Friday, July 31, 2009

Aqua CERES First Light

NASA’s latest Earth Observing System satellite—Aqua—is dedicated to advancing our understanding of Earth’s water cycle. Launched on May 4, 2002, Aqua has successfully completed its checkout period and is fully operational. Using multiple instruments, Aqua data and images are crucial toward improving our knowledge of global climate change.

The Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System (CERES) instrument is one of six on board the Aqua satellite. CERES detects the amount of outgoing heat and reflected sunlight leaving the planet. A detailed understanding of how clouds affect the energy balance is essential for better climate change predictions.

These Aqua images show CERES measurements over the United States from June 22, 2002. Clear ocean regions, shown in dark blue on the left image, reflect the least amount of sunlight back to space. Clear land areas, shown in lighter blue, reflect more solar energy. Clouds and snow-covered surfaces, shown in white and green, reflect the greatest amounts of sunlight back to space. Clear warm regions, shown in yellow over much of the western United States on the right image, emit the most heat. High, cold clouds, shown in blue and white, significantly reduce the amount of heat lost to space.

Aqua is part of NASA’s Earth Science Enterprise, a long-term research effort dedicated to understanding and protecting our home planet. Through the study of Earth, NASA will help to provide sound science to policy and economic decision makers so as to better life here, while developing the technologies needed to explore the universe and search for life beyond our home planet.

Click to read details on the launch and deployment of Aqua; or read the Aqua fact sheet for more information about the mission.

NASA is looking a little long in the tooth compared to the European Space Agency. Monday, NASA will launch a long-awaited repair mission to install im

NASA is looking a little long in the tooth compared to the European Space Agency. Monday, NASA will launch a long-awaited repair mission to install improved instruments on the Hubble Space Telescope, originally launched in 1990.

Thursday, the Europeans will launch two much more advanced telescopes (right) that can see photons in a much wider infrared wavelength than the optical light that Hubble sees. The Europeans’ one-up-manship comes as the White House announced a major review of NASA operations, to be completed by August, that threatens serious changes in the way NASA does business.

Norman Augustine, the head of the review panel, announced as much Thursday, CBS News’ William Harwood reported.

I think one of the chronic problems NASA’s encountered over the years has been that it usually had more programs than it had money. That can be dangerous when you’re doing something as difficult as NASA does.
So as we go through this evaluation, if we were to find there were reasons the budget didn’t make sense in any way, I can assure you we would not be bashful about pointing that out, and I suspect the administration would want to know that anyway.

The big story with NASA, Harwood reported, is that the White House projected budget for 2010 released last week shows a $3.1 billion cut in NASA’s exploration activities. “If the three-plus billion dollars in the out years, if that cut stands, then there’s no moon by 2020 and maybe none at all,” an senior space manager at NASA told Harwood.

Meanwhile, the Europeans are launching on Thursday Herschel, an infrared telescope with the largest mirror ever launched into space (11.5 feet across), and Planck, which will study the cosmic background radiation of the universe, the Miami Herald reports.

Infrared is important because light from the oldest objects are stretched out to the red end of the spectrum. The U.S.’s best effort at infrared is the Spitzer Space Telescope, launched five years ago with a measly 2.8 feet mirror.

“Herschel is big brother to Spitzer,” Hubble news director Ray Villard said. “Herschel does everything Spitzer does, but does it better.”

… “Planck will provide the deepest, clearest, sharpest and least obstructed view of the beginning of the universe ever seen,” said Benjamin Wandelt, a Planck scientist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. It will be “a quantum leap in our ability to address fundamental questions about how the universe began.”

Bolden confirmed as NASA chief

While the Senate Judiciary Committee grills Judge Sonia Sotomayor over her speeches if not her decisions, the full Senate confirmed President Obama’s choice to head NASA, former astronaut Frank Bolden, The Register reports.

In accepting, he called for a renewed commitment to “technological leadership”:

Today, we have to choose. Either we can invest in building on our hard-earned world technological leadership or we can abandon this commitment, ceding it to other nations who are working diligently to push the frontiers of space.”

If we choose to lead, we must build on our investment in the International Space Station, accelerate development of our next generation launch systems to enable expansion of human exploration, enhance NASA’s capability to study Earth’s environment, lead space science to new achievements, continue cutting-edge aeronautics research, support the innovation of American entrepreneurs, and inspire a rising generation of boys and girls to seek careers in science, technology, engineering and math.

Also confirmed: Lori Beth Garver as deputy administrator.

HAVE they found poo on the Red Planet?

Space websites around the world are abuzz with speculation about what NASA's latest Mars probe may have found.

The excitement has been triggered by a report in the journal Aviation Week that the space agency alerted the White House to "major new Phoenix lander discoveries concerning the 'potential for life' ".

Jon Clarke, a geologist with Mars Society Australia, a group dedicated to Martian exploration, said the report had triggered a frenzy of interest. "Chat groups are all speculating about what it is," Dr Clarke said. "We have had emails flying backwards and forwards. Something is certainly in the breeze."

The magazine reports that the discovery was made by a Phoenix experiment package called the Microscopy, Electrochemistry and Conductivity Analyser, or MECA, which is designed to mix Martian soil with water brought from Earth.

In June NASA revealed the instrument had found Martian soil was not toxic, as had been thought, and could be used to grow crops such as asparagus.

Asked to speculate yesterday on what it may have now found, Dr Clarke said the instrument was designed, among other things, to spot dissolved ammonium and nitrate salts.

"On Earth, if you have a lot of ammonium and nitrate it usually means there is organic activity. We excrete it as waste and other organisms use it."

High volumes of such chemistry in a river could point to effluent run-off from a farm. While not life itself, "it could be a sign of biology. Ammonium nitrate is a fertiliser and if present might indicate greater habitability," Dr Clarke said.

NASA has said little about the claims, although it has used the social networking site Twitter to downplay the reports.

The Twitter site, where the Phoenix team has been posting text messages, says: "Heard about the recent news reports implying I may have found Martian life. Those reports are incorrect."

A later message adds: "Reports claiming there was a White House briefing are also untrue and incorrect."

But the magazine did not say it was life that had been discovered but evidence relating to the planet's "habitability".

Aviation Week strongly hinted that an announcement, which it said could be made next month, would be far more dramatic than last week's news that Phoenix had confirmed there is water ice on the planet.

Dr Clarke said the predicted announcement "obviously … has to be bigger than the asparagus [announcement]". But it "could all be a storm in a tea cup". Just in case, "our ears are perked. We can't wait."

The Blue Marble courtesy of NASA

Today is one of the rare times that I post a photo that I did not take. This incredible capture of our planet is in response to the comment PSpotter left on yesterday's entry. Have a great weekend.


NASA's latest hi-res image of Earth. Download more of this at:

This spectacular “blue marble” image is the most detailed true-color image of the entire Earth to date. Using a collection of satellite-based observations, scientists and visualizers stitched together months of observations of the land surface, oceans, sea ice, and clouds into a seamless, true-color mosaic of every square kilometer (.386 square mile) of our planet. These images are freely available to educators, scientists, museums, and the public. This record includes preview images and links to full resolution versions up to 21,600 pixels across.

