of the VIP. The move follows the introduction last year of paid-for posts, as the company tries to increase revenue from its 1 billion users.

The trial began in December when Facebook introduced a $1 charge to send a message to the Facebook inbox of someone who is not already a friend, though capped at one paid message per recipient per week. Facebook said at the time it was an “economic signal to determine relevance” and help organise users’ messages.

“If you want to send a message to someone you heard speak at an event but are not friends with, or if you want to message someone about a job opportunity, you can use this feature to reach their Inbox,” Facebook explained in a blog post. “For the receiver, this test allows them to hear from people who have an important message to send them.”

Beijing smog continues as Chinese state media urge more action

Unusually frank discussions of pollution come as Beijing implements new emergency response plan in response to smog

Tania Branigan and agencies

guardian.co.uk, Monday 14 January 2013

China‘s state media have called for environmental improvements in unusually frank discussions of the country’s pollution problem, as thick smog continues to shroud Beijing and other cities.

Stores sold out of masks and the capital implemented its new pollution emergency response plan for the first time after visibility plummeted at the weekend. Several construction sites were ordered to halt work, factories slowed production and authorities ordered a curb on the use of government cars. Schools cancelled outside activities and authorities advised residents to stay inside.

Hospitals reported increases of up to 30% in the number of patients reporting breathing problems as officials warned that the conditions were likely to last until Wednesday – a day longer than previously predicted – when winds should help to disperse the pollution.

Outside the capital there were mass flight delays and highway closures on Sunday. Visibility in Changsha, the capital of Hunan, reportedly dropped to 50m.

Beijing’s levels are by far the worst recorded since the government began early last year releasing figures on PM2.5 particles – tiny particulate matter thought particularly damaging to health because it can penetrate deep into the lungs – and the US embassy began issuing its own measurements four years ago.

According to an official monitoring centre in Beijing, levels of PM2.5 were well above 600 micrograms per cubic metre in several places on Saturday, and may even have hit 900. Though Monday’s level dropped to around 350, that is still far above the safe level of 25 designated by the World Health Organisation.

Pan Xiaochuan, the deputy director of the department of occupational and environmental health at Peking university, said the problem was caused by weather conditions rather than increased emissions, although some have suggested more people are burning coal due to a particularly cold winter.

He said stricter regulations on emissions were needed in areas around Beijing, but added: “The government responded quickly this time. CCTV [the state broadcaster] news has reported the pollution. It shows the transparency of the government’s work has been enhanced. It is a new phenomenon.”

State newspapers have run highly critical articles saying more needed to be done to tackle the problem at its source.

“How can we get out of this suffocating siege of pollution?” the People’s Daily, the official Communist party newspaper, asked in a front-page editorial.

“Let us clearly view managing environmental pollution with a sense of urgency.”

It said around half of more than 70 Chinese cities monitored for air quality showed severe pollution over the weekend.

The populist state-run Global Times newspaper said the problem had triggered public calls to shift development “away from the previous fixation on economic growth”, while the China Youth Daily titled a front-page commentary: “More suffocating than the haze is the weakness in response.”

Well-known environmentalist Ma Jun said: “Given the public’s ability to spread this information, especially on social media, the government itself has to make adjustments.”

While Chinese environmental regulations have become far more stringent, environmentalists have complained that officials are often reluctant to enforce standards for fear of holding back economic growth.

But John Cai, the director of the centre for healthcare management and policy at Beijing’s China Europe International Business School, warned: “The increased disease burden [due to poor air quality] has caused a serious financial burden on government and individuals.

“The recent serious pollution will send a serious warning to the government and will have an important impact in making the government speed up its regulation and enforcement.”

Shops have been unable to keep up with the surge in demand for masks and air purifiers, with many running out.

“[Our] masks were not specially designed to prevent PM 2.5, but they all sold out anyway. We are trying to purchase more,” said an assistant at the Fujitang drug store in Beijing.

An employee at the White Pagoda drugstore added: “People didn’t come here to buy one or two, but ordered a lot for their friends and family, and companies came here to buy for their staff, too. ”

At a Sundan appliances store in central Beijing, sales assistant Ms Jiang said sales of air purifiers had increased roughly tenfold. The Yuanda Group said it had upped production of the machines because sales had risen recently due to poor air quality throughout China.

 

The Pentagon as a Global NRA

For Washington, There Is No Arms Control Abroad

January 14, 2013

by Tom Engelhardt

TomDispatch.com

Given these last weeks, who doesn’t know what an AR-15 is?  Who hasn’t seen the mind-boggling stats on the way assault rifles have flooded this country, or tabulations of accumulating Newtown-style mass killings, or noted that there are barely more gas stations nationwide than federally licensed firearms dealers, or heard the renewed debates over the Second Amendment, or been struck by the rapid shifts in public opinion on gun control, or checked out the disputes over how effective an assault-rifle ban was the last time around?  Who doesn’t know about the NRA’s suggestion to weaponize schools, or about the price poor neighborhoods may be paying in gun deaths for the present expansive interpretation of the Second Amendment?  Who hasn’t seen the legions of stories about how, in the wake of the Newtown slaughter, sales of guns, especially AR-15 assault rifles, have soared, ammunition sales have surged, background checks for future gun purchases have risen sharply, and gun shows have been besieged with customers?

