TBR News July 17, 2012

Jul 17 2012


The Voice of the White House

                Washington, D.C. July 16, 2012: “I pay taxes and  one of the things that annoys me the most is the patent thick-headedness of government operatives, in this country and around the world. Rising public unhappiness breeds an eruption of spies and floods of disinformation to befuddle and misdirect public unhappiness. I am attaching an article that illustrates my point. Several years ago, the New York Times carried a story about a man who had developed “an absolutely secret” telephone scrambler and, contrary to the paper’s policy, included an email address for prospective buyers to look at. The system had huge trap doors built into it and of course if someone in the agencies knew you were using the “unbreakable system” they could read your secret messaging as if it were a post card.”


Subject: Silent Circle countdown to launch
Date: Thu, 12 Jul 2012 17:30:47 -0400
From: Silent Circle announcements <announce[at]lm01.silentcircle.com>

Silent Circle is almost live!

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thank you for your interest in Silent Circle. The Team has been working night and day to build from the ground up our customized Silent Network. Our exclusive products – Silent Phone, Silent Text, Silent Mail, and Silent Eyes – are all neck deep in final tweaks and we have to say, they are even better than we expected! We plan to go live September 17, 2012.

Each Silent Circle subscriber will receive a personal phone number and of course all calls within the Circle are 100% free worldwide. We’ve even added on a Secure Calling Plan option to allow Silent Circle subscribers to communicate with people outside the Circle. Get them in the Circle and you’ll be secure end to end.

A select few of you will be randomly chosen to help test our beta version which will be ready this month. We’ll contact you soon and get you onboard.

Thank you again for reaching out. The flood of responses across the globe have been phenomenal. We’re ready to meet the demand and honored to serve you all. Remember to check out SilentCircle.com for current news, the latest updates, and additional info on our unique products, network and team.

Silent Circle will revolutionize the way you communicate – securely.

Get in the Circle.

Entra en el Círculo.

Holen Sie sich im Kreis.


Silent Circle
Private Encrypted Communications
Silicon Valley | Washington DC
o: +1-202-499-6247
e: info@silentcircle.com
w: SilentCircle.com



by Prosper Keating

anarchy/copyright © prosper keating/december 2008/…


            Our rulers and the moneybags who control them often use fear of anarchistic lawlessness as a stick to beat us into line, feeding us television and newspaper images of groups of black clad, masked thugs causing mayhem at demonstrations against globalisation and its various perpetrators. For those of you unfamiliar with the factions involved, the alleged anarchists are the ones kicking in the windows of Starbucks and MacDonalds while the other black clad, masked thugs clubbing little old ladies to the ground are policemen.

The violent suppression of the Seattle and Genoa demonstrations against capitalism-run-amok and globalisation at the end of the 1990s confirmed that the Western society in which we and our forebears had invested money, sweat and blood was far from being as democratic as it ought to be. As the testimony of thousands of ordinary people who had been subjected to inexcusable violence by our democratic rulers’ bootboys began leaking into a wider public consciousness, thanks to some courageous journalists and editors who stood up to their publishers, more and more normally unengaged people began wondering about the official versions of events. Naomi Klein’s No Logo became a best-seller and the moneybags and their political lackeys began to realise that the proverbial cat was chewing its way out of the bag.

It is tempting to imagine the small group of really high-powered oligarchs who control the West’s money getting together in Davos or some such place after the Genoa debacle in November 1999 to work out an exit strategy enabling them to pull as much money as possible out of the economy before the whole house of cards collapsed. The ideas might have included a major war or two, with the added bonus of plundering Iraqi and Iranian oil reserves, and less dramatic wheezes like the sub-prime loans scam, a kind of pyramid selling scheme on a national level of the kind that fucked Albania in the mid-1990s. The moneybags put their man, George W Bush, into The White House by fixing the 2000 election and nobbling the recount. Not long afterwards comes 9/11, allegedly masterminded by a CIA-trained Saudi whose family is friendly with the Bushes and other American moneybags, and the game is on.

It is hardly as if we were not warned. Back in 1997, when New Labour was blowing Cool Britannia, Clintonian America was swimming in money and rabid ragheads were a flickering television image in the background, George Soros upset his fellow moneybags by telling us: “I now fear that the untrammeled intensification of laissez-faire capitalism and the spread of market values into all areas of life is endangering our open and democratic society. The main enemy of the open society, I believe, is no longer the communist but the capitalist threat.”

Intelligent observers may have viewed Soros’s statement as little more than a fat cat’s attempt to exculpate himself before the mob came swarming over the walls but events have proven him right. Meanwhile, the usual spittle-flecked scaremongers continue trying to preserve the status quo with dire warnings of the imminent descent of Western Civilisation into anarchy. It makes a change from the usual warnings of the end of the World although the Eco-Nazis have that market share of the terrorisation industry well in hand. Rest assured, however, that the World cannot end, because. wherever you are, it is always tomorrow somewhere else. Moreover, anarchy cannot reign. Anarchy can only exist.

As Sun Tzu remarked in his Art of War, the best chance for peace is to know your enemy before meeting him. Classical Greek thinkers like Plato and Zeno wrote of utopian societies governed by reason rather than authority. The concept in ancient Greek was expressed by the word anarchos, which can be translated as “without a leader, chief or king” or, simply, anarchism. The goal of true anarchists is the establishment of a society free of coercive authority of any kind but without any implication of disorder. This philosophical approach to the state of man has always been anathema to ruling classes for obvious reasons, and attempts to establish such societies, even on small local scales, have met with concerted resistance.

A look at any dictionary shows how the original meaning of the word and the philosophy it engenders has been corrupted. Anarchy is defined in various negative ways as “a state of lawlessness due to the absence or inefficiency of the supreme power”, “absence or non-recognition of authority and order in any given sphere” or “without government or law”. According to the last two definitions, we can assume that the Moon is in a state of dangerous anarchy, which might explain lunatics, werewolves and the Apollo space programme. Another definition puts it, simply, as “political disorder”. This tells us, therefore, that the West has been in a state of anarchy since the Bushite coup d’état in 2000, which would suggest that anarchy is certainly something to be discouraged.

