Thursday, July 31, 2008

Mugabe’s Biggest Sin

Mugabe’s Biggest Sin
Anglo-American and Chinese interests clash over Zimbabwe’s strategic mineral wealth
F. William Engdahl

July 30, 2008

Robert Mugabe, the President of Zimbabwe, presides over one of the world’s richest minerals treasures, the Great Dyke region, which cuts a geological swath across the entire land from northeast to southwest. The real background to the pious concerns of the Bush Administration for human rights in Zimbabwe in the past several years is not Mugabe’s possible election fraud or his expropriation of white settler farms. It is the fact that Mr. Mugabe has been quietly doing business, a lot of it, with the one country which has virtually unlimited need of strategic raw materials Zimbabwe can provide—China. Mugabe’s Zimbabwe is, along with Sudan, on the central stage of the new war over control of strategic minerals of Africa between Washington and Beijing, with Moscow playing a supporting role in the drama. The stakes are huge.

Zimbabwe’s President, Robert Mugabe is a very very bad man. This we all know from reading the newspapers or hearing the pronouncements of George W. Bush, earlier Britain’s Tony Blair and more recently Gordon Brown. In their eyes he has sinned badly. They charge that he is a dictator; that he has expropriated, often with violence, the farms of whites as part of land reform; they claim he rigged his re-election by vote fraud and violence; that he has ruined the economy of Zimbabwe.

Whether Robert Mugabe deserves to be in Washington’s honor roll of villains alongside Fidel Castro, Saddam Hussein, Milosevic, Ahmadinejad, and Adolf Hitler, however, it is not the reason Washington and London have made Zimbabwe regime change priority number one for their Africa policy.

What his sin is seems to have more to do with his attempts to get out from under Anglo-American neo-colonial serfdom dependency and to pursue a national economic development independent of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. His real sin seems to be the fact that he has turned to the one nation that offers his government credits and soft loans for economic development with no strings attached—The Peoples’ Republic of China.

Western media accounts conveniently tend to omit the second major party to what is a huge tug of war between Anglo-American interests and China to get control of Zimbabwe’s vast mineral wealth. We should keep in mind that for Washington there are always "good dictators" and "bad dictators." The difference is whether the given dictator serves US national interests or not. Mugabe clearly is in the latter category.

Cecil Rhodes’ legacy

Zimbabwe is the name of what under the era of British Imperialism a century ago was named Rhodesia. The name Rhodesia came from the British imperial strategist and miner, Cecil Rhodes, founder of the Rhodes scholarships to Oxford, and author of a plan for a vast private African zone, to be chartered from the Queen of England, from Egypt to South Africa. Cecil Rhodes created the British South Africa Company, modeled on the East India Company, along with his partner, L. Starr Jameson of Jameson Raid notoriety, to exploit the mineral riches of Rhodesia. It controlled what was later named Northern Rhodesia (Zambia) and Southern Rhodesia-Nyasaland. The model was that the British Government would assume all risks to militarily defend Rhodes’ looting while Rhodes and his London bankers, above all Lord Rothschild, who was a close associate, would assume all the gains of the business.

Rhodes, a seasoned geologist, knew well that there was a remarkable geological fault running from the mouth of the Nile at the Gulf of Suez south through Sudan, Uganda, Tanzania, down through today’s Zimbabwe on to South Africa. Rhodes had already instigated several wars to gain control of the diamonds of Kimberly and the gold of Witwatersrand in South Africa. This geological phenomenon he, as well as enterprising German explorers, had discovered in the 1880’s. They named it the Great Rift Valley.

Rhodesia, like South Africa after the bloody Boer wars, was settled by white settlers to secure future minerals gains for allied interests of the City of London, mainly those of the powerful Oppenheimer family and their gold and diamond enterprises in the region.

In 1962 when Africa was undergoing the wave of national liberation from colonial rule, a wave calculatedly supported by "non-colonial power" Washington, Rhodesia was one of the last bastions, along with former British colony South Africa, of white Apartheid rule. Whites in Rhodesia constituted only 1-2% of the total population so their methods of holding on to power were rather ruthless.

White supremacist Prime Minister, Ian Smith, declared Rhodesian independence from Britain in 1965 rather than agree to the slightest compromise on race or power sharing with black nationalists. Britain got UN trade sanctions imposed to force Smith to buckle under. Despite sanctions, there was considerable support from conservative business interests in London. Britain’s Tiny Rowland, head of the Lonrho mining conglomerate, secured the bulk of his African profits from Rhodesian copper mining and related ventures under the Smith regime. The City of London knew very well what riches lay in Rhodesia. The question was how to secure enduring control. Smith’s Rhodesian backers had little interest in giving it all to London.

Following a long and bloody struggle, in 1980 the leader of the black African Popular Front coalition, Robert Mugabe, overwhelmingly won election as the first Prime Minister of a new Zimbabwe. Twenty eight years later, the same Robert Mugabe is under escalating attack from the West, especially Zimbabwe’s former colonial master, England, including strong economic sanctions designed to bring the country to the brink of collapse, to force him to open the economy to foreign (read Anglo-American and allied) investment. Ironically, the issue seems not all that different from the Ian Smith era: London and US control of the resources of the rich land, and Zimbabwean efforts to resist that control.

The Great Dyke

Within Zimbabwe, a portion of the rich Great Rift is called the Great Dyke, an intrusive geological treasure zone running over 530 kilometers from the northeast to the southwest of the country, in places up to 12 kilometers wide. A river runs along the fault and the region is volcanically active. Here also lie vast deposits of chromium, of copper, platinum and other metals.

The US State Department, as well as London, is aware of the vast minerals and other riches of Zimbabwe. It states in a recent report on Zimbabwe,

"Zimbabwe is endowed with rich mineral resources. Exports of gold, asbestos, chrome, coal, platinum, nickel, and copper could lead to an economic recovery one day...The country is richly endowed with coal-bed methane gas that has yet to be exploited.

With international attractions such as Victoria Falls, the Great Zimbabwe stone ruins, Lake Kariba, and extensive wildlife, tourism historically has been a significant segment of the economy and contributor of foreign exchange. The sector has contracted sharply since 1999, however, due to the country's declining international image.(sic).

Energy Resources

With considerable hydroelectric power potential and plentiful coal deposits for thermal power station, Zimbabwe is less dependent on oil as an energy source than most other comparably industrialized countries, but it still imports 40% of its electric power needs from surrounding countries--primarily Mozambique. Only about 15% of Zimbabwe's total energy consumption is accounted for by oil, all of which is imported. Zimbabwe imports about 1.2 billion liters of oil per year. Zimbabwe also has substantial coal reserves that are utilized for power generation, and coal-bed methane deposits recently discovered in Matabeleland province are greater than any known natural gas field in Southern or Eastern Africa. In recent years, poor economic management and low foreign currency reserves have led to serious fuel shortages."

In short, chrome, copper, gold, platinum, huge hydroelectric power potential and vast coal reserves are what is at stake for Washington and London in Zimbabwe. The country also has unverified reserves of uranium, something in big demand today for nuclear power generation.

It is clear of late that so long as the tenacious Mugabe is running things, not the Anglo-Americans, but rather the Chinese, are Zimbabwe’s preferred business partners. This seems to be Mugabe’s greatest sin. He’s not reading from the right program as George W. Bush’s friends see it. His real sin seems to be turning East not West for economic and investment help.

The Chinese connection

During the Cold War China recognized and supported Robert Mugabe. In recent years as China’s search for secure raw materials escalated its foreign diplomacy, relations have become stronger. According to the Chinese media, China has invested more in Zimbabwe than any other nation.

Already back in July 2005 as Tony Blair turned the sanctions screws tighter on Zimbabwe, Mugabe flew to Beijing to meet with the top Chinese leadership, where he reportedly sought an emergency loan of US$1 billion and asked increased Chinese involvement in the economy.

It began to bear fruit. In June 2006 state--owned Zimbabwean businesses signed a number of energy, mining and farming deals worth billions of dollars with Chinese companies. The largest was with China Machine-Building International Corporation, for a $1,3bn contract to mine coal and build thermal-power generators in Zimbabwe, to reduce Zimbabwe’s electricity shortage. The Chinese company had already built thermal-power stations in Nigeria and Sudan, and had been involved in mining projects in Gabon.

In 2007 the Chinese government donated farm machinery worth $25 million to Zimbabwe, including 424 tractors and 50 trucks, as part of a $58 million loan to the Zimbabwean government. The Mugabe administration had previously seized white-owned farms and gave them to blacks, damaging machinery in the process. In return for the equipment and the loan the Zimbabwean government will ship 30 million kilograms of tobacco to the People's Republic of China.

Other Zimbabwe-China agreements included a deal between the Zimbabwe Mining Development and China’s Star Communications, forming a joint venture to mine chrome, with funding from the China Development Bank. Zimbabwe also agreed to import road-building, irrigation and farming equipment from the China National Construction and Agricultural Machinery Import and Export Corporation and China Poly Group. Zimbabwe also relies on China for imports of telecommunications equipment, military hardware and many other critical items it can no longer import from the west because of the British-led sanctions.

Relations have become so important that Zimbabwe’s police have a dedicated "China desk" to protect Chinese interests in the country.

In April 2007 the chairman of China’s top political advisory body, Jia Qinglin, head of the National Committee of the Chinese Peoples’ Political Consultative Conference, flew to Harare to meet with Mugabe. It was a follow-up to the 2006 Beijing China-Africa Cooperation Summit where the Chinese government invited the heads of more than 40 African states to discuss relations. Africa has become a diplomatic and economic priority for China and its economy.