Much of the information contained in this image came from a single remote-sensing device-NASA’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer, or MODIS. Flying over 700 km above the Earth onboard the Terra satellite, MODIS provides an integrated tool for observing a variety of terrestrial, oceanic, and atmospheric features of the Earth. The land and coastal ocean portions of these images are based on surface observations collected from June through September 2001 and combined, or composited, every eight days to compensate for clouds that might block the sensor’s view of the surface on any single day. Two different types of ocean data were used in these images: shallow water true color data, and global ocean color (or chlorophyll) data. Topographic shading is based on the GTOPO 30 elevation dataset compiled by the U.S. Geological Survey’s EROS Data Center. MODIS observations of polar sea ice were combined with observations of Antarctica made by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s AVHRR sensor—the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer. The cloud image is a composite of two days of imagery collected in visible light wavelengths and a third day of thermal infra-red imagery over the poles. Global city lights, derived from 9 months of observations from the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program, are superimposed on a darkened land surface map.

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Image by Reto Stöckli (land surface, shallow water, clouds). Enhancements by Robert Simmon (ocean color, compositing, 3D globes, animation). Data and technical support: MODIS Land Group; MODIS Science Data Support Team; MODIS Atmosphere Group; MODIS Ocean Group Additional data: USGS EROS Data Center (topography); USGS Terrestrial Remote Sensing Flagstaff Field Center (Antarctica); Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (city lights).

Monday, July 27, 2009

Siemens Energy's Randy Zwirm

Jul 27, 2009 (The Orlando Sentinel - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- SI | Quote | Chart | News | PowerRating -- Randy Zwirn is chief executive officer of Siemens Energy Inc., the Orlando-based Americas headquarters for German-based Siemens AG's power-generation business. Zwirn spoke with Sentinel staff writer Kevin Spear.

CFB: What's the potential for wind energy in the United States?

We believe that by 2030 as much as 20 percent of the nation's energy can come from renewable energy, primarily wind.

CFB: How important is wind energy for Siemens?

I would say, looking at the expectations of the current administration [in Washington, D.C.], very important. We've invested heavily in that market.

CFB: Siemens calls itself a leader in green energy; why don't we hear much about the company and solar?

Actually, we are making investments in solar power. We just announced our first [partial] acquisition of an Italian company called Archimedes, which is involved in photovoltaics. We intend to be a player in the field.

CFB: Siemens recently said it will build a factory in Kansas where hundreds of workers will build the hubs of wind turbines. Does that translate into more work for Siemens in Orlando?

Our growth here in Orlando has been fairly impressive. We will have by the end of the year close to 150 people in our headquarters here who will be involved just in the wind-energy business. While we won't have factories here in Orlando, the staff that supports that business will continue to grow.

CFB: NASA could soon start to lay off thousands of skilled employees at Kennedy Space Center. Do you see Siemens ever opening a wind-turbine factory that could hire those workers?

Probably not a wind-turbine factory, because the issue with wind turbines is logistics. The cost of shipping is really critical. The choice of Kansas and Iowa as our two main factories is because they are contiguous to the main areas where wind turbines would be installed.

CFB: When and where might we see a wind farm in Florida?

Based on the wind patterns in Florida, it's unlikely that wind will play a major role. I would say electricity generation in Florida in the future will come more from natural gas and nuclear.

CFB: Some energy experts say wind power is good only when Mother Nature cooperates and is overly expensive as well.

This country needs to be able to take advantage of all the energy resources available. Oil prices are relatively low today; I guess everybody expects that in the long term they will be going up. The critical issue about a wind turbine is that, No.1, the fuel is free and it doesn't generate any carbon. Today there is no price on carbon; in the future, wind will have the advantage in a carbon-neutral economy.

CFB: A core business is building turbines for electric plants powered by natural gas, coal, nuclear. The company claims green progress there, too?

The primary driver of our R&D is to increase the efficiency of electricity generation, meaning you get more energy out of the same amount of fuel. No one can argue from a green perspective that, if you can get more energy out of the same amount of fuel, it's probably a good thing.

CFB: Congress may be closer than ever to passing major laws on renewable energy and global warming. How important are such steps to Siemens?

I think it's pretty well understood now that carbon is one of the greatest challenges the planet faces today as far as greenhouse-gas emissions. From our standpoint, it's critically important that a price signal be given to the market that there is a cost associated with carbon, in order to stimulate the long-term investment necessary to develop the technologies to address that. It's also important that legislation does not cause an economic shock.

Kevin Spear can be reached at or 407-420-5062.

To see more of The Orlando Sentinel or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to Copyright (c) 2009, The Orlando Sentinel, Fla.
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services. For reprints, email, call 800-374-7985 or 847-635-6550, send a fax
to 847-635-6968, or write to The Permissions Group Inc., 1247 Milwaukee Ave.,
Suite 303, Glenview, IL 60025, USA.
For full details on Siemens Aktien (SI) click here. Siemens Aktien (SI) has Short Term PowerRatings of 2. Details on Siemens Aktien (SI) Short Term PowerRatings is available at This Link.

Major Shuttle and ISS extension drive taking place at the Augustine Commission

July 28th, 2009 by Chris Bergin

With NASA authorization language already being drawn up behind the scenes by Congress, Augustine Commission ISS/Shuttle subgroup lead Dr Sally Ride – along with several key NASA and United Space Alliance (USA) managers – have embarked on a major push to extend the shuttle program, linking the move with the allowance for the International Space Station (ISS) to operate until 2020.

Shuttle Extension:

Efforts to extend the shuttle program past 2010 have been ongoing for over a year, with the main concern relating to the ever-growing gap between the last flight of the shuttle and the first operation flight of Orion via Ares I.

Currently, the shuttle is set to be retired in the middle of 2010, although due to the natural stretch in the shuttle manifest, the remaining seven flights are threatening to push the current schedule into 2011.

Problems with extending shuttle mainly relate to the need for additional funding, with the current shuttle budget forecast to be handed over to the Constellation Program (CxP) in 2010.

Former NASA administrator Mike Griffin also made no secret of his wish to see the end of the shuttle, and regularly played the safety card – before a major NASA study found the vehicle would be safe to fly past 2010.

Another problem relates to the skill set, with thousands of layoffs already announced within the shuttle program – most recently at JSC and KSC.

E4The phase down of contractor support facilities – and thus the availability of flight hardware for the shuttle program – is also continuing, although a freeze on destroying shuttle hardware production capability has been adhered to, following political moves.

However, right now, most – if not all - of the shuttle hardware-related facilities couldbe brought back up to speed without the need for large amounts of funding.

Such a decision would need to be taken sooner - rather than later – in order to reduce the cost impacts.

Augustine Commission:

With the departure of Mr Griffin via the change of government, President Obama’s advisors called for a review of NASA’s direction, from the bottom up, including the Human Space Flight program and plans for the future.

Led by Norm Augustine, the commission is focusing on whether the troubled Constellation Program requires a re-think, as Ares I continues to endure technical and funding challenges, both of which have resulted in the growth of the gap in US human space flight capability to over five years.

E3While alternatives to Ares I are being evaluated – namely the current favorite called the Shuttle Derived (SD) Heavy Lift Launch Vehicle (HLLV), along with a scaled down Ares V – known as Ares IV, Direct’s Jupiter vehicle(s), commerical launch vehicle options, and a Human Rated Atlas V-H and Delta IV-H (although proposed modifications to the EELVs are facing opposition from the USAF) – a growing movement related to extending shuttle has gained a significant amount of momentum of late.

