The following is from TomDispatch -
posted January 31, 2008 3:35 pm
Tomgram: Michael Klare, Barreling into Recession
The latest economic news is striking. The U.S. economy has come to a "virtual standstill." The bubble has burst and, with anxious global markets registering the shock, other bubble economies worldwide continue to shudder at the possibility that American consumers might be forced to rein in their decade-long buying spree of imported goods.
Though any reader of newspaper business pages has surely noticed that oil news, oil deals, and oil prices have been front and center, the role of oil in our new economic moment has been underemphasized of late. It's hard even to remember -- now that the price of a barrel of crude oil has hit the $100 mark and still hovers around
$91 -- that, in the week after September 11, 2001, oil was still under $20 a barrel. Think of this as another modest accomplishment of the Bush administration, helped along by its rash war in Iraq, which actually took oil off the market. In a mere six years, we've gone from the era of cheap oil to the era of pricy petroleum or "tough oil", with a new spike at the gas pump expected as early as this spring. The results are now there for all to see -- in growing misery at home as well as stunning global financial and power shifts.
Michael Klare has long been ahead of the curve. In the late 1990s, he was already writing about
"resource wars" in the coming century; as that century dawned, his next book, Blood and Oil, arrived; and now, just in time for a new global era, his latest book, Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet: The New Geopolitics of Energy, is ready to appear. You could say that he saw much of this coming and here he offers us an assessment of the missing role that energy played in the bursting of the American bubble. Tom

