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Archive for June 15th, 2010

Barack Obama Presses BP On Compensation In Oval Office Speech

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June 15, 2010: Sheryl Gay Stolberg / The New York Times – June 15, 2010

WASHINGTON — President Obama told the nation Tuesday night that he would instruct BP officials “set aside whatever resources are required to compensate the workers and business owners” harmed by the Gulf oil spill, and he named Navy Secretary Ray Mabus to develop a long-range plan to “restore the unique beauty and bounty of this region.”

During his first Oval Office address to the nation, Mr. Obama said he had asked Secretary Mabus, a former Mississippi governor, to consult with states, local communities, tribes, fisherman, business owners and conservationists to develop a plan as quickly as possible. “Make no mistake: we will fight this spill with everything we’ve got for as long it takes,” Mr. Obama said. “We will make BP pay for the damage their company has caused. And we will do whatever’s necessary to help the Gulf Coast and its people recover from this tragedy.”

As the government put out higher-than-ever estimates of the amount of oil flowing into the Gulf, Mr. Obama promised that BP would soon accelerate its cleanup. In the coming days, he said, the company will be able to capture up to 90 percent of the oil leaking out of the well. Mr. Obama also outlined his plans to revamp the Minerals Management Service, the agency in charge of overseeing oil drilling, and he named Michael R. Bromwich, a seasoned investigator and former inspector general of the Justice Department, to take the lead in that effort.

But while he said that one lesson of the spill is that “we need better regulations, better safety standards, and better enforcement,” he also seized the moment to call for a sweeping energy bill that, he said, is necessary to reduce the nation’s dependence on foreign oil. Mr. Obama made the case that the spill only highlights the need for his long-stalled energy bill. “The consequences of our inaction are now in plain sight,” Mr. Obama said, adding, “Each day, we send nearly $1 billion of our wealth to foreign countries for their oil. And today, as we look to the Gulf, we see an entire way of life being threatened by a menacing cloud of black crude.”

Mr. Obama has faced withering criticism that his administration did not react quickly enough to the spill, and he used the speech — and the solemn setting of the Oval Office — to argue that the cleanup effort has been massive: 30,000 workers across four states and thousands of ships in the Gulf. He said he had authorized the deployment of more than 17,000 members of the National Guard to “help stop the oil from coming ashore, clean beaches, train response workers, or even help with processing claims.”

Mr. Obama said he was using his speech to lay out a battle plan for the spill, involving cleaning up the oil, helping people who live and work along the Gulf of Mexico and making sure “that a catastrophe like this never happens again.”

Mr. Obama is insisting that BP set up an escrow account to pay claims to business owners and individuals who have been harmed as a result of what he called the “company’s recklessness.” Mr. Obama is to meet with company executives at the White House on Wednesday.

The president offered no specifics on how the fund would work, other than to say it will “not be controlled by BP,” but would rather be “administered by an independent, third party.” Who will pick that third party remains a topic of negotiations between BP and the White House, according to senior administration officials who spoke to reporters before the president’s address.

Democrats and their allies immediately seized on Mr. Obama’s address to say it could help swing the public behind comprehensive energy legislation, stalled in the Senate, that would address dependence on foreign oil and reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that scientists say are responsible for warming the planet.

“This could be a historic leadership moment,” the two chief backers of the Senate bill, Joseph I. Lieberman, the Connecticut independent, and John Kerry, the Massachusetts Democrat, said in a joint statement, adding, “This isn’t a time for Band-Aids. It is time to be for something, instead of standing by and doing nothing as our energy habits cost us money and increase our dependence on countries that don’t like us.”

But Republicans, who are deeply opposed to Mr. Obama’s idea of capping carbon emissions, accused the president of manipulating the crisis for political gain. “Exploiting the tragedy in the Gulf to try to ram through a devastating job-killing national energy tax is more of the same Chicago-style politics that has the President’s approval ratings plummeting to an all-time low,” said Michael Steele, the Republican National Committee chairman.