If Capitalism fails, what is left to fill the vacuum? Winston Churchill remarked of Democracy that it was “the worst form of government except for all the others that have been tried”. Perhaps the Democracy of which he was speaking was better than the Communism, Fascism and National Socialism of which he was certainly thinking. Given the serial assaults in recent years on civil liberties by Western governments, the widening chasm between rich and poor and the impunity with which a minority have been able to pillage the economy whilst impoverishing the majority, the Western Democracy of which Churchill was thinking is certainly not what we are getting in return for our money today.

Perhaps the historian in Churchill thought briefly of Anarchism as he considered his famous remark. There again, as a traditional politician, he would not have approved of any system in which he and his colleagues would have been out of a job. If so, he might have thought of the Diggers or True Levellers of mid-16th century England. Essentially, the Diggers, led by Gerrard Winstanley, believed that if the common people formed self-supporting communes on common land, the ruling class would become redundant because there would be no tenants to pay their rents and no peasants to work their lands. Eventually, the ruling classes would have to join the communes as equal members or starve. After the end of the first phase of The English Civil War and the execution of Charles I in January 1649, England was in a state of political disorder as various factions jockeyed for power. In April 1649, Winstanley and fourteen followers established a commune on Saint George’s Hill, by the Surrey town of Weybridge, and issued a manifesto, supported by pamphlets calling upon the common people to join them.

In response to protests from local landowners, the commander of the Parliamentarian New Model Army, Sir Thomas Fairfax, came from London with troops and interviewed Winstanley. To Fairfax’s credit and the landowners’ fury, he declined to use force to evict the Diggers from common land and advised the landowners to take the matter before the courts. The landowners opted, predictably, for strong-arm tactics involving intimidation, assault and arson. When this failed to work, the landowners had the Diggers arrested on trumped-up charges of being Ranters, a proscribed sect of sexual libertarians. Given than the magistrates were local landowners, the guilty verdict was a foregone conclusion, especially as the Diggers were forbidden to address the court in their defence. As the landowners could now force the army by law to evict the Diggers, re-classified as Ranters, the latter abandoned their settlement. Some of them set up a new commune a few miles away at Little Heath but experienced similar harassment and were eventually run off the land in April 1650. There were a few other Digger communes or colonies in England but they had ceased to exist by 1651.

Churchill might also have thought of the Paris Commune of 1871, or of the Spanish Collectivist movement of the 1930s, both of which have been described as examples of anarchism in practice. However, the Paris Commune was governed by a socialist council, which included anarchists who objected strongly to the perpetuation of the concept of government in the form of the council on which they themselves sat. So the Paris Commune was not a bona fide anarchist experiment even if it embodied many tenets of classical anarchism, including the extraordinary degree of cooperation between the people and factions involved. However, the French Establishment certainly considered them dangerous anarchists and when provisional government forces managed to recapture the capital, some 20,000 people were executed in one week alone.

Established in the immediate wake of the failed coup d’état of July 1936 by General Franco and his Nationalist rebels, which pushed Spain into a three-year civil war, the Collectivist movement was organised largely by the Confederación Nacional del Trabajo or National Labour Federation. The CNT was a very large anarcho-syndicalist union and had quickly mobilised members across Spain to resist Franco’s rebels. Although officers and NCOs of the CNT militias were required to put plans to the vote in classical anarchist tradition rather than giving orders, the CNT’s units acquitted themselves fairly well in action. At the same time, the CNT established around two thousand collectivist communes all over Spain between 1936 and 1938.

The governing philosophy was more anarcho-communist than anarchist but, that detail aside, the experiment reconfirmed the viability of anarchism at local levels. However, the lack of unity and inevitable friction between the Collectivists and a socialist Republican government, increasingly under the control of Moscow, not only handicapped the movement but led, inevitably, to conflict. The Republican government’s Soviet advisors ‘suggested’ that the CNT be reined in, that the collectives be brought under Soviet –style control and that the militias be disbanded, as portrayed in Ken Loach’s searing film Land and Freedom, which infuriated Communists everywhere. The repression of the Anarchists was often brutal, implemented as it was by NKVD-trained political units and death squads, often accompanied by Russian NKVD advisors.

A few years ago in southern France, there was a group of people who established a barter system. An electrician might, for instance, rewire a farmer’s house in return for three months’ supply of milk, eggs and vegetables. A farmer might give a local mechanic an amount of fresh meat for converting his vehicles to run on methane, produced from cowshit and other organic material stockpiled by the commune for that purpose. They were arrested for tax evasion. Of course, it was more a case of tax avoidance, which is not illegal, but the finer points of legality tend to be overlooked by our democratic leaders whenever they perceive a threat to the status quo.

Their rejection of money as a unit of trade amongst themselves was certainly in the spirit of anarchism and it was that small gesture of quiet rebellion that had provoked such a reaction from the authorities. Although our rulers attempt to scare us with propaganda images depicting anarchists as violent, aggressive thugs, they do not see the pseudo-anarchists in question as a threat. However, they do see people who organise themselves into groups and opt out of the system as a very serious threat indeed, especially when it involves losing tax revenue.

For decades, our rulers have been buying off the redundant working classes with bribes in the form of social security benefits, financed by taxes levied on the decreasing number of Westerners contributing to the economy as it winds down. As the Bush years show, they have also been pillaging the economy to line their own pockets before the termite-ridden structure we call Western Civilisation comes crashing down. This is where the taxes and contributions we have been paying into the system since World War Two have gone.

A further decade of George Soros’ “untrammeled capitalism” finds the economy imitating the Titanic, listing gently to port a few hours after the collision with the iceberg, with a few delusional rich people on the upper decks pretending everything is perfectly alright whilst those locked into the slowly flooding lower decks are very aware of impending oblivion. Meanwhile, the moneybags sit on dry land, cushioned by vast reserves of money, which is why, even if Westerners wish to send Capitalism the way of Communism, Fascism and National Socialism, Anarchism will never be allowed to catch on.

Mr. Keating is a former British paratrooper and current journalist and documentary producer, living in Paris.



Fewer U.S. companies planning to hire; Europe looms: poll

July 16, 2012



            WASHINGTON WASHINGTON – American companies are scaling back plans to hire workers and a rising share of firms feel the European debt crisis is taking a bite out of their sales, a survey showed on Monday.