Rumors first started to circulate around a month ago – timed to coincide with major job loss announcements at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) and the Johnson Space Center (JSC) – as managers tried to reassure a demoralized workforce that “nothing was set in stone” with regards to ending shuttle.

The current state of play finds NASA facing what some commentators claim is nothing short of a crisis, with the US enduring over half a decade without its own manned launch capability.

During this period, the superpower will find itself effectively paying the Russians to take over as the lead manned space flight nation, with over a billion dollars already set aside to buy seats on the veteran Soyuz vehicles, in order to transport NASA astronauts to an ISS that was mainly constructed and paid for by the US.

The Augustine Commission have several options to decide from, including a call to boost funding for the Constellation Program to close the gap, although CxP have already admitted they would not be able to launch a manned Orion prior to 2014, regardless of increased funding. Added to the numerous technical issues being endured on the Ares I launch vehicle, this option is unlikely to be taken.

Cancelling Ares I and moving to an alternative vehicle may actually reduce the gap, and most – if not all – of the respective leaders of the alternatives vehicle concepts claim it would also save billions of dollars when compared to the current path.

While such claims are being evaluated by the Augustine Commission, a realignment of funding and direction could play into the hands of extending shuttle, buying the US more time to make the transition, saving the majority of the skill set, holding on to the country’s leadership in space, and fully utilizing the $100 billion Space Station via shuttle for crew transportation and logistical support via the vehicle’s unprecedented upmass – and second-to-none downmass – capabilities.

Dr Sally Ride and the extension options:

Augustine Commission ISS/Shuttle subgroup lead Dr Sally Ride has become one of the key players in securing the extension of the shuttle program as one of the Augustine Commission recommendations to President Obama.

Dr Ride has numerous and powerful allies within NASA and the main contractor groups, not least the United Space Alliance, who pre-empted their stance ahead of meeting with the commission.

“USA Management (USA/JSC): Will go talk to the Augustine Committee. The essence of the briefing will be that it is safe to fly the Shuttle longer, and feasible under certain scenarios, and in the nation’s best interest,” they openly noted on a Shuttle Stand-up/Integration report (L2) last week.

E2Three options have been presented, notably called the “Sally Ride Options” in a presentation acquired by L2, which are based on a manifest stretch through to the end of 2011, a stretch and extension to 2012 that includes two additional shuttle missions, and an extension to 2014 with six additional missions.

All of the options – drawn up at the end of last month – show an intelligent understanding of flight hardware assets and orbiter maintenance requirements, such as the current timelines related to the Orbiter Maintenance Down Periods (OMDP) that come into play via an extension. The OMDP factor is explained in a previous extension-related article.

Option 1: Stretches the current flight schedule for the seven remaining missions through Financial Year (FY) 2011, with Discovery retiring after STS-131 in August 2010, ahead of her September 2010 OMDP deadline.

She would then become a spares donor to Atlantis and Endeavour, as they fly out the three remaining flights, STS-132 (Atlantis), STS-133 (Endeavour), and STS-134 (Atlantis), as the program ends in September 2011.

Based on current Constellation requirements and roadmap, no impact is suffered by Ares I’s test flights or manned flights, noted as “Cx impacts – none for facilities, SSP (Space Shuttle Program) no longer needs two High Bays (in the Vehicle Assembly Building) due to ’spreading out’”.

Option 2: This extension option is classed as the favorite by numerous sources, with two additional flights taking the shuttle program into 2012. Again, Discovery retires first after she’s flown as STS-131, before Atlantis and Endeavour take up the baton to complete the manifest.

With Atlantis’ OMDP deadline in January 2012, she finds herself mothballed after STS-134 in September 2011, with Endeavour finding herself tasked with two additional flights in February and August 2012. For the final flight, Atlantis may find herself “half processed” to become the Launch On Need (LON) support vehicle for Endeavour.

“Cx impacts – none for facilities, SSP no longer needs two High Bays due to ’spreading out’,” adds the presentation. “LON for 2012 – ISS Partners and/or process 104 (Atlantis) for ‘half’ its flow.”

E5The two additional flights require little in the way of additional assets via the Michoud Assembly Facility (MAF), as ET-122 – a “spare” tank at the New Orleans facility – and ET-139 are utilized by Endeavour.

ET-139 and ET-140 (previously known as ET-140 and ET-141 respectively) are part built “get-ahead” tanks, to be used as a buffer in the event an extended extension called for the restart of tank production.

Option 3: This is where ET-140 and four additional tanks would be required (three for flight, one for LON), as Discovery takes up the lead role in this particular extension scenario.

The plan revolves around Discovery returning from the upcoming STS-128 and then undertaking an Orbiter Major Modification (OMM) period at KSC – which eliminates her OMDP deadline – before being tasked with a return to flight in 2011 with STS-134.

Discovery then receives another six flights, flying twice a year through to September 2014, with both Atlantis and Endeavour are retired in 2011 – bar Endeavour’s part-processed use as the LON support for Discovery’s new flights.

“Cx impacts – Ares V impacts to KSC facilities. LON – ISS Partners in 2012+ and/or process 105 (Endeavour) for ‘half’ a flow,” added the presentation, with the Ares V impacts based on its current public schedule. Internally, Ares V has slipped off the charts, making the “impact” a moot point.

Regardless, this four year extension option is unlikely to be favoured due to costs, added to hardware challenges such as new ET production restarting at MAF via new friction weld fabrication, which was referenced only just a few days by Shuttle manager John Shannon in his twice weekly updates (available on L2) on his team’s work on the SD-HLLV concept.

“The biggest concern, identified during discussions with ET, is we’re right on the cusp of disposing of some ET hardware that could be easily available for several options,” Mr Shannon noted, although last week’s Program Requirements Control Board (PRCB) presentations included one from MAF, which made it clear no ET production hardware is to be disposed of, due to “uncertainty regarding future requirements (in the space program).”

Political Support for Shuttle and ISS Extension:

Dr Ride’s options appear to have moved on a stage, with information acquired by L2 that at least one version of draft NASA authorization language is currently being worked on behind the scenes in Congress, which appears to focus on Option 2 – to extend shuttle into 2012 – centralized on extending the operational life of the ISS to 2020.

Extending ISS to 2020 is not just logistics and crew transport related, but also appears to include the potential to “beef up” Station via additional hardware being flow, centralized on the ISS’ roadmap that was created ten years ago. As to which hardware this could ultimately relate to is not specified.

“1. The Space Shuttle Program shall not be terminated by a date certain. Termination of space shuttle missions operations shall be contingent upon: a. Completion of the Mission Manifest planned as of April 30, 2009, by whatever date the planned missions may be safely conducted according to the planned mission content and objectives,” noted wording that is understood to be in one draft language that has only recently being created.

“b. Delivery of remaining flight-ready orbital replacement units, spare replacement units, research instrumentation and other maintenance materials and research equipment originally scheduled for delivery to the International Space Station within the space station assembly sequence entitled “Revision F,” dated October 24, 2000, and which require the capabilities of the space shuttle in order to be delivered to the International Space Station; and

“c. A determination by the President of the United States, forwarded to the appropriate Committees of jurisdiction, that voluntary termination of space shuttle missions in support of International Space Station operations at any point shall not cause a degradation of the capability to deliver equipment, logistics, cargo upmass and down-mass necessary to provide full utilization of international space station science and research capabilities, for both United States National Laboratory and International Partner scientific research and experimentation, through Calendar Year 2020.