Shortly before Mr. Obama’s address the White House announced that Mr. Bromwich, a Washington lawyer who served in the Justice Department during the Clinton administration, would lead the effort to overhaul the Minerals Management Service, the agency that has come under criticism for being too close to the oil companies it regulates. “For a decade or more, the cozy relationship between the oil companies and the federal agency was allowed to go unchecked,” President Obama said in a statement released late Tuesday afternoon. “That allowed drilling permits to be issued in exchange not for safety plans, but assurances of safety from oil companies. That cannot and will not happen anymore.”

It was the first time in Mr. Obama’s presidency that he addressed the nation from the Oval Office, a venue that his predecessors tended to use sparingly and usually in times of national security crisis. Mr. Obama has increasingly spoken of the spill with that sense of urgency. He told Politico last week that the spill had the potential to have the same effect on energy and environmental policy as the Sept. 11 attacks had on national security policy.

Speaking before military troops at a naval air station in Pensacola Tuesday morning, Mr. Obama described the spill as an “assault on our shores” and invoked the need for a military response. “We’re going to fight back with everything we’ve got,” he said. “And that includes mobilizing our resources with the greatest military in the world.”

Administration officials ascribed the timing for the speech as marking what they called “an inflection point” in the nearly two-month-old crisis: the end of a phase in which BP tried and failed to stop the leak using the quickest available options and the beginning of the “new reality” that plugging the leak could take months and the cleanup months or even years past that. Mr. Obama has said all along that BP will pay for everything.

But while hopeful of announcing at a meeting with BP’s top executives on Wednesday an arrangement for BP to place billions of dollars into an independently administered escrow account, Mr. Obama provided no details on Tuesday. People close to BP say as asset-rich as the global oil giant is, its holdings are not so liquid that it can instantly set aside as many billions of dollars as the White House and leaders in Congress are seeking. Also being worked out are the terms by which BP would have to replenish the fund as it is drawn down.

BP officials are adamant that the company should not be liable for the lost wages of oil workers laid off because of the six-month moratorium that the Obama administration imposed on deepwater offshore drilling after the Deepwater Horizon explosion and fire. But Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and other administration officials repeatedly have cited idled oil workers as among those who could press claims.

Mr. Obama’s speech came on a day in which a government panel raised its estimate of the flow rate of the damaged well. The panel declared that as much as 60,000 barrels a day could be gushing into the Gulf of Mexico. The new estimate is far above the figure of 5,000 barrels a day that the government and BP clung to for weeks after the spill began. It reflects a possible increase in the flow rate that occurred after BP cut an underwater pipe called a riser on June 3 to install a new device to capture part of the oil.

It is based on new information, including high-resolution video made after the riser cut, and on pressure readings taken by a device that was inserted this week into the equipment at the sea floor. Energy Secretary Steven Chu, a Nobel Prize-winning scientist, was personally involved in using those pressure readings to help make the latest calculation. “This estimate brings together several scientific methodologies and the latest information from the sea floor, and represents a significant step forward in our effort to put a number on the oil that is escaping from BP’s well,” Secretary Chu said in a statement. “As we continue to collect additional data and refine these estimates, it is important to realize that the numbers can change.”

The new calculation, if it holds up, suggests that BP’s latest plans for capturing oil will be adequate, if only barely. The company has proven in recent days that it can capture a substantial amount of oil, roughly 15,000 barrels a day, though the operation was interrupted briefly on Tuesday by a small fire after the Discoverer Enterprise drilling ship was apparently struck by lightning. BP has outlined plans to deploy new equipment so that it can capture a minimum of 40,000 barrels a day by the end of June, and a minimum of 60,000 barrels a day by mid-July.

If the new range of flow estimates proves correct, and if BP is ultimately found guilty of gross negligence in actions it took that led to the Deepwater Horizon disaster, that would mean the company could be assessed fines of $66 million to $258 million a day. Those fines could come on top of payments for cleanup costs and economic damage to Gulf Coast businesses.

Fearful that the spill could ultimately cost BP tens of billions of dollars, investors have driven the company’s market valuation down by 48 percent since the spill began, erasing $91 billion of shareholder value. BP shares rose more than 2 percent during regular trading on Tuesday, but then gave up all that gain and more in after-hours trading, following release of the new flow estimates.