At that time, Beijing got an open invitation to help develop dormant mines in the country. The deputy speaker of Zimbabwe's parliament called for more Chinese investment in the country's mining sector, according to China's Xinhua news agency. Zimbabwe's mining laws were changed to allow the government to reallocate mining claims that were not being exploited.

Mining generates half of Zimbabwe's export revenue. It is the only sector in the country that still has foreign investors after the collapse of the main agricultural sector. Western companies with mining claims in Zimbabwe were not exploiting them. "We would appeal to the Chinese government to come in full force to exploit these minerals," Zimbabwean Deputy Parliamentary Speaker, Kumbirai Kangai said to the official Xinhua.

Kangai assured potential Chinese investors that they would not expose themselves to legal action if they took over claims held by Western companies.

A few months after, in December 2007, Chinese company, Sinosteel Corporation, acquired 67 percent stake in Zimbabwe's leading ferrochrome producer and exporter Zimasco Holdings. Zimasco Holdings is the fifth largest high carbonated ferrochrome producer in the world. It used to produce 210,000 tons of high-carbon ferrochrome per year, nearly all of it along the mineral-rich Great Dyke, accounting for 4 percent of global ferrochrome production.

Zimasco has also the world's second largest reserves of chrome, after South Africa. It was formerly owned by Union Carbide Corporation, now part of Dow Chemicals Corp.

Oh, oh! Alarm bells went ringing in London and in Washington at that news.

China clearly views Africa as a central part of its strategic plan, most notably for its oil reserves and vital raw materials such as copper, chrome, nickel. The continent is also at the same time becoming an important region for Chinese manufactured exports. But the raw materials battle is at the heart, and the real reason by all accounts, why Washington recently decided to form a separate Africa Command in the Pentagon.

Controlling China’s economic emergence is an un-stated strategic priority of United States foreign and military policy and has been since before September 11, 2001. The only delicate point in the business is the fact that China, with well over $1.7 trillions of foreign exchange reserves, most believed in form of US Treasury securities, could trigger a complete dollar panic and further collapse of the US economy should she decide for political reasons it were too risky to continue holding its hundreds of billions of US dollar debt. In effect, by buying US Government debt with its trade surpluses, China has been indirectly financing US policies counter to Chinese national interest such as the Iraq war, or even the $100 million or so annually that Condi Rice’s State Department spends on Tibet.

China is refusing to play by the rules of the Anglo-American neo-colonial game. It does not seek IMF or World Bank approval before dealing with African countries. It makes soft loans, regardless who might be running the country. In this it does nothing different from Washington or London. The Chinese see American influence in Africa less entrenched than in the rest of the world, thus offering unique opportunities for China to pursue its economic interests.

It may or may not be cynical. It may be Realpolitik. If it results in the ability of certain African countries to use China as a political counterweight to the one-sided Anglo-American domination of the Continent, that itself could be a major benefit to Africans depending on how they use it.

Clearly, it has been extremely positive for Chinese access to vital economic minerals for its economy as well as oil from places such as Darfur and southern Sudan, or Nigeria.

Mineral wealth has once more put Africa on center stage of a battle for mineral riches between East and West. This time, unlike during the Cold War era, however, Beijing is playing with far more assets, and Washington with far less.

F. William Engdahl is author of A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order (Pluto Press), and Seeds of Destruction: The Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation ( He may be contacted through his website, .

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

All air passengers to give their fingerprints ...

All air passengers to give their fingerprints ... but is the reason security or simply to raise profits for the duty-free shops?

By Jason Lewis
Last updated at 1:03 AM on 27th July 2008

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Millions of passengers flying from British airports will be fingerprinted from next year under the latest controversial Government anti-terror plans.

The measures, which will apply to both domestic and international passengers, are being introduced despite opposition from the Information Commissioner, Britain’s privacy watchdog.

The Commissioner forced Heathrow to abandon a similar plan earlier this year after warning that it was potentially illegal under data protection laws.

Critics say the main reason for the scheme is that airport operators want to maximise profits by ensuring all passengers are able to spend money in ‘duty-free’ shops.
Airport fingerprinting

1. A passenger places a hand on a scanner, which records four fingerprints.
2. He or she then faces a camera and is photographed.
3. As prints are checked against databases, passengers go airside, where international and domestic travellers mix in huge 'duty free' shopping malls.
4. Passengers are fingerprint-scanned again at flight gates.


* MAIL ON SUNDAY COMMENT: Fingerprinted in the name of BAA greed

As a result, ‘common departure lounges’, where both domestic and international passengers can mix freely, are being introduced at all major UK airports.

This poses an obvious security risk in that an incoming international passenger – possibly a terrorist or a criminal – could switch tickets with an accomplice booked on a domestic flight.

The international passenger would then be able to fly elsewhere in Britain and enter the country without being checked by immigration authorities.

Now, the Home Office is putting the finishing touches to new rules requiring compulsory fingerprinting for all passengers.

The amendments to national aviation security rules will require fingerprints to be scanned when passengers pass through security into the airside terminal. Passengers will be fingerprint-scanned again at their flight departure gate.

It is likely that the scheme will later be expanded to cover passengers at major seaports and the Channel Tunnel rail links.

The measures will enable police and the Security Services to check fingerprints against international watch lists and Interpol databases, searching for suspects travelling on false identities.

Behind-the-scenes discussions are well advanced and the Home Office’s Border and Immigration Agency is expected to issue new orders to airport operators before Christmas. The changes can be introduced under existing legislation, without the need for a debate in Parliament.

Last night, a Border Agency spokesman said: ‘We are considering using fingerprint checks to confirm passenger identities before boarding at UK airports.’

He said the Government was determined to ‘strengthen our borders using new technology’. And he said it was already fingerprinting people applying for visas to enter Britain, using electronic checks to count people in and out – and would require foreign nationals to carry ID cards from November.

But the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has said it has concerns about any proposals to fingerprint passengers.

It asked why fingerprinting was necessary to confirm people’s identities at airports when the authorities have, until now, successfully relied on ‘less intrusive’ photographs.

At the time, the Deputy Information Commissioner said that any passengers asked to give their fingerprints at airports should do so only ‘under protest’.

Last night, an ICO spokesman said: ‘We have raised the data protection implications of the proposals with BAA and UK Borders Agency. We have requested more information about the requirements the agency may have for fingerprint checks.’

Until now, airports with common terminals such as Gatwick and Manchester have taken digital photos as people pass through security and have then rechecked their identities at departure gates. But the Home Office says this is no longer sufficient.

And the Spanish-owned BAA said the scanners were necessary so that all passengers could mix in the terminals’ huge airside shopping mall, which includes BAA-owned World Duty Free stores.

Passengers passing through security place a hand on an electronic scanner which records four fingerprints. They then face a camera and are photographed.

BAA’s website said at the time: ‘We are transforming Heathrow to make big improvements for all passengers.

‘Domestic passengers will in future use the same departure lounges as international passengers. That means all our passengers will enjoy the same wide choice of shops and restaurants.’

Since 2004, visitors to America have been fingerprint-scanned and digitally photographed on arrival.

From next year, the US authorities also intend to fingerprint-scan people departing the country.

You Know You're An Anti-Semite If......

You Know You're An Anti-Semite If......

You Know You're an Anti-Semite if you realize the last several heads of Federal Reserve were Jewish, know why, and are cognizant of the fact that there is nothing "federal" about the Federal Reserve.

You Know You're an Anti-Semite if you remember the numerous bombings that Israel has done against the U.S. and its friends, such as the USS Liberty, the LaVon Affair, the King David Hotel, etc.

You Know You're an Anti-Semite if you realize what the (K) and (U) symbols mean on food products and metals, and you try to avoid purchasing such products so that the rabbis who make tens of millions of dollars on these products through their kosher excise tax won't get your money.

You Know You're an Anti-Semite if you question why Israel bombs Lebanon when Lebanon apprehends Israel's soldiers in Lebanon, but Lebanon never bombs Israel when Israel grabs Lebanese or Palestinian citizens.

You Know You're an Anti-Semite if there are no pictures of you saying the pledge of allegiance with Israel's flag in the background.

You Know You're an Anti-Semite if you've never worn a Jewish beanie, and scratch your head when someone calls a beanie that y-word.

You Know You're an Anti-Semite if it saddens you when you hear that Israel has done its routine bombing of an apartment building or farm in an effort to kill someone it suspects of being a "terrorist," and know that Israel's definition of a "terrorist" is typically someone who refuses to believe that Jews are God's special "Chosen Race."

You Know You're an Anti-Semite if you've heard of either the Catholic's St. Simon of Trent or the Orthodox's St. Andrei Youshchinsky, and know what caused their deaths.

You Know You're an Anti-Semite if you wonder when the government will actually DO something about AIPAC's virtual plutocratic dictatorship over American politicians.

You Know You're an Anti-Semite if you recognize the clearly Jewish names in Tyco's falling, and Enron's, and a host of other companies.

You Know You're an Anti-Semite if you question why Israeli criminals are consistently allowed to flee to Israel, where they stay secure in the thought that Israel's high courts have specifically stated that a Jew should have to stand trial before non-Jews.

You Know You're an Anti-Semite if you can't understand how Israel is allowed to build its Wall of Separation right through the homes of non-Jews without just - even any - compensation.

