* A ‘HISTORY LESSON’ – THE ORGINS OF AL-QAEDA
* PENTAGON ALREADY PLANNING FOR STRIKES AGAINST IRAN AND SYRIA ACCORDING TO SENIOR OFFICIAL
By Madison Ruppert, Activist Post
According to senior Pentagon officials, American military forces are already planning for possible strikes against Iran and Syria utilizing both conventional weaponry and cyber warfare as the situation in both nations only seems to be getting worse by the day.
Lieutenant General Herbert Carlisle, deputy chief of staff for operations, plans and requirements with the U.S. Air Force informed a March 8 investors conference sponsored by McAleese and Associates and Credit Suisse that the Department of Defense is exploring their options for military actions.
Carlisle’s statement came on the heels of an interview with the U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta for the National Journal during which he confirmed that the Pentagon is indeed planning for strikes on Iran. [...]
* OBAMA SIGNS ANTI-PROTEST BILL
Only days after clearing Congress, US President Barack Obama signed his name to H.R. 347 on Thursday, officially making it a federal offense to cause a disturbance at certain political events — essentially criminalizing protest in the States.
RT broke the news last month that H.R. 347, the Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011, had overwhelmingly passed the US House of Representatives after only three lawmakers voted against it. On Thursday this week, President Obama inked his name to the legislation and authorized the government to start enforcing a law that has many Americans concerned over how the bill could bury the rights to assemble and protest as guaranteed in the US Constitution.
Under H.R. 347, which has more commonly been labeled the Trespass Bill by Congress, knowingly entering a restricted area that is under the jurisdiction of Secret Service protection can garner an arrest. The law is actually only a slight change to earlier legislation that made it an offense to knowingly and willfully commit such a crime. Under the Trespass Bill’s latest language chance, however, someone could end up in law enforcement custody for entering an area that they don’t realize is Secret Service protected and “engages in disorderly or disruptive conduct” or “impede[s] or disrupt[s] the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions.” […]
* IS THE ENDGAME FOR GREECE THE SAME FOR THE U.S.?
Source: Thom Hartmann
European austerity continues to takes its toll. On Tuesday – Greece issued a warning to all the banksters who’ve invested in about $260 billion worth of Greek debt – telling them they’d better take a new deal accepting about half the value of their investments – or risk getting nothing at all. Greece is hoping that about 90% of its investors will take the haircut – giving Greece a chance to restructure its debt in a way that’s more manageable. And investors have until Thursday to decide if they’ll take the deal – but if they choose not to – then once again a Greek default becomes a very real possibility. Of course asking investors to take a haircut is nothing compared to what the Greek people have had to sacrifice under years of austerity – with massive layoffs – cuts to social services – and wage decreases. All of which have led to unrest in the streets – hostility with neighboring nations like Germany – and even the ousting of democratically-elected leaders. Greece right now is the epicenter of the crisis of corporate capitalism that is engulfing the world today. And the question isn’t how will things work out in Greece – but instead how long until what we’re seeing in Greece comes to the United States? Richard Wolff joins Thom now – he is an Economist and Visiting Professor with the Graduate Program in International Affairs at New School University in New York City and Author of the book “Capitalism Hits the Fan.”
* GREECE: IT’S THE GEOPOLITICS, STUPID!
By Jacek Saryusz-Wolski, EU Observer
[…[ Given its geographical location, Greece is a crucial transit country for EU energy supplies coming from the Black and the Caspian Sea basins. It is a key element of the EU's energy security strategy - the Southern Corridor, which is to bring about oil and gas supply diversification, a reduction of EU's dependence on Russia and a decrease in energy prices.
Greece is at the same time a country favored by Russia, as we have seen many times in the past, most notably recently when Russia cut supply to energy-starved EU, it increased the supply to Greece above the contracted volumes. It cannot be excluded that in the case of helplessness or ineffectiveness of the EU, Russia could offer help which would go much further. The same goes for China which is already the owner of the Piraeus port.
Greece is not only a member of the EU, but also of Nato. Its army and navy consume 4.3% of its GDP and are a crucial component of the military and maritime balance in the Eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea.
The country is also the warden of the longest EU border of the Schengen area, and one which struggles with strong migration pressure from the South. Destabilization in Greece would mean it not only leaving the Eurozone, but also withdrawing from the Schengen.
A weakening of democracy in Athens, with the possible military involvement to maintain order in the worse of foreseeable scenarios, would be catastrophic for the European Union and its image in the neighborhood - both the south and the east - as well as in the world. […]
* GERMANY AND FRANCE HYPOCRITES FOR SELLING ARMS TO GREECE DURING CRISIS
Source: Hellas Frappe
[…] In a recent mini-documentary that was broadcasted on Germany’s WDR channel we discovered that the military defense industries of Germany and France have been thriving even during Greece’s debt crisis. According to the data presented, Greece is one of the leading NATO members -the United States is the first- on military spending “and who is benefiting from all this military spending? Why Germany of course” said the report.In fact the reporter said that not only have German arms industries sold their goods to Greek authorities, but its army has also made killer sales to Greece as well.
