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Nuclear Money Pit

America’s atomic arsenal is stuck in the Cold War era

By Kelley Beaucar Vlahos | The American Conservative | November 29, 2011

These days superpower nuclear-weapons controversies hardly elicit the excitement that once inspired such bumper-sticker slogans as, “you can’t hug children with nuclear arms.” The “no nukes!” movement has gone the way of the Cold War and MTV playing music videos, right?

In the 21st century, the 2002 Treaty of Moscow and 2010’s New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) were supposed set the clock on bilateral warhead reduction, and there are no plans for the production of more nuclear weapons. Pretty cut and dried, one would think. But like everything radiating out of Washington, the atomic drawdown is not what it seems.

Despite a deficit reduction plan to cut $1.2 trillion in federal spending over 10 years and ongoing negotiations by the so-called supercommittee to identify cuts of $1.5 trillion more, members of Congress are pushing an expanded plutonium storage and production assistance facility at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. Critics say the facility is unnecessary, poorly designed, and dangerous—there are fault lines throughout the Los Alamos property—and its cost has ballooned from $375 million in 2001 to an estimated $5.5 billion today.

It hasn’t been built yet—in fact, the designs aren’t even finished after 10 years. But the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement Nuclear Facility (CMRR-NF) has been soaking up taxpayer money all the same as the scope of the project has metastasized.

“The country doesn’t have money to pour into an unnecessary, giant boondoggle that has grown beyond all original expectations,” charges Greg Mello, executive director of the Los Alamos Study Group, probably the toughest grassroots opposition the CMRR-NF project faces right now. “When the cost of a facility increases by more than a factor of ten, even as the fundamental purposes are evaporating, it’s important to stop, to pause and to question whether this is the right thing to do.”

There is no doubt that the budget-cutting imperative is clashing with the old way of doing business on Capitol Hill, as pet projects and earmarks come under more scrutiny than ever. Bureaucratic institutions used to getting their way by easing expensive, potentially controversial programs under the radar are finding themselves squarely in critics’ sights.

That includes CMRR-NF, which has never been the subject of a public congressional hearing or passionate floor speech—much less a heated debate on cable TV or talk radio—but has been controversial nonetheless.

“I think the key is, it appears to be a huge waste of money and particularly in our current fiscal situation there is no need to hurry this thing at all,” says Peter Stockton, senior investigator for the Project on Government Oversight, which is currently working on its own CMRR-NF report.

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The mission of National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), which is a semi-autonomous agency of the U.S. Department of Energy, is to “improve national security through the military application of nuclear energy.” It oversees Los Alamos and is in charge of the CMRR project.

Initially, the NNSA was merely focused on renovating the parts of Los Alamos’s old Chemistry and Metallurgy Research (CMR) building that were outmoded and deteriorating by the late 1990s. Tests had found faults running under the property that could cause dangerous earthquakes.

After President George W. Bush was elected, plans to improve and upgrade salvageable portions of the nearly 60-year-old CMR were scrapped, and NNSA set about designing a “simple” replacement facility with two buildings about a mile away. One, the Radiological Laboratory Utility Office Building, is not controversial and almost complete. The other—the NF in CMRR-NF—is a new nuclear facility that would support Los Alamos’s nuclear-weapons mission, including plutonium storage, and assist in the production of plutonium-based “pits,” the fissile cores of nuclear weapons. This currently takes place at the existing TA-55/PF-4 nuclear facility next to the proposed site.

The nuclear facility, according to its critics, has become a monster. Aside from the runaway cost estimates, according to Mello the envisioned facility would give TA-55/PF-4 the capacity to double the number of pits Los Alamos produces each year and could store up to six metric tons of plutonium, “enough to rebuild the entire U.S. strategic arsenal.” This when there are thousands of pits already in storage and a treaty with the Russians sharply limits the nuclear arsenal.

Even if the increase in pit production were necessary—and as Mello and others point out, with much of the information classified or otherwise unavailable to the public, it is hard to know—the existing lab could be upgraded to carry out Los Alamos’s publicly stated mission to refurbish the current stockpile. NNSA, critics complain, has so far refused to seriously consider any alternative.

“We think there are simpler, cheaper, faster alternatives to accomplishing their stated mission, though their stated missions are aggrandized to begin with,” says Los Alamos Study Group President Peter Neils, who was on Capitol Hill in late October to get the word out about CMRR-NF. He blames the out-of-control designs and spiraling cost on a mix of Cold War ideology, over-reliance on contractors, and the self-sustaining mentality of all bureaucracies.

Simply put, says Mello, “the warhead establishment and the Cold War hawks cannot let go of designing and building new kinds of warheads, to create what they call ‘end-to-end’ work for the weapons complex.”

•    •    •

As of June, the Federation of American Scientists reports, the U.S. had 1,950 operational strategic nuclear warheads, plus approximately 200 deployed on behalf of allied countries—Belgium, Turkey, Netherlands, Italy and Germany—and 2,850 in reserve. In addition, some 3,500 retired warheads are awaiting dismantlement. This all jibes with numbers issued by the State Department in 2010. START demands that the U.S. bring those deployed numbers down closer to 1,550 by 2018.

At its peak in 1967 during the Cold War, the nuclear stockpile was at 31,225 warheads. America had 22,217 when the Berlin Wall fell in 1989. If the Cold War were still on, say critics, we might need additional capacity to build pits. But as it is there are thousands of usable pits already in reserve, and the scientific consensus says the plutonium parts of the pits have a lifespan of at least 100 years. The U.S. arsenal is well stocked in this regard.

The new CMRR-NF would help Los Alamos’s TA-55/PF4 site boost production to a conservative estimate of 125 pits a year on a double shift, according to observers. 

This is as outrageous as it is unnecessary, claims Frank von Hippel, a professor and principal investigator at Princeton University’s Program on Science and Global Security, in an affidavit for the Los Alamos Study Group, which is trying to force NNSA’s hand in court.

“There is no anticipated need to produce new pits for U.S. nuclear weapons for several decades,” he writes. The oldest pit produced in the U.S. is 32 years old, he added, noting the current TA-55/PF-4’s production rate of 10 pits per year would be adequate for any replacements necessary during the modernization and maintenance that is already going on under the auspices of NNSA.

Critics say the entire landscape of nuclear-weapons production has changed since CMRR-NF was conceived—all in the direction of reducing the nuclear stockpile—yet every adjustment in the facility’s blueprints has resulted in more capacity to store plutonium and build additional pits.