You Know You're an Anti-Semite if you don't think non-Jews should go to jail for their religious beliefs, as many Christians currently do in Canada and in parts of Europe if they cite the Book of John.

You Know You're an Anti-Semite if you watched the online video "Understanding Anti-Semitism" online and said, "I knew that."

You Know You're an Anti-Semite if you wonder how 6 million Jews reportedly died in the "Holocaust," yet, according to Jewish sources, there was actually a slight increase in population of the Jews at the end of the war.

You Know You're an Anti-Semite if you you're tired of watching the Holocaust-propaganda videos Jews make on an average of 1 every 10 days--60 years after the war's end--and also wonder when they're going to make a film about the 60 million Russians who were murdered by mostly Jewish bolsheviks in the former Soviet Union, such as by NKVD/KGB head Kaganovich.

You Know You're an Anti-Semite if you're aware of the Jewish influence to get the U.S. involved in Iraq, and are knowledgeable of the Israel-firsters quickly pushing America towards Israel's next enemies, Iran and Syria.

You Know You're an Anti-Semite if you put America's interests before that of Israel.

You Know You're an Anti-Semite if you breathe and aren't Jewish.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Some Thoughts on Energy Policy

Some Thoughts on Energy Policy

The US Geological Survey said the Arctic may contain as much as 90 billion barrels of untapped crude oil and 1.67 quadrillion (with a "Q"!) cubic feet of natural gas. This is equal to approximately 13% of the world's undiscovered oil and 30% (!) of the undiscovered natural gas. There is yet more offshore oil and gas off the coasts of the US that is not being utilized. And that is assuming current technological methods. You have to know technology is going to improve recovery rates.

There are debates about energy policy, as to whether we should go to solar, wind, or bio-fuels, drill for more oil and gas, build 45 nuclear plants, etc. I don't get it. I would like to check a box that says all of the above.

The reality is that the world is going to demand more oil as the developing nations want more cars and energy. Oil production is declining in Mexico and Russia and other countries where we get our fuel. While proper drilling and better political climates could make up for declining production of older fields, it is not the long-term solution.

In the short term, we need to drill in the Arctic and offshore. Even though I am going to show why oil could go back to $100 in the near term, in the long term (3-5 years) it could easily go to $200 and $6 a gallon if we do not do something now, and maybe even if we do. It will take years for any oil or gas to come from offshore and Arctic sources. If we are going to have that energy in five years, we need to drill now.

And it can be done safely. A large portion of the oil and gas for the US comes from the offshore fields of Texas and Louisiana. There was a class 5 Hurricane Katrina which ripped through these offshore rigs a few years ago, and not one of them had even a minor environmental problem. These rigs are built solid and safe.

To drill in the Alaskan Natural Wildlife Arctic Reserve means drilling on a few square miles of land which is basically wasteland. No beautiful scenery. No tourists. Very few caribou. We have been drilling in Alaska for a long time without problems, and technology has improved.

Oil coming online in a few years will help hold down prices today. That is the way markets work. Every year we wait will mean higher prices and more money sent outside of the US. But drilling for oil is not the long-term solution.

T. Boone Pickens has been running TV ads talking about a plan to divert natural gas to automobiles and reduce our need for oil. A key point is that we are sending $700 billion out of the US each year for oil. Over ten years it could be over $7 trillion. It is the largest transfer of wealth in history. It is unsustainable. It will be a serious drag on the dollar, which will make things even worse.

Look at this graph from my friends at GaveKal. It shows the US trade deficit, but the black shows the percentage of the deficit that is related to oil. Note how it has risen in the last few years, even as we have imported less in non-oil items. We have an oil deficit that is close to 3% of GDP, when ten years ago it was less than 0.5%. And the gap is rising as oil prices increase.

US Trade Deficit as a % of GDP

Pickens is a big proponent of wind power (and is putting his own money into wind, so he is "talking his book"). But there is a strong logic to what he says. Slowly converting our power grid to 15-20% wind (or even 5%) would be useful. You can see a quick presentation at YouTube:

The July 21 Fortune has a great article on the rush to build solar power plants in the deserts of California, Arizona, and Nevada. Applications have been filed to build plants that would generate a theoretical 60 gigawatts of electricity. To put that into perspective, California only uses 33 gigawatts. And the biggest and richest firms are lining up to get land to build solar. These are not small start-ups. And that energy projection is using current technology, not even assuming what we will have in 5-10 years.

Note that California has over 10% of the population of the US, so there are people who actually want to use their money to build solar plants to provide 20% of the US demand for electricity. That is not a trivial pursuit.

Ironically, there are radical environmentalists who are planning to sue to stop this solar production because some desert animal's habitat might possibly be disturbed. Seriously? These are the people who think humans should leave the planet so that animals can live in peace and harmony with nature. And they are dictating our energy policy. Yes, we are talking about covering a great deal of uninhabitable desert with solar and thermal panels. And the government is taking its sweet time processing the applications. But we need to change the laws so that we can start the process. Allowing a few radical environmentalists to abuse the laws to prevent one of the best chances for renewable energy is just crazy.

You can read the well-written article by Todd Woody at

Senator John McCain wants to build 45 nuclear plants. Yes, that will take some time, but that means we need to start now. Within 15 years, and probably 10, our cars will be electric. We need to start building the power systems to meet increased demand for electric transportation.

And let's not forget clean coal technologies. All of the above can be done and still reduce our carbon footprint. But the point is that whoever gets elected next November needs to have a plan and put someone in place to actually lead and stop the bickering. It should not be either/or. It should be all of the above, because some of the ideas will not work out as predicted.

Either we are going to see the economic life sucked out of this country, or we can respond by doing everything that is in our power. There is not a shortage of energy. There is a shortage of leadership to produce the energy we need. A real energy policy would also have the benefit of boosting the beleaguered dollar.

T. Boone Pickens may be able to make energy policy the #1 election issue. And with another major effort by Pete Petersen, who is going to spend $1 billion telling the US how bad our Social Security and Medicare problems are before the election, maybe we can get enough people upset enough to demand some action. Maybe. Hopefully.

And speaking of the price of oil. It is $123, down from almost $150. Supplies are building and demand is being destroyed by high prices. Which of course reminds us that the cure for high prices is high prices.

How low could oil go? Data maven, uber trader, and good friend Greg Weldon recently developed a number of charts showing how supplies of oil-related products are rising and spreads are tightening. If we are in a correction, how low could oil go?

I must confess, I do not understand the fundamental aspect of something called a Fibonacci retracement, but the pattern keeps repeating itself over and over, so you have to pay attention. These are numbers based on work done by Leonardo Fibonacci in the 1200s. Basically, when a market starts to correct, it tends to go to certain points for support. Traders use them so much that they become psychologically important, which may be why they are useful.

Look at the chart below. It shows that if oil goes to its Fibonacci retracement levels, it could drop to $110 or below $100. That would not, as Greg notes, violate the longer-term bull market trend, but it could be seen as a normal correction. Just food for thought.

Crude Oil Futures

10 resume mistakes that turn off employers

There is no such thing as a perfect resume. This is particularly true when changing industries, functionalities, or upgrading a job role. Career transitions require a higher-level targeted approach. The best resume, employers say, is the one that portrays the candidate as a solution-provider. Prove you can make their problems go away and you'll get hired.

Randolph L Stevens, president and CEO of career marketing and outplacement firm R.L. Stevens & Associates Inc., offers these 10 resume mistakes that may keep your from getting the job you seek.


Make your job search about them, not you. Pitch relevancy. Perform in-depth research and conduct a "SWOT" analysis of their needs. Identify their Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities for growth, and Threats to growth. Investigate two of their biggest competitors similarly. Present your achievements to quickly demonstrate your understanding of not only an employer's needs, but challenges within the industry. This is especially critical if you're transitioning to another industry in which you lack experience. Your resume must speak the industry's language or you won't be heard.


The easier you make it for a hiring manager to read your resume, the more likely you'll get on their payroll. Resume reviews are as exciting to a decision maker as yesterday's stale coffee. Your resume should - in 20 seconds or less - show how you'll make or save money, generate new business, resurrect and retain existing clients or customers, expand and build relationships, and just make their world a safer and more pleasant place. Don't ever assume an employer knows what you're communicating.


Successful marketing campaigns match products with customers. The same rule applies in ensuring job search success. Be strategic in thinking, undiluted in focus, and directionally on point. Your resume should communicate career progression and intelligent, meaningful contribution. Even if your job history is marked with job hopping, or appears transitional, your resume needs to highlight the transferable skills you used to succeed in completing a project. A Qualifications Summary or Profile positioned at the top of your resume is the best place to demonstrate that your career is not rudderless.


Your resume must answer a recruiter's primary question: "What can you do for me?" When you are moving to another industry, you need to neutralize all the naysayers who think you aren't qualified due to your lack of industry-specific experience. The words you use to detail career accomplishments and showcase transferable skills should be crafted to show relevancy. One of the simplest ways to connect the dots for them is by studying help-wanted ads in your targeted industry and looking for job functions, tasks, and requirements that are similar to what you are currently doing.


A well-written resume weaves a succinct story that communicates mastery of relevant skills, industry-specific knowledge, and the ability to handle all people and situations. Make sure your resume is coherent and logical. A disjointed work history that lacks progression in job role or responsibility, or one that exhibits a lack of emotional stability or adaptability, will unravel your chances of capturing an employer's interest. When designing your resume, keep the most important information at the top. Think like a busy hiring manager.