            Only 23 percent of the firms polled in June plan to add to staff in the next six months, the National Association for Business Economics said on Monday.

NABE’s prior survey, conducted in late March and early April, had shown 39 percent of companies planning to add workers.

Already, hiring by U.S. companies has slowed dramatically in recent months as employers worry about a sagging global economy hurt by Europe’s snowballing debt crisis.

Some economic data has suggested at least some of the hiring slowdown has been due to caution rather than a decline in business. A July 6 Labor Department report, for example, showed companies asked employees to work longer hours last month, even though they slowed the pace of hiring.

The NABE survey suggests such caution on hiring could continue.

The poll showed 47 percent of companies polled felt their sales have dropped due to Europe’s woes.

Among companies that produce goods rather than provide services, the impact was even greater, with nearly four in five reporting a Europe-driven decline in revenues.

Three months earlier, only about a quarter of total firms polled thought sales had fallen.

NABE surveyed 67 of its members between June 14 and June 26. Not all responded to every question. About 40 percent of the firms surveyed have more than 1,000 employees.

(Reporting by Jason Lange; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)



The Changeable Mr. Romney

July 14, 2012 

by Christopher Brauchli

Common Dreams

Our ideas are only intellectual instruments which we use to break into phenomena; we must change them when they have served their purpose.
— Claude Bernard,
An Introduction to the Study of Experimental Medicine

It is a mark of the truly great man or woman who admits that he or she was wrong, irrespective of how often called upon to make such an admission and when a person is in the public eye for many years it is easy to say things that upon reflection are no longer reflective of one’s core beliefs. And that helps explain Mitt Romney who is endlessly accused of what is unkindly referred to as flip-flopping. His flips and flops are not the product of lack of character or conviction nor of expediency but are the result of sober reflection over the years and a thoughtful realization that earlier positions were wrong.

There are, as would be true of all of us, many examples of Mr. Romney changing his mind upon sober reflection. The most recent example followed the Supreme Court health care decision. The Obama health care initiative was modeled after the Massachusetts law that Mr. Romney successfully saw enacted while serving as governor of Massachusetts. That plan, like the Obama plan, imposes a penalty on those who decline to purchase health insurance, subject to some exceptions. When he was governor Mr. Romney explained that that penalty was not a tax but a penalty. When the U.S. Supreme Court said the identical provision in the health care law was a tax, Mr. Romney immediately recognized the error of his earlier ways and said it was a tax. (In taking that position he was forced to contradict a close advisor, Eric Fehrnstrom, who mistakenly said, soon after the opinion was handed down, that he continued to think it should be called a penalty, fee or fine rather than a tax.)

Some years ago Mr. Romney supported a path for illegal immigrants to become citizens, but a year later he said there should be “no special pathway to citizenship.” When he ran for the Senate in 1994 and for governor in 2002 Mr. Romney was pro choice. During a 2002 gubernatorial debate he said: “I will preserve and protect a woman’s right to choose and am devoted and dedicated to honoring my word in that regard.” During the2012 primary election season he said he supported the reversal of Roe v. Wade that protects a woman’s right to an abortion. (It is too soon to know if the July 12, 2012 Boston Globe story that says he left Bain Capital three years later than he’s been telling everyone will cause him to change his public position with respect to them.)

All of the foregoing changes of position are easily understandable and I am indebted to the various people who have taken the time to catalogue these and other examples of how Mr. Romney has gone through life with an open mind and changed it when it seemed appropriate. There is, however, one position he has taken that has not been addressed by any of the commentators and on which he should be asked to say what he would do if elected. With respect to the health care law and abortion, among other things, he has clearly stated what he will do if elected. He has not said, nor has he been asked, what he will do about trees.

His interest in trees first came to our attention when in January of the 2008 primary season he told an audience that it was a thrill to be in Michigan in the winter “where the skies are cloudy all day, trees are just at the right height. . . .” And in November 2011 he again repeated his pleasure at being in Michigan where “The trees are at the right height. The grass is the right color for this time of year, kind of a brownish-greenish sort of thing. It just feels right.” His fascination with the height of Michigan trees continued when on February 21, 2012 he told an audience during a stump speech that he loved Michigan and explaining his affection said that “The trees are the right height.” Confident of his assertion he later reaffirmed his admiration for Michigan trees to another group using identical wording. The thing that should concern us all is if Mr. Romney changes his mind and decides that the Michigan trees are NOT the right height, will he order the forest service and the park service to take steps to bring all trees in Michigan to the “right height,” an effort that could have huge fiscal implications. A related question is whether the “right size” for Michigan trees is unique to that state or would he attempt to impose his views on trees in other states. For a number of years he felt the Massachusetts model of health care should be adopted by the federal government and if he took that approach with trees it would impose a huge burden on the entire nation.

Mr. Romney has not addressed the trees in any meetings with the press thus far. Perhaps it will come up at one of the debates. As a casual observer and not an official advisor to his campaign, I would hope that as he considers the question he not lose sight of the forest for the trees.


USDA Declares ‘Natural Disaster’ in 26 States as Drought Devastates

July 13, 2012

Common Dreams

         The US Department of Agriculture declared a natural disaster on Thursday as a widespread drought stretched over 1,016 counties in 26 states, covering over half the country. The natural disaster is said to be the largest in US history due to its breadth.

The declaration will initiate a series of emergency loans for farmers in drought stricken areas; however, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the low-interest loans and penalty reductions are only “limited tools” for relief.

According to the National Climatic Data Center, some parts of the Midwest have experienced the worst conditions since 1988 as crops and pastures continue to sizzle.

And the record setting drought does not seem to be easing any time soon. Scientists for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recently released a report which ties extreme weather events such as prolonged heat waves and drought to the broader implications of climate change. June temperatures revealed that once again the past 12 months have been the warmest on record in the US since the National Climatic Data Center began recording temperatures in 1895.

Subsequently, roughly 56% of the country is currently experiencing extreme drought conditions, the farthest reaching drought in over a decade, according to the US Drought Monitor.



Heat Leaves Ranchers a Stark Option: Sell

July 15, 2012

by Jack Healey

New York Times


            TORRINGTON, Wyo. — As a relentless drought bakes prairie soil to dust and dries up streams across the country, ranchers struggling to feed their cattle are unloading them by the thousands, a wrenching decision likely to ripple from the Plains to supermarket shelves over the next year.