Something Had to Give
How Oil Burst the American Bubble
By Michael T. Klare

The economic bubble that lifted the stock market to dizzying heights was sustained as much by cheap oil as by cheap (often fraudulent) mortgages. Likewise, the collapse of the bubble was caused as much by costly (often imported) oil as by record defaults on those improvident mortgages. Oil, in fact, has played a critical, if little commented upon, role in America's current economic enfeeblement -- and it will continue to drain the economy of wealth and vigor for years to come.
The great economic mega-bubble arose in the late 1990s, when oil was cheap, times were good, and millions of middle-class families aspired to realize the "American dream" by buying a three (or more) bedroom house on a decent piece of property in a nice, safe suburb with good schools and various other amenities. The hitch: Few such affordable homes were available for sale -- or being built -- within easy commuting range of major metropolitan areas or near public transportation. In the Los Angeles metropolitan area, for example, the median sale price of existing homes rose from $290,000 in 2002 to $446,400 in 2004; similar increases were posted in other major cities and in their older, more desirable suburbs.
This left home buyers with two unappealing choices: Take out larger mortgages than they could readily afford, often borrowing from unscrupulous lenders who overlooked their overstretched finances (that is, their "subprime" qualifications); or buy cheaper homes
far from their places of work, which ensured long commutes, while hoping that the price of gasoline remained relatively low. Many first-time home buyers wound up doing both -- signing up for crushing mortgages on homes far from their places of work.
The result was metastasizing exurban home developments along the beltways that surround major American cities and along the new feeder roads that now stretched into the distant countryside beyond. In some cases, those new homeowners found themselves 30, 40, even 50 miles or more from the urban centers in which their only hope of employment lay. Data released by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2004 showed that virtually all of the fastest growing counties in the country -- those with growth rates of 10% or more -- were located in
exurban areas like Loudoun County, Virginia (35 miles west of Washington, D.C.) or Henry County, Georgia (30 miles south of Atlanta).
At the same time, cheap oil and changing consumer tastes -- pushed along by relentless advertising campaigns -- led many of the same Americans to trade in their smaller, lighter cars for heavy SUVs or pickup trucks, which, of course, meant only one thing -- a significant increase in oil consumption. According to the Department of Energy, total petroleum use rose from an average of 17 million barrels per day in 1990 to 21 million barrels in 2004, an increase of 24% -- most of it being burned up on American roads.
Let the Good Times Roll (into the Exurbs)
In 1998, when the bubble was taking shape, crude oil cost about $11 a barrel and the United States produced half of the petroleum it consumed; but that was the last year in which the fundamentals were so positive. American reliance on imported petroleum crossed the 50% threshold that very year and has been rising ever since, while the cost of imported oil hit the $100 per barrel mark this January 2 for the first time, an all-time record (though the price was once briefly higher, as measured in older, less inflated dollars).
When that steady price climb, combined with growing dependence on imported petroleum, was translated into the new exurban landscape the economic bubble began to shudder. As a start, there was that ever-increasing outflow of dollars needed just to pay for all those barrels of crude and the resulting surge in America's foreign-trade deficit.
Consider this: In 1998, the United States paid approximately $45 billion for its imported oil; in 2007, that bill is likely to have reached $400 billion or more. That constitutes the single largest contribution to America's balance-of-payments deficit and a substantial transfer of wealth from the U.S. economy to those of oil-producing nations. This, in turn, helped weaken the value of the dollar in relation to key foreign currencies, especially the euro and the Japanese yen, boosting the cost of other imported foreign goods and so threatening to fuel inflation at home.
Meanwhile, two critical developments kept the cost of oil rising: a dramatic increase in global demand, largely driven by the emergence of China and India as major consuming nations; and a pronounced slowdown in the expansion of global supply, due mainly to a dearth of new discoveries and recurring political disorder in key oil fields already in production. This meant that American energy consumers -- including all those long-distance commuters with crippling mortgages and gas-guzzling SUVs -- had to compete with newly-affluent Chinese and Indian consumers for access to ever more costly supplies of imported petroleum. Something had to give.
As the oil import bill kept rising, the value of the dollar kept falling, and inflationary pressures kept building, the country's central bankers responded in classic fashion by raising interest rates. This naturally resulted in substantially higher monthly payments for homeowners with variable-rate mortgages. For many families already stretched to the limit, this would prove the final blow. Forced to default on their mortgages, they then precipitated the subprime crisis by, in effect, puncturing the bubble.
Even then, the economy might have had a chance had that crisis not come in tandem with the $100 barrel of oil. By December, consumers were
cutting back on nonessential purchases, producing the most disappointing holiday retail season since 2001. When questioned, many indicated that the high cost of gasoline and home-heating fuel had forced them to economize on Christmas gifts, winter vacations, and other indulgences. "If gasoline prices go up, that means there's less to spend on everything else," said David Greenlaw, chief U.S. fixed-income analyst at Morgan Stanley.
The high price of gasoline was bad news for another pillar of the economy as well: the auto industry. While Japanese companies were busy rolling out hybrid vehicles and small, fuel-efficient conventional cars, Detroit stuck doggedly to its now-obsolete business model of producing large SUVs and light trucks, which had, in recent years, been the source of most of its profits. Once the price of oil went stratospheric, of course, Americans predictably stopped buying the gas guzzlers, signing what looked like an instant
death certificate for an improvident industry. In 1999, for example, Ford sold more than 428,000 mid-sized Explorer SUVs; in the first 11 months of 2007, the equivalent number was 126,930 Explorers (and even that puts a gloss on the corpse, as November was one of the worst months in recent automotive history). An auto industry in decline naturally means that many ancillary industries will be facing contraction, if not disaster.
Popping the Bubble
Then came January 2. Although oil retreated from the $100 mark by the end of that day on the New York Mercantile Exchange,
the damage had been done. Stocks on the New York Stock Exchange plummeted, suffering their worst loss on a New Year debut since 1983. Gold, meanwhile, soared to an all-time high -- a sure indication of international anxiety about the vigor of the U.S. economy.
Since then, stock market panics have hit major financial centers around the world. Only a dramatic last-minute decision by the Federal Reserve to reduce overnight lending rates by three-quarters of a point before the markets opened on January 22 averted a further, potentially catastrophic slide in stock prices. Many analysts now believe that a recession is inevitable -- possibly a long and especially painful one. A few are even mentioning the "D" word, for depression.
Whatever happens, the American economy will eventually emerge from this crisis significantly weaker, largely because of its now-inescapable dependence on imported oil. Over the past decade, this country has squandered approximately one and a half trillion dollars on imported oil, much of which has been poured down the tanks of grotesquely fuel-inefficient vehicles that were conveying drivers on ever lengthening commutes from the exurbs to employment in center cities.
Today, a large share of this money is deposited in so-called
sovereign-wealth funds (SWFs). Americans should get used to that phrase. It stands for giant pools of wealth that are under the control of government agencies like the Kuwait Investment Authority and the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority. These SWFs now control approximately $3 trillion in assets, and, with more petrodollars pouring into the petro-states every day, they are projected to hit the $12 trillion mark by 2015.
What are those who control the sovereign-wealth funds doing with all this money? For one thing,
buying up choice U.S. assets at bargain-basement prices. In the past few months, Persian Gulf SWFs have acquired a significant stake in a number of prominent American firms, giving them a potential say in the future management of these companies. The Kuwait Investment Authority, for example, recently took a $12 billion stake in Citigroup and a $6.5 billion share in Merrill Lynch; the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority acquired a $7.5 billion stake in Citigroup; and Mubadala Development of Abu Dhabi purchased a $1.5 billion share in the privately-held Carlyle Group.
These acquisitions are just a small indication of a massive, irreversible shift in wealth and power from the United States to the petro-states of the Middle East and energy-rich Russia. These countries, notes the International Monetary Fund, are believed to have raked in $750 billion in 2007 and are expected to do even better this year -- and each year thereafter. What this means is not just the continuing enfeeblement of the American economy, but an accompanying decline in global political leverage.
Nothing better captures the debilitating nature of America's dependence on imported oil than President Bush's humiliating recent performance in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. He quite literally
begged Saudi King Abdullah to increase the kingdom's output of crude oil in order to lower the domestic price of gasoline. "My point to His Majesty is going to be, when consumers have less purchasing power because of high prices of gasoline -- in other words, when it affects their families, it could cause this economy to slow down," he told an interviewer before his royal audience. "If the economy slows down, there will be less barrels of [Saudi] oil purchased."
Needless to say, the Saudi leadership dismissed this implied threat for the pathetic bathos it was. The Saudis,
indicated Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi, would raise production only "when the market justifies it." With that, they made clear what the whole world now knows: The American bubble has burst -- and it was oil that popped it. Thus are those with an "oil addiction" (as President Bush once termed it) forced to grovel before the select few who can supply the needed fix.
Michael Klare, author of Resource Wars and Blood and Oil, is a professor of peace and world security studies at Hampshire College. His newest book, Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet: The New Geopolitics of Energy, will be published by Metropolitan Books in April 2008.