Obama’s Gulf Oil Disaster Speech: Full Text

http://blogs.forbes.com/energysource/2010/06/15/obamas-oil-spill-speech-full-text/

The Tonka Report Editor’s Note: A few notes for alarm – Climate change legislation and Cap and Trade carbon taxes in support of the global warming hoax; Military deployments to the Gulf region for possible Martial Law and mass evacuations; No mention of deadly gases in the atmosphere as a result of dispersants, the oil, and toxic organic elements accompanying the geyser; No plan on how to stop the oil geyser; BP possibly going bankrupt to avoid payment compensation; No plan to save Gulf coast economies.  Conclusion: The Gulf of Mexico and surrounding regions are effectively dead for decades to come– SJH

Link to original article below…

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/16/us/politics/16obama.html?pagewanted=1&hp

Scientists Say Gulf Oil Geyser Spewing 2.5 Million Gallons Per Day

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June 15, 2010: Ray Henry / Associated Press (AP) via San Francisco Chronicle – June 15, 2010

(06-15) 17:01 PDT New Orleans (AP) — Scientists provided a new estimate for the amount of oil gushing from the ruptured well in the Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday that indicates it could be leaking up to 2.52 million gallons of crude a day.

A government panel of scientists said that the ruptured well is leaking between 1.47 million and 2.52 million gallons of oil daily. The figures move the government’s worst-case estimates more in line with what an independent team had previously thought was the maximum size of the spill.

“This estimate brings together several scientific methodologies and the latest information from the sea floor, and represents a significant step forward in our effort to put a number on the oil that is escaping from BP’s well,” Energy Secretary Steven Chu said in a statement.

The latest numbers reflect an increase in the flow that scientists believe happened after undersea robots earlier this month cut off a kinked pipe near the sea floor that was believed to be restricting the flow of oil, just as a bend in a garden hose reduces water flow. BP officials has estimated that cutting the kinked pipe likely increased the flow by up 20 percent. The pipe was removed so BP could install a containment cap that is trapping leaking oil and drawing it a ship waiting on the ocean surface.

The new numbers are based on a combination of scientific data, including an analysis of high-resolution video taken by underwater robots, pressure meters, sonar, and measurements of oil collected by the containment device on top of the well.

It is the fourth — and perhaps not last — time the federal government has had to increase its estimate of how much oil is gushing. At one point, the federal government claimed only 42,000 gallons were spilling a day and then it upped the number to 210,000 gallons. As of Tuesday, the maximum amount of oil that has gushed out of the well since the April 20 explosion is 116 million gallons, according to the estimates by scientists advising the federal government.

BP PLC now has a containment system in place in the Gulf of Mexico that has been capturing nearly 648,000 gallons of oil daily. That system was forced to shut down as a precaution Tuesday morning because of a fire on a ship connected to it. BP said the collection system was not damaged and about five hours after the fire, the containment operations resumed.

Under pressure from the federal government, BP plans to gradually expand its ability to capture the flow of oil until a relief well can permanently end the leak sometime in August. The collection system could expand to a peak capacity of 2.2 million gallons of oil by the end of June and up to roughly 3.4 million gallons of oil by mid July.

The Tonka Report Editor’s Note: Not one word from Obama on how to stop the oil geyser in his speech tonight. Just empty promises of restitution, climate bill legislation, and that America has to buckle their chin straps as they get hosed again! Any of you jackasses who voted for Obama starting to wake up? We warned you all! – SJH

Link to original article below…

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2010/06/15/national/a141941D49.DTL

BP Executives Tell Congressional Panel Oil Disaster An Aberration

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June 15, 2010: John M. Broder / The New York Times – June 15, 2010

WASHINGTON — The chief executives of the world’s largest oil companies faced a Congressional panel of inquisitors on Tuesday and tried to cast the BP spill as a rare event that their companies were not likely to repeat. In their remarks, the executives said that continued offshore exploration and drilling were essential to American oil and gas supplies and to the health of their industry.

In a moment of Capitol Hill drama reminiscent of the grilling of tobacco industry executives in 1994, the oil company officials were summoned by the House Energy and Commerce Committee to justify offshore drilling and explain how their safety practices differed from BP’s. Rex W. Tillerson, chairman of Exxon Mobil, testified that if companies follow proper well design, drilling, maintenance and training procedures accidents like Deepwater Horizon explosion on April 20 “should not occur,” implying that BP had failed to do so.