It's not about what you've done. It's about what you've achieved. What are the crucial details? Overuse of weak words such as "managed" or "responsible for" portray intellectual laziness. Accomplishments can also include relevant extracurricular activities, especially those where you demonstrate leadership, ingenuity, and organizational skills. Show a prospective employer why you fit the specific position. Your credibility will tank if you don't.


Readability equals digestibility. Simplify industry jargon and acronyms so that anyone can understand your resume. Isolate accomplishments from job duties and focus on transferable skills that are universal to any industry. If you can't tell it, you won't sell it. Tell it in bulleted form. Dense paragraphs and long, run-on sentences guarantee an employer's yawn, and ultimately, a deleted resume. Digestibility equals relevancy.


Avoid resume templates that make your resume look like a thousand others. Don't include a link to your personal website or MySpace, YouTube, or FaceBook page. Do include a link to your online portfolio. Build instant credibility with a web portfolio that loads fast, is visually professional, and contains well-written sections showcasing your accomplishments, mission statement, core values, career progression, and leadership aptitude.


There are serious short- and long-term career consequences to fabricating or exaggerating credentials. Your integrity and credibility are at risk. There's never a good reason to lie on your resume; not a full lie, a white lie, misrepresentation of information, or padding to enhance marketing spin.

Resume lies include overstatement of work history or accomplishments, academic achievement, or even deleting an experience because the organization no longer exists. Decision makers routinely conduct background checks and online research to verify a resume.


There are at least 10 resume types — including chronological, functional, and those designed for spot opportunities — and each has a specific purpose. The end-game for all resume writing should be to obtain quality interviews. Prove you're in step with reality by ditching the old-school, one-size-fits-all resume. Match the medium or venue with the target audience. Make your resume a marketing piece that sells your long-term value.

Wean Israel off U.S. welfare

Exclusive: Dave Hanson asserts American billions threaten Jewish state's liberty, future
Posted: July 26, 2008
1:00 am Eastern

Tekiah, shevarim-teruah, tekiah; tekiah, shevarim, tekiah; tekiah, teruah, tekiah gadola

The sound of the shofar horn proclaims a time of worship. Hot on its heels come cordial calls of "Shabbat Shalom" as the congregation prepares for another festive day of praise. Thus begins another service at my local messianic synagogue. Their level of devotion to biblical study and passion for Yeshua is enough to leave many American McChurches blushing. That's what keeps me coming back for more over the past few years. Authenticity is a diminishing national resource.

And so it pains me to see beloved Israel continue to be crippled by the United States' ever-growing foreign welfare program. Annually, the U.S. provides approximately $3 billion in subsidies to Israel. With these tax dollars, we have created a dependent welfare recipient whose sovereignty and safety are ever compromised. Fundamentally, my objection to this policy stems from my support for a foreign policy of strategic independence as mandated by the founders of our country. George Washington understood the proper care of a republic: "It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world." However, my stance is equally grounded in a desire to see Israel prosper. But first, I have some myth-busting to do.

Our government does not help Israel. Obadiah Shoher writes in, "The annual subsidies are bribes at worst, payments [for influence] at best." Shoher goes on to note that an estimated 77 percent of the funds D.C. gives Israel goes to American weapons dealers. Consequently, Israel is totally reliant on these overseas military contractors for parts and supplies.

On matters of defense, Israel's welfare status places it under virtual jurisdiction of the U.S. State Department. This political pressure can urge unwise concessions to Israel's enemies. In 1981, Israel used U.S.-made aircraft to disable Iraq's Osirak nuclear facility. Washington joined the U.N. in condemning Israel for defending herself against Iraq. Recently, during Israel's 2006 retaliation against Hezbollah, our government officials ineffectively tried to micromanage the Israeli campaign. Even now, U.S. meddling only proves to be a hindrance for Israel in her dealings with Iran. Because we insist on being the policeman in the affair, Iran leverages our destabilized economy and military exhaustion to bluster Israel without fear of reprisal. Unleashed from U.S. control, a nuclear-equipped Israel would certainly discourage Ahmadinejad's grandstanding.

We like to hedge our bets. In fact, Washington actually gives more arms to Israel's rivals. For example, we provide millions to the Palestinians – some of which heads to terror groups. Likewise, the Egyptians swim in a sea of green each year with 1.3 billion U.S. tax dollars going to their not exactly pro-Israel military. An additional $500 million goes to Egypt's internal affairs, which as journalist Allan Wall points out, includes anti-American/Israeli state media propaganda and Christian persecution. And last year, the U.S. offered squeaky-clean Saudi Arabia a $20 billion dollar advanced arms deal. As dire recession stalks, American citizens continue to endure theft to arm all sides of the Middle East, whose residents mostly wish us hell for it. Didn't Reagan warn us about that? (Tellingly, one of the few nations that doesn't receive U.S. weaponry has one of the most pro-American populations in the region: Iran. Never fear though; D.C. will surely try to fix that.)

It is not conservative to subsidize Israel. Since when has it ever been conservative to put any entity on welfare? Good intentions matter not; welfare deviously destroys the ability to self-survive. D.C.'s intervention has propped up bureaucratic corruption and delayed long due reform of a socialistic Israeli government. Liberty and prosperity are sacrificed.

And here. I'll just say it. Any Beltway twinkle toes that whispers "anti-Semitism" every time someone suggests helping Israel off welfare needs to stop groveling at the feet of FDR and get a real job. To the rest of America: Is it racist to wean poor minorities off the welfare plantation here at home? Didn't think so. Same goes for Israel.

Mister Christian, the time has come. U.S. policy on Israel is not biblical. What? Thought the Church of Humanism had some sort of WWJD department? Afraid not.

Many Christians believe Washington's "support" for Israel is grounded in verses such as Genesis 12:2-3: "I will make you into a great nation. ... I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse." In reality, our government's intervention fits more aptly into the curse category. Depleting Israel's sovereignty, propping up economy-sapping statism and arming Israel's regional rivals is certainly no blessing.

Washington has led the way in dividing the land of Israel. We helped compel Israel to give up the Gaza Strip. Moreover, our "Road Map to Peace" attempts to ration Jerusalem itself. I humbly advise Christians concerned with Genesis 12 to read Joel 3:1-2:

"I will gather all the nations And bring them down to the valley of Jehoshaphat. Then I will enter into judgment with them there On behalf of My people and My inheritance, Israel, Whom they have scattered among the nations; And they have divided up My land." [emphasis added]


It's also patently ironic that some of the biggest evangelical cheerleaders for U.S. involvement in the Israel-Iran squabble use the prophecy of Ezekiel 38-39 to justify their position. They believe that Iran and Russia's soft-alliance could fulfill the Persian-led invasion of Israel as predicted in the Ezekiel passages. Unfortunately, these well-meaning evangelicals have injected statism into their interpretation of the text. Ezekiel 39:3 quotes not Uncle Sam but God as he responds to the invaders: "And I will smite thy bow out of thy left hand, and will cause thine arrows to fall out of thy right hand."

There is a fatal flaw to the entire state-centered premise Christians have accepted. Most Christians rightly understand Christ's edicts to help the poor (e.g. Luke 14:13: "But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed.") to be directed at the individual initiative, not an all-powerful welfare state. In the same manner, Christians concerned with blessing Israel should assume self-responsibility to make it happen. Blessing Israel means rolling back Washington's debilitating intervention and offering personal prayer, donation and time for the country's needs.

I love Israel. Her people. Her land. Her heritage. Even her matzo ball soup. I hate what our federal government is doing to her. We all should.

I think the ancient shofar's message to us speaks for itself:

"Wake up from your moral sleep. You are asleep. Get up from your slumber. You are in a deep sleep. Search for your behavior. ... Remember God, the One Who created you."

Report: Surviving EMP to depend on preparation

'Many people may die for lack
of the basic elements necessary'
Posted: July 26, 2008
12:00 am Eastern


A report from the federal Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack has painted a bleak picture for America under such attack: Electricity grids down, uncontrolled fires from exploding gas transport systems, no communication to summon firefighters and if they could come, no water to battle fires. All in city after city after city.

The 200-page report says Americans should look to past incidents, then multiply those impacts by the number of cities that could be hit by such an attack. For example:

San Diego County Water Authority and San Diego County Gas and Electric companies experienced severe electromagnetic interference. … Both companies found themselves unable to actuate critical valve openings and closings. This inability necessitated sending technicians to remote locations to manually open and close water and gas valves, averting, in the words of a subsequent letter of complaint by the San Diego County Water Authority to the Federal Communications Commission, a potential 'catastrophic failure' of the aqueduct system.

The report explained the potential impact could have included an "aqueduct rupture" with disruption of service, severe flooding and related damage to private and public property. The source of the 1999 problem? Errant radar on a ship 25 miles off the coast of San Diego, the report said.

(The report, published on the commission website, cited other scenarios that should be expected to develop subsequent to an EMP attack on the U.S.

On Aug. 19, 2000, an explosion occurred on one of three adjacent large natural gas pipelines near Carlsbad, N.M., … Twelve people, including five children, died. The explosion left an 86-foot-long crater. … The explosion happened because of failures in maintenance and loss of situational awareness, conditions that would be replicated by data acquisition disruptions caused by an EMP event.

The report also cited a 1994 refinery disaster in the United Kingdom in which lightning strikes resulted in a half-second power loss.