Ranchers say they are reducing their herds and selling their cattle months ahead of schedule to avoid the mounting losses of a drought that now stretches across a record-breaking 1,016 American counties. Irrigation ponds are shriveling to scummy puddles. Their pastures are brown and barren. And they say the prices of hay and other feed are soaring beyond their reach.

“If we’re running out of grass and we’re not growing enough feed crops to feed them the other six months of the year, what do you do?” asked R. Scott Barrows, director of Kansas State University’s Golden Prairie District extension office. “You liquidate.”

So, in the latest pangs of a withering heat wave that has threatened crops and sparked furious wildfires, ranchers are loading up their cattle and driving to towns like Torrington, an old byway on the Oregon Trail near the Nebraska border. They come, reluctantly, to sell.

            On a normal summer Wednesday, the Torrington Livestock Markets would be quiet, and cows and their calves would be out on waving fields of buffalo grass, gaining weight for the autumn. But it is doing four times as much early-season business as usual, driven by parched conditions. Last month, 17,144 head of cattle were auctioned off, compared with 3,336 in June 2011.

“They’re getting frustrated, and they’re at a loss for what to do with their cattle,” said Michael Schmitt, an owner of the livestock market. Many cattle producers are selling off less-profitable animals with the hopes of holding onto part of their herd. But the smaller the rancher, the deeper their troubles, and the more they are cutting.

On this 90-degree July morning, anxious ranchers and poker-faced beef buyers filled the theater seats around the auction floor, ready to sell 1,700 cattle at a new weekly special: a drought sale.

“We’ve just been sitting here crying,” said a sixth-generation rancher named Mae Ann Manning, as she and a few friends sat in the cafeteria and waited for the day’s bidding to start. She was half joking. But half not. “We don’t know what we’re going to do.”

            Ms. Manning and her daughter Debbie Murray came to sell 160 year-old steers. There had been little winter snow to moisten the ground at their ranches near Lost Springs, and the spring was hot and dry. A wildfire burned three of their pastures. Now, with the summer sun frying what little grass remained and hay selling for $200 a ton, they decided to winnow the herd.

Because the cattle being sold now are younger and lighter than those fed all summer on prairie grass, ranchers are losing $200 to $400 for each one they are dumping early. That can mean the difference between a year’s profit and loss when multiplied out over herds numbering in the hundreds or thousands.

“It’s going to take two to three years to recover,” said Brit Moen, who was selling 150 black steers. He had raised them on grass under Wyoming’s endless skies, but after they tramped through the manure-covered auction floor, silent and nervous, they were likely bound for a feedlot in Kansas, Nebraska or Iowa, where they would be fattened up for slaughter.

            “We’re all cutting down, and we’ll never be able to replace what we’ve got now,” he said. “If this is to go on for another year, it’ll put a lot of people out of business.”

Further down the line, the sales of cows and calves that might have otherwise produced more cows and more calves may play a role in reducing beef production, potentially driving prices higher, experts say. But right now, ranchers selling early are getting less money per head because of tremors in the markets for corn and other cattle feed.

In its latest forecasts, the Agriculture Department expects overall American beef production to fall by about one billion pounds, to 25.1 billion pounds in 2012 from 26.2 billion a year earlier, and forecasts yet another fall in 2013. High beef prices, which entice ranchers to sell more of their stock, and a long-term drop in domestic cattle supplies are also factors in the decline.

            “Our cattle inventories are the lowest they’ve been in several decades,” said Ken Mathews, a cattle analyst at the Agriculture Department. “A lot of these producers, large and small, were thinking of expanding their herds. Things looked good. When the drought resurrected itself, that blew those plans apart.”

Experts and ranchers say the hammering heat and near-total absence of rainfall play havoc on nearly every corner of their business. Parched corn glutted with nitrogen from the soil becomes toxic to cows. Slimes of algae bloom on irrigation ponds. Wells run dry, and ranchers spend their days hauling water to accommodate a cow’s 35-gallon daily thirst. Fewer cows get pregnant, and mothers’ milk can run dry.

In Graham County, Kan., a crop-duster pilot and small-time cattleman named Eric Brachtenbach said one of his calves was starving without milk, and two others had fallen ill. He thought about the cost of fencing, trailers, feed and vaccinations, and decided: better to sell. He is cutting his herd of 130 to 40.

            “There ain’t enough money,” he said.

At the Torrington Livestock Markets, it was nearly time to start the bidding. Ms. Manning and her daughter prepared to find their seats, but first they wanted to say something about the life their family has pursued since their land was a homestead.

“We’re discouraged, but we’re all damn proud to be here,” Ms. Murray said. “It’s hard. But it’s called life.”

Her mother agreed: “We just keep on.”



Airlines that make the most in fees

Air travel has become a lot less enjoyable, and among the biggest annoyances is the fees airlines charge for things that once were included in the fare.


by Steve Yoder

The Fiscal Times


Comfort is an option


Today’s air travelers need web-sleuthing skills to figure out how much a flight will actually cost them. New airline fees have sprouted everywhere, but you can track them down if you find the right page on your carrier’s website.

Want to watch an in-flight movie? That’ll be $6 on Delta Air Lines (DAL). A pillow and a blanket will set you back 7 bucks at JetBlue Airways (JBLU).

Fees for once-standard services have been around since Delta started charging for food on some flights in 2003. But the real fee bonanza dates to 2008, when most major airlines began imposing baggage fees to offset rising jet fuel costs.

Jet fuel costs fell dramatically in 2009, but fees paid by air travelers continued to soar. Baggage fees generated $1.1 billion for carriers in 2008; by 2011, that sum was $3.4 billion, despite a decline of nearly 5% in crude oil prices over the period.

Fees for everything from movies to pillows to reserved aisle seats generated $12.5 billion for U.S. carriers last year, according to estimates from two industry groups.

With travelers complaining, members of Congress are stepping in. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) has expressed concern about families being separated on flights unless they pay $25 or more to reserve a window or aisle seat. The practice “raises safety and liability concerns for the airline, as children potentially have to sit with strangers out of the sight line of their parents,” Schumer wrote in a May 29 letter to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. And Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) introduced legislation late last year that would mandate that airlines allow passengers to check one bag and bring one carry-on for free.