Copyright 2008 Michael T. Klare


BI Plans $1 Billion Biometric Database
by Ronald Reagan ( mmmmtmmmm [at] )
Wednesday Dec 26th, 2007 6:39 PM
The FBI announced that they are spending $1 billion to create the world's largest & most comprehensive biometric database. The database will contain voice samples, fingerprints, DNA samples, data about each individuals unique "body language", iris scans, & detailed information about facial features. This article will discuss this & several other programs and laws in place to violate your privacy and strip you of personal freedoms.
Bigger. Faster. Better?
The latest in a long chain of domestic surveillance laws, programs, and "presidential directives" is the recent unveiling of the FBI's new national biometric security database. The federal government is planning to spend over $1 billion to create and maintain a database, accessible to law enforcement agencies nationwide, that will contain, amongst other things:
• Fingerprints
• DNA samples
• Iris scans(what your eyes look like -- at a range of up to about 15 feet)
• The unique way your body moves as you walk, talk, sit, etc (useful for identifying people in crowds, from hundreds of yards away on surveillance cameras)
• Detailed information on how your face looks (remember those cameras they use to film protests?)
• Sample recordings of your voice (pulled from their CALEA-compliant recordings of your phone calls)

This information will be gathered from a wide variety of sources, and will be stored in an underground facility that is about the size of two football fields.