"Consequently, numerous pumps and overhead fin-fan coolers tripped repeatedly, resulting in the main crude column pressure safety valves lifting and major upsets in the process units in other refinery units … There was an explosion in the FCC unit and a number of isolated fires. … As a result of this incident, an estimated 10 percent of the total refining capacity in the United Kingdom was lost until this complex was returned to service."

WND has reported several times on the threat of EMP attacks, including just two weeks ago when William R. Graham, chairman of the commission, told the House Armed Services Committee an EMP attack is "one of a small number of threats that can hold our society at risk of catastrophic consequences."

Not taking the steps necessary to reduce the threat in the next three to five years "can both invite and reward attack," Graham told the committee.

The scariest and most threatening kind of EMP attack is initiated by the detonation of a nuclear weapon at high altitude in the range of 25 to 250 miles above the Earth's surface. The immediate effects of EMP are disruption of, and damage to, electronic systems and electrical infrastructure. Such a detonation over the middle of the continental U.S. "has the capability to produce significant damage to critical infrastructures that support the fabric of U.S. society and the ability of the United States and Western nations to project influence and military power," said Graham.

"Several potential adversaries have the capability to attack the United States with a high-altitude nuclear weapon-generated electromagnetic pulse, and others appear to be pursuing efforts to obtain that capability," said Graham. "A determined adversary can achieve an EMP attack capability without having a high level of sophistication. For example, an adversary would not have to have long-range ballistic missiles to conduct an EMP attack against the United States. Such an attack could be launched from a freighter off the U.S. coast using a short- or medium-range missile to loft a nuclear warhead to high altitude. Terrorists sponsored by a rogue state could attempt to execute such an attack without revealing the identity of the perpetrators. Iran, the world's leading sponsor of international terrorism, has practiced launching a mobile ballistic missile from a vessel in the Caspian Sea. Iran has also tested high-altitude explosions of the Shahab-III, a test mode consistent with EMP attack, and described the tests as successful. Iranian military writings explicitly discuss a nuclear EMP attack that would gravely harm the United States. While the commission does not know the intention of Iran in conducting these activities, we are disturbed by the capability that emerges when we connect the dots."

The committee's report analyzes the impact of an attack on electrical supplies, telecommunications, banking and finance, petroleum and natural gas, transportation, food, water, emergency services, space systems and government.

The news was dire throughout. The electrical grid, for example, is needed to distribute water, food, fuel, communications, transport, financial transactions, emergency services and government services.

"Should significant parts of the electrical power infrastructure be lost for any substantial period of time, the commission believes that the consequences are likely to be catastrophic, and many people may ultimately die for lack of the basic elements necessary to sustain life in dense urban and suburban communities," the report said.

"In fact, the commission is deeply concerned that such impacts are likely in the event of an EMP attack unless practical steps are taken to provide protection for critical elements of the electric system and for rapid restoration of electric power, particular to essential services," the report said.

Current disaster preparedness and recovery plans "may be of little or no value" under an EMP attack because of the length of time it would take to obtain and install replacement parts or repair other damage.

The cascade of trouble would be significant. No electricity would mean out-of-control water, natural gas or fuel flows through distribution systems. Some explosions likely would happen, fires could ignite. But no emergency services could be contacted for help, and if they already were on scene, it's unlikely water would be ready. Even worse, when such fires burn themselves out, and repairs are begun, supplies could neither be ordered nor delivered because of communications and fuel disruptions, and the critical workers needed for repairs might not be able to get to the location.

At some point, repair and recovery simply become impossible, the report said.

"There is a point in time at which the shortage or exhaustion of critical items like emergency power supply, batteries, standby fuel supplies, replacement parts, and manpower resources which can be coordinated and dispatched, together with the degradation of all other infrastructures and their systemic impact, all lead toward a collapse of restoration capability.

"Society will transition into a situation where restoration needs increase with time as resources degrade and disappear," the report warned.

It is the first report from the commission since 2004 and identifies vulnerabilities in the nation's critical infrastructures, "which are essential to both our civilian and military capabilities."

Graham also had warned Congress such an attack could come without the backing of an international power, such as China or Russia.

Theoretically, an EMP attack is devastating because of the unprecedented cascading failures of major infrastructures that could result. Because of America's heavy reliance on electricity and electronics, the impact would be far worse than on a country less advanced technologically

Graham took the EMP debate out of the realm of science fiction by reminding the committee that as recently as May 1999, during the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, Russian leaders threatened a U.S. congressional delegation with the specter of an attack that would paralyze the U.S.

He also quoted James J. Shinn, assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific Security, who several weeks ago told the same House committee that China's arms buildup includes exotic experiments with electromagnetic weapons that can devastate electronics with bursts of energy similar to those produced by a nuclear blast.

"The consequence of EMP is that you destroy the communications network," Shinn said. "And we are, as you know, and as the Chinese know, heavily dependent on sophisticated communications, satellite communications, in the conduct of our forces. And so, whether it's from an EMP or it's some kind of a coordinated [anti-satellite] effort, we could be in a very bad place if the Chinese enhanced their capability in this area."

Graham says terrorists who get their hands on one or a few unsophisticated nuclear weapons might well calculate they could get the most bang for their buck from attempting an EMP attack.

Ultimate recovery from an EMP attack could end up taking years, during which time America very well may have to exist without many high-tech services, from cell phones inoperable due to damaged towers unrepaired because of parts shortages to a disruption in the food supply path because of fuel shortages.

"A serious national commitment to address the threat of an EMP attack can lead to a national posture that would significantly reduce the payoff for such an attack and allow the United States to recover from EMP, and from other threats, man-made and natural, to the critical infrastructures," Graham told the committee.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Are feds stockpiling survival food?

Are feds stockpiling survival food?
'These circumstances certainly raise red flags'
Posted: July 24, 2008
12:00 am Eastern


A Wall Street Journal columnist has advised people to "start stockpiling food" and an ABC News Report says "there are worrying signs appearing in the United States where some … locals are beginning to hoard supplies." Now there's concern that the U.S. government may be competing with consumers for stocks of storable food.

"We're told that the feds bought the entire container of canned butter when it hit the California docks. (Something's up!)," said officials at Best Prices Storable Foods in an advisory to customers.

Spokesman Bruce Hopkins told WND he also has had trouble obtaining No. 10 cans of various products from one of the world's larger suppliers of food stores, Oregon Freeze Dry.

He said a company official told him on the telephone when he discussed the status of his order that it was because the government had purchased massive quantities of products, leaving none for other customers.

That, however, was denied by Oregon Freeze Dry. In a website statement, the company confirmed it cannot assure supplying some items to customers.

"We regret to inform you Oregon Freeze Dry cannot satisfy all Mountain House #10 can orders and we have removed #10 cans from our website temporarily," the company tells frustrated customers. "The reason for this is sales of #10 cans have continued to increase. OFD is allocating as much production capacity as possible to this market segment, but we must maintain capacity for our other market segments as well."

The company statement continues, "We want to clarify inaccurate information we’ve seen on the Internet. This situation is not due to sales to the government domestically or in Iraq. We do sell products to this market, but we also sell other market segments … The reason for this decision is solely due to an unprecedented sales spike in #10 cans sales.

"We expect this situation to be necessary for several months although this isn’t a guarantee. We will update this information as soon as we know more. We apologize for this inconvenience and appreciate your patience. We sincerely hope you will continue to be Mountain House customers in the future," the company statement said.

But Hopkins wasn't backing away from his concerns.

"The government just came in and said they're buying it. They did pay for it," he told WND about the summertime shipment of long-term storage butter. "They took it and no one else could have it.

"We don't know why. The feds then went to freeze dried companies, and bought most of their canned stock," he said.

A spokeswoman for Oregon Freeze Dry, sales manager Melanie Cornutt, told WND that the increasing demand for food that can be stored has been on the rise since Hurricane Katrina devastated large sections of the Gulf Coast, cutting off ordinary supply routes.

"We are currently out of stock on our cans. We are not selling any of our cans," she confirmed.

She then raised the issue of government purchases herself.

"We do sell to the government [but] it is not the reason [for company sales limits]," she said.

Officials with the Federal Emergency Management Agency told WND whatever government agency is buying in a surge it isn't them. They reported a stockpile of about six million meals which has not changed significantly in an extended period.

But Hopkins said it was his opinion the government is purchasing huge quantities of food for stockpiles, and Americans will have to surmise why.

"We don't have shelters that [are being] stocked with food. We're not doing this for the public. My only conclusion is that they're stocking up for themselves," he said of government officials.

Blogger Holly Deyo issued an alert this week announcing, "Unprecedented demand cleans out major storable food supplier through 2009."

"It came to our attention today, that the world's largest producer of storable foods, Mountain House, is currently out of stock of ALL #10 cans of freeze dried foods, not just the Turkey Tetrazzini. They will NOT have product now through 2009," she said.

"This information was learned by a Mountain House dealer who shared it with me this morning. In personally talking with the company immediately after, Mountain House verified the information is true. Customer service stated, 'I'm surprised they don't have this posted on the website yet.' She said they have such a backlog of orders, Mountain House will not be taking any #10 can food requests through the remainder of this year and all of the next.

"Mountain House claims this situation is due to a backlog of orders, which may very well be true, but who is purchasing all of their food? This is a massive global corporation.

"One idea: the military. Tensions are ramping up with Iran and news segments debate whether or not we will implement a preemptive strike in conjunction with Israel," she wrote.