Carriers try to seat families together, said Steve Lott, a spokesman for Airlines for America, an industry trade group. But a variety of products and pricing structures benefits consumers, he added. “As with all other products and industries, it’s the market that should determine how air travel is priced, not the government,” Lott said.

The fares the airlines charge don’t cover the costs of fuel, labor and maintenance, notes Lott, who cited government data showing that ticket prices, adjusted for inflation, are down 13% since 1995. Revenue from added fees is necessary to keep the carriers financially aloft, Lott said.

Given that reality, the fees that consumers most object to — such as those for baggage — aren’t likely to go away. For now, the best travelers can do is plan ahead to try to minimize the fees.

Click through the following slide show, published July 10, for a look at the five airlines that earned the most in baggage and ticket-change fees in 2011* — and how much they charged for food, pets, entertainment and other things.

*Data cover only baggage fees and charges for reservation changes. The Bureau of Transportation Statistics notes that “baggage fees and reservation change fees are the only ancillary fees paid by passengers that are reported to BTS as separate items. Other fees, such as revenue from seating assignments and on-board sales of food, beverages, pillows, blankets and entertainment . . . cannot be identified separately.”



The Lily-Pad Strategy
How the Pentagon Is Quietly Transforming Its Overseas Base Empire and Creating a Dangerous New Way of War

July 15, 2012.

by David Vine



The first thing I saw last month when I walked into the belly of the dark grey C-17 Air Force cargo plane was a void — something missing. A missing left arm, to be exact, severed at the shoulder, temporarily patched and held together.  Thick, pale flesh, flecked with bright red at the edges. It looked like meat sliced open. The face and what remained of the rest of the man were obscured by blankets, an American flag quilt, and a jumble of tubes and tape, wires, drip bags, and medical monitors.

That man and two other critically wounded soldiers — one with two stumps where legs had been, the other missing a leg below the thigh — were intubated, unconscious, and lying on stretchers hooked to the walls of the plane that had just landed at Ramstein Air Base in Germany. A tattoo on the soldier’s remaining arm read, “DEATH BEFORE DISHONOR.”

I asked a member of the Air Force medical team about the casualties they see like these. Many, as with this flight, were coming from Afghanistan, he told me. “A lot from the Horn of Africa,” he added. “You don’t really hear about that in the media.”

“Where in Africa?” I asked.  He said he didn’t know exactly, but generally from the Horn, often with critical injuries. “A lot out of Djibouti,” he added, referring to Camp Lemonnier, the main U.S. military base in Africa, but from “elsewhere” in the region, too.

Since the “Black Hawk Down” deaths in Somalia almost 20 years ago, we’ve heard little, if anything, about American military casualties in Africa (other than a strange report last week about three special operations commandos killed, along with three women identified by U.S. military sources as “Moroccan prostitutes,” in a mysterious car accident in Mali). The growing number of patients arriving at Ramstein from Africa pulls back a curtain on a significant transformation in twenty-first-century U.S. military strategy.

These casualties are likely to be the vanguard of growing numbers of wounded troops coming from places far removed from Afghanistan or Iraq. They reflect the increased use of relatively small bases like Camp Lemonnier, which military planners see as a model for future U.S. bases “scattered,” as one academic explains, “across regions in which the United States has previously not maintained a military presence.”

Disappearing are the days when Ramstein was the signature U.S. base, an American-town-sized behemoth filled with thousands or tens of thousands of Americans, PXs, Pizza Huts, and other amenities of home. But don’t for a second think that the Pentagon is packing up, downsizing its global mission, and heading home. In fact, based on developments in recent years, the opposite may be true. While the collection of Cold War-era giant bases around the world is shrinking, the global infrastructure of bases overseas has exploded in size and scope.

Unknown to most Americans, Washington’s garrisoning of the planet is on the rise, thanks to a new generation of bases the military calls “lily pads” (as in a frog jumping across a pond toward its prey). These are small, secretive, inaccessible facilities with limited numbers of troops, spartan amenities, and prepositioned weaponry and supplies.

Around the world, from Djibouti to the jungles of Honduras, the deserts of Mauritania to Australia’s tiny Cocos Islands, the Pentagon has been pursuing as many lily pads as it can, in as many countries as it can, as fast as it can. Although statistics are hard to assemble, given the often-secretive nature of such bases, the Pentagon has probably built upwards of 50 lily pads and other small bases since around 2000, while exploring the construction of dozens more.

As Mark Gillem, author of America Town: Building the Outposts of Empire, explains, “avoidance” of local populations, publicity, and potential opposition is the new aim. “To project its power,” he says, the United States wants “secluded and self-contained outposts strategically located” around the world. According to some of the strategy’s strongest proponents at the American Enterprise Institute, the goal should be “to create a worldwide network of frontier forts,” with the U.S. military “the ‘global cavalry’ of the twenty-first century.”

Such lily-pad bases have become a critical part of an evolving Washington military strategy aimed at maintaining U.S. global dominance by doing far more with less in an increasingly competitive, ever more multi-polar world. Central as it’s becoming to the long-term U.S. stance, this global-basing reset policy has, remarkably enough, received almost no public attention, nor significant Congressional oversight. Meanwhile, as the arrival of the first casualties from Africa shows, the U.S. military is getting involved in new areas of the world and new conflicts, with potentially disastrous consequences.


Transforming the Base Empire


You might think that the U.S. military is in the process of shrinking, rather than expanding, its little noticed but enormous collection of bases abroad. After all, it was forced to close the full panoply of 505 bases, mega to micro, that it built in Iraq, and it’s now beginning the process of drawing down forces in Afghanistan. In Europe, the Pentagon is continuing to close its massive bases in Germany and will soon remove two combat brigades from that country. Global troop numbers are set to shrink by around 100,000.

Yet Washington still easily maintains the largest collection of foreign bases in world history: more than 1,000 military installations outside the 50 states and Washington, DC. They include everything from decades-old bases in Germany and Japan to brand-new drone bases in Ethiopia and the Seychelles islands in the Indian Ocean and even resorts for military vacationers in Italy and South Korea.