If you haven’t stumbled across figures on gun violence in America or on suicide-by-gun, you’ve been hiding under a rock.  If you haven’t heard about Chicago’s soaring and Washington D.C.’s plunging gun-death stats (and that both towns have relatively strict gun laws), where have you been?

Has there, in fact, been any aspect of the weaponization of the United States that, since the Newtown massacre, hasn’t been discussed?  Are you the only person in the country, for instance, who doesn’t know that Vice President Joe Biden has been assigned the task of coming up with an administration gun-control agenda before Barack Obama is inaugurated for his second term?  And can you honestly tell me that you haven’t seen global comparisons of killing rates in countries that have tight gun laws and the U.S., or read at least one discussion about life in countries like Colombia or Guatemala, where armed guards are omnipresent?

After years of mass killings that resulted in next to no national dialogue about the role of guns and how to control them, the subject is back on the American agenda in a significant way and — by all signs — isn’t about to leave town anytime soon.  The discussion has been so expansive after years in a well-armed wilderness that it’s easy to miss what still isn’t being discussed, and in some sense just how narrow our focus remains.

Think of it this way: the Obama administration is reportedly going to call on Congress to pass a new ban on assault weapons, as well as one on high-capacity ammunition magazines, and to close the loopholes that allow certain gun purchasers to avoid background checks.  But Biden has already conceded, at least implicitly, that facing a Republican-controlled House of Representatives and a filibuster-prone Senate, the administration’s ability to make much of this happen — as on so many domestic issues — is limited.

That will shock few Americans.  After all, the most essential fact about the Obama presidency is this: at home, the president is a hamstrung weakling; abroad, in terms of his ability to choose a course of action and — from drones strikes and special ops raids to cyberwar and other matters — simply act, he’s closer to Superman.  So here’s a question: while the administration is pledging to try to curb the wholesale spread of ever more powerful weaponry at home, what is it doing about the same issue abroad where it has so much more power to pursue the agenda it prefers?

Flooding the World With the Most Advanced Weaponry Money Can Buy

As a start, it’s worth noting that no one ever mentions the domestic gun control debate in the same breath with the dominant role the U.S. plays in what’s called the global arms trade.  And yet, the link between the two should be obvious enough.

In the U.S., the National Rifle Association (NRA), an ultra-powerful lobbying group closely allied with weapons-making companies, has a strong grip on Congress — it gives 288 members of that body its top “A-rating” — and is in a combative relationship with the White House.  Abroad, it’s so much simpler and less contested.  Beyond U.S. borders, the reality is: the Pentagon, with the White House in tow, is the functional equivalent of the NRA, and like that organization, it has been working tirelessly in recent years in close alliance with major weapons-makers to ensure that there are ever less controls on the ever more powerful weaponry it wants to see sold abroad.

Between them, the White House and the Pentagon — with a helping hand from the State Department — ensure that the U.S. remains by far the leading purveyor of the “right to bear arms” globally.  Year in, year out, in countries around the world, they do their best to pave the way (as the NRA does domestically) for the almost unfettered sales of ever more lethal weapons.  In fact, the U.S. now has something remarkably close to a monopoly on what’s politely called the “transfer” of weaponry on a global scale.  In 1990, as the Cold War was ending, the U.S. had cornered an impressive 37% of the global weapons trade.  By 2011, the last year for which we have figures, that percentage had reached a near-monopolistic 78% ($66.3 billion in weapons sales), with the Russians coming in a distant second at 5.6% ($4.8 billion).

Admittedly, that figure was improbably inflated, thanks to the Saudis who decided to spend a pile of their oil money as if there were no tomorrow.  In doing so, they created a bonanza year abroad for the major weapons-makers.  They sealed deals on $33.4 billion in U.S. arms in 2011, including 84 of Boeing’s F-15 fighter jets and dozens of that company’s Apache attack helicopters as well as Sikorsky Blackhawk helicopters — and those were just the highest-end items in a striking set of purchases.  But if 2011 was a year of break-the-bank arms-deals with the Saudis, 2012 doesn’t look bad either.  As it ended, the Pentagon announced that they hadn’t turned off the oil spigot.  They agreed to ante up another $4 billion to Boeing for upgrades on their armada of jet fighters and were planning to spend up to $6.7 billion for 20 Lockheed 25 C-130J transport and refueling planes.  Some of this weaponry could, of course, be used in any Saudi conflict with Iran (or any other Middle Eastern state), but some could simply ensure future Newtown-like carnage in restive areas of that autocratic, fundamentalist regime’s land or in policing actions in neighboring small states like Bahrain.