Hopkins raised some of the same concerns, suggesting a military conflict could cause oil supplies to plummet, triggering a huge increase in the cost of food – when it would be available – because of the transportation issues.

The ABC report from just a few weeks ago quoted Jim Rawles, a former U.S. intelligence officer who runs a survival blog, saying food shortages soon could become a matter of survival in the U.S.

"I think that families should be prepared for times of crisis, whether it's a man-made disaster or a natural disaster, and I think it's wise and prudent to stock up on food," he told ABC.

"If you get into a situation where fuel supplies are disrupted or even if the power grid were to go down for short periods of time, people can work around that," he said. "But you can't work around a lack of food – people starve, people panic and you end up with chaos in the streets."

At his California ranch, the location of which is kept secret, he said, "We have more than a three-year supply of food here."

In the Wall Street Journal, columnist Brett Arends warned, "Maybe it's time for Americans to start stockpiling food.

"No, this is not a drill," he wrote.

His concern was about various food shortages around the globe, and the fact that in a global market, prices in the U.S. reflect difficulties in other parts of the world quickly.

Professor Lawrence F. Roberge, a biologist who has worked with a number of universities and has taught online courses, told WND he's been following the growing concern over food supplies.

He also confirmed to WND reports of the government purchasing vast quantities of long-term storable foods.

He said that naturally would be kept secret to avoid panicking the public, such as when word leaks out to customers that a bank may be insolvent, and depositors frantically try to retrieve their cash.

"[These] circumstances certainly raise red flags," he said.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Cottontail numbers double, predators savouring boom - GTA - Cottontail numbers double, predators savouring boom
July 16, 2008
Nick Kyonka
Staff Reporter

An explosion of Toronto's cottontail rabbits may be just what the doctor ordered for some ailing predators that are still struggling to recover from a deadly outbreak four years ago, conservation authorities say.

The reasons for that explosion: the ideal spring and winter weather and the timing of bunnies' natural population cycle.

"I'm sure we're into the tens of thousands," says the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority's Ralph Toninger, of the cottontail's numbers.

"They're probably at double the population they were at last year."

Like many other wild animals, the rabbits have a natural population cycle that sees their numbers rise and fall at fairly regular intervals based on the number of predators and the availability of food.

For the cottontails, the population peaks roughly every seven or eight years, Toninger says, noting the last time they reached such high numbers was around the turn of the millennium.

This year's weather has also been ideal for the quick-footed critters, which thrive in snowy winters because they can easily evade heavy-footed predators on light-lying snow.

"Rabbits will stay on top of the snow to find food and can burrow down inside of it for warmth and protection after," Toninger explains.

They have also, no doubt, enjoyed the lush vegetation that has accompanied this year's wetter-than-average spring.

And thanks to their ability to "breed like rabbits", Toninger notes, "if it's a late fall, their numbers could easily keep increasing as the summer goes on."

Female cottontails can bring a pregnancy to term in just six weeks, allowing them to breed four or five times per breeding season, with as many as six bunnies per litter, he says.

Eventually, however, the population will outgrow available food sources – mostly leafy plants and the bark from small fruit trees – and their numbers will start to dwindle again.

In the meantime most people need not worry about the newly abundant rabbits, Toninger says, since they are not dangerous and don't carry any significant diseases.

And though the rabbits will probably be a source of frustration for avid gardeners, they are also a vital source of food for stealthy predators such as foxes and coyotes, whose numbers were cut by an outbreak of mange about four years ago.

While agile hunters, coyotes and foxes struck by the disease lost significant amounts of fur, making them unable to survive the winter.

But with all the extra rabbits hopping around, the recovering predators are having an easier time pouncing on a meal, Toninger says.

"They're just now regaining their numbers," he notes. "Which is important for the balance of the local ecosystem . . . It's all part of the natural cycle."

Incredible edibles - living - Incredible edibles

Locavores often overlook the uncultivated plants and undomesticated creatures that share our cities
July 23, 2008
Kim Honey
Food Editor

HANOVER, ONT.–It was time to kill the fluffy bunny. Mine had blond fur and little black eyes. It was cute, but I wanted to eat it.

The cooking demonstration began with instructions on how to dispatch the rabbit with one humane blow to the skull. I gathered its back legs into my fist, turned it upside down and held it out to the side. It started to wiggle and Gino Ferri, an expert in wild food, had to help me regain my grip.

"The point is if you're a cook and a chef, you have to do it the whole way through," says Ferri, director of Survival in the Bush, a wilderness survival school in Hanover, 60 kilometres south of Owen Sound.

I had mentally prepared by thinking about the fish I had caught as a kid and how I bashed their heads on the side of the boat, slit open their glistening bellies and gutted them. Fish may not have faces, but they do bleed.

The bunny part didn't faze me because I had eaten rabbit in a tiny Greek village where it arrived on a platter along with the charred head. It was the first time I had seen the eye sockets of the animal I was about to eat.

I calmed the rabbit by putting it on my chest. Ferri, who has a PhD in psychology, has seen soldiers who served in Bosnia almost break into tears at this point – even battle-hardened men are unnerved by the death of a defenceless animal.

As my right arm began its downward arc, thick stick in my left hand, I hesitated. In an instant and without thought, my killer hit turned into a tap on the temple. The rabbit wasn't even stunned.

I lost my nerve and handed it over to Ferri, who killed it with three sharp hits.

"I'm still tied up in knots every time I dispatch an animal," said Ferri, who makes sure every bit of the animal is used.

But eat we must, and if we eat meat, there will be blood.

For most of his 63 years, Ferri has been hunting and gathering wild food. After he immigrated to Toronto from Italy, "Anglo-Saxon" kids made fun of his family for gathering dandelion and chicory for salad. The Don River Valley was his playground, where he hunted pheasant with bow and arrow, snared rabbits and fished.

Now it's illegal to trap, snare or shoot a wild animal in Toronto and the city is overrun with cottontail rabbits. You can't walk out the back door without staring down a couple of haughty raccoons, and Lake Shore Blvd. is like Canada's Wonderland for geese.

When I took the food editor's job earlier this year, "local" food had become a cliché and the 100-mile diet was a hackneyed phrase.

As I idly observed the scourge of the city waddling along the waterfront one day, it suddenly occurred to me that we could probably eat them.

I realized the so-called locavores had skipped over the most fundamental victuals: the uncultivated plants and undomesticated creatures that share our urban spaces. What could be more local than nature's bounty?

Eating wild in the city presents a modern conundrum. Canada geese are not poisonous, but no one would suggest a bird that has been snacking on Wonder Bread in water not fit for humans would be good eating. Ditto plants that grow in contaminated soil. As Michael Pollan, the latest philosopher-king of food, says: "You are what you eat eats."

I began at High Park Nature Centre, where I learn garlic mustard (Brassica spp.) is a highly invasive plant that crowds out native species such as the trillium. I make a pesto with it, which is pungent and a bit on the bitter side, but definitely novel and delicious on pasta.

A few days later, Ferri arrives in Toronto bearing garden snails, wild leeks and wild oregano. After a wash in the Toronto Star test kitchen, the mollusks slowly high-tailed it toward the walls of the sink. My stomach did a flip, but I boiled them for an hour and sautéed them in garlic and butter. It was hard to choke them down. The image of them strolling around my sink turned me off, to be honest.

We made a trip to Sunnybrook Park at Eglinton Ave. and Leslie St. Within 30 minutes, just a few hundred metres from the parking lot, Ferri identified 31 edible wild plants, including wild spinach, chicory and shepherd's purse, most of which we would consider weeds.

He pulled up a plant to show me a tiny root the diameter of a pencil. A millisecond after he sliced it open, the unmistakable smell of carrot hit my olfactory lobes. I had no idea Queen Anne's lace is also known as wild carrot. My mouth watered, but he could tell the place had been sprayed in the past 5 to 10 years so he warned me off.

Ferri sounded sad. "You see the irony: Here we have all this food and we can't eat it."

That's when I decided on a trip to the country. Since it wasn't rabbit-hunting season, we had to settle for a farm-raised stand-in.

The bunny's body was warm when I cut off the head and feet, peeled off the skin like a glove, and gutted it. Then I butchered that rabbit like a straight-A anatomy student.

The firepit Ferri had built for the cooking demonstration was ready. We cut the rabbit in quarters, added some to a stew pot and put the rest into a foil packet with potatoes, wild leeks, carrots and potatoes.

There was a rainbow trout to fillet and wild turkey to prepare. After burying it all underground for an hour, we dug it up for the feast, which we ate on the grounds of the Saugeen Valley Conservation Authority, just 10 metres from the killing field.

The firepit rabbit was moist and succulent. The wild leeks were roasted perfection and enhanced the meat's mild flavour. No visions of live rabbits hopped through my head.

Ferri said hunter-gatherer diets were 70 per cent plants. It is obvious the modern omnivore probably eats more meat than his forbears. I know we don't need to kill rabbits to eat, but why not eat rabbits?

As nutrition becomes a science, we continue to measure and analyze our diets. What we are missing is intangible. Food may fuel our bodies, but once energized, our ponderous brains will ruminate.

Eating is about what makes us feel good. Feeling good can be all about taste, but taste is heightened or depressed by what we think about food and why we feel the way we do.

I have learned it's a wild world out there.