She is right, according to an article in euobserver, France was by far the biggest seller, with a 794 million Euros aircraft deal, according to recently-released European Council data on arms licences granted by member states. It also sold 58 million of missiles Euros and 19 million of electronics Euros used for aircraft countermeasures and target acquisition. At the same time, notes the same article, pro-austerity advocates the Netherlands and Germany together sold almost 90 million Euros of mostly electronics and ground vehicles. Italy sold 52 million Euros of rifles and aircraft parts, while Spain sold 33 million Euros of military-grade chemicals. (Source – Euobserver)
There is certainly a storm of hypocrisy here. And the obvious question is how can an allegedly “bankrupt” nation like Greece afford expensive defense systems and use them against a fellow NATO member?
Also, who gives France and Germany the right to enforce contracts on our country when thousands have been left homeless, when health and welfare services have been slashed, when pensions have been decreased to almost nothing and when the average salary has dropped to almost peanuts?
Who do these people think they are?
Don’t they realize that our schools do not have textbooks, one out of every five persons (official numbers) in Greece is currently without a job, thousands are looking through the rubbish for something to eat, the cost of petrol, electricity, water and food have skyrocketed and Merkel and Sarkozy are playing diplomats to their countries’ defense industries…. […]
* THE EUROZONE YOUTH OF TODAY
By Lisa Pollak, Financial Times
Increasing unemployment disproportionately affects the young. While policymakers have been pre-occupied with sovereign and financial crises, the generation with no actual experience of holding down a job just had to wait. For how long will this spectre haunt economies?
Using statistics from the European Union Labour Force Survey for January 2012 (but November 2011 for Greece), the UBS Global Macro Team gives us the following headline unemployment rates in a note released earlier this week:
- Eurozone unemployment at 10.7 per cent, up from 9.5 per cent a year ago.
- Greece’s rate is 19.9 percent, up from 14.1 per cent a year ago.
- Eurozone youth unemployment (16-24 years old) 21.6 per cent.
But, compare and contrast a few youth unemployment rates for specific countries:
- Germany 7.8 per cent, Austria 8.9, The Netherlands 9.0, Spain 49.9, Greece 48.1. […]
* EUROPE’S SCARIEST CHART JUST GOT SCARIER
By Tyler Durden, Zero Hedge
The last time we plotted European youth unemployment in what was dubbed “Europe’s scariest chart” we were surprised to discover that when it comes to “Arab Spring inspiring” youth unemployment, Spain was actually worse off than even (now officially broke) Greece, whose young adult unemployment at the time was only just better compared to that… of the United States. Luckily, following the latest economic (yes, we laughed too) update from Greece, it is safe to say that things are back to normal, as Greek youth unemployment is officially the second one in Europe after Spain to surpass 50%. In other words, Europe’s scariest chart just got even scarier.
And so while the Greek economy is in tatters, following another downward revision to its GDP as reported last week, this time dragging Q4 GDP from -7.0% to -7.5%, that’s only the beginning, and it now appears that a terminal collapse of not just the Greek financial sector, but its society as well, has commenced, as the number of people unemployed in the 11 million person country is now 41% greater than its was a year ago. From Athens News:
* GREECE – ROUND III, IN WHICH WE LEARN THAT GREEK DEBT ACTUALLY INCREASED POST-DEFAULT
By Tyler Durden, Zero Hedge
[…] The Debt of Greece
The somewhat amusing part of this entire transaction is that the debt of Greece has been INCREASED. Greece and the EU handed private holders $138Bn in write-offs but with the addition of the new loan, $171Bn, the gross debt for Greece increased by $33Bn and this is if all of the legal challenges favor Greece. The total debt of Greece (sovereign, municipal, corporate and bank) has just increased from $1.20 Trillion to $1.233 Trillion and all accomplished by this brilliant plan that did nothing except to tag investors and ramp up the debt load for the country. Take this and add in the austerity measures and perhaps demands for more coming later today as the EU has its summit and an economy that is quickly sinking into the sea and unemployment that is surging and then you can visualize that the absurd has become the impossible and quickly conclude that more Greek loans will have to be forthcoming; or not with some form of Greek exit. The much bandied about notion that all of this will reduce the Greek debt to GDP is little more than a joke. For the past two years there has not been one, one, accurate projection for Greece concocted by the IMF/EU/ECB and I see no end to this now. Some quick math on my part indicates, in 2020, a debt to GDP ratio exceeding 170% and that is being kind and using optimistic assumptions. Just this morning the new numbers released for Greece showed a 7.50% deficit increase as opposed to the projected -5.50% number. This is one more case of quite inaccurate projections and a worsening economy for the country.
The IMF Contribution to Greece
The IMF has tentatively offered $17Bn for the next round of Greek funding while the EU expected $56Bn keeping the IMF ratio the same as in the first round of the Greek bailout. The IMF has said that it will not increase its position without a larger firewall and this is something that Germany has refused to do to date. I ask then where is the $39Bn going to come from then as no government in Europe has approved funds to make up for the deficit. Then as this morning the EU has indicated that any new funds may only be released in tranches we may find that the EU releases money to pay off their banks and other financial institutions but with only a paltry sum released to be used in Greece. The IMF/EU contribution may become quite fragmented and we may hear screams emanating from Athens soon. […]
* GLENN GREENWALD, ASSASSINTATION OF CITIZENS
Source: The Majority Report with Sam Seder – RADIO INTERVIEW
Glenn Greenwald from Salon on U.S. policy condoning assassination of American citizens. Disregard for constitutional right to due process, growing power of the Executive Branch and how the policy defines Obama.