John S. Watson, chief executive of Chevron, also pointed an implicit finger at BP, saying that every Chevron employee and contractor has the authority to stop work immediately if they see anything unsafe. Congressional investigators charge that BP went ahead with risky procedures even after repeated warnings from company workers and contract employees on the ill-fated rig. “Our internal review confirmed what our regular audits have told us,” Mr. Watson testified. “Chevron’s deepwater drilling and well control practices are safe and environmentally sound.”

Lamar McKay, the president of BP America, would not say whether the company would place funds in an escrow account to handle future claims for economic and ecological damages, as many in Congress and the administration are demanding. “I cannot commit today one way or another to a fund,” Mr. McKay said in response to a question from Representative Fred Upton, Republican of Michigan. “We have said we’ll honor all legitimate claims and the full company stands behind that.” President Obama is expected to raise the matter of an escrow fund when he meets with top BP executives at the White House on Wednesday.

Mr. McKay, did, however, issue a plea for forbearance from Congressional and executive branch officials, saying: “America’s economy, security and standard of living today significantly depend upon domestic oil and gas production. Reducing our energy production, absent a concurrent reduction in consumption, would shift additional jobs and dollars offshore and place millions of additional barrels per day into tanker ships that must traverse the world’s oceans.”

The executives appeared before the energy and environment subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, chaired by Representative Edward J. Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts. He questioned the oil company representatives not only about safety procedures but about emergency planning, the use of dispersants and differences in regulations in other countries.

Representative Henry A. Waxman, the California Democrat who is chairman of the House committee, focused on the spill response plans of the five companies. They were prepared by an outside contractor and are virtually identical, Mr. Waxman said. Each of the plans addresses a worst-case spill. BP’s plan says it can handle a spill of 250,000 barrels a day; Chevron and Shell say they can handle 200,000 barrels a day. The current estimate for the BP spill is about 30,000 barrels a day, and it is clear that the company’s plan was not adequate to deal with it. Mr. Waxman said it is clear that the plans are “just paper exercises.” “BP failed miserably when confronted with a real leak,” Mr. Waxman said, “and Exxon Mobil and the other companies would do no better.”

Mr. Markey prepared a series of questions about industry spending on research and alternative energy, and plans to expand offshore operations to the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic coasts. “Now the other companies here today will contend that this was an isolated incident. They will say a similar disaster could never happen to them,” Mr. Markey said as the hearing opened. “And yet it is this kind of Blind Faith — which is ironically the name of an actual rig in the Gulf — that has led to this kind of disaster.”

Mr. Markey added: “In preparation for this hearing, the committee reviewed the oil spill safety response plans for all of the companies here today. What we found was that these five companies have response plans that are virtually identical. The plans cite identical response capabilities and tout identical ineffective equipment. In some cases, they use the exact same words. We found that all of these companies, not just BP, made the exact same assurances.”

Like BP, Mr. Markey said, three other companies include references to protecting walruses, which have not called the Gulf of Mexico home for three million years. “Two other plans are such dead ringers for BP’s that they list a phone number for the same long-dead expert,” he said.

Mr. Tillerson expressed confidence that his company’s procedures would prevent an accident like the Deepwater Horizon blowout. But he admitted that if it were to happen, his company was no better prepared to deal with the consequences than BP. “The point is we have to take every step to prevent these things from happening, because when they happen we are not well equipped to prevent any and all damage,” Mr. Tillerson said. “There will be damage. There is no response capability that will ensure that you won’t have an impact.”

The Tonka Report Editor’s Note: Meanwhile the Gulf of Mexico is fast becoming a killing field as Obama gives his teleprompter speech to the world tonight, written and brought to you by the best money can buy – BP and Goldman Sachs! – SJH 

Link to original article below…

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/16/business/16oil.html

Gazan Check Points Open As Israel Bows To International Pressure

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June 15, 2010: James Hider and David Charter / Times Online – June 15, 2010

Israel bowed to international pressure yesterday when it agreed to reopen crossing points into Gaza for everyday goods. The decision was prompted by criticism of its bloody interception of an aid flotilla two weeks ago and condemnation of the Gaza blockade by the Red Cross.

Tony Blair, Middle East peace envoy, hailed the move as significant after the Israeli Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, agreed in principle to relax restrictions on goods entering Gaza. It will replace the current narrow list of permitted items with a list of specifically prohibited goods.