Most notably, the Reliable Replacement Warhead, a new family of warheads conceived in 2004 and used as a chief justification for modernizing Los Alamos’s nuclear-weapons complex, was defunded by Congress and cancelled by the Obama Administration in 2009.

CMRR-NF “is being built to increase capacity for pit production, even though pit production is not what we need,” the Project on Government Oversight’s Stockton charges. NNSA did not respond to several phone calls for comment on these and other charges lobbed by the opposition.

A three-page “Questions and Answers Regarding the CMRR Project” issued by NNSA before the Reliable Replacement Warhead was canceled maintains that the “primary mission of CMRR will be to support the current nuclear weapons stockpile through surveillance and life-extension programs necessary for the nuclear weapons complex” and “the size of CMRR remains the same.” It blames the soaring expense on poor initial estimates, cost increases in “the construction industry worldwide,” and requirements relating to the seismic risks, nuclear quality assurance, and security. The words “fissile core” or “pit” are never mentioned.

NNSA also contends it has put alternatives up for public comment, most recently when it amended the plans under its Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, which the agency says has incorporated “updated seismic safety design information.” (The Los Alamos Study Group disagrees and has filed a second lawsuit against NNSA, contending that it’s relying on outdated feasibility and impact studies, among other charges.)

Critics say that if the new facility’s mission is merely to help maintain the stockpile, the job could be handled at an improved and upgraded TF-22/P4 facility or elsewhere at a fraction of the cost. As for size, Mello says NNSA can longer say the facility is “the same”—the square footage might be, but the installation’s scope has certainly grown since 2001.

•    •    •

CMRR-NF is not without detractors on Capitol Hill. Over the years, its budget and plans have been questioned for all of the reasons already cited and more. Indeed, today’s fiscal environment has bolstered the criticism, with results that can be seen in competing House and Senate appropriations bills. (Some $450 million has been appropriated to CMRR since 2002.)

Calling it a “cost reduction strategy,” the House in July cut $100 million from NNSA’s $300 million request for CMRR-NF as part of the overall $30.6 billion Fiscal Year 2012 Water and Energy Appropriations package. “The [House and Water and Energy Subcommittee] fully supports the Administration’s plans to modernize the infrastructure, but intends to closely review the funding request for new investment to ensure those plans adhere to good project management practices,” the final bill reads.

By trimming the agency’s request by a third, the House is refusing to provide “the additional funding to support early construction” and would not do so until NNSA resolves “major seismic issues with design” and tames CMRR’s cost.

The Senate subcommittee, too, has expressed concerns. Pointing to the growing expense, its FY 2012 appropriations bill demands NNSA submit a contingency plan that would identify the cost and consequences of delaying the implementation of CMRR, as well as a planned Uranium Processing Facility at Oak Ridge, Tennessee—another project that has gone from an estimated $1.5 billion to upwards of $6.5 billion in the last five years. The committee also proposes to cut $60 million from the NNSA’s $300 million request for CMRR, but allows for preliminary “site preparation”—in other words, construction may begin on a project whose designs are not yet finished.

Mello and Neils have tried to convince lawmakers to put a permanent stop to CMRR-NF. It’s a difficult task, they say. Many legislators are hearing about the issue for the first time and might not be willing to plough through intimidating scientific and technical jargon to get at why this project is bad news.

And CMRR-NF already has momentum. Mike Lofgren, who spent 28 years on Capitol Hill as an aide on defense issues for the House and Senate Budget Committees, says this is bureaucracy in action, and anything relating to weapons systems is going to be expensive.

“It doesn’t surprise me that after a requirement has gone away, or the need has been severely curtailed, they would just continue on with this thing,” Lofgren tells TAC. “These projects get front-loaded by optimistic projections of their cost and overstatements of, ‘hey, we really need this thing,’ so you front-load them and politically engineer them by getting the local congressmen all hyped up by saying it’s going to create new jobs.”

When lawmakers start asking whether a particular project is really worth it, the response, Lofgren says, is always, “it’s too early to tell or too late to stop” and the effort will go on until the money is gone, mission accomplished or not. One need look no further than the $65 billion fleet of F-22 Raptors, which was grounded from May to August because of operational problems and has never seen a day of combat.

It’s hard to get a firm handle on how CMRR-NF has come to be apparently unstoppable because no wants to talk—neither the detractors on the Energy and Water Development Subcommittees, nor the project’s proponents, who have long been led by figures like Sen. John Kyl (R-Ariz.). In fact, reports at the time of Senate negotiations over New START indicate that as Republican Senate whip, Kyl was successful in obtaining additional funds for CMRR-NF in exchange for Senate GOP support for Obama’s treaty with the Russians. Kyl’s office did not return calls for comment.

A spokeswoman for Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), known as a longtime supporter of the CMRR project, responded with a statement from the senator that hardly sounded like a ringing endorsement.

“The CMRR is an important project for [Los Alamos National Laboratory] and for New Mexico, but it is also important to be sure environmental and cost issues are fully addressed,” Bingaman said. “My top concern as the project has been developed continues to be safety and security of the proposed facility.”

Contractors, post-Cold War ideologues, and bureaucracy may keep the CMRR-NF project going, but those interests appear to be clashing directly with the forces of fiscal restraint and new environmental concerns. After the earthquake-spawned Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster in Japan last spring, fears over seismic hazards at Los Alamos have only grown.

Meanwhile, the Los Alamos Study Group insists its goal is not to stop the U.S. nuclear program, but to make it safer, more efficient and less expensive.

The nuclear-weapons establishment “could do their job more efficiently and more cheaply if they didn’t infuse their work with so much ideology and were just more practical and straightforward,” says Mello. And CMRR-NF is not the only program that might demand additional scrutiny. According to the New York Times, the facility is just one of a host of modernization projects that could cost taxpayers over $600 billion in the next decade.

Kelley Beaucar Vlahos is a Washington, D.C.-based freelance reporter and a columnist for Antiwar.com.

November 30, 2011 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | Leave a comment

Israel frees Gaza fishermen but keeps boats

Ma’an – 30/11/2011

GAZA CITY – Israel has freed 10 fishermen detained off the Gaza coast but has not released their boats, a Palestinian official said Wednesday.

Mahfouz al-Kabarety, head of the Palestinian society for fishing and marine sports, said eight of the men had been detained on Tuesday and were released Wednesday. Two fishermen detained on Monday were freed Tuesday, he added.

On both occasions, Israel confiscated the fishermen’s boats and has not returned them, the official said.