“Such a determination shall include the basis for any conclusion or determination not to plan for delivery of previously-manifested equipment, spares, and logistics support for ISS operations, maintenance and research capability, including the feasibility and availability of alternative launch and delivery systems in a proposed post-shuttle operations period during the remaining life of the International Space Station.

The second element to the draft language finally makes the call in real dollar figures for what it would take to extend shuttle in the current climate – noting such monies may actually be gained via the cancellation of the Ares I launch vehicle, in favor for a less expensive alternative.

Even if Ares I survives, it would cost around $5.6 billion over two years to extend shuttle to 2012, effectively allowing an improved ISS to extend to 2020, save several thousand shuttle jobs, whilst reducing the gap by two years.

“2. For purposes of implementing the provisions of paragraph 1, there are authorized to be appropriated an additional $200 million for Space Shuttle operations in FY 2010, a total of $2.7 billion for Space Shuttle Operations in FY 2011, and a total of $2.7 billion for Space Shuttle Operations in FY 2012,” added the information.

“3. Additional sums may be appropriated, as necessary, to ensure planned flight hardware currently maintained in storage or in an incomplete flight readiness testing program and systems integration process, may be configured and integrated for launch aboard currently-planned or potentially additional space shuttle flights in the post-2010 time period, or upon alternative payload delivery systems, whether provided by cost-sharing investments of international Partners (launch vehicles, testing and integration) or by reasonable and economic alternative systems.”

E6However, political language, extension options, and internal NASA support for extension have been seen before, with nothing changing as a result.

The difference this time around is the Augustine Commission, which now finds itself with a clear option to either recommend extension for Shuttle and ISS, or effectively allow for the end of US dominance in Human Space Flight in just over a year’s time.

Also, the head of NASA isn’t publicly dismissing the option this time around.

Ultimately, Shuttle’s D-Day is around the corner, the battle lines have been drawn, and the outcome expected to be known in just a few weeks time when Mr Augustine reveals the commissions recommendations to the President.

Reference: Previous *main* Shuttle Extension articles by

L2 members: Documentation – from which the above article has quoted snippets – is available in full in the related L2 sections, now over 4000 gbs in size.

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The Significance of Darfur in Sudan

In a word - oil in the form of huge potential reserves with Chinese companies involved in discovering them. Washington's genocide claim is a hoax. Yet it's trumpeted by the media and foolhardy celebrities used as props for the charade. By 2007, China was getting up to 30% of its oil from Africa prompting its "extraordinary series of diplomatic initiatives that left Washington furious" and determined to respond.

Beijing offers African countries "no-strings-attached dollar credits" compared to exploitive IMF and World Bank terms. It paid off with important oil deals with Nigeria, South Africa, and Sudan's Darfur region. China National Petroleum Company (CNPC) is now Sudan's largest foreign investor, around $15 billion in the past decade, and it co-owns a refinery near Khartoum. It also built an oil pipeline from southern Sudan to Port Sudan on the Red Sea from where tankers ship it to China.

With its need for oil growing at around 30% a year, China must have all the secure sources it can arrange, so what Africa can supply is crucial. Hence the Darfur confrontation, fake genocide charges, and Washington pressuring the government to sever its ties with China, something Khartoum won't countenance.

For years as well, America used proxy Chad, Eritrea, and other forces, poured arms into Southeastern Sudan and Darfur, and trained the Sudan People's Liberation Army's (SPLA) John Garang at the School of the Americas for his role as a Pentagon's stooge. His campaign in the country's south, and that of others in Darfur, killed tens of thousands and left several million displaced. At stake is vital energy and other resources from Sudan and elsewhere, including the Democratic Republic of Congo, long reeling from Washington-initiated aggression using proxy forces for the dirty work.

For one, Chad's thuggish "President for life" Idriss Deby's elite troops, trained and armed by the Pentagon, for attacks in Darfur and to aid rebel forces against the Khartoum government in Southwestern Sudan. A US/World Bank-financed pipeline also extends from Chad to the Cameroon coast as "part of a far grander scheme to control the oil riches of Central Africa from Sudan to the Gulf of Guinea" - an area with reserves potentially on a par with the Persian Gulf making it a great enough prize to go all out for.

Enter China with "buckets of aid money" offered Chad the result of Deby wanting a greater share of the revenues, creating his own oil company, SHT, and threatening to expel Chevron for not paying its required taxes. Things got resolved, "but the winds of change were blowing" with China taking advantage, something "not greeted well in Washington."

"Chad and Darfur (are) part of a significant Chinese effort to secure oil at the source(s), all across Africa," a matter Washington's Africa policy is addressing with AFRICOM and various military bases on the continent plus others planned. Washington wants global control of oil. Because of its growing needs, China represents a challenge everywhere but especially in Africa and Latin America. The result - "an undeclared, but very real, New Cold War (is on) over oil."

Tibet is another battleground with unrest unleashed ahead of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The operation dates from when George Bush met the Dalai Lama publicly in Washington for the first time, signaled his backing for Tibetan independence, and awarded him the Congressional Gold Medal. It clearly angered China that considers Tibet part of its territory.

China also worried that Washington targeted Tibet with a Crimson Revolution much like earlier ones in Georgia, Ukraine and elsewhere while at the same time embarrassing Beijing ahead of its Olympics - intended to display its prosperity to a world television audience round the clock from August 8 - 24. The stakes on both sides are huge and remain so going forward.

The Dalai Lama plays a pivotal role, but not what most people think. Although promoted in the West as spiritual and concerned for human rights and justice, as far back as the 1930s he "traveled in rather extreme conservative political circles," including with extremist Nazis when he was a boy.

Later in 1999, he joined with Margaret Thatcher and GHW Bush in demanding the British government release Augusto Pinochet, under house arrest in London, and not extradite him to Spain for prosecution. Also, US government documents dating from 1959 revealed that he was was financed and backed by "various US and Western intelligence services and their gaggle of NGOs." He continues to serve them today and got a White House meeting and Congressional Gold Medal for his efforts.

In 1959, the CIA helped him flee Tibet to Dharamsala, India where he's lived for the past 50 years, surfacing where Washington sends him for whatever purpose is intended. He's also gotten millions of NED dollars to engage in disruptive activities benefitting the West against designated adversaries.

"The most prominent pro-Dalai Lama Tibet independence organization in the destabilization attempt of 2008 was the International Campaign for Tibet (ICT), founded in Washington in 1988." Its board of directors includes former US State Department officials revealing Washington's clear involvement. For the past 15 years, NED provided funding for its usual type mischief. Other anti-Beijing organizations are also active, including the US-based Students for a Free Tibet (SFT), founded in 1994 as a US Tibet Committee project, financed by NED for "made-in-the-USA" subversion.

Tibet is also important as one of the world's most valued water sources and for its "treasure of minerals....oil (and) some of the world's largest uranium and borax deposits, one half of the world's lithium, the largest copper deposits in Asia, enormous iron deposits, and over 80,000 gold mines." Also its forests contain China's largest timber reserve, and its "treasure basin" border with Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region has 57 types of mineral reserves, including oil, natural gas, coal, crude salt, potassium, magnesium, lead, zinc and gold worth an estimated $1.8 trillion. Truly a "treasure" worth contesting for and the reason for America's interest. Human rights and promoting democracy are subterfuge, the same as everywhere America has a strategic interest, usually focused on resources.