Of course, they have promised to use this responsibly, and said that they are working very hard to make sure that it doesn't interfere with your personal freedoms. The director of the FBI's
Criminal Justice Information Services Division said that this new database was "Bigger. Faster. Better." than anything currently in existence. The first two words are most definitely an accurate description. It's that last one that I don't believe is true. Basically, it comes down to whether or not you trust the U.S. government to do the right thing (you know, the one that routinely tortures people, spends around $500 billion each year on tools of death and destruction, and allows factories to dump millions of tons of toxic waste into your water each year).

Here are a couple of articles on the FBI's new pet project & biometrics in general:

"FBI biometrics database" -- Google News
Biometrics (Wikipedia)
Introduction To Biometrics (US Government)

The biometric database is only one of a wide range of policies that have recently been carefully slipped under the noses of the American people, who are currently distracted with electioneering politicians and holiday shopping sprees. In this article, I'd like to discuss several of these policies and how they are quickly dissolving your personal freedoms.


Check out The Insider for a daily news feed of interesting stories and to watch the Changes unfold...

NASA discovers giant caves on Mars, entrances to underground structures
Is there life (in caves) on Mars?

Caves have been found on Mars – and they could be home to alien life, scientists said on Sunday.

The entrances to seven possible caverns on the slopes of a 16km-high (10mile) Martian volcano called Arsia Mons were spotted by Nasa satellites.

The find will fuel suggestions that life may exist in 'underground habitats' on the Red Planet. The caves could one day become shelters for astronauts, scientists at the US space agency said.

The holes named Dena, Chloe, Wendy, Annie, Abbey, Nicki and Jeanne were described as 'very dark, nearly circular features' ranging from about 100m (328ft) to 250m (820ft) across.

They may be at least 100m (300ft) deep and the only natural structures capable of protecting life from meteor strikes, radiation and solar flares that bombard the planet's surface.

Astronomer Tim Titus of the US Geological Survey said: 'Somewhere on Mars, caves might provide a protected niche for past or current life.

'Whether these are just deep vertical shafts or openings into big caverns, they are entries to under the surface of Mars.'


Metro, "Is there life (in caves) on Mars?", 24 September 2007.


BBC News, "'Cave entrances' spotted on Mars", 17 March 2007.

The Following briefing is from April 9th 2006



by Ken and Strider

Did you ever wonder how many Germans told themselves it can't happen

We realize that this look into the reality behind the disney-like drama
you see on TV every day is pretty frightening. There is just no way to
sugarcoat it, and in this briefing not much room for long explanations.
You are getting the best we have - straight, concentrated information
that we hope will be useful. Sorry if it is scary. It scares us too.

You need about five paragraphs of history, though, just to understand
our starting point.

The recorded history of planet earth shows that until very recently
there has been only one political system in effect 99.5% of the time.
That system is slavery. The most common form of slavery is called
Feudalism. This involves the armed conquest of some piece of land by a
band of killers and thieves, who then pronounce themselves "royal" and,
for some period of time thereafter they own the land and everyone on it.
Their "subjects" must pay taxes for the privilege of living there, and
many economic forms are monopolized by the crown. England is still a
feudal kingdom, although the power is somewhat disguised. China is a
feudal country, ruled by guns and slogans.

Feudalism normally allies itself with the dominant religion in the
region. These two power centers then support each other. In the west,
the Church endorsed the "divine right of kings", which essentially says
that God appoints the kings, and everyone else should keep quiet and pay
their taxes. The Feudal and Church powers were eventually joined by a
third power center commonly referred to as the Money power. This began
with the Rothschild family in Germany, which discovered that the more
money you have, the more you can influence and eventually control kings,
nations, and so on. The Money power has grown over time, and has been
the invisible force behind global events for the last two centuries at
least. The goal of each power is to eliminate the other two power
centers and own the entire planet. In this contest the Money power
always wins.