On Tuesday, an Israeli military spokeswoman said a boat “deviated from a designated fishing area” off the Gaza coast, and was instructed to reverse course by naval forces in the area. The boat failed to comply with the instructions and the crew was taken into custody, she said.

Palestine’s UN observer said in October that by preventing fishermen from reaching 80 percent of available fishing waters, Israel exacerbated poverty in the Gaza Strip, in a report to the General Assembly.

Noting that most Gaza residents were dependent on food aid, the International Red Cross said in July that Gaza’s fishing industry had almost disappeared due to Israeli restrictions.

November 30, 2011 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Subjugation - Torture | 2 Comments

How Private Warmongers and the US Military Infiltrated American Universities

By Steve Horn and Allen Ruff | Truthout | November 28, 2011

A matrix of closely tied university-based strategic studies ventures, the so-called Grand Strategy Programs (GSP), have cropped up on a number of elite campuses around the country, where they function to serve the national security warfare state.

In tandem with allied institutes and think tanks across the country, these programs, centered at Yale University, Duke University, the University of Texas at Austin, Columbia University, Temple University and, until recently, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, illustrate the increasingly influential role of a new breed of warrior academics in the post-9/11 United States. The network marks the ascent and influence of what might be called the “Long War University.”

Ostensibly created to train an up-and-coming elite to see a global “big picture,” this grand strategy network has brought together scores of foreign policy wonks heavily invested – literally and figuratively – in an unending quest to maintain US global supremacy, a campaign which they increasingly refer to as the Long War.

He Who Pays the Piper …

The network of grand strategy programs integral to the Long War University came about through the financial backing of Roger Hertog, the multimillionaire financial manager, man of the right and a key patron of the contemporary conservative movement. Hertog is a chairman emeritus of the conservative social policy think tank the Manhattan Institute, and a board member of the right-wing American Enterprise Institute, and the Club for Growth.

Hertog additionally served on the executive committee of the influential, neoconservative and pro-Israel Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), and has been a major financial contributor to Taglit-Birthright Israel.

Respected in various circles as a patron of the arts and culture, of libraries and archives, Hertog was awarded a National Humanities Medal by then-president George W. Bush in November 2007. The ceremonial citation praised him as one, “[whose] wisdom and generosity have rejuvenated institutions that are keepers of American memory.”

More recently, Hertog introduced Wisconsin’s Gov. Scott Walker at a Manhattan Institute conference on “A New Social Contract: Reforming the Terms of Public Employment in America.” Embracing the controversial Republican state executive, Hertog praised him as a figure that would someday be looked upon as someone who “helped save the country.”

As a man in the business of shaping intellectual environments, Hertog has been described as the “the epitome of the conservative benefactor who bases his politics on conservative intellectualism and moves patiently and strategically to create, support and distribute his ideas.” Norman Podhoretz, the former editor of Commentary, said of his longtime friend that, “Roger thinks of philanthropic endeavors as investments. The return he expects is long range.”

Hertog has been a staunch advocate of a conservative, results-based “new philanthropy” – the replacement of open-ended funding for endowed university chairs with money for selected projects, made available on a two- or three-year basis. He makes little distinction between the nonprofit and for-profit ventures that he funds, and has spoken of “retail” and “strategic philanthropy” as “leverage” to transform American universities.

The Long War Men at Yale

The Grand Strategy network originally started at Yale University, alma mater for a long line of US strategic planners and intelligence operatives.

Its founders were the influential conservative “dean of cold war historians,” John Lewis Gaddis, global historian Paul Kennedy and “diplomat-in-residence”
Charles Hill, the former State Department careerist forced into retirement for concealing the role of his boss, then-secretary of state George Schultz, during the Reagan-era Iran-contra scandal.

Yale’s GSP became the centerpiece of International Securities Studies (ISS), “a center for teaching and research in grand strategy,” founded in 1988. Kennedy was the ISS’s first director. It was initially funded, in the main, by the John M. Olin and Smith Richardson Foundations, two major financial backers of numerous conservative and right-wing public and foreign policy causes.

The plans for the Yale GSP evolved out of a series of discussions between Kennedy, Hill, Gaddis and others, including the New York Times’ Thomas Friedman, in early 1999. Central to their thinking, according to Gaddis, was their shared concern “to deliberately … train the next generation of world leaders.”

According to Gaddis, the original ideas shaping the program’s curriculum were drawn from the efforts of an earlier generation of strategic planners, such as Henry Kissinger, and stemmed from his experience as a mid-1970s faculty member at the US Naval War College.

The New Haven program became known as the Brady-Johnson Program in Grand Strategy in 2007, in recognition of a $17.5 million, 15-year endowment.

The first, Nicholas Brady, had been US secretary of the Treasury under presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, and was a former director of the Mitre Corporation, the privately contracted manager of federally funded research and development projects for the Department of Defense (DoD) and other agencies.

The other benefactor, Brady’s billionaire business associate, Charles B. Johnson, is a part-owner of the San Francisco Giants and an “overseer” of the conservative Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace, among other things.

Both Brady and Johnson sit on the board of directors of Darby Private Equity alongside Milwaukee, Wisconsin’s philanthropist and venture capitalist Sheldon Lubar, member of the board of directors of the University of Wisconsin Foundation and supporter of what had been the University of Wisconsin Madison’s GSP.

Increasingly well-endowed over time, the Yale GSP continued to acquire new associates, among them an additional “diplomat-at-large,” John Negroponte, the former national security adviser, US envoy to the United Nations (UN) and controversial US ambassador to Honduras during the 1980s contra war against Nicaragua.

While the identities of those associated with the Yale program certainly speak volumes, the actual program these people devised is far more revealing, especially since it provided the prototype for future efforts elsewhere.

Aspiring Grand Strategy students are required to write application essays, and the cross-discipline pool of graduate students and undergraduates is carefully vetted. The year-long program comprises a focus on “real world practice” and includes the study of “classics” in strategic thinking, from ancient Chinese general and “The Art of War” author Sun Tzu and Greek historian Thucydides to Prussian military strategist Karl von Clausewitz and Kissinger himself.

In addition to their formal studies, students are required to complete summer projects that have included internships at the European Union’s (EU) Institute for Security Studies and the National Security Agency (NSA). Students completing the program have gone on to careers with the US Department of State, the CIA, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the DoD’s subcontracted Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA).

The year-long GSP course concludes with a “crisis simulation” session, in which teams of students prepare “emergency rapid response” scenarios as if preparing for a “real time” meeting of the National Security Council (NSC) and the president. Role-playing the president and other administration officials, the presenters are then grilled by program faculty who critique their work.