And don’t think the Saudis were alone in the region.  When it came to U.S. weapons-makers flooding the Middle East with firepower, they were in good company.  Among states purchasing (or simply getting) infusions of U.S. arms in recent years were Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Tunisia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Yemen.  As Nick Turse has written, “When it comes to the Middle East, the Pentagon acts not as a buyer, but as a broker and shill, clearing the way for its Middle Eastern partners to buy some of the world’s most advanced weaponry.”

Typically, for instance, on Christmas Day in 2011, the U.S. signed a deal with the UAE in which, for $3.5 billion, it would receive Lockheed Martin’s Theater High Altitude Area Defense, an advanced antimissile interception system, part of what Reuters termed “an accelerating military buildup of its friends and allies near Iran.”  Of course, selling to Arab allies without offering Israel something even better would be out of the question, so in mid-2012 it was announced that Israel would purchase 20 of Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, America’s most advanced jet (and weapons boondoggle), still in development, for $2.7 billion.

From tanks to littoral combat ships, it would be easy to go on, but you get the idea.  Of course, U.S. weapons-makers in Pentagon-brokered or facilitated deals sell their weaponry and military supplies to countries planet-wide, ranging from Brazil to Singapore to Australia.  But it generally seems that the biggest deals and the most advanced weaponry follow in the wake of Washington’s latest crises.  In the Middle East at the moment, that would be the ongoing U.S.-Israeli confrontation with Iran, for which Washington has long been building up a massive military presence in the Persian Gulf and on bases in allied countries around that land.

A Second Amendment World, Pentagon-Style

It’s a given that every American foreign policy crisis turns out to be yet another opportunity for the Pentagon to plug U.S. weapons systems into the “needs” of its allies, and for the weapons-makers to deliver.  So, from India to South Korea, Singapore to Japan, the Obama administration’s announced 2012 “pivot to” or “rebalancing in” Asia — an essentially military program focused on containing China — has proven the latest boon for U.S. weapons sales and weapons-makers.

As Jim Wolf of Reuters recently reported, the Aerospace Industries Association, a trade group that includes Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and other weapons companies, “said sales agreements with countries in the U.S. Pacific Command’s area of activity rose to $13.7 billion in fiscal 2012, up 5.4% from a year before. Such pacts represent orders for future delivery.” As the vice president of that association put it, Washington’s Asian pivot “will result in growing opportunities for our industry to help equip our friends.”  We’re talking advanced jet fighters, missile systems, and similar major weapons programs, including F-35s, F-16s, Patriot anti-missile batteries, and the like for countries ranging from South Korea to Taiwan and India.

All of this ensures the sharpening of divides between China and its neighbors in the Pacific amid what may become a regional arms race.  For the Pentagon, it seems, no weaponry is now off the table for key Asian allies in its incipient anti-China alliance, including advanced drones.  The Obama administration is already brokering a $1.2 billon sale of Northrop Grumman’s RQ-4 “Global Hawk” spy drones to South Korea.  Recently, it has been reported that Japan is preparing to buy the same model as its dispute sharpens with China over a set of islands in the East China Sea.  (The Obama administration has also been pushing the idea of selling advanced armed drones to allies like Italy and Turkey, but — a rare occurrence — has met resistance from Congressional representatives worrying about other countries pulling a “Washington”: that is, choosing its particular bad guys and sending drone assassins across foreign borders to take them out.)

Here’s the strange thing in the present gun control context: no one — not pundits, politicians, or reporters — seems to see the slightest contradiction in an administration that calls for legal limits on advanced weaponry in the U.S. and yet (as rare press reports indicate) is working assiduously to remove barriers to the sale of advanced weaponry overseas. There are, of course, still limits on arms sales abroad, some imposed by Congress, some for obvious reasons.  The Pentagon does not broker weapons sales to Iran, North Korea, or Cuba, and it has, for example, been prohibited by Congress from selling them to the military regime in Myanmar. But generally the Obama administration has put effort into further easing the way for major arms sales abroad, while working to rewrite global export rules to make them ever more permeable.

In other words, the Pentagon is the largest federally licensed weapons dealer on the planet and its goal — one that the NRA might envy — is to create a world in which the rights of those deemed our allies to bear our (most advanced) armaments “shall not be infringed.”  The Pentagon, it seems, is intent on pursuing its own global version of the Second Amendment, not for citizens of the world but for governments, including grim, autocratic states like Saudi Arabia which are perfectly capable of using such weaponry to create Newtowns on an unimaginable scale.

A well regulated militia indeed.

 

 

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