The greatest threat to the plans of the three Powers was the American
revolution, which introduced the idea that a government could and should
be merely the contract employee of the people themselves, restricted by
law in what it could do, and not the other way around. When the
revolution was exported to France, bankers and royals alike faced the
Guillotine in what can only be described as a nationwide bloodbath. At
that time, the Money power and the Feudal power formed a new alliance
dedicated to a single goal: the complete and total destruction of the
United States, no matter how long it took. The bad news is that this
was pretty much completed some time ago.

The primary tool is a psychological weapon called Socialism, which is
perhaps the world's only communicable mental disease, since it
deliberately breeds sociopathic personalities, ie. people who have no
sense of right and wrong. Socialism replaces the divine right of kings
by replacing an invisible creator, God, with an imaginary person,
Society. Everything is to be for the good of the imaginary person. The
advantage is that anyone can announce that their plan is for the good of
society and no one can prove him wrong. There is no such person - only
individuals with their own goals and desires. Socialism, a German
creation, comes in two flavors, Fascism and Communism. Most Americans
today measure themselves on the left-right scale of political
orientation, which says whether a person is more fascist than communist,
or more communist than fascist. Consequently, they are easy marks for
anyone with a good line, and the political thought that created America,
now called libertarianism, is essentially gone forever.

The Money power works today primarily through the great multinational
corporations, simply because "they" own most of the stock or they
recruited the corporate officers while they were in college. So while
some see the multinationals as a fourth power center, it is only because
you cannot see the strings.

For the last twenty years at least, the true situation in the United
States has been very much like what you might find at the corporate
headquarters of a company that his been the victim of a hostile takeover
by a larger rival. Assets are being stripped away, all available cash
has been looted, and a corporate takeover team now occupies the upper
floors of the building. Their job is pick the carcase clean, lie to the
employees about how long their jobs will last, and when the victim is
sucked dry they will see if the cadaver can be converted to some other
use. The Bush-Clinton-Bush team are the clean-up detail. The new role
for the United States is to be the military arm of the Money power as it
seeks to enslave the entire planet.

This will be accomplished via global nuclear terrorism, beginning with a
nuclear strike on Iran currently scheduled, we believe, for June 10th,
based on reversals (we need more, from different people, to be sure).

Thus, the nuclear response to the bomb in Texas City may not be
immediate as we initially supposed. There would first be a period in
which it will be "discovered" that the finger points to Iran. News
media will then have at least a month to whip the population into such a
state of rage that no one will bat an eye at nuking Iran, whose only
crime at the moment is resistance to the creeping invasion of
multinationals. All other nations will then be on notice: play ball or
get nuked by the Americans. We are a little short on troops but there
are plenty of warheads to go around. If the response is immediate, then
we are still left with the June 10 date, but would have to do a lot more
fishing to know its significance

The United States itself is to become the Phoenix, a code word for the
rebirth of the Money power's finest creation. It won't be called the
Fourth Reich, but you can already hear the jackboots in the streets.
All the trappings are there, all the slogans, all the necessary
perversions of law, the corruption of congress and the statehouses,
total disregard for human rights, even the rubber-stamp courts. Bush
calls it the Patriot Act. In Germany they called it the Enabling Act.

Martial law is coming, but we don't believe it will arrive before
August. However, a number of conspirator reversals from congressional
appearances echoed variations on the phrase, "the end of this." This was
usually in connection to the nuke and seemed to refer to eliminating any
need to appear before congressional committees in the future. However
it could also mean that the nuke is simply the beginning of the game
plan designed to be the final end of the U.S. and the rise of the new

Against this background we give our first and most important piece of
advice. If there is any way at all that you can leave the United States
and take up residence elsewhere, do it now. If you can't do it now, do
it tomorrow.