Somewhere, not too far away, there's a pristine wild carrot with my name on it that would be sublime in a wild rabbit stew.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Death of Free Internet is Imminent Canada Will Become Test Case

Death of Free Internet is Imminent
Canada Will Become Test Case

by Kevin Parkinson

Global Research, July 20, 2008

In the last 15 years or so, as a society we have had access to more information than ever before in modern history because of the Internet. There are approximately 1 billion Internet users in the world B and any one of these users can theoretically communicate in real time with any other on the planet. The Internet has been the greatest technological achievement of the 20th century by far, and has been recognized as such by the global community.

The free transfer of information, uncensored, unlimited and untainted, still seems to be a dream when you think about it. Whatever field that is mentioned- education, commerce, government, news, entertainment, politics and countless other areas- have been radically affected by the introduction of the Internet. And mostly, it's good news, except when poor judgements are made and people are taken advantage of. Scrutiny and oversight are needed, especially where children are involved.

However, when there are potential profits open to a corporation, the needs of society don't count. Take the recent case in Canada with the behemoths, Telus and Rogers rolling out a charge for text messaging without any warning to the public. It was an arrogant and risky move for the telecommunications giants because it backfired. People actually used Internet technology to deliver a loud and clear message to these companies and that was to scrap the extra charge. The people used the power of the Internet against the big boys and the little guys won.

However, the issue of text messaging is just a tiny blip on the radar screens of Telus and another company, Bell Canada, the two largest Internet Service Providers (ISP'S) in Canada. Our country is being used as a test case to drastically change the delivery of Internet service forever. The change will be so radical that it has the potential to send us back to the horse and buggy days of information sharing and access.

In the upcoming weeks watch for a report in Time Magazine that will attempt to smooth over the rough edges of a diabolical plot by Bell Canada and Telus, to begin charging per site fees on most Internet sites. The plan is to convert the Internet into a cable-like system, where customers sign up for specific web sites, and then pay to visit sites beyond a cutoff point.

From my browsing (on the currently free Internet) I have discovered that the 'demise' of the free Internet is slated for 2010 in Canada, and two years later around the world. Canada is seen a good choice to implement such shameful and sinister changes, since Canadians are viewed as being laissez fair, politically uninformed and an easy target. The corporate marauders will iron out the wrinkles in Canada and then spring the new, castrated version of the Internet on the rest of the world, probably with little fanfare, except for some dire warnings about the 'evil' of the Internet (free) and the CEO's spouting about 'safety and security'. These buzzwords usually work pretty well.

What will the Internet look like in Canada in 2010? I suspect that the ISP's will provide a "package" program as companies like Cogeco currently do. Customers will pay for a series of websites as they do now for their television stations. Television stations will be available on-line as part of these packages, which will make the networks happy since they have lost much of the younger market which are surfing and chatting on their computers in the evening. However, as is the case with cable television now, if you choose something that is not part of the package, you know what happens. You pay extra.

And this is where the Internet (free) as we know it will suffer almost immediate, economic strangulation. Thousands and thousands of Internet sites will not be part of the package so users will have to pay extra to visit those sites! In just an hour or two it is possible to easily visit 20-30 sites or more while looking for information. Just imagine how high these costs will be.

At present, the world condemns China because that country restricts certain websites. "They are undemocratic; they are removing people's freedom; they don't respect individual rights; they are censoring information,” are some of the comments we hear. But what Bell Canada and Telus have planned for Canadians is much worse than that. They are planning the death of the Internet (free) as we know it, and I expect they'll be hardly a whimper from Canadians. It's all part of the corporate plan for a New World Order and virtually a masterstroke that will lead to the creation of billions and billions of dollars of corporate profit at the expense of the working and middle classes.

There are so many other implications as a result of these changes, far too many to elaborate on here. Be aware that we will all lose our privacy because all websites will be tracked as part of the billing procedure, and we will be literally cut off from 90% of the information that we can access today. The little guys on the Net will fall likes flies; Bloggers and small website operators will die a quick death because people will not pay to go to their sites and read their pages.

Ironically, the only medium that can save us is the one we are trying to save- the Internet (free). This article will be posted on my Blog, and I encourage people and groups to learn more about this issue. Canadians can keep the Internet free just as they kept text messaging free. Don't wait for the federal politicians. They will do nothing to help us.

I would welcome a letter to the editor of the Standard Freeholder from a spokesperson from Bell Canada or Telus telling me that I am absolutely wrong in what I have written, and that no such changes to the Internet are being planned, and that access to Internet sites will remain FREE in the years to come. In the meantime, I encourage all of you to write to the media, ask questions, phone the radio station, phone a friend, or think of something else to prevent what appears to me to be inevitable.

Maintaining Internet (free) access is the only way we have a chance at combatting the global corporate takeover, the North American Union, and a long list of other deadly deeds that the elite in society have planned for us. Yesterday was too late in trying to protect our rights and freedoms. We must now redouble our efforts in order to give our children and grandchildren a fighting chance in the future.

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Now there are 1,000 laws that will let the state into your home

Now there are 1,000 laws that will let the state into your home

By Simon Walters
Last updated at 8:56 AM on 20th July 2008

Police raid

Extreme measures: There are more than 1,000 laws which give officials the right to enter private property

The march of the Big Brother state under Labour was highlighted last night as it was revealed that there are now 1,043 laws that give the authorities the power to enter a home or business.

Nearly half have been introduced since Labour came to power 11 years ago. They include the right to:

• Invade your home to see if your pot plants have pests or do not have a 'plant passport' (Plant Health England Order 2005).

• Survey your home and garden to see if your hedge is too high (Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003).

• Check that accommodation given to asylum seekers is not being lived in by non-asylum seekers (Immigration and Asylum Act 1999).

• Raid a house to check if unlicensed gambling is taking place (Gambling Act 2005 Inspection Regulations 2007).

• Seize fridges without the correct energy rating (Energy Information Household Refrigerators and Freezers Regulations 2004).

The rise in clipboard-wielding state inspectors flies in the face of repeated pledges by Ministers to curb the power of bureaucrats.

The full extent of the state's 'powers of entry' is revealed in documents slipped out quietly by the Government last week.

The information was posted on the Home Office website, but in a highly unusual move, the computer file was locked to prevent it being copied or printed. A secret Home Office password was required to access the file.

A Home Office spokeswoman denied the restrictions were an attempt to stop the state's powers being circulated more widely.

She claimed it was a 'mistake' and the file would be unlocked tomorrow.

Some 420 new powers of entry are the product of laws introduced since 1997. A further 16 are in laws due to be approved by Parliament in the next few weeks.

A recent study by the Centre for Policy Studies think-tank warned that the 'proliferation and variety' of such laws mean householders can no longer 'realistically be aware' of their rights and legal obligations.

Gordon Brown last year announced a review of 'powers of entry' laws and said they would be subjected to a 'liberty test' to stop abuses by the state.

However, new powers set to be approved by Parliament include inspecting for non-human genetic material, for looted cultural property from Iraq and for 'undeclared' carbon dioxide, as well as enforcing bin tax.

Town hall 'bin police' already have the right to enter homes, take photographs, seize contents of bins, and 'investigate as required'.

Householders can be fined up to £5,000 if they refuse entry or 'obstruct' an official.

Shadow Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said: 'Day by day under Labour, the rights and liberties of law-abiding citizens are being eroded.'

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Sunday, July 20, 2008

Rendering public opinion irrelevant

Rendering public opinion irrelevant
One of the most striking aspects of our political discourse, particularly during election time, is how efficiently certain views that deviate from the elite consensus are banished from sight -- simply prohibited -- even when those views are held by the vast majority of citizens. The University of Maryland's Program on International Policy Attitudes -- the premiere organization for surveying international public opinion -- released a new survey a couple of weeks ago regarding public opinion on the Israel-Palestinian conflict, including opinion among American citizens, and this is what it found:

A new poll of 18 countries finds that in 14 of them people mostly say their government should not take sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Just three countries favor taking the Palestinian side (Egypt, Iran, and Turkey) and one is divided (India). No country favors taking Israel's side, including the United States, where 71 percent favor taking neither side.
The worldwide consensus is crystal clear -- citizens want their Governments to be neutral and even-handed in the Israel-Palestinian conflict, not tilted towards either side. And that consensus is shared not just by a majority of American citizens, but by the overwhelming majority. Few political views, particularly on controversial issues, attract more than 70% support among American citizens. But the proposition that the U.S. Government should be even-handed -- rather than tilting towards Israel -- attracts that much support. That's not an "anti-Israeli" view -- to the contrary, it's a position that America can and should resolve that violent, four-decades-long dispute by being even-handed rather than one-sided.

Similarly, when asked "How well do you think Israel is doing its part in the effort to resolve the Israel-Palestinian conflict," citizens around the world, by a large margin, believe that Israel is doing either "not very well" or "not well at all" (54% -- compared to 23% that say it's doing "very well" or "somewhat well"). And there, too, that worldwide view corresponds to American public opinion as well. 59% of Americans say Israel is doing either "not very well" or "not well at all" -- compared to only 30% that say it's doing "very well" or "somewhat well." And Palestinians don't fare much better worldwide (38-49%) and fare worse in the U.S. (15-75%).