Destabilizing Tibet "was part of a shift of great a time when the US economy and the US dollar....were in the worst crisis since the 1930s....By the end of 2008 (America looked) more and more like the British Empire of the late 1930s - a global imperium in terminal decline" yet determined to impose its will on an increasingly reluctant world wanting better alternatives than they're getting. Quashing it requires "full spectrum dominance," something the Pentagon clearly understands. So do nations like China, Russia, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, and others on every continent.

Global Bases As the Basis of Empire

NATO currently includes 28 member states, including 10 former Soviet Republics and Warsaw Pact countries. Prospective new candidates include Georgia, Ukraine, Croatia, Albania and Macedonia and potentially others later to more tightly encircle Russia. At the same time, the Middle East and part of Eurasia have been increasingly militarized with a network of US bases from Qatar to Iraq, Afghanistan and beyond - a clear breach of GHW Bush's promise to Mikhail Gorbachev that paved the way for unifying Germany in 1990 and dissolving the Soviet Union.

The Pentagon has hundreds of bases globally, 1000 or more by some estimates, including secret and shared ones for greater control - at a time when no nation threatens America yet trillions of dollars are spent anyway and over time may bankrupt the nation.

Many of them were built in the last 10 years starting with Camp Bondsteel in occupied Kosovo. Numerous others followed in Hungary, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Albania, Macedonia, Iraq, Afghanistan, and new ones planned for Eastern Europe, Central Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean - to be closer to potential targets like Russia, China, Iran, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Cuba.

In recent years, it's become clear that America seeks more than the strategic control of resources. It wants global dominance, without challenge, by political, economic and military means. In other words, "full spectrum dominance" to become master of the universe.

Along with encroachment, encirclement and control, another agenda is in play - over a dozen built or planned Afghanistan bases to defend the country's opium fields and the lucrative billions they provide. Much like Southeast Asia's Golden Triangle in the 1960s and 1970s, they supply CIA with significant drug revenues, then laundered through front company banks abroad and at home to finance covert and intelligence activities along with the agency's generous black budget.

Pentagon planners regard Afghanistan as strategically crucial - to project military power against Russia, China, Iran, and other oil-rich Middle East States. It's also for a proposed oil pipeline from the Caspian Sea to the Indian Ocean and close to Kyrgyzstan where another US base is planned at Bishkek's international airport. In all, 13 new US bases will cross Eurasia, including three in Pakistani cities. Most, perhaps all, are permanent, especially in occupied Iraq and Afghanistan.

America in Terminal Decline?

Like ancient Rome, Ottoman Turkey, Britain, Austria-Hungary, and dozens of other previous empires, America increasingly shows signs of "terminal decline as Bush and Cheney launched their bold military policies to extend its imperial life, or as George HW Bush (called it), the New World Order." Friendly persuasion no longer works. Raw military power is the strategy, "a de facto admission of the failure of the American Century" and a sign of its terminal decline.

At the end of the Cold War, a "leaner and meaner" nuclear force" was deployed with little fanfare, including (post-2004) Conplan 8022 (for contingency plan) putting nuclear bombers on Ready Alert status from global locations - to conduct "Global Strikes" anywhere with devastating force, nuclear or conventional. In addition, NATO "would be subject to US desires and adventures" - a very disquieting situation for potential targets and planet earth if nuclear weapons are used.

The Curious History of "Star Wars"

As mentioned above, Ronald Reagan proposed the Strategic Defense Initiative (dubbed "Star Wars") on March 23, 1983 even though the whole idea is fantasy as independent experts then and now assert. MIT's Theodore Postal for one, a leading authority on ballistic missile defenses. He flatly states:

"the National Missile Defense System has no credible scientific chance of working (and) is a serious abuse of our security system."

Nonetheless, the program was launched, and according to a former economic studies head of the Soviet Union's Institute of World and Economy & International Relations (IMECO), it forced his country to spend so much that it contributed greatly to the Warsaw Pact's collapse and Germany's 1990 reunification.

NASA and Military Secrecy

In 1958, the National Aeronautics and Space Act created NASA's Space Program in response to the Soviet's successful October 1957 Sputnik 1 launching. The Space Race was on to see which side could trump the other but not without inevitable problems.

A major one happened on January 28, 1986 when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded in flight killing all on board. Official causes cited faulty O-rings to hide the truth. Contrary to NASA being "devoted to peaceful purposes for the benefit of mankind," it's really to control space, weaponize it, launch first-strikes against adversaries like Russia, and achieve "full spectrum dominance."

In December 2000, prior to Donald Rumsfeld becoming Defense Secretary, the Pentagon's newly released Strategy Report for Europe and NATO included a Theater Missile Defense section in clear violation of the ABM Treaty. Russia and China expressed "grave concern," and with good reason. They're the main targets and they know it.

"Missile defense" is for offense, but not against "rogue states" or "terrorists." It's for nuclear supremacy ("unilateral assured destruction") and "full spectrum dominance." It's also to intimidate rivals like Russia and China, and potentially unleash a first-strike attack with catastrophic consequences if it happens.

Iran threatens no other nation, and so far as known, its commercial nuclear program complies with NPT unlike notorious nuclear outlaw states - Israel, India and Pakistan. Nonetheless, Tehran may also be targeted for its huge oil and natural gas reserves and to remove Israel's main regional rival. But that's a sideshow. "Full spectrum dominance" depends on eliminating any challenge from Russia mainly, a nuclear superpower, then China, a less formidable nuclear threat but growing economic rival.

Washington's Nuclear Obsession

Russia knows that "missile defense" is for offense and nuclear supremacy to enforce America's will on the world without challenge. After September 11, 2001, the Bush administration renounced its treaty obligations, like ABM, then pursued "explicitly banned weapons....with hardly a peep of protest from Congress" or most other nations.

Studies like the 1995-96 Air Force 2025 elaborately detailed "hundreds of technologically advanced, super-sophisticated space-based weapons systems intended to provide the United States with global combat support capabilities in space (to let America) remain the dominant air and space force in the future...."

One example is a laser cannon to:

"successfully attack ground or airborne targets by melting or cracking cockpit canopies, burning through control cables, exploding fuel tanks, melting or burning sensor assemblies and antenna arrays, exploding or melting munitions pods, destroying ground communications and power grids, and melting or burning a large variety of strategic targets (of every imaginable kind) - all in a fraction of a second."

During the Cold War, Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) restrained both sides. However, with space-based capabilities, America could think the unthinkable - the insane idea that nuclear war harms only the target, not the US or rest of the world. That's "really and truly mad."

Secretly under development since the 1970s, Nuclear Missile Defense (NMD) includes:

-- radar installations to detect enemy missile launches and track them; and

-- ground-based interceptor missiles to destroy them in flight before they reach US air space.

The Bush administration planned interceptor sites in California, Alaska, and Poland. Installing "infrastructure in East Europe was far and away the most reckless enterprise of a cabal that had already demonstrated its bent for dangerous and foolish brinkmanship." With missile "defenses" within minutes of Russian targets, Moscow wouldn't know if they were nuclear armed or not, but the possibility puts the world "on a hair-trigger to possible nuclear war, by design or miscalculation," and thus the greatest ever threat to possible Armageddon if leaders on either side react wrongly.

Yet that's precisely the path still on with Obama pursuing the same recklessness as George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld - "full spectrum dominance, the New World Order, and the elimination of Russia, once and for all, as a potential rival for power." China potentially as well. Installing NMD is one part of the grand scheme. Launching offensive nuclear missiles another, and today the chance it may happen is greater than ever, despite the sheer madness of doing it.