The simulations and seminars have included numbers of exclusive “outside guests.” CIA head David Petraeus, at the time general in command of the US military operations in the Middle East, paid an unpublicized visit to the Yale GSP’s students and faculty in March 2010.

Other visitors included the likes of Kissinger and George W. Bush’s hardline ambassador to the UN, John Bolton. Observers from the CIA and cadets from West Point also sat in on the seminars.

In February 2009, US Marine Corps officers met with GSP faculty and students. The representatives from the “Combat Development Command and the Corp Commandant’s Strategic Initiatives Group” briefed the Yalies and other invited guests on the Marine’s “Vision and Strategy 2025,” a planning document describing “how the Marine Corps’ role and posture in national defense will change in the future global environment.”

Gaddis, in fact, told Yale Alumni Magazine in 2003 that, ” … We now offer workshops in grand strategy at the war colleges and service academies, recreating a connection with the highest levels of the military … And Washington has taken notice.”

Perhaps most significantly, a core of Gaddis and Kennedy students have gone on to become either directors of Grand Strategy projects and related institutes, or to work as closely connected faculty associates elsewhere.

Such students have included historian Matthew Connelly, head of the Hertog Global Strategy Initiative at Columbia University; William Hitchcock, now at the University of Virginia, who helped create the Grand Strategy Program at Temple University; Mark Lawrence of the University of Texas at Austin; Jeremi Suri, currently at the University of Texas at Austin, who created the now-defunct GSP at the University of Wisconsin-Madison; and Hal Brands, formerly with the IDA and now the American grand strategy assistant professor of public policy at Duke University.

Grand Strategy’s Launch

In September, 2008, some 20 historians and political scientists from around the country gathered at an unpublicized location, a private club nearby Yale. The participants, carefully chosen by the university’s GSP directors, had been invited to meet with Hertog.

The financial management mogul told those at the Yale meet-up that he was willing to spend as much as $10 million over the coming years to fund scholars interested in inaugurating GSPs at their respective campuses. He requested short, three-page proposals from the professors-on-the-rise detailing how they would use his seed money.

He urged them to think about how to connect their projects with others around the country to leverage their collective impact, and cautioned that he did not necessarily want exact replicas of Yale’s venture. The subsequent GSPs and allied programs evolved with his financial assistance.

Long War at Duke

One of the recipients of Hertog “strategic philanthropy” has been the Program in American Grand Strategy at Duke University, headed by Peter D. Feaver, a significant figure in strategic planning circles and an important player within the Long War University.  A political scientist with a Harvard PhD, he also is the director of Triangle Institute for Security Studies (TISS), the well-established strategic policy consortium with affiliates at Duke, the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University.

An expert on the relationship between civil society and the military, Feaver served under the Clinton administration  from 1993 to 1994 as director for defense policy and arms control on the NSC. He then worked as special adviser for strategic planning and institutional reform on the NSC staff during the Bush years, from June 2005 to July 2007. Feaver is also an affiliate of the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), the increasingly influential liberal hawk think tank presided over by the warrior intellectual John Nagl, the former career military man who helped write the influential Counterinsurgency Field Manual under the command of former general Petraeus.

The homepage for the Duke GSP reads, “American grand strategy is the collection of plans and policies by which the leadership of the United States mobilizes and deploys the country’s resources and capabilities, both military and non-military, to achieve its national goals.”

In fulfillment of its mission, Feaver has brought in a number of national security state notables, among them, in September 2010,  then-secretary of defense Robert Gates, who gave a public address on the all-volunteer military in an age of the Long War and also taught a session of Feaver’s Grand Strategy class.

The Duke GSP and TISS co-sponsored a talk  a year earlier by Brig. Gen. H.R. McMaster on “Counterinsurgency and the War in Afghanistan.” McMaster served in both Iraq wars and worked on the team that designed the Iraq “surge,” and, at the time of his talk, directed a key division of the Army’s warfare planning center at Ft. Monroe, Virginia.

Other guests of the Duke GSP have included Gaddis and Kennedy from Yale; Michael Doran, the Roger Hertog senior fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Saban Center; and former Bush administration hawks, Stephen Hadley, John Bolton and Douglas Feith.

The Warriors’ Temple

A Hertog Program In Grand Strategy was launched at Temple University in spring 2009, with the assistance of a three-year, $225,000 grant from the Hertog Foundation arranged through two foreign policy historians, the Yale alumnus  Hitchcock and Richard Immerman, current director of the university’s Center for the Study of Force and Diplomacy (CENFAD)

A CENFAD newsletter stated that Temple had been chosen “as a site for replicating Yale University’s ‘Grand Strategy’ course – a yearlong seminar on military strategy taught by Charles Hill, John Lewis Gaddis, and Paul Kennedy … “

The same article pointed out that Hertog did not believe in making unrestricted gifts to academe, but rather believed in setting benchmarks to ensure the goals he envisioned. It went on to state, “that CENFAD, its associates, and students will expend every effort to meet this challenge to make sure that the Hertog Seminar in Grand Strategy remains at Temple.”

Housed at Temple’s History Department, CENFAD was founded in 1993 and “fosters interdisciplinary faculty and student research on the historic and contemporary use of force and diplomacy in a global context.”

CENFAD is currently directed by Immerman, best known in scholarly circles for his historical writing on the CIA. Immerman served from 2007 to 2008 as assistant deputy director of national intelligence, analytic integrity and standards, and analytic ombudsman at the office of the director of national intelligence, an oversight position created to ensure the standards and accuracy of national intelligence documents.

Columbia University’s Long War

Columbia University’s variant of the Hertog-funded strategic studies program, the aforementioned Hertog Global Strategy Initiative had its start in 2010 under the direction of the Yale alumnus and former Gaddis student, the historian Connelly.

Varying from the GSPs elsewhere, Columbia’s is a summer program only. The first year’s session, in 2010, focused on “Nuclear Proliferation and the Future of World Power” and was co-taught by Connelly and University of Texas at Austin’s Francis Gavin. The summer 2011 session focused on “The History and Future Pandemic Threats and Global Public Health.” The projected session for summer 2012 will focus on “Religious Violence and Apocalyptic Movements.”

In many ways, the program clearly resembles that developed by Gaddis at Yale. Students spend the first three weeks of the summer in “total immersion,” training in the methods of international history. Eight weeks are then spent conducting independent and team projects, followed by a final week where the students present their research, develop future scenarios and participate in a crisis simulation exercise

Visitors to Columbia’s GSP have included the likes of Kissinger, former Deputy Secretary of State James B. Steinberg (also the former dean of the University of Texas-Austin’s Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, under whose auspices sits the Robert S. Strauss Center of International Security and Law), and Philip Zelikow, a senior foreign policy official in the Bush administration and former director of the 9/11 Commission.