Yet not only is the view of "even-handedness" completely unrepresented among mainstream political figures in the U.S., it's deemed political death to go anywhere near expressing that view. Back in 2003, then-presidential-candidate Howard Dean expressed the exact position favored by an overwhelming majority of Americans, yet triggered an intense and even ugly controversy by doing so:

Dean's Israel troubles began at a Sept. 3 campaign event in Santa Fe, N.M. When it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he said that day, "It's not our place to take sides." Then, on Sept. 9, he told the Washington Post that America should be "evenhanded" in its approach to the region.
That's all Dean said. It's a view held by more than 70% of Americans. It ought to be completely uncontroversial -- if anything, it ought to be that view that is deemed a political piety. But what happened? This, according to an excellent account of that "controversy" in Salon by Michelle Goldberg:
The media and the Democratic establishment reacted as if Dean had called Yasser Arafat a man of peace. On Sept. 10, 34 Democratic members of Congress, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, wrote Dean an open letter. "American foreign policy has been -- and must continue to be -- based on unequivocal support for Israel's right to exist and to be free from terror . . ." they wrote. "It is unacceptable for the U.S. to be 'evenhanded' on these fundamental issues . . . This is not a time to be sending mixed messages; on the contrary, in these difficult times we must reaffirm our unyielding commitment to Israel's survival and raise our voices against all forms of terrorism and incitement."

The Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz reported that Dean had badly damaged his own campaign. "Sources in the Jewish community say that Dean has wrecked his chances of getting significant contributions from Jews . . ." the paper wrote. "Many believe Dean's statement will drive more Jews toward Lieberman and Kerry, enabling Kerry to take the lead again."

Dean was roundly attacked by the political elite for uttering "anti-Israel" comments, notwithstanding the fact that Dean is married to a Jewish woman, raised his children as Jews, and, most amazingly of all, had a campaign that was managed by Steve Grossman, a former President of AIPAC. But no matter: Dean had uttered a Forbidden Thought -- forbidden even though it is embraced by the vast majority of Americans -- and thus Grossman and Dean had to subject themselves to abject Apology Rituals:
According to the Dean campaign, the uproar involved semantics, not substance. "Here's what I think happened," says Grossman, Dean's campaign co-chair. "Howard made some comments in someone's backyard in New Mexico that were shorthand, if you will, for some of his Middle East views. In the course of those remarks and some others in the subsequent days, he used some language that gave people consternation, and it was immediately jumped on by Joe Lieberman and John Kerry that somehow Howard Dean was breaking faith with this 55-year tradition of the United States' special relationship with Israel, which is patently absurd". . . .

If Dean's Israel position really puts him far out on the left, it proves that not showing unequivocal support for the Jewish state remains a political poison pill -- for members of either political party. . . .

After all, according to Grossman, the candidate remains in sync with the goals of Bush's Israel policy. . . . No serious candidate took a position to the left of Bush. Indeed, it's precisely because there's no real leftist alternative that Dean's been cast in that role. . . . . But a campaign is always more about images and impressions than carefully formulated positions, and that's where Dean has blundered.

It was conventional wisdom that that Dean had committed some grave mistake even though, as The Nation's John Nichols highlighted at the time, Dean was expressing the overwhelming majority view even back in 2003:
More troubling is the condemnation by Pelosi and other party leaders of even a hint of "evenhandedness." That smacks of the old game of positioning Democrats to the right of the Republicans on Middle East policy -- in a perceived contest for Jewish-American votes and contributions. The problem with this approach, as Middle East scholar Stephen Zunes points out, is that "this suggests you cannot be firmly committed to Israel and question [Israel's hawkish Prime Minister] Ariel Sharon's policies. If that's where Democrats put themselves, they don't leave room to debate Bush on the issue." They'll also have a tougher time appealing to American voters -- 73 percent of whom, according to a recent University of Maryland poll, prefer that the United States not take sides.
It's pretty extraordinary that in a democracy, the political elite is able to render completely off-limits a view that the vast majority of Americans support. They actually render majority-held views unspeakable and then remove the issue entirely from what is debated. No matter what one's views are, there is no denying that our policy towards Israel is immensely consequential for our country. Yet, by virtue of the fact that presidential candidates are required to affirm essentially the same orthodoxies, there's very little difference in their positions towards Israel and therefore our current policy approach towards Israel will simply not be part of anything that is debated, even though most Americans overwhelmingly oppose that course.

Indeed, as soon as he secured the Democratic nomination, Barack Obama made a pilgrimage to AIPAC in order to avoid the "Howard Dean mistake" and to vow that there would be no such debate over Israel in this election:

I have been proud to be a part of a strong, bi-partisan consensus that has stood by Israel in the face of all threats. That is a commitment that both John McCain and I share, because support for Israel in this country goes beyond party. . . .

And then there are those who would lay all of the problems of the Middle East at the doorstep of Israel and its supporters, as if the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the root of all trouble in the region. These voices blame the Middle East's only democracy for the region's extremism. They offer the false promise that abandoning a stalwart ally is somehow the path to strength. It is not, it never has been, and it never will be.

Our alliance is based on shared interests and shared values. Those who threaten Israel threaten us. Israel has always faced these threats on the front lines. And I will bring to the White House an unshakeable commitment to Israel's security.

That starts with ensuring Israel's qualitative military advantage. I will ensure that Israel can defend itself from any threat -- from Gaza to Tehran. Defense cooperation between the United States and Israel is a model of success, and must be deepened. As President, I will implement a Memorandum of Understanding that provides $30 billion in assistance to Israel over the next decade -- investments to Israel's security that will not be tied to any other nation.

In fairness, Obama did attack what he called the "failed status quo"; disputed that "America's recent foreign policy has made Israel more secure"; and pointed to "eight years of accumulated evidence that our foreign policy is dangerously flawed." Moreover, Obama -- to his great credit -- spent the primary season making some important and unorthodox points about Palestinian suffering and pointing out that the President should not be blindly supportive of everything Israel's right-wing does, that being "pro-Israel" doesn't mean a refusal to oppose Israeli actions.

But by uttering such Forbidden (though quite mainstream) thoughts, Obama was mercilessly attacked as anti-Israel and even anti-Semitic, and with the nomination secured, the crux of his June AIPAC speech was an affirmation of our political establishment's mandated Israel orthodoxy: the continuation of America's one-sided alliance with Israel, as highlighted by commitments such as this:

Finally, let there be no doubt: I will always keep the threat of military action on the table to defend our security and our ally Israel. Sometimes there are no alternatives to confrontation. . . . That is the change we need in our foreign policy. Change that restores American power and influence. Change accompanied by a pledge that I will make known to allies and adversaries alike: that America maintains an unwavering friendship with Israel, and an unshakeable commitment to its security. . . .

As members of AIPAC, you have helped advance this bipartisan consensus to support and defend our ally Israel. And I am sure that today on Capitol Hill you will be meeting with members of Congress and spreading the word. But we are here because of more than policy. We are here because the values we hold dear are deeply embedded in the story of Israel.

Again, the point has nothing to do with one's views of the best policy towards Israel. The point is that a position which the vast majority of Americans embrace is one that, simultaneously, is forbidden to be expressed, and the election consequently will involve no debate over that issue.

That profoundly anti-democratic dynamic is by no means confined to Israel. That's just an example. A different University of Maryland poll was released in April of this year, which surveyed public opinion in Iran and the U.S. regarding the disputes between those two countries. The populations of both countries have strikingly similar views with regard to those matters, with large majorities favoring the same deal to resolve the dispute (Iran has the right to develop nuclear energy accompanied by IAEA inspections to prevent weaponization), and large majorities also favor the NPT's goal of "eliminating all nuclear weapons." More strikingly, the citizens of both countries overwhelmingly favor the same policies of rapproachment and cooperation, rather than the bluster, threats, and ongoing provocative acts engaged in by both of their governments:

Remarkably, this desire for cooperation rather than confrontation is the view of most Americans despite the Iraq-level misinformation and propaganda which our political elite has disseminated about Iran:

And while Iranian President Ahmadinejad is depicted by our political class as the Equivalent of Adolf Hitler, savagely oppressing Iranians as some sort of insane, vicious tyrant, that isn't how they see it:

Iranian public opinion distinguishes between the U.S. Government and the American people -- holding favorable views towards the latter and unfavorable views towards the former ("some portrayed the American people, like the Muslim people, as victims of the American government") -- and to the extent there is "anti-Americanism" in Iran, it is based on this widespread assessment:

That, too, is a belief widely held in many places in the world, yet is one that no mainstream politician in the U.S. could express.

There are all sorts of reasons why our presidential elections center on personality-based sideshows (even Washington Post ombudsman Deborah Howell said as much about her own paper's coverage today). Those gossipy matters are easier for our slothful, vapid media stars to digest and spout. They require very few resources to cover. The campaign consultants who run national political campaigns are experts in P.R. strategies for packaging personalities and indifferent to policy debates, etc. etc.

But one principal reason is that so many of the Government's most consequential actions are concealed behind a wall of secrecy and thus not subject to public debate. Meanwhile, those policies which are publicly disclosed are kept off-limits from any real debate and, even when they are debated, public opinion is almost completely marginalized in favor of the minority elite consensus (see, for instance, the endless Iraq war even in the face of long-standing, overwhelming support for its end).

That remarkable dynamic of debate-suppression is most conspicuous -- and most urgent -- when the policies favored by the political establishment are ones that are vigorously rejected by the citizenry. Thus we have the extraordinary fact that a policy that has long been favored by the vast majority of Americans -- even-handedness in the Israel-Palestinian conflict -- is one that no mainstream American politician of any national significance can espouse without triggering an immediate end to their political career. That discrepancy is a rather potent commentary on how our democracy functions.