Mr Blair also welcomed the proposal from Mr Netanyahu for an Israeli inquiry into the flotilla raid, with Lord Trimble, the former First Minister of Northern Ireland, named as one of two international observers — despite him having started, coincidentally, a Friends of Israel Initiative on the day of the flotilla raid. Turkey, however, immediately rejected the format of the inquiry, overseen by a senior Israeli judge. The United Nations had called for an independent, international investigation of the incident in which nine Turkish activists died.

“The Isreali inquiry is obviously a significant step forward,” said Mr Blair yesterday. “In respect of the closure policy, I hope very much that, in the next days, we will get the commitment (in principle) that we require but then also the steps beginning to be taken. Some of these issues, drawing up the negative list, will take some time. But we hope very much we can start getting stuff into Gaza, “There are also a whole series of UN projects which are ready to go. The UN has a specific way of getting material in — we are talking about repairing schools, the electricity, water, sanitation, housing — we can get that under way very quickly, I believe.”

The Red Cross, a neutral organisation that works in some of the most sensitive conflicts in the world, labelled the Israeli blockade of the 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza illegal. “The whole of Gaza’s civilian population is being punished for acts for which they bear no responsibility,” it said in a statement yesterday. “The closure therefore constitutes a collective punishment imposed in clear violation of Israel’s obligations under international humanitarian law.”

Israel’s blockade policy, which began shortly after Hamas won Palestinian legislative elections in 2006, was intensified after Hamas seized control of Gaza in June 2007.

Gaza and aid groups will be wary of any Israeli attempt at a change it feels is designed merely to reduce international pressure. Hamas has refused the entry of some goods on offer, arguing that it does not want to depend on Israeli handouts of cookies and ketchup, but wants raw materials so that it can revive the Gazan economy and make its own products such as biscuits. Aid groups say that, at present, Israel allows in small, retail-sized packages of margarine, for example, but not industrial-size tubs that could be used by bakeries and in food manufacturing. Building materials have been banned because of Israeli concerns that militants would use them to construct fortifications.

One EU diplomat said that, while no final decisions had been made, there were positive indications that Israel might be willing to open either the Karni or the Kerem Shalom border crossings for large-scale imports. The diplomat said that Israel had rejected a proposal for cargo to be delivered by ships which would be checked in a third location such as Cyprus.

A retired Israeli Supreme Court judge, Yaakov Turkel, will chair the raid inquiry, which will “investigate aspects related to the actions taken by the state of Israel to prevent vessels reaching the coast of Gaza on May 31,” the office of Mr Netanyahu said.

Lord Trimble, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in helping to secure the Good Friday agreement in Ulster, will be one of two foreign observers. The other is Ken Watkin, a former chief prosecutor of the Canadian armed forces and a retired brigadier-general. The US ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, said that while the United States believed that Israel could conduct a credible and impartial investigation, an “international component would buttress its credibility in the eyes of the international community”.

William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, defended Lord Trimble as a credible international figure. “The UN Secretary-General put forward a good proposal for an inquiry and of course there will be people who continue to say that was the best proposal. I am in no way saying this is the perfect answer by Israel. “I think we would all have wanted more international representation but it is the inquiry they have established and that is why I say it is a welcome step forward and it does have international observers,” he said.

Israeli Attack on the Mavi Marmara – Raw Footage

The Tonka Report Editor’s Note: Everyone of those involved in the murders, piracy and kidnappings on the Mavi Marmari and the Gaza Aid Flotilla, from the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) who pulled the triggers to the Zionists who ordered the attack, must be brought to justice immediately by the international community and found guilty as charged– SJH

Link to original article below…

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/middle_east/article7150150.ece

The NY Times Afghanistan Mineral Riches Story Is War Propaganda

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June 15, 2010: Steve Watson / Prisonplanet.com – June 15, 2010

News that the U.S. has suddenly discovered $1 trillion-worth of mineral deposits in Afghanistan, and descriptions of the bounty as a “game changer” by the corporate media, represent nothing more than crude war propaganda designed to reinvigorate public support for a failing and ever more pointless occupation.