For their final week’s simulation exercise in summer 2010, seminar students were led by Dr. Betty Sue Flowers, a leading expert in “future forecasting” and the guiding force behind Shell Oil’s Global Scenarios, a much emulated standard for corporate and government scenario projects including the National Intelligence Council’s Global Trends Reports.

The Longhorn Long Warriors

In May 2010, Suri, the man behind the now-defunct GSP at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, announced that he was taking a job offer for a joint appointment at the University of Texas-Austin, including a position at the prestigious Strauss Center. A brief survey of the roster there suggests that Suri’s move to Austin was the perfect decision for Madison’s former wunderkind and “rising star.”

The Center has been home for two other Long War intellectuals with high-level national security state ties. One is Philip Bobbitt, concurrently with the Roger Hertog Program on Law and National Security at the Columbia University Law School and a senior fellow at the Strauss Center. The other is Bobby Ray Inman, who recently became the head of the board of directors of Xe Services (formerly known as Blackwater USA), the transnational private military and security firm. He formerly served two terms as dean of the aforementioned home of the Strauss Center, the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs.

Bobbitt, once described by Henry Kissinger as “the outstanding political philosopher of our time,” and by London’s Independent as the “president’s brain,” formerly served as the counselor for international law at the State Department during the George H. W. Bush administration, and at the NSC, where he was director for intelligence programs. He also was senior director for critical infrastructure and senior director for strategic planning under President Bill Clinton.

Inman wore multiple hats before joining Xe’s board. He was a member of the board of directors of the infamous coal company Massey Energy; deputy director of the CIA; director of the NSA; director of naval intelligence; vice director of the Defense Intelligence Agency; and former director of Wackenhut Corporation, another transnational security firm and mercenary contractor. He had also been slated to become President Bill Clinton’s Secretary of Defense before withdrawing his name from nomination in 1994.

In 2006, the Strauss Center served as a key backer, along with Columbia University’s American Assembly program, for “The Next Generation Project on US Global Policy and the Future of International Institutions,” a multi-year national effort to solicit new ideas from a geographically diverse range of strategic thinkers outside the traditional East Coast corridors of power.

Directed by Gavin, another important figure in Long War University circles, the project issued a 2010 report on “US Global Policy: Challenges to Building a 21st Century Grand Strategy.” The report was sponsored by the Strauss Center and CNAS.

Long War University Homecoming

In August, 2010 key members of the Long War grand strategist fraternity gathered for a”Workshop on the Teaching of Grand Strategy” at the Naval War College (NWC) at Newport, Rhode Island. It was only logical that they meet there rather than at some university.

The NWC, with its long history of strategic planning dating back to an earlier age of global naval power, had earlier developed the curriculum that became the model for the grand strategies discipline employed at Yale and subsequently elsewhere.  For some attendees, such as Gaddis, who spent part of his early teaching career there, the summer return to Newport must have seemed like a homecoming.

The conclave was designed to bring together “some of the nation’s most influential thinkers to explore how they design courses on grand strategy.” The meet-up’s list of attendees read like an abbreviated “who’s who” of warrior academics and national security state intellectuals.

Those in attendance included Gaddis, Hill and Kennedy, as well as their Yale disciples, Columbia’s Connelly, Duke’s Hal Brands, and then-UW-Madison’s Suri.

Among the others were Middle East expert Michael Doran, a Roger Hertog senior fellow at the Saban Center, former deputy assistant secretary of defense under George W. Bush and fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Also present was Peter Mansoor, the current chair of military history at Ohio State University and a former Army colonel who served as an assistant to then- general Petraeus while he was commander of the US occupation forces in Iraq. Also in the mix was Aaron Friedberg, who served as national security adviser to then-vice president Dick Cheney, and Georgetown’s Robert J. Lieber, member of the ultraconservative Committee on the Present Danger.

A follow-up thank-you email from the NWC’s lead organizer spoke of his “hope that we will stay connected and assist each other in our common enterprise.” The same note addressed to the workshop’s participants contained an e-mail address likely belonging to Lewis “Scooter” Libby, senior vice president of the Hudson Institute and a past frequent volunteer at the NWC. As Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff, Libby was convicted in connection with the federal investigation into the “PlameGate” affair.

The NWC conclave might best be described as an imperial war hawk’s “how-to” teach-in. Geared to instruction on how to teach grand strategy to military men, government officials and university students, its sessions included “‘Great Books’ on Strategy,” “Economics and Grand Strategy,” “Strategic Leadership,” which explored “the relationship of political and military leadership in strategic decision making” and “Great Power Wars,” which discussed how to teach “the strategic significance of the commons – maritime, aerospace, and information.”

The closing session looked at “how to stay connected with each other,” the “sharing of information about courses,” “ways to promote cooperation and break down barriers,” and “how to promote courses in the professional military and the universities.”

The Long War on Campus

The so-called “Grand Strategy Programs” represent but one small component of a proliferating Long War University complex. The number of university programs connected to the national security state, the imperial foreign policy establishment and military planners is vast; so, too, are the numbers of campus-based think tanks and related institutes – well funded by foundations, individual “philanthropy” or federal spending – in service to empire.

“Grand strategy” is little more than imperial doctrine, a “soft” public relations term for strategic studies, a growing academic discipline with origins in the war ministries of an earlier era’s imperial powers.

US warfare doctrine in the post-9/11 era has returned to a focus on counterinsurgency, or COIN, on fighting limited “asymmetric” wars against unconventional enemies defined as “terrorists” or insurgents. Not just low- intensity combat, but an increasingly sophisticated spectrum of intervention – of “nation building” and the “reconstruction” of other societies – is now included in COIN doctrine.

That more robust notion of COIN has come to occupy a central place in the thinking of those semi-warrior intellectuals informing one another and an upcoming generation of their students. Sharing a broad consensus on America’s role in the world and imbued with a sense of American “exceptionalism,” the Long War intellectuals at the national warfare state universities have joined in preparation for permanent war.

Because some of the primary source material gathered for this two-part series was obtained via the Wisconsin Open Records Law, the materials are available upon request.

November 30, 2011 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , | 1 Comment

The Worst of the One Percent?