Yet NMD is "coupled with the Top Secret order by the Secretary of implement Conplan 8022, 'which provides the President a prompt, global strike capability.' (It means Washington) decided to make nuclear war an 'option' " - an absolutely insane strategy.

Dr. Strangelove Lives!

The 1964 Stanley Kubrick film portrayed a nuclear Doomsday Machine with the subtitle: "How to stop worrying and love the bomb." It ended with "an accidental, inadvertent, pre-emptive US nuclear attack on the Soviet Union," today more possible than ever, something the film only portrayed as black comedy.

Conplan 8022 is offensive and preemptive on "the mere perception of an imminent threat, and carried out by Presidential order," with no Congressional authorization, internal debate, or consultation with allies. Today, the world risks Armageddon based solely on perception, US intentions, and whether the president of the United States pulls the nuclear trigger.

The Permanent War State Lobby

Post-WW II, US dominance "depended on two main pillars:"

-- maintaining the dollar as the world's reserve currency, with oil and other hard commodities dollar denominated; and

-- unchallengeable US military power.

The American Security Council

Founded in 1956, the Washington-based American Security Council (ASC) is "One of the least-known and most influential organizations to formulate policy initiatives for (the) military-industrial complex....(It's) played a prominent role in almost every important foreign policy or national security program since World War II." According to its web site, its "inner circle" included some "of the most influential names in the American establishment of the day."

Figures like Time magazine's founder Henry Luce and his wife Clare Boothe Luce, closely tied to CIA chief Allen Dulles who considered Henry one of his key media assets. Noteworthy others as well - a who's who, including Walt Disney, Averell Harriman, Senator Thomas Dodd (Chris Dodd's father), Senator Henry (Scoop) Jackson, General Douglas MacArthur, House Speaker Sam Rayburn, Nelson Rockefeller, Eugene Rostow, Senator John Tower, Admiral Elmo Zumwalt, and "some of the most aggressive military organizations in the United States."

Throughout the Cold War, "the ASC was at the heart of propaganda and lobbying initiatives which supported the military-industrial complex and the establishment of America's permanent Security State and war economy."

After the Soviet Union's dissolution, a New Military-Industrial Complex emerged, according to writers Ian Mount, David Freedman, and Matthew Maier in the March 2003 issue of Business2.0. It embraced "the latest generation of high-tech weaponry (and) the military's new doctrine of faster, lighter, smarter warfare - combat in which cutting-edge technology becomes US troops' deadliest weapon."

The Pentagon calls it a Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA) or a blueprint for "full spectrum dominance." Its proponents include "some of the most powerful people ever (in) Washington, including Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney," out of office but still influential.

The Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA)

Afghanistan and Iraq are examples of "alternative methods to secure the American Century well into the future." So is the notion of first-strike with enough force to prevent any significant retaliation. The Pentagon's notion of "counterforce" means the ability to destroy an adversary's nuclear missiles pre-launch with Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD), then "cleaning up" the few still remaining to precude retaliation.

The idea isn't new and first surfaced in the 1970s under Nixon, Kissinger, and other prominent military-industrial complex figures. In a word, it's that "nuclear war is not only 'thinkable,' it was do-able" to secure US Nuclear Primacy.

In January 1974, in the midst of the Watergate crisis, Nixon signed National Security Decision Memorandum 242 (NSDM-242) titled "Policy for Planning for Employment of Nuclear Weapons....for Deterrence." It stated that:

"The United States will rely primarily on US and allied conventional forces to deter conventional aggression by both nuclear and non-nuclear powers. Nevertheless, this does not preclude US use of nuclear weapons in response to conventional aggression." It also said "The fundamental mission of US nuclear forces is to deter nuclear war (and) attacks - conventional and nuclear" and implied that first-strike would be used to do it as part of new nuclear war options. "The USA was going for it all."

Defense Secretary James Schlesinger directed the development of new technologies to achieve it, including:

-- miniaturization of nuclear warheads enough for one missile nose cone to carry up to 17; and

-- atomic physics and computerized navigational device advances to improve accuracy to within 50 feet of a target.

These breakthroughs gave America a first ever strategic edge - the ability to destroy hardened silos, submarines and aircraft. Even so, the "essential element to make the entire program workable and operational remained (elusive): a Ballistic Missile Defense (BDM) system to take out any (surviving) Soviet missiles" that could be launched in retaliation.

So in 1973, RAND think-tank specialist Dr. Andrew W. Marshall became Director of the Office of Net Assessment, US Defense Department, and created what was called the Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA). He described it as:

"a major change in the nature of warfare brought about by the innovative application of new technologies which, combined with dramatic changes in military doctrine and operational and organizational concepts, fundamentally alters the character and conduct of military operations."

Marshall became known as "Yoda," referring to the Star Wars film character Grand Master of the Jedi Order. At age 86, he's still active because of his expertise, skills, and value. His job is "to assess regional and global military balances and to determine long-term trends and threats."

Developing first-strike systems continued after Richard Nixon, including Jimmy Carter's Presidential Directives PD 18 - 59 calling for:

-- developing Anti-Satellite weapons (ASAT) to destroy Soviet early warning systems;

-- Pershing II missiles to decapitate the Soviet leadership; and

-- a Counterforce Nuclear First Strike to destroy almost all Soviet nuclear weapons.

During his tenure, Carter "authorized the greatest commitment to war-fighting of any President in history." Nonetheless, an effective anti-missile defense remains "the missing link to a First Strike capability." The Cold War ended in 1990. America's quest for a First Strike advantage still continues. It's considered the "grand prize for global domination through Nuclear Primacy."

That along with a new way of waging wars: "by spy satellites and long-range missiles, by computer viruses that would disable the enemies' offensive and defensive systems, and by a 'layered' defense system that would make the US impenetrable."

The political climate and neoliberal heyday under Bill Clinton held new military technological advances at bay. That changed under George Bush, even before 9/11, with Andrew Marshall still around and active at an advanced age. His proteges include a rogues gallery of hawks, including Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, and Dick Cheney who with others comprised the hard core defense and intelligence team, neocons in the Bush administration.

"As a group, Andrew Marshall's proteges formed the most powerful military lobby in the US policy establishment in the first years of the 21st century. They advocated radical force transformation, deployment of anti-missile defense, unilateral pre-emptive aggression, and militarization of space in order to use the US military to achieve for the United States and its closest allies, total domination of the planet (and) outer space. It was perhaps the most dangerous group of ideologues in United States history," and their influence remains.

Marshall advocates weaponizing new technologies and testing them in real conflicts like Iraq and Afghanistan. Obama's security appointments reflect the same ideas and goals so expect continuation of Bush policies ahead. He favored preemptive aggressive wars. So does Obama as evidenced by his stepped up offensive in Afghanistan and Pakistan, permanent occupation of Iraq, challenging Russia with offensive missiles, and encirclement with new military bases.

Challenging the Official 9/11 Scenario

Skeptics abound and with good reason. The idea that 19 Arab terrorists "could commandeer, with only primitive boxcutters, four sophisticated Boeing commercial jets and redirect three of them, successfully, as apparently poorly-trained amateurs in air maneuvers which seasoned pilots claimed were near impossible" seemed utterly preposterous.