The “liberal” New York Times, which previously brought us fantastical stories of WMD in Iraq and yellowcake from Niger, is at it once again, describing huge deposits of minerals in Afghanistan as “previously unknown”.

In a story the Times ran on Sunday, the newspaper pointed to an “internal Pentagon memo” as its source, noting that U.S. officials now believe Afghanistan could become the “Saudi Arabia of lithium”. The article claims that “a small team of Pentagon officials and American geologists” has also recently discovered huge veins of iron, copper, cobalt and gold, that could transform Afghanistan into one of the most important mining centers in the world. The idea that this information is new, however, is manifestly ludicrous.

In an interview with Politico, a retired senior U.S. official notes that anyone with a memory span longer than a goldfish will realise the supposedly “new discovery” is anything but that: “When I was living in Kabul in the early 1970’s the [U.S. government], the Russians, the World Bank, the UN and others were all highly focused on the wide range of Afghan mineral deposits. Cheap ways of moving the ore to ocean ports has always been the limiting factor,” the official said.

Furthermore, in the mid 1980s, the chief engineer of the Afghan Geological Survey Department published a report pointing to vast reserves of mineral riches. The Afghan government was readying to work with the Soviets on extraction, before Russia pulled out of the country altogether as it’s empire began to crumble in 1989.

A man intrinsically tied to countering the Soviet operation in Afghanistan, by radicalizing muslim resistance in the country, was über elitist Zbigniew Brzezinski. In his 1997 book The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives, Brzezinski refers directly to the strategic and economic prizes to be gained via control of what he describes as the Eurasian Balkans:

“…the Eurasian Balkans are infinitely more important as a potential economic prize: an enormous concentration of natural gas and oil reserves is located in the region, in addition to important minerals, including gold (page 124),” and “America’s global primacy is directly dependent on how long and how effectively its preponderance on the Euraisian continent is sustained…A power that dominates Eurasia would control two of the world’s three most advanced and economically productive regions…most of the world’s physical wealth is there as well, both in its enterprises and underneath its soil (page 30-31).”

In his now familiar warm hearted way, Brzezinski also outlines that in order to control the region, a dominating global power must “prevent collusion and maintain security dependence among the vassals, to keep tributaries pliant and protected, and to keep the barbarians from coming together (page 40).”

Brzezinski also noted that the American people would have to be stoked and rallied into supporting what essentially amounts to a modern day crusade: “The attitude of the American public toward the external projection of American power has been much more ambivalent. The public supported America’s engagement in World War II largely because of the shock effect of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor (page 24-25).” Following 9/11, the world witnessed unfolding exactly what Brzezinski had proposed.

If you still choose to believe that the U.S. government did not previously have knowledge of vast mineral riches in Afghanistan, despite the fact that former Senior U.S. officials, Afghans, Soviets and Zbigniew Brzezinski all did, then take a gander at this 2007 US Geological Survey.

The report reveals that the U.S. was aware of “significant amounts of undiscovered non-fuel mineral resources” in Afghanistan, noting that the country “has significant amounts of undiscovered non fuel mineral resources,” including “large quantities of accessible iron and copper [and] abundant deposits of colored stones and gemstones, including emerald, ruby [and] sapphire.” Even foreign mainstream news sources like Reuters have questioned the Times’ article, outlining the need for “a reality check”.

So why is the “liberal” NY Times passing this story off as a game changing “discovery” when it is one of the primary reasons the U.S. is engaged in the occupation of the region in the first place? Simply because the American public are sick of seeing their country spiral into a black hole of debt while continuing to pay for a war that has now surpassed the Vietnam conflict as the longest in U.S. military history. Jeremy White of the Huffington Post notes that “This story is similar to ones that preceded the Iraq War when the Bush administration claimed that Iraq’s oil wealth would pay for all the costs of reconstruction.”

Newshoggers blogger Steve Hynd describes the Times piece as “a conveniently timed zombie story… resurrected yet again for political purposes.” Remember that Obama made Afghanistan his war by pouring thousands and thousands more troops into the country and demanding record war budgets from Congress. If Obama’s Afghanistan adventure fails, his presidency fails. Both the brass at the Times and the White House can’t be having that.