Remember, once it all goes down, restrictions on travel will become iron
clad. Today, anyone speaking out against the administration is being
placed on the "no fly list". No one wants angry Americans running loose
in the world. Once the borders close, those on the no fly list can be
rounded up at leisure, and made to regret their words. If you cannot
picture what is happening and about to happen, visit your local video
rental store and start picking up movies that depict life in Germany
just prior to and after the Nazi takeover. The correspondence between
that place and time, and now, is absolutely awesome. You can virtually
predict what you are going to see on TV from one week to the next.

So we repeat our advice. Get out, get out, get out, get out.

Unfortunately this IS the endgame of a very long campaign, and at this
time the killing stroke for the U.S. is scheduled to begin in August.
It could be moved back of course, but that is the current indication.
This event is the release of a hopped up version of 1918 Spanish
Influenza. Don't believe for a moment that there's no vaccine. However
you would have to be connected to the White House or very important to a
top multinational to get it.

This is a project we have been following for seven years. The global
pandemic will solve a number of problems. In the U.S. and Europe its
purpose is to kill off the baby boomers before they can bankrupt the
various programs that were supposedly going to pay for their retirement
and medical needs.

Millions of dollars have been spent to persuade the world that this will
be a natural event. Everyone is waiting for the next chicken or goose
to die, which is funny as hell if you know the truth... and can hold
back the tears. If this were a normal progression of events it could be
years before anything significant might come from the magical bird flu,
if ever. Unfortunately, our information is that the real thing, a
replica of the 1918 virus is scheduled for release in August. And our
non-RS research indicates that almost everything Americans are being
told about how to survive the pandemic is false.

While we hope our story may stop the nuke, billions of dollars have been
spent to set up the pandemic. It will come regardless. We suggest you
learn everything you can about S.A.R.S. and the ways that medical staffs
were instructed to avoid infection. Sars was not particularly
contagious until after other signs, such as fever, appeared. 1918
Spanish Influenza is contagious before symptoms appear, and will spread
like wildfire. Once infected there are a number of non-pharmaceutical
remedies that could save your life. We will try to publish what we've
learned about this, if we haven't been disappeared for the nuke story.
A major effort in Europe to shut down all health food and supplement
stores prior to the pandemic failed at the last minute. Things were
touch and go in the U.S. as well.

We expect the United States to lose one person in ten as a minimum. We
are talking here about a disease that was characterized by the phrase,
"Healthy in the morning, dead by nightfall." The country will be in
absolute chaos for at least 90 days if not more, while the propaganda
mills will be urging everyone to remain at work, and use a tissue when
they cough.

We also believe your chances of effective medical treatment will be much
better outside the U.S. or Europe, where we expect people to be more
resistant to the disease, and where health care providers are not afraid
to use non-pharmaceutical remedies, nor be hampered by emergency triage
rules that will forbid treatment to anyone over fifty. You will not be
allowed to leave the country once the pandemic begins.

Both the U.S. and Europe have bent over backwards to pull in a
replacement population in advance; people who will work hard, be willing
tax payers instead of tax consumers, and have plenty of kids. In Europe
they are Muslims from all over the Middle East and beyond. In the U.S.
they are predominantly Mexicans. Just think of it as outsourcing
Grandma and Grandpa because they have ceased to be socially useful.

A big clue that the climax is imminent is the well orchestrated
appearance of news stories, finally allowed in print after all these
years, indicating that we've had enough and the borders must be closed.
This will accelerate rapidly and you will be surprised at how fast Uncle
Sam can close the borders now that they have enough warm bodies to
replace the baby boomers.

The pandemic, which is currently slated as we said for August, although
the virus might be released in Pakistan and take a few weeks to get
here, will be the trigger for Martial Law - the people will be begging
for it - and that is pretty much the end of the United States as we know
it. Once Martial Law begins there is no requirement for it to end.
Doesn't mean you can't survive in the new Reich, but you may have to
learn new skills.

That's it for now. We hope you feel you got something important from
all this. If nothing else, you should be impressed with just how FAST
it's all going to happen, and the fact that whatever you plan to do, you
need to do it right now.

Good luck, and may God bless you and yours.