Meet Wal-Mart’s Rob Walton

By DAN BACHER | CounterPunch | November 30, 2011

Brave New Films, the film studio that produced the ground-breaking documentary, “Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price,” is holding an online vote to pick the “worst of the 1%.” They’re looking for the person who is doing the most with their wealth to exploit the rest of the country – and to privatize public services and public trust resources.

Walmart Watch is urging people to vote for Rob Walton, chairman of Walmart and an heir to the Walton’s family fortune, as the worst of the one percenters. Walmart Watch is an organization that “seeks to hold Walmart fully accountable for its impact on communities, the American workforce, the retail sector, the environment and the nation’s economy.”

I also strongly urge everybody to vote for Rob Walton as “worst of the 1%” for his efforts to crush labor and human rights and drive local “mom and pop” operations out of business, as well for funding corporate environmental NGO efforts to privatize the oceans by promoting “catch shares” programs and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s privately funded Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative.

To vote, go to: http://www.bravenewfoundation.org/dirty-thirty/all/rob-walton.

“When it comes to the 1%, Rob Walton and the Walton family are it,” according to Walmart Watch. “The Walton family has amassed more than $93 billion in wealth, making them the richest family in the country.”

“The Waltons inherited that wealth, much of it was created by paying many workers at poverty-level wages, offering poor benefits, and lowering conditions in the supply chain by demanding ever-lower prices. Walmart’s trade deficit with China alone eliminated hundreds of thousands of US manufacturing jobs,” the group ntoed.

Rob Walton himself has an overall estimated worth of $21 billion running the world’s largest private employer. It is estimated now that 1.4 million people work for Walmart or 1 out of every 222 people in the U.S.

“The dividends of the Walmart stock the Waltons own alone could go a long way toward making Walmart jobs good, living wage jobs. Instead he chooses to keep the average employee below the family poverty line and cut health benefits for hundreds of thousands employees,” the group added.

The Waltons have used the Walton Family Foundation to advance an extreme anti-worker and anti-human rights agenda. In the last five years, the Walton Family Foundation (where Rob sits on the board) has given money to the Heritage Foundation, the National Right to Work Foundation and other groups that advance the agenda of Wall Street banksters and other corporate operatives who have looted the economy.

Walmart Watch stated, “In 2010, the Walton Family Foundation spent more than $157 million to support the so-called school choice movement. This movement generally seeks to divert money from public schools to private schools through policies such as vouchers and charter schools. These donations make the Walton Family Foundation one of the largest funders of efforts to undermine public education.”

Wal-Mart gives $36 million to ocean privatization efforts 

In addition to anti-worker and school privatization campaigns, the corporate giant also dumps millions into “environmental” programs to greenwash the privatization of public trust resources.

The Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA), a national grassroots recreational fishing organization, in August slammed the Walton Family Foundation’s contribution of $36 million to ocean privatization efforts through “catch shares” programs and the creation of so-called “marine protected areas.”

“Wal-Mart announced this week its efforts to help fund the demise of both the recreational and commercial fishing industry while also working to ensure that the next generation of sportsmen will have less access to coastal fish stocks than at any point in U.S. history,” according to a news release from RFA.

In a August 16th news release from Wal-Mart corporate headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas, the Walton Family Foundation announced “investments” totaling more than $71.8 million awarded to various “environmental” initiatives in 2010. The foundation handed over $36 million alone to Marine Conservation grantees including Ocean Conservancy, Conservation International Foundation, Marine Stewardship Council, World Wildlife Fund and Environmental Defense Fund (EDF).

The five top grantees were: Conservation International, $18,640,917; the Nature Conservancy,$9,305,449; Environmental Defense Fund $7,086,054; the Marine Stewardship Council, $4,500,000; and the Ocean Conservancy, $3,757,768.

Critics of Wal-Mart, the largest retailer in the world, have blasted the company for decades for being able to sell its products at cheap prices only by employing sweatshops, undercutting competitors, wielding its market power to cripple both competitors and suppliers, and flouting national and international health, safety, labor, and environmental standards. Anti-corporate globalization opponents have long regarded Wal-Mart as a virtual “Darth Vader” of retailers, as documented in the film, “The High Price of Low Cost.”

Greenwashing Wal-Mart’s Image 

However, in 2006 the retail giant hired Adam Werbach former Sierra Club president to “polish” its image. This latest Wal-Mart release is apparently part of a carefully orchestrated campaign to greenwash its image – and extend control over public trust resources.

According to the release, the Walton Family Foundation “focuses on globally important marine areas and works with grantees and other partners to create networks of effectively managed protected areas that conserve key biological features, and ensure the sustainable utilization of marine resources – especially fisheries – in a way that benefits both nature and people.”

“We focus our work in the United States’ primary river systems and in some of the world’s most ecologically significant marine areas,” said Scott Burns, director of the foundation’s Environment Focus Area and the former director of marine conservation at the World Wildlife Fund. “It’s important to us to protect and conserve natural resources while also recognizing the roles these waters play in the livelihoods of those who live nearby.”

The RFA countered that these specially managed areas of coastal waters are also referred to as “marine protected areas” or “marine reserves,” and the end result is denied angler access, of little or no benefit to the very people whom Wal-Mart claims to benefit.

Marine protected areas without real protection 

“A quick visit to the Ocean Conservancy website should be telling enough for anglers interested in learning where Wal-Mart’s profits are being spent,” said RFA executive director Jim Donofrio. “These folks are pushing hard to complete California’s network of exclusionary zones throughout the entire length of coastline, and they’ve made it very clear that they would like to see the West Coast version of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) extended into other coastal U.S. waters.”

Grassroots environmentalists, fishermen, members of Indian Tribes, civil liberties activists and environmental justice advocates have criticized Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative, privately funded by the shadowy Resources Legacy Fund Foundation, for its numerous conflicts of interest and the violation of numerous state, federal and international laws.

The so-called “marine protected areas” established under the MLPA Initiative fail to protect the ocean from oil drilling and spills, water pollution, wave and wind energy projects, military testing, corporate aquaculture, habitat destruction and all other human impacts upon the ocean other than fishing and gathering. In an extreme case of corporate greenwashing, Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the president of the Western States Petroleum Association, served as chair of the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force that created these questionable “marine protected areas” on the Southern California coast. She also served on the task forces for the North Central and North Central Coasts.

When not chairing or serving on these rigged panels, Reheis-Boyd has been busy lobbying for new oil drillling off the California coast, tar sands drillling in Canada, and for the weakening of environmental regulations throughout the West.

The Walton Family Foundation release also said that so-called “marine protected areas” being promoted with the foundation’s money include those in Indonesia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Panama, the Gulf of California and the Gulf of Mexico.

