Nobel laureate estimates wars’ cost at more than $3 trillion

WASHINGTON — When U.S. troops invaded Iraq in March 2003, the Bush administration predicted that the war would be self-financing and that rebuilding the nation would cost less than $2 billion.

Coming up on the fifth anniversary of the invasion, a Nobel laureate now estimates that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are costing America more than $3 trillion.

That estimate from Noble Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz also serves as the title of his new book, “The Three Trillion Dollar War,” which hits store shelves Friday.

The book, co-authored with Harvard University professor Linda Bilmes, builds on previous research that was published in January 2006. The two argued then and now that the cost to America of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is wildly underestimated.

When other factors are added — such as interest on debt, future borrowing for war expenses, the cost of a continued military presence in Iraq and lifetime health-care and counseling for veterans — they think that the wars’ costs range from $5 trillion to $7 trillion.

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Permanent U.S. Army command taking shape in Kuwait

By Vince Little, Stars and Stripes
Mideast edition, Tuesday, February 19, 2008

CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait — U.S. Army Central is establishing a permanent platform for “full spectrum operations” in 27 countries around southwest Asia and the Middle East, its commander says.

Lt. Gen. James J. Lovelace said the Army has diverse capabilities here now but plans to reach a complete level of operational effectiveness by July.

The restructuring, which offers more flexibility for offensive, defensive and stability operations, is a major piece of transformation worldwide, said Lovelace.

“It’s the first Army command to do this,” said Lovelace, who also heads the Coalition Forces Land Component. “Now, we’re not only operational but the Army has committed other assets.”

They include the 1st Sustainment Command (Theater), 335th Signal Command, 513th Military Intelligence Brigade, 352nd Civil Affairs Group, and a Navy medical command.

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War pimp alert: US says ‘reckless’ Iran should avoid naval confrontations

So let me get this straight. US naval ships are roaming around the Persian golf in an obvious attempt to rile Iran and they fly their fighter jets on secretive missions, and when a few Iranians in speedboats issue a verbal threat to blow up these huge monstrosities it is warned not to do that again. The Americans felt so threatened they almost blew these speedboats out of the water.

I wonder how the Americans would feel if Iran had huge vessels roaming around in oh, say the golf of Mexico near a city (well, ex-city) like New Orleans.

I would call the American vessels reckless for being in Iranian waters.

The United States on Tuesday rejected Iran’s assertion that a tense naval standoff between Washington and Tehran’s navies in the Strait of Hormuz was routine, and warned “they should not do it again.”

“It was out of the ordinary, it was reckless,” White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said, as US President George W. Bush prepared to depart on a week-long Middle East trip partly designed to seek a united front to face down Iran.

“It’s hard for us to tell what they were thinking, or what they were doing, or whether or not they plan to take any such actions in the future. What I can tell you is our position is they should not do it again,” she said.

Asked whether the incident bolstered Bush’s case against Iran, Perino replied: “I think it’s just another point of reference for people in the region who are concerned about the behavior of Iran.”

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Social Repression and Internet Surveillance

H. Res. 1695, 1955 & S.1959

 By Nikki Alexander

01/04/08 “ICH” — – Perhaps a clear and simple law is needed that states: “Congress shall pass no law abridging the freedom of speech. Speech includes ‘the broad and constant streams of information’ freely exchanged on the Internet.” Does the Internet need to be singled out? Or is this self-evident in the First Amendment to the Constitution?  “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”  

Clearly, Jane Harman (D-CA) who sponsored H.Res.1955 does not respect the Constitution. Nor does her partner, Dave Reichert (R-WA), who authored the original bill, H.Res.1695. Both bills seriously violate the most precious amendments to the Constitution, the Bill of Rights. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT) are preparing to follow suit with a Senate companion bill, S.1959. Did any of the 404 members of the House of Representatives who voted for the passage of this bill understand that they violated our Constitutional rights, once again? The “immanent threat” charade seems to nullify their capacity for critical thinking and erase their memory of the Constitution, as well as their oath to defend it. How many Senators will succumb to terrorist fear tactics and betray the American people?  