The seemingly dwindling enthusiasm for U.S. involvement on behalf of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, and his threats to “join the Taliban” in the face of a dysfunctional U.S. mission, may also be a factor. As Gareth Porter of IPS reports, the Obama administration is staring at “the spectre of a collapse of U.S. political support for the war in Afghanistan in coming months comparable to the one that occurred in the Iraq War in late 2006.”

The mineral riches story may also be designed to shore up the involvement of British forces in the face of mass public discontent, a new government, elements of which have expressed opposition to the ongoing conflict, and the tension brought about between the U.S. and Britain over the BP oil spill.

The conclusion remains clear. The idea that Afghanistan’s mineral riches were not part of the invasion and occupation agenda, drawn up before 9/11, and have suddenly been discovered, is provably false. The New York Times is once again engaged in the dissemination of propaganda in an attempt to sell the empire building of the new world order.

The Tonka Report Editor’s Note: Not only is the New York Times article a blatant example of war propaganda concerning the “previously unknown” mineral wealth of Afghanistan that in actuality has been known for 5000 years, but everyone seems to be missing the freaking  point – It’s in Afghanistan on their sovereign land!

It was October 2007, and Mr. Jawead was among the latest generation of Afghans to make their living blasting holes in the mountains to hunt for Afghanistan’s precious stones.

“The lapis lazuli mines of Badakhshan have more than 5,000 years of history. It was used in Egypt’s pyramids,” said Engineer Abdul Wasy, the general director of the Afghan Geological Survey (AGS) which oversees geological scientific research in Afghanistan.

“The mine of Aynak’s copper has more than 2,000 years of history, from the coins and the tools that we found there. The gold of Zarkashan has more than 2,000 years of history in Ghazni Province,” added Mr. Wasy. “Emerald is the second most expensive thing after diamond. It is the source of finding money.”

The previous is an excerpt from an article in the very same New York Times published on March 12, 2009. Link to the article below– SJH

Emeralds of Afghanistan

http://atwar.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/03/12/emeralds-of-afghanistan/

Link to original article below…

http://www.prisonplanet.com/afghanistan-mineral-riches-story-is-war-propaganda.html

Florida Keys Residents Begin Their Own Oil Disaster Cleanup Plan

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June 15, 2010: Nathan Thornburgh / Time via Yahoo News – June 14, 2010

A small island in the middle of a big ocean, Key West has always made a virtue of its isolation. In 1982, for example, an onerous Border Patrol checkpoint on U.S. Route 1, which links the Keys to mainland Florida, resulted in the island’s declaring itself the autonomous Conch Republic. This was, of course, mostly a joke (“We Seceded Where Others Failed” was its e pluribus unum), but the mayor’s declaration of independence did include a twinge of real anger and a vow that “we have no intention of suffering in the future at the hands of fools and bureaucrats.”

Now, facing the possibility that oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill could arrive on its reefs and beaches in the coming weeks, many in the Florida Keys are once again angry about perceived fools and bureaucrats. In particular, they’ve watched how BP has monopolized and, in the eyes of many, mismanaged the oil cleanup in the northern Gulf of Mexico and are frantically trying to organize an independent local response.(See pictures of the oil spill.)

“We cannot wait. We have to be prepared,” says Dan Robey, whose website KeysSpill.com has gathered 4,000 volunteers, including 300 boat captains, who have offered to help before and after any potential arrival of oil. As Patrick Rice, dean of marine science and technology at Florida Keys Community College, puts it, “We will not allow the inept responses that have been happening up north to happen here.”

But there’s a problem with their plans for grass-roots activism: BP (and the Deepwater Horizon’s Unified Command, which BP runs with the Coast Guard and other agencies) has so far insisted on complete control of the cleanup operations. A BP spokesman told TIME that the only appropriate way for interested boat captains to become involved would be to register with the Unified Command’s Vessels of Opportunity program. Never mind that according to BP’s numbers, only a third of the 7,200 boats “under contract” through the program are in active service. Robey says captains in the Keys haven’t even been able to register. “It’s a joke, a total joke,” he says. “Our people have called them for over a month. They don’t return phone calls.” (Watch TIME’s video “Portraits from the Oil Spill.”)