Eckehardt Werthebach, former German domestic intelligence service president said:

"the deathly precision and the magnitude of planning behind the attacks would have needed years of planning (and would require the) fixed frame (of a state intelligence organization unavailable to a) loose group" of terrorists. Werthebach's conclusion: the attacks were "state organized actions."

Andreas von Bulow, a former German Parliamentary Commission member in charge of three branches of German secret service, believes the Israeli Mossad and CIA were responsible for the attacks using corrupt "guns for hire" to pull it off. The lack of an open and serious investigation was incomprehensible in their view and proof of an official cover-up. Other experts agree. The 9/11 story is preposterous on its face - concocted to hide the truth.

Just as Franklin Roosevelt used Japan's Pearl Harbor attack (known well in advance to be coming) to launch The American Century, the neocons around George Bush used 9/11 for the Global War on Terror, attacking Afghanistan and Iraq, and waging permanent war on the world ever since with defense appropriations topping a trillion dollars annually in spite of America having no enemies.

In a bid for "full spectrum dominance" to extend many years into the future, "It was to be an increasingly desperate bid to prop up a crumbling empire, that like ancient Rome, the Ottoman Empire, Czarist Russia, the British Empire," and all others in history, "had already rotted far too deeply from within." The price of imperial arrogance yields bitter fruit. America is no exception. It's not a question of if it will fall, just when and with what fallout.

Full Spectrum Dominance or Fully Mad

Under George Bush, "defense" spending "exploded beyond all precedent" and annually way exceeds $1 trillion dollars now with all categories included. The official Pentagon budget alone more than doubled from $333 billion in FY 2001 to $711 billion for FY 2009, and Obama's proposed FY 2010 budget is the highest ever requested. Today, America accounts for around half of all global military spending - at a time it has no enemies but seeks global dominance through wars, intimidation or other means.

Supporting a "Mafia state" in Kosovo is one example. When Kosovars declared their independence in early 2008, Washington extended recognition despite objections from several EU countries and the fact "Kosovo independence and its recognition openly violated UN resolutions for Kosovo, making a farce of the UN, as well as violating international law."

Equally troublesome is Kosovo's prime minister, Hashim Thaci, a known criminal whom Interpol and German BND intelligence connect to organized crime, including drugs trafficking, extortion, and prostitution. No matter, as Washington, NATO, and the EU embrace a man they can control, and for America it secured a strategic foothold in Southeast Europe - "a major step in consolidating NATO's control of Eurasia...." Moscow objected vehemently as it compromises its own security.

Georgia's August 2008 South Ossetia invasion did as well, another provocation very troublesome to the Kremlin, and with good reason. Like most others, it was made-in-the-USA and Moscow knew it, especially after uncovering incriminating evidence besides what was already known about Washington and Israel's involvement.

After Russia easily defeated the Georgian army, its spy satellite spotted a convoy with Georgian special troops en route to Poti, the port city under Russian occupation. It was captured along with its weapons and "a large trove of top-secret NATO documents concerning their hightly secret satellite technology." It was analyzed, used to capture large stocks of US military equipment stored in Georgia, and humiliate Washington and Israel at the same time.

It was also learned that captured Pentagon electronic equipment was manufactured in the Ukraine (a non-NATO state) under US license, yet "NATO-compatible sensitive military equipment" was being made there sub rosa. The discovery for Russia "totally compromised both the American and Israeli intelligence networks set up in Georgia (to spy) on Iran, Russia and Turkey."

Later it was learned that Ukraine president Viktor Yushchenko was involved in illegal Georgian arms sales, fraudulently under-reported their value to his own tax authorities, and engaged in extensive embezzlement exceeding $1 billion for himself and associates.

Yet along with Georgia, Washington supports Ukraine's admission to NATO for greater chokehold control over Russia. Gangster dictatorships in both countries make them all the more attractive to America's strategic aim for global dominance.

AFRICOM, China and Resource Wars

China's rapid growth requires increasing amounts of all types of resources, especially oil, natural gas and all others for its industries plus enough food to feed its huge and growing population. Getting them puts it in competition with America that wants global control of them all.

For its part, geologists believe Africa holds the world's largest mineral riches. The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for one, an immense country the size of Western Europe with its Kivu region bordering Rwanda, Uganda, and Burundi in the East being one of the most mineral-rich regions in the world, which is why so much conflict vies to control it.

Overall, Congo has over half the world's cobalt, one-third of its diamonds, and three-fourths of its vital columbite-tantalite or "coltan," essential for computer chips, circuit boards, mobile phones, laptops, and other electronic devices. Having the right leadership in the country and its neighbors is thus crucial, and when any outlive their usefulness they're removed, by assassination or other means.

"The common thread linking Kivu with Darfur" and other vital regions of the continent is that America wants control of their resources to be able to deny them to China and other non-strategic partners. For its part, Beijing needs a reliable present and future supply and has taken effective non-military means to secure them.

The toll on Congolese has been horrific, the result of Washington-engineered conflict to split the country and control its eastern riches. According to the International Rescue Committee, over 5.4 million civilians have been killed in ongoing fighting since 1996, without a word of outcry from the Western media compared to fraudulent genocide claims in Darfur.

Also unreported was that Congo's president, Joseph Kabila, was negotiating a $9 billion trade agreement with China - his "irreversible choice" as preferred trading partner to the displeasure of Washington. Shortly afterwards, eastern fighting broke out with regional US stooges attacking the DRC - Rwanda's president Paul Kagame (trained at Fort Leavenworth, KS) and Laurent Nkunda (another Fort Leavenworth product), his ally and henchman with all signs pointing to a US role sure to intensify with the establishment of AFRICOM.

America's two key Eastern Africa military partners, Rwanda and Uganda, are used freely against Eastern Congo to counter China's influence in the region. "The balkanization of Congo appeared to be a major objective behind the organized chaos (and mass slaughter) in the Great Lakes region."

Throughout the continent, the Pentagon under George Bush signed base agreements with numerous countries, including Botswana, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Morocco, Namibia, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Tunisia, Uganda, and Zambia - besides many others in Iraq and other Middle Eastern oil-rich states.

China is the target - seen as a threat to Washington's control of the continent's riches. Its rapid industrialization requires growing amounts of "every mineral commodity imaginable...." AFRICOM was established to secure them for America and deny them to Beijing by blocking its economic presence in the region.

Obama supports it, and it's why he retained Robert Gates as Defense Secretary. He's said publicly that he backs offensive missiles in Poland and connected radar in the Czech Republic - both targeting Russia, not Iran, the official claim. In addition, Marine General James Jones, a former NATO commander, was appointed National Security Advisor and played a central role in establishing AFRICOM. After retiring, he served on the boards of Boeing and Chevron Oil and is closely connected to the military-industrial-oil complex as well as neocons in the Bush administration. Obama also appointed Admiral Dennis Blair, a former Pacific Fleet commander and China specialist, as Director of National Intelligence - the top intelligence job.

Afghanistan as "The Main Geopolitical Prize"

Straightaway in his new administration, Obama ordered an additional 17,500 more troops to the country, potentially more to follow, and just recently appointed a new commander, General Stanley McChrystal, described earlier as a hired gun with a reputation for brutishness and indifference to slaughtering civilians.