“Here’s an organization which has publicly opposed creation of artificial reefs used by Wal-Mart’s tackle buyers, in some cases openly advocating for their removal, yet the Walton family is handing over tons of money for support,” Donofrio said of Ocean Conservancy in particular.

Jack Sobel, a senior scientist for the Ocean Conservancy, has said “There’s little evidence that artificial reefs have a net benefit,” citing concerns such as toxicity, damage to ecosystems and concentrating fish into one place (worsening overfishing).

Wal-Mart boycott follows Safeway boycott 

“Shopping for fishing equipment at Wal-Mart is contributing directly to the demise of our sport, it’s supporting lost fishing opportunities and decreased coastal access for all Americans,” Donofrio said. “I hope all RFA members across the country will remember that when it’s time to gear up, but I would also wonder if perhaps our industry can help spread the message and support our local tackle shops by also pulling product off Wal-Mart’s shelves.”

RFA in April 2011 announced its support of a national boycott of the Safeway Supermarket chain, including Genuardi’s in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware, because of that corporation’s support for California’s widely-contested MLPA initiative.

“Apparently Safeway has gotten some bad advice from the people in the ocean protection racket, a community to which the California-based mega-corporation is now donating profits,” said Jim Martin, West Coast Regional Director of the RFA. “Safeway says it is supporting groups that make a difference like the Food Marketing Institute’s Sustainable Seafood Working Group, the Conservation Alliance for Seafood Solutions and the World Wildlife Fund’s Aquaculture Dialogues, but it’s little more than corporate greenwashing.”

RFA believes it’s time that Wal-Mart was added to the angler boycott list as well.

“The Walton family created this huge corporate entity which has threatened the vibrancy of our local retail outlets, and now they’re essentially doing the same thing with our fishing communities,” Donofrio said.

“Much like Safeway has done with their financial investment in the environmental business community, Wal-Mart apparently prefers customers buy farm-raised fish and seafood caught by foreign countries outside of U.S. waters, while denying individual anglers the ability to head down to the ocean to score a few fish for their own table,” noted Donofrio.

Wal-Mart pushes catch shares program 

The Walton Family Foundation is also working “to create economic incentives for ocean conservation,” while candidly pledging their support for “projects that reverse the incentives to fish unsustainably that exist in ‘open access fisheries’ by creating catch share programs,” according to the official news release.

A broad coalition of commercial and recreational fishing, consumer and environmental groups is opposing the catch shares programs being pushed by NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco, a former vice-chair of the Board of Directors of Environmental Defense, because these programs amount to the privatization of public trust resources by concentrating fisheries in the hands of a few corporate hands. Wherever catch shares have been introduced, local fishing communities, fish populations and the environment have been devastated.

“A catch share, also known as an individual fishing quota, is a transferable voucher that gives individuals or businesses the ability to access a fixed percentage of the total authorized catch of a particular species,” according to Food and Water Watch. “Fishery management systems based on catch shares turn a public resource into private property and have lead to socioeconomic and environmental problems. Contrary to arguments by catch share proponents – namely large commercial fishing interests – this management system has exacerbated unsustainable fishing practices.”

Donofrio emphasized, “Our local outfitters and tackle shops along the coast have had to face an immense challenge by going up against Wal-Mart’s purchasing power during the last decade, but now that the Walton family is so up front about their opposition to open access fisheries, it’s hard for me to believe that any sportsmen would ever be interested in shopping there again.”

“California anglers have been outraged to learn that money they spend at a Safeway grocery store might end up in the hands of anti-fishing groups like the EDF and the Ocean Conservancy, so I hope more anglers will join the national boycott by sending a message to Wal-Mart as well as Safeway,” Martin added.

Sam and Helen Walton launched their “modest retail business in 1962″ with guiding principle of helping “increase opportunity and improve the lives of others along the way,” according to the Walton Family Foundation website. It is that principle the foundation says, that makes them “more focused than ever on sustaining the Walton’s timeless small-town values and deep commitment to making life better for individuals and communities alike.”

RFA said grassroots efforts to combat the corporate anti-fishing, pro-privatization agenda are more than just an uphill climb.

“The EDF catch share coffers are already filled to the top, while Pew Charitable Trusts has billions in reserve,” Donofrio said. “The individual anglers and local business owners are being denied opportunity, and I hope the federal trade representatives are willing to get onboard with their support of real small-town values.” He emphasized that the Ocean Conservancy and EDF combined received more than $10 million in Walton Family Foundation grants in 2010.

EDF: RFA’s contention is ‘just wrong’ 

The EDF public relations department was quick to respond in defense of their $7,086,054 Walton Family Foundation donation.

Tom Lalley, communications director for the Oceans Program of the Environmental Defense Fund, claimed, “RFA’s contention that the contribution in question was made by Wal-Mart is just wrong.”

“The contribution was made by the Walton Family Fund and not Wal-Mart,” Lalley told http://www.fishnewseu.com. “These are two different entities. There is no connection between the two other than the fact that the fund’s money comes from private holdings of the same Waltons who started and managed Wal-Mart, but none of the money comes from the existing company. So it was the family, and specifically the family’s foundation, that made a contribution for sustainable fishing and ocean conservation, and not the store.”

According to RFA managing director Jim Hutchinson, Jr., the marketing executives at EDF are “some of the best in the ‘astroturfing’ business,” but he calls Lalley’s claims “almost comical.”

“So I leave you a $1,000 bill in the cereal aisle at Wal-Mart, tucked under a box of sugar coated corn flakes, does that mean that Wal-Mart actually gave you the $1,000, or maybe EDF would argue it was really a contribution from Tony the Tiger himself,” Hutchinson laughed.

“The heirs to the corporate fortune have spent two decades successfully building back their stake in this publicly held company to the point they now own over 50% of the Wal-Mart operation. The Walton Family Foundation is Wal-Mart, and the Walton family itself is making billions in our local communities, so to say that the two are separate entities is simply ridiculous. Actually expecting us to believe that statement is borderline insanity,” Hutchinson emphasized.

Commercial fishermen join recreational anglers in denouncing Wal-Mart’s support of privatization

Zeke Grader, executive director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations (PCFFA), praised the RFA for criticizing Wal-Mart’s contributions to ocean privatization efforts and welcomed the organization’s call for a Wal-Mart boycott.

“Wa-Mart is wrong on this issue, just as it has been in the past on labor and community issues,” said Grader. “The privatization of public trust resources is the antithesis of conservation.”