Uncertainty is another complicating factor. Locals want to start preparing now, even though it’s unclear how much oil will arrive and in what form – sheen, plume, tar ball or all three. And BP and the Coast Guard won’t start really organizing, or funding, a response yet. “The general feeling is that BP has been reluctant to support advanced preparation,” says Laura Fox, owner of Danger Charters in Key West. “The Coast Guard’s big party line is that until oil is imminent – within 72 hours – nothing is going to be done. That’s not enough time to protect the 180 miles or more of shoreline that we have in the Keys.”

So without waiting for protocol, the Keys are making preemptive strikes. A group called Adopt a Mangrove is assigning kayakers their own mangroves to clean if oil comes. Volunteers are monitoring shores throughout the islands for signs of oil. The Florida Keys Environmental Coalition formed to connect boat captains, scientists, environmental activists and various agencies. Fox coordinated a cleanup of Man Key, a mangrove island west of Key West (oil is easier to clean off a beach that is in good condition). “It was all women, actually,” she says. “Thirteen women in kayaks, clenching knives in their teeth, cutting monofilament fishing line off the mangroves and clearing trash. We brought 35 bags of trash off the island.”

Local boat captain George Bellenger and others set up a series of town-hall meetings at Sippin’ Internet CafÉ on Eaton Street, the last of which was attended by both Coast Guard and BP reps. It was at 8 p.m. on a Friday, traditionally not the soberest hour of the week in Key West, and Bellenger had called the Key West police department to see if it would help keep the peace. In the end, the police didn’t come. Bellenger had to throw one person out for “not showing respect to our [BP] guest,” but it was an otherwise calm event.

In May, Bellenger had heard through word of mouth (“the coconut telegraph,” as it’s known here) about a closed meeting between city officials and BP representatives and others. He and a few others showed up to complain about the lack of preparation and left with a promise that BP would pay $10,000 to fund hazardous-materials training for 100 people. It was, says Bellenger, one of the “two good things” that has happened with BP. The other: a towboat operator out of Big Pine Key was recently hired to be a sentry boat, keeping an eye out for approaching oil to the west of the Keys. (See pictures of people protesting BP.)

But everyone else is on their own for now. The Hazwoper haz-mat training that is a pre-requisite for handling oil spills can cost hundreds of dollars per person (although KeysSpill.com has arranged a discounted online course for $69). Florida Keys Community College offered a sold-out bird-cleaning course this past weekend, giving Keys residents practice on dead seabirds. But that course cost $150 per person and was not paid for by BP.

Advance planning would benefit BP as well: the Keys’ coral-reef ecosystem is unique and would require a different approach than the coastal marshes and beaches to the north. For example, chemical dispersants, already controversial in the northern Gulf, would be far too toxic for the coral, says Dave Hallac, supervisory biologist at the Dry Tortugas and Everglades national parks. Additional worries about the potential impact that unwitting contractors could have on the Dry Tortugas National Park caused the park service to “pre-negotiate” with the Coast Guard to insure that there would be park service advisers working with the contractors. (See pictures of the oil spill’s victims.)

The generic cleanup plans that existed before the spill will have to be reimagined as well. “The contingency plan we have with the Coast Guard is for the event of a tanker spill,” says Rice. “I asked [the Coast Guard] directly, ‘Do you have a contingency plan for oil at depth?’ They don’t.”

Rice is pushing his own solution that might help protect the most sensitive reefs and mangrove plants from oil beneath the surface: curtains of air bubbles from perforated air hoses laid on the seabed. “It would at least deflect the smaller tar balls and push the oil up the surface,” he says.

How receptive would the Unified Command be to trying out a clever hack like this from a local scientist? How much help would they accept from the captains who know the backcountry currents and channels best? If oil comes to the Keys, residents warn, BP had better be ready to work with them. “I just talked with BP yesterday,” says Rice. “I told them flat out, ‘If you come down here and start doing what you’ve done in Louisiana, you’re going to have a revolt. They’ll shut down U.S. 1. You won’t be able to bring any of your contractors in or out.’ ” Key West’s isolation may not protect it from the coming oil, but perhaps its independent streak will.

See 12 people to blame for the oil spill.

See pictures of critters caught in the oil spill.

The Tonka Report Editor’s Note: If BP contractors or their oil get anywhere near the Florida Keys it will be a dead zone for decades to come – SJH

View this article on Time.com