In Afghanistan, the U.S.-led international force still occupies more than 450 bases. In total, the U.S. military has some form of troop presence in approximately 150 foreign countries, not to mention 11 aircraft carrier task forces — essentially floating bases — and a significant, and growing, military presence in space. The United States currently spends an estimated $250 billion annually maintaining bases and troops overseas.

Some bases, like Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, date to the late nineteenth century. Most were built or occupied during or just after World War II on every continent, including Antarctica. Although the U.S. military vacated around 60% of its foreign bases following the Soviet Union’s collapse, the Cold War base infrastructure remained relatively intact, with 60,000 American troops remaining in Germany alone, despite the absence of a superpower adversary.

However, in the early months of 2001, even before the attacks of 9/11, the Bush administration launched a major global realignment of bases and troops that’s continuing today with Obama’s “Asia pivot.” Bush’s original plan was to close more than one-third of the nation’s overseas bases and shift troops east and south, closer to predicted conflict zones in the Middle East, Asia, Africa, and Latin America. The Pentagon began to focus on creating smaller and more flexible “forward operating bases” and even smaller “cooperative security locations” or “lily pads.” Major troop concentrations were to be restricted to a reduced number of “main operating bases” (MOBs) — like Ramstein, Guam in the Pacific, and Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean — which were to be expanded.

Despite the rhetoric of consolidation and closure that went with this plan, in the post-9/11 era the Pentagon has actually been expanding its base infrastructure dramatically, including dozens of major bases in every Persian Gulf country save Iran, and in several Central Asian countries critical to the war in Afghanistan. 


Hitting the Base Reset Button


Obama’s recently announced “Asia pivot” signals that East Asia will be at the center of the explosion of lily-pad bases and related developments. Already in Australia, U.S. marines are settling into a shared base in Darwin. Elsewhere, the Pentagon is pursuing plans for a drone and surveillance base in Australia’s Cocos Islands and deployments to Brisbane and Perth. In Thailand, the Pentagon has negotiated rights for new Navy port visits and a “disaster-relief hub” at U-Tapao.

In the Philippines, whose government evicted the U.S. from the massive Clark Air Base and Subic Bay Naval Base in the early 1990s, as many as 600 special forces troops have quietly been operating in the country’s south since January 2002. Last month, the two governments reached an agreement on the future U.S. use of Clark and Subic, as well as other repair and supply hubs from the Vietnam War era. In a sign of changing times, U.S. officials even signed a 2011 defense agreement with former enemy Vietnam and have begun negotiations over the Navy’s increased use of Vietnamese ports.

Elsewhere in Asia, the Pentagon has rebuilt a runway on tiny Tinian island near Guam, and it’s considering future bases in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei, while pushing stronger military ties with India. Every year in the region, the military conducts around 170 military exercises and 250 port visits. On South Korea’s Jeju island, the Korean military is building a base that will be part of the U.S. missile defense system and to which U.S. forces will have regular access.

“We just can’t be in one place to do what we’ve got to do,” Pacific Command commander Admiral Samuel Locklear III has said. For military planners, “what we’ve got to do” is clearly defined as isolating and (in the terminology of the Cold War) “containing” the new power in the region, China. This evidently means “peppering” new bases throughout the region, adding to the more than 200 U.S. bases that have encircled China for decades in Japan, South Korea, Guam, and Hawaii.

And Asia is just the beginning. In Africa, the Pentagon has quietly created “about a dozen air bases” for drones and surveillance since 2007. In addition to Camp Lemonnier, we know that the military has created or will soon create installations in Burkina Faso, Burundi, the Central African Republic, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mauritania, São Tomé and Príncipe, Senegal, Seychelles, South Sudan, and Uganda. The Pentagon has also investigated building bases in Algeria, Gabon, Ghana, Mali, and Nigeria, among other places.

Next year, a brigade-sized force of 3,000 troops, and “likely more,” will arrive for exercises and training missions across the continent. In the nearby Persian Gulf, the Navy is developing an “afloat forward-staging base,” or “mothership,” to serve as a sea-borne “lily pad” for helicopters and patrol craft, and has been involved in a massive build-up of forces in the region.

In Latin America, following the military’s eviction from Panama in 1999 and Ecuador in 2009, the Pentagon has created or upgraded new bases in Aruba and Curaçao, Chile, Colombia, El Salvador, and Peru.  Elsewhere, the Pentagon has funded the creation of military and police bases capable of hosting U.S. forces in Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Costa Rica, and even Ecuador. In 2008, the Navy reactivated its Fourth Fleet, inactive since 1950, to patrol the region. The military may want a base in Brazil and unsuccessfully tried to create bases, ostensibly for humanitarian and emergency relief, in Paraguay and Argentina.

Finally, in Europe, after arriving in the Balkans during 1990’s interventions, U.S. bases have moved eastward into some of the former Eastern Bloc states of the Soviet empire. The Pentagon is now developing installations capable of supporting rotating, brigade-sized deployments in Romania and Bulgaria, and a missile defense base and aviation facilities in Poland. Previously, the Bush administration maintained two CIA black sites (secret prisons) in Lithuania and another in Poland. Citizens of the Czech Republic rejected a planned radar base for the Pentagon’s still unproven missile defense system, and now Romania will host ground-based missiles.


A New American Way of War


A lily pad on one of the Gulf of Guinea islands of S­ão Tomé and Príncipe, off the oil-rich west coast of Africa, helps explain what’s going on. A U.S. official has described the base as “another Diego Garcia,” referring to the Indian Ocean base that’s helped ensure decades of U.S. domination over Middle Eastern energy supplies. Without the freedom to create new large bases in Africa, the Pentagon is using S­ão Tomé and a growing collection of other lily pads on the continent in an attempt to control another crucial oil-rich region.

Far beyond West Africa, the nineteenth century “Great Game” competition for Central Asia has returned with a passion — and this time gone global.  It’s spreading to resource-rich lands in Africa, Asia, and South America, as the United States, China, Russia, and members of the European Union find themselves locked in an increasingly intense competition for economic and geopolitical supremacy.

While Beijing, in particular, has pursued this competition in a largely economic fashion, dotting the globe with strategic investments, Washington has focused relentlessly on military might as its global trump card, dotting the planet with new bases and other forms of military power. “Forget full-scale invasions and large-footprint occupations on the Eurasian mainland,” Nick Turse has written of this new twenty-first century military strategy. “Instead, think: special operations forces… proxy armies… the militarization of spying and intelligence… drone aircraft… cyber-attacks, and joint Pentagon operations with increasingly militarized ‘civilian’ government agencies.”