Among the Powers granted to the Federal Government by the People of the United States which one authorizes Congress to investigate the so-called “belief systems” of private citizens? Which Power granted by the People endows Congress with authority to investigate the motivations and clairvoyantly predict the intentions of private citizens? Which Power granted by the People authorizes Government surveillance and censorship of the Internet? Which Power granted by the People authorizes the Government to data mine the personal records of US citizens, subjectively filter the personal beliefs of Americans and categorize them for acceptability or to infiltrate local communities and eradicate ‘unacceptable’ beliefs? Which Power authorizes the Federal Government to gather intelligence on American citizens for use by Federal, State and local law enforcement? What is the Constitutional authority for Frau Harman’s storm troopers to terrorize the public through “vertical information sharing from the Intelligence Community to the local level and from local sources to State and Federal agencies”?   

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“Doomsday Seed Vault” in the Arctic

Bill Gates, Rockefeller and the GMO giants know something we don’t
by F. William Engdahl

One thing Microsoft founder Bill Gates can’t be accused of is sloth. He was already programming at 14, founded Microsoft at age 20 while still a student at Harvard. By 1995 he had been listed by Forbes as the world’s richest man from being the largest shareholder in his Microsoft, a company which his relentless drive built into a de facto monopoly in software systems for personal computers.

In 2006 when most people in such a situation might think of retiring to a quiet Pacific island, Bill Gates decided to devote his energies to his Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the world’s largest ‘transparent’ private foundation as it says, with a whopping $34.6 billion endowment and a legal necessity to spend $1.5 billion a year on charitable projects around the world to maintain its tax free charitable status. A gift from friend and business associate, mega-investor Warren Buffett in 2006, of some $30 billion worth of shares in Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway put the Gates’ foundation into the league where it spends almost the amount of the entire annual budget of the United Nations’ World Health Organization.

So when Bill Gates decides through the Gates Foundation to invest some $30 million of their hard earned money in a project, it is worth looking at.

No project is more interesting at the moment than a curious project in one of the world’s most remote spots, Svalbard. Bill Gates is investing millions in a seed bank on the Barents Sea near the Arctic Ocean, some 1,100 kilometers from the North Pole. Svalbard is a barren piece of rock claimed by Norway and ceded in 1925 by international treaty (see map).

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Israel, US to set up joint committees on Iran: report

Israel and the United States have agreed to appoint two working committees in order to hone a joint strategy against Iran’s nuclear ambitions, public radio reported on Friday.

Deputy Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz headed discussions on the matter in the United States this week, it said.

One committee will deal with intelligence on Iran’s nuclear drive and the other with international sanctions, the chief weapon in an effort to convince Tehran to halt uranium enrichment.

The next formal discussions between Israeli and US officials on Iran will be in two months in Israel, the radio station reported.

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Clinton bucks the trend and rakes in cash from the US weapons industry

The US arms industry is backing Hillary Clinton for President and has all but abandoned its traditional allies in the Republican party. Mrs Clinton has also emerged as Wall Street’s favourite. Investment bankers have opened their wallets in unprecedented numbers for the New York senator over the past three months and, in the process, dumped their earlier favourite, Barack Obama.

Mrs Clinton’s wooing of the defence industry is all the more remarkable given the frosty relations between Bill Clinton and the military during his presidency. An analysis of campaign contributions shows senior defence industry employees are pouring money into her war chest in the belief that their generosity will be repaid many times over with future defence contracts.

Employees of the top five US arms manufacturers – Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop-Grumman, General Dynamics and Raytheon – gave Democratic presidential candidates $103,900, with only $86,800 going to the Republicans. “The contributions clearly suggest the arms industry has reached the conclusion that Democratic prospects for 2008 are very good indeed,” said Thomas Edsall, an academic at Columbia University in New York.

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