“I’ve been boycotting Wal-Mart for decades and it’s absolutely great that recreational and commercial fishermen are together on this,” noted Grader.

It is worth noting that Conservation International and the Nature Conservancy, the two top recipients of Walton Family Foundation funds, are known throughout the world for their top-down “environmental” programs that run roughshod over local communities to achieve their corporate greenwashing goals.

Corporate environmental NGO ‘leaders’ support peripheral canal 

The Nature Conservancy in California is a strong backer of state and federal plans to build a peripheral canal or tunnel to export more Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta water to corporate agribusiness and southern California water agencies. Peripheral canal opponents, including recreational anglers, commercial fishermen, Delta residents, family farmers and California Indian Tribes, believe the construction of the canal would result in the extinction of Central Valley steelhead, Sacramento River chinook salmon, Delta smelt, longfin smelt and other imperiled fish populations.

The Walton Family Foundation’s contribution to Conservation International is no surprise, since Rob Walton is chairman of the executive committee of Conservation International’s Board of Directors (http://www.conservation.org/about/team/bod).

Also serving on the Board of Conservation International is Stewart A. Resnick, Chairman of the Board of Roll International Corporation, who is the largest tree fruit grower in the world and one of the biggest recipients of subsidized water from the imperiled California Delta. While making a tidy profit from selling his subsidized water back to the public, Resnick has waged a relentless campaign to divert more water from the Delta through the peripheral canal and has done everything in his power to eviscerate Endangered Species Act protections for Central Valley steelhead, Sacramento River chinook salmon, Delta smelt and other listed species.

Resnick’s Coalition for a Sustainable Delta, an agribusiness “Astroturf” group, has also spent a great deal of effort in litigation attempting to eradicate striped bass from the Bay-Delta Estuary by falsely claiming that “striped bass,” rather than water exports, are the cause of Delta smelt and salmon declines.

MLPA Initiative Background:

The Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) is a law, signed by Governor Gray Davis in 1999, designed to create a network of marine protected areas off the California Coast. However, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2004 created the privately-funded MLPA “Initiative” to “implement” the law, effectively eviscerating the MLPA.

The “marine protected areas” created under the MLPA Initiative fail to protect the ocean from oil spills and drilling, water pollution, military testing, wave and wind energy projects, corporate aquaculture and all other uses of the ocean other than fishing and gathering.

The MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Forces that oversaw the implementation of “marine protected areas” included a big oil lobbyist, marina developer, real estate executive and other individuals with numerous conflicts of interest. Catherine Reheis Boyd, the president of the Western States Petroleum Association who is pushing for new oil drilling off the California coast, served as the chair of the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force for the South Coast.

The MLPA Initiative operates through a controversial private/public “partnership funded by the shadowy Resources Legacy Fund Foundation. The Schwarzenegger administration authorized the implementation of marine protected areas under the initiative through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the foundation and the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG).

Dan Bacher can be reached at: Danielbacher@fishsniffer.com

November 30, 2011 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Environmentalism | Leave a comment

Gaza farmers keep working despite export ban

Ma’an – 30/11/2011

GAZA CITY – Farmers continue to grow produce in the Gaza Strip despite Israel’s ban on exports, but productivity has plummeted.

Israel bans all exports from Gaza aside from a few trucks of berries and flowers each day during winter under an agreement with the Dutch government. Farmers are denied access to lucrative markets in Israel and the West Bank.

Meanwhile, Israel has leveled vast areas of arable land in the coastal enclave over the last decade.

But farmers continue to produce strawberries, carnations, cherry tomatoes and bell peppers to export in limited quantities to Europe, although shipping fees reduce the profit margins.

Mahmoud Ikhlayyil, chairman of the strawberry and carnation association in Gaza, says farmers used to plant 2,500 dunams of strawberries before Israel’s siege, but only plant between 900 – 1,000 dunams today.

This year, farmers avoided growing potatoes after a disastrous season in 2010 when no potatoes were exported, Ikhlayyil said.

“Farmers paid storage fees equal to 1.5 shekels ($0.40) per kilo, and in the end they sold it in the local market for 1 shekel per kilo.”

In 2010, 25,000 dunams of fields had been planted with potatoes, he added.

In 2009, Gaza flower and berry growers suffered big losses when Israel delayed export permission by two months.

The Palestinian Bureau of Statistics says the enclave’s exports in 2005 were worth $41 million.

The figure plummeted to $30,000 in 2006 and $20,000 in 2007 and there was no significant export trade in 2008.

November 30, 2011 Posted by | Economics, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | Leave a comment

Israel ‘bars lawmaker from travel’

Ma’an – 30/11/2011

RAMALLAH – A Palestinian lawmaker says Israeli authorities barred him from leaving the West Bank on Tuesday evening.

Qays Abdul-Karim, a senior member of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, told Ma’an he was at the Allenby Bridge crossing to Jordan with a delegation of parliamentarians heading to a conference in Panama.

“An Israeli officer approached me and asked about my destination. When I told him I was going to Panama to partake in a parliamentarian conference, the officer asked about the content of the speech I will deliver during the conference,” Abdul-Karim said.

“I told him I would call upon the Latin American Parliament to support the Palestinian demand to end Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territory, then he left and came back in a few minutes to inform me I was barred from traveling.”

Abdul-Karim was due to participate in the 27th session of the Latin American parliament which takes place on Thursday.

November 30, 2011 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | 3 Comments

UK to close Iranian Embassy in London

Press TV – November 30, 2011

Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague says London is withdrawing its diplomatic staff from Iran and that the Iranian Embassy in London will be closed.

Addressing the UK parliament on Wednesday following the student protest outside the UK Embassy in Tehran, Hague said the Iranian Embassy in London will be immediately closed and its diplomatic mission will be expelled from Britain.

Hague added that British diplomatic staff in Tehran have been evacuated, the state-run BBC reported.

Hundreds of Iranian students staged a protest rally outside the UK Embassy in Tehran on Tuesday, pulling down the UK flag and demanding the expulsion of the British envoy.

Protesters also staged another gathering outside a second British diplomatic compound in northern Tehran.

Deputy Commander of the Iranian police Brigadier General Ahmad-Reza Radan told Britain’s Ambassador to Tehran Dominick John Chilcott earlier on Wednesday that a number of the individuals who entered the embassy compound on Tuesday were arrested. He added that some of the other persons of interest have been identified and will be apprehended.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry expressed regret in a statement on Tuesday over the “unacceptable actions” of a number of protesters during the demonstration in front of the embassy.

November 30, 2011 Posted by | Wars for Israel | 2 Comments

   

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