Add to this unparalleled long-range air and naval power; arms sales besting any nation on Earth; humanitarian and disaster relief missions that clearly serve military intelligence, patrol, and “hearts and minds” functions; the rotational deployment of regular U.S. forces globally; port visits and an expanding array of joint military exercises and training missions that give the U.S. military de facto “presence” worldwide and help turn foreign militaries into proxy forces.

And lots and lots of lily-pad bases.

Military planners see a future of endless small-scale interventions in which a large, geographically dispersed collection of bases will always be primed for instant operational access. With bases in as many places as possible, military planners want to be able to turn to another conveniently close country if the United States is ever prevented from using a base, as it was by Turkey prior to the invasion of Iraq. In other words, Pentagon officials dream of nearly limitless flexibility, the ability to react with remarkable rapidity to developments anywhere on Earth, and thus, something approaching total military control over the planet.

Beyond their military utility, the lily pads and other forms of power projection are also political and economic tools used to build and maintain alliances and provide privileged U.S. access to overseas markets, resources, and investment opportunities. Washington is planning to use lily-pad bases and other military projects to bind countries in Eastern Europe, Africa, Asia, and Latin America as closely as possible to the U.S. military — and so to continued U.S. political-economic hegemony. In short, American officials are hoping military might will entrench their influence and keep as many countries as possible within an American orbit at a time when some are asserting their independence ever more forcefully or gravitating toward China and other rising powers.


Those Dangerous Lily Pads


While relying on smaller bases may sound smarter and more cost effective than maintaining huge bases that have often caused anger in places like Okinawa and South Korea, lily pads threaten U.S. and global security in several ways:

First, the “lily pad” language can be misleading, since by design or otherwise, such installations are capable of quickly growing into bloated behemoths.

Second, despite the rhetoric about spreading democracy that still lingers in Washington, building more lily pads actually guarantees collaboration with an increasing number of despotic, corrupt, and murderous regimes.

Third, there is a well-documented pattern of damage that military facilities of various sizes inflict on local communities. Although lily pads seem to promise insulation from local opposition, over time even small bases have often led to anger and protest movements.

Finally, a proliferation of lily pads means the creeping militarization of large swaths of the globe. Like real lily pads — which are actually aquatic weeds — bases have a way of growing and reproducing uncontrollably. Indeed, bases tend to beget bases, creating “base races” with other nations, heightening military tensions, and discouraging diplomatic solutions to conflicts. After all, how would the United States respond if China, Russia, or Iran were to build even a single lily-pad base of its own in Mexico or the Caribbean?

For China and Russia in particular, ever more U.S. bases near their borders threaten to set off new cold wars. Most troublingly, the creation of new bases to protect against an alleged future Chinese military threat may prove to be a self-fulfilling prophecy: such bases in Asia are likely to create the threat they are supposedly designed to protect against, making a catastrophic war with China more, not less, likely.

Encouragingly, however, overseas bases have recently begun to generate critical scrutiny across the political spectrum from Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison and Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul to Democratic Senator Jon Tester and New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof. With everyone looking for ways to trim the deficit, closing overseas bases offers easy savings. Indeed, increasingly influential types are recognizing that the country simply can’t afford more than 1,000 bases abroad.

Great Britain, like empires before it, had to close most of its remaining foreign bases in the midst of an economic crisis in the 1960s and 1970s. The United States is undoubtedly headed in that direction sooner or later. The only question is whether the country will give up its bases and downsize its global mission by choice, or if it will follow Britain’s path as a fading power forced to give up its bases from a position of weakness.

Of course, the consequences of not choosing another path extend beyond economics. If the proliferation of lily pads, special operations forces, and drone wars continues, the United States is likely to be drawn into new conflicts and new wars, generating unknown forms of blowback, and untold death and destruction. In that case, we’d better prepare for a lot more incoming flights — from the Horn of Africa to Honduras — carrying not just amputees but caskets.

David Vine is assistant professor of anthropology at American University, in Washington, DC.




That’s No Phone. That’s My Tracker

July 13, 2012

by Peter Maass and Megha Rajagopalan


            The device in your purse or jeans that you think is a cellphone — guess again. It is a tracking device that happens to make calls. Let’s stop calling them phones. They are trackers.

Most doubts about the principal function of these devices were erased when it was disclosed Monday [1] that cellphone carriers responded 1.3 million times last year to law enforcement requests for call data. That’s not even a complete count, because T-Mobile, one of the largest carriers, refused to reveal its numbers. It appears that millions of cellphone users have been swept up in government surveillance of their calls and where they made them from. Many police agencies don’t obtain a search warrant [2] when requesting location data from carriers.

Thanks to the explosion of GPS technology and smartphone apps, these devices are also taking note of what we buy, where and when we buy it, how much money we have in the bank, whom we text and e-mail, what Web sites we visit, how and where we travel, what time we go to sleep and wake up — and more. Much of that data is shared with companies that use it to offer us services they think we want.

We have all heard about the wonders of frictionless sharing, whereby social networks automatically let our friends know what we are reading or listening to, but what we hear less about is frictionless surveillance. Though we invite some tracking — think of our mapping requests as we try to find a restaurant in a strange part of town — much of it is done without our awareness.

“Every year, private companies spend millions of dollars developing new services that track, store and share the words, movements and even the thoughts of their customers,” writes Paul Ohm [3], a law professor at the University of Colorado. “These invasive services have proved irresistible to consumers, and millions now own sophisticated tracking devices (smartphones) studded with sensors and always connected to the Internet.”

Mr. Ohm labels them tracking devices. So does Jacob Appelbaum, a developer and spokesman for the Tor project [4], which allows users to browse the Web anonymously. Scholars have called them minicomputers and robots. Everyone is struggling to find the right tag, because “cellphone” and “smartphone” are inadequate. This is not a semantic game. Names matter, quite a bit. In politics and advertising, framing is regarded as key because what you call something influences what you think about it. That’s why there are battles over the tags “Obamacare” and “death panels.”

In just the past few years, cellphone companies have honed their geographic technology, which has become almost pinpoint. The surveillance and privacy implications are quite simple. If someone knows exactly where you are, they probably know what you are doing. Cellular systems constantly check and record the location of all phones on their networks — and this data is particularly treasured by police departments and online advertisers. Cell companies typically retain your geographic information for a year or longer, according to data [5] gathered by the Justice Department.

What’s the harm? The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, ruling about police use of tracking devices [6], noted that GPS data can reveal whether a person “is a weekly church goer, a heavy drinker, a regular at the gym, an unfaithful husband, an outpatient receiving medical treatment, an associate of particular individuals or political groups — and not just one such fact about a person, but all such facts.” Even the most gregarious of sharers might not reveal all that on Facebook.

There is an even more fascinating and diabolical element to what can be done with location information. New research [7] suggests that by cross-referencing your geographical data with that of your friends, it’s possible to predict your future whereabouts with a much higher degree of accuracy. This is what’s known as predictive modeling, and it requires nothing more than your cellphone data.

If we are naïve to think of them as phones, what should we call them? Eben Moglen [8], a law professor at Columbia University, argues that they are robots for which we — the proud owners — are merely the hands and feet. “They see everything, they’re aware of our position, our relationship to other human beings and other robots, they mediate an information stream around us,” he has said.

Over time, we’ve used these devices less for their original purpose. A recent survey [9] by O2, a British cell carrier, showed that making calls is only the fifth-most-popular activity for smartphones; more popular uses are Web browsing, checking social networks, playing games and listening to music. Smartphones are taking over the functions that laptops, cameras, credit cards and watches once performed for us.

If you want to avoid some surveillance, the best option is to use cash for prepaid cellphones that do not require identification. The phones transmit location information to the cell carrier and keep track of the numbers you call, but they are not connected to you by name. Destroy the phone or just drop it into a trash bin, and its data cannot be tied to you. These cellphones, known as burners, are the threads that connect privacy activists, Burmese dissidents and coke dealers.

Prepaids are a hassle, though. What can the rest of us do? Leaving your smartphone at home will help, but then what’s the point of having it? Turning it off when you’re not using it will also help, because it will cease pinging your location to the cell company, but are you really going to do that? Shutting it down does not even guarantee it’s off — malware can keep it on without your realizing it. The only way to be sure is to take out the battery. Guess what? If you have an iPhone, you will need a tiny screwdriver to remove the back cover. Doing that will void your warranty.

Matt Blaze [10], a professor of computer and information science at the University of Pennsylvania, has written extensively about these issues and believes we are confronted with two choices: “Don’t have a cellphone or just accept that you’re living in the Panopticon [11].”

There is another option. People could call them trackers. It’s a neutral term, because it covers positive activities — monitoring appointments, bank balances, friends — and problematic ones, like the government and advertisers watching us.

We can love or hate these devices — or love and hate them — but let’s start calling them what they are so we can fully understand what they do.



Casualty Lists- DoD

July 02, 2012

            The Department of Defense announced today the deaths of two soldiers who were supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

            They died June 24, in Kandahar, Afghanistan.  They were assigned to the 96th Transportation Company, 180th Transportation Battalion, 4th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), Fort Hood, Texas.

            Killed were:

            Staff Sgt. Robert A. Massarelli, 32, of Hamilton, Ohio, and

            Sgt. Michael J. Strachota, 28, of White Hall, Ark.

July 04, 2012

            The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. 

            Pfc. Cody O. Moosman, 24, of Preston, Idaho, died July 3, in Gayan Alwara Mandi, Afghanistan, when enemy forces attacked his unit with small arms fire.  He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kan.


 July 08, 2012


            The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. 

            Capt. Bruce A. MacFarlane, 46, of Oviedo, Florida, died July 6, in Kandahar, Afghanistan. 

            MacFarlane was assigned to the 1186th Transportation Company, 831st Transportation Battalion, Jacksonville, Fla.


 July 09, 2012


            The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

            Staff Sgt. Raul M. Guerra, 37, of Union City, N.J., died July 4, in Spin Boldak, Afghanistan.

            Guerra was assigned to the 502nd Military Intelligence Battalion, 201st Battlefield Surveillance Brigade, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.

            The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. 

            Spc. Jonathan Batista, 22, of Kinnelon, N.J., died July 8, in Zharay, Kandahar province, Afghanistan, when enemy forces attacked his unit with small arms fire.  He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 321st Airborne Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C. 

            The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. 

            Cpl. Juan P. Navarro, 23, of Austin, Texas, died July 7, in Kandahar, Afghanistan, when he was attacked with an enemy improvised explosive device. 

            Navarro was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. 

July 11, 2012

            The Department of Defense announced today the death of six soldiers who were supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. 

            They died July 8, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked their unit in Maidan Shahr, Wardak province, Afghanistan, with an improvised explosive device.  They were assigned to the 978th Military Police Company, 93rd Military Police Battalion, Fort Bliss, Texas. 

            Killed were: 

            Staff Sgt. Ricardo Seija, 31, of Tampa, Fla.,

            Spc. Erica P. Alecksen, 21, of Eatonton, Ga.,

            Spc. Clarence Williams III, 23, of Brooksville, Fla.,

            Pfc. Trevor B. Adkins, 21, of Spring Lake, N.C.,

            Pfc. Alejandro J. Pardo, 21, of Porterville, Calif., and

            Pfc. Cameron J. Stambaugh, 20, of Spring Grove, Pa. 


July 12, 2012

            The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

            Spc. Sterling W. Wyatt, 21, of Columbia, Mo., died July 11, in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when his vehicle was attacked with an enemy improvised explosive device.

            Wyatt was assigned to the 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.

July 15, 2012

    The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. 

            Sgt. Michael E. Ristau, 25, of Rockford, Ill., died July 13 in Qalat, Zabul province, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when his vehicle was attacked with an enemy improvised explosive device.  

            He was assigned to the 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. 

July 17, 2012

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. 

            Staff Sgt. Carl E. Hammar, 24, of Lake Havasu City, Ariz., died July 14, in Khost province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered from enemy small arms fire. 

            Hammar was assigned to 1st Battalion, 501st Infantry Regiment, 4th Airborne Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska.

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