America's interest in Afghanistan has nothing to do with bin Laden (likely dead since December 2001), Al Qaeda, or the Taliban. It's all about "geopolitics and the geopolitical encirclement of both China and Russia" with Eurasia the grandest of grand prizes. To do it after the 2001 invasion, America built at least 19 military bases in Central East Asia and Middle Asia, including 14 in Afghanistan - for regional control and "air and space surveillance systems to monitor air traffic throughout all of Eurasia, from China to Russia."

America's obsession with militarism includes the homeland with an array of post-9/11 police state laws destroying constitutional checks and balances and Bill of Rights protections. Illegal spying on Americans is now widespread and commonplace, and the Pentagon, for starters, ordered 20,000 combat troops deployed inside the country by 2011. In addition, the Bush administration funded FEMA with hundreds of millions of dollars to retrofit former military bases and construct other facilities as detention camps.

Currently, over 800 are in every state, ready if ordered, with enough capacity for many tens of thousands of internees. They're not ordinary in any sense. They're concentration camps for dissidents or others targeted by order of the president or others he directs. In addition, National Guard forces will be employed, and local police have been militarized to work cooperatively with the Pentagon to achieve police state enforcement on the pretext of "respond(ing) to a nuclear terrorist attack or other domestic catastrophe."

It's why this writer calls the country Police State America, and unless addressed will get more hardline until fast disappearing civil liberties no longer exist and the nation is isn't safe or fit to live in. That's where we're heading without a hint from Big Media.

Equally alarming is an Obama administration proposal calling for a National Civilian Security Force that will be "at least as powerful and well-funded as the US military."

Early in the new administration, it's clear that continuity, not change, is planned with "full spectrum dominance" the goal, globally, including hardline in America. What's unclear is "the extent to which the most devastating economic crisis since the Great Depression would affect the ability of Washington policymakers to project that power."

Going forward, today's choices "could spell the end of the American Century from the rot of its own internal policy since the Vietnam War." The nation's militarism threatens its own survival "as a functioning democracy" and the planet.

In his writings, Chalmers Johnson explains that America is plagued by the same dynamic that doomed past empires unwilling to change - "isolation, overstretch, the uniting of local and global forces opposed to imperialism, and in the end bankruptcy" along with authoritarian rule and loss of personal freedom. Nixon's chief economic advisor, Herb Stein, explained it saying: "Things that can't go on forever, won't."

Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization. He lives in Chicago and can be reached at

Also visit his blog site at sjlendman/ and listen to The Global Research News Hour on Monday - Friday at 10AM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on world and national issues. All programs are archived for easy listening.

Stephen Lendman is a frequent contributor to Global Research. Global Research Articles by Stephen Lendman

New faces lead LCSD1 schools

CHEYENNE -- This fall, 12 schools in Laramie County School District 1 will have new principals, assistants or associate principals.

Royce Backman replaces Mike Hamel as associate principal at Johnson Junior High. Hamel is the principal of Cheyenne's new South High.

Backman has been an assistant principal at Johnson Junior High for seven years. His new salary is $91,802.

He was assistant principal Rawlins Middle and taught K-12 music in Cokeville. He earned his bachelor's degree in music education from Utah State University and a master's degree in educational administration from the University of Wyoming.

He and his wife, LaDonna, have two sons and two daughters.

Don Brantz is the new principal at Arp Elementary. He replaces Janet Materi, who retired and will be the new principal at St. Mary's Catholic School this fall.

Brantz's new salary is $99,373. He worked at Carey Junior High for 17 years. He was a full-time assistant principal for five years and two years part-time. He taught math and science at Carey for 12 years.

Brantz is from Sheridan and earned his degree in math, business administration and a minor in physics from Rocky Mountain College in Billings, Mont. He earned his master's degree at Leslie College of Cambridge, Mass., in computers in education and his administrative certification from UW.

He and his wife, Terri, have four children.

Della Rose Buchmann has been a classroom teacher for 10 years. She is the new assistant principal at Dildine Elementary, replacing Matt Schlagel. He is the new principal at Cole Elementary.

Buchmann attended Laramie County School District 1 from kindergarten through 12th grade. She is a graduate of Cheyenne's East High.

She was a teacher coach last year at Baggs, Anderson and Dildine elementary schools. She taught at Anderson Elementary in Cheyenne and taught eight years in San Diego, Calif.

Buchmann earned her degree in social sciences and elementary education at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, Colo. She earned her master's degree in curriculum from San Diego State University and her principal's endorsement from UW.

She and her husband, Bryce, have two children.

Her new salary is $80,948.

Brian Cox is a new assistant principal at Central High, and replaces Cory Talich, who resigned to work in a family business.

Cox said he will work with sophomores, athletics and facilities at Central High. His new salary is $87,230.

Cox taught science at McCormick Junior High for two years, creating an environmental and recycling club there.

He taught at Air Academy High at the U.S. Air Force Academy at Colorado Springs, Colo., for five years. He was a department chair there.

Cox earned a bachelor's degree from UW, a master's degree in space studies at CU-Boulder and the NASA Space Foundation and an administration endorsement at UW.

He is a graduate of Lawson High in Colorado Springs. He is married to Adrienne Cox.

John Cunningham is the new assistant principal at Johnson Junior High. He has been an assistant principal at Pioneer Park Elementary for six years.

He was born and raised Brighton, Colo., and is a graduate of Brighton High.

He earned his undergraduate degree in psychology and a master's in special education from the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, Colo., and an administrative endorsement from UW.

Cunningham taught special education at elementary schools and the high school in Torrington for nine years. He worked with adolescent day treatment for LCSD1 for five years and taught at the Therapeutic Learning Center at Pioneer Park for six years. His salary is $83,470.

Mike Hamel is the head principal of the future Cheyenne South High.

The school officially opens in 2010-11. But he has high-school duties now and an office at Johnson Junior High. He also will oversee South High's activities program, which starts this fall. His salary is $110,538.

Hamel has been the associate principal at Johnson Junior High for the last year.

He was a building administrator for 13 years in Green River, which included jobs as assistant principal and principal at Monroe Middle School and assistant principal /activities director at Green River High.

He taught high-school science and math at Rawlins, Gillette and Alaska.

He earned his secondary education degree at UW and a master's degree in educational administration from the University of Southern Mississippi.

He and his wife, Shelley, have 11 children.

Michael Helenbolt of Lander is principal at Cheyenne's Triumph High, LCSD1's alternative high school. His salary is 104,589. He replaces Gary Datus who retired.

Helenbolt taught math and coached from 1981-91 at Natrona County High in Casper. He was associate principal of Green River High from 1991-95, principal of Roosevelt High in Sioux Falls, S.D., from 1995-97, principal of Lander Valley High in Lander from 1997-2005 and principal of Fort Washakie preK-8 grade school on the Wind River Indian Reservation from 2005-09.

He earned a bachelor of science in math from the University of North Dakota and a master of arts in educational administration from UW.

He and his wife, Nancy, have four grown children.

Donal Eric Jackson will be the first principal of Saddle Ridge Elementary. The school in east Cheyenne will be finished in August. His new salary is $91,487.

He has been assistant principal at Fairview-Lebhart elementary schools.

He is a native of Sheridan and earned a bachelor's degree in education at UW and a master's degree in technology in education from Leslie University.

He earned a principal's degree at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colo.

He worked for nine years in Carson City, Nev., teaching first, third and fifth grades. He taught two years at Namaqua Elementary in Loveland, Colo.

Jackson and his wife, Heather, have two children.

Harry Petty, an educator from Green River, is the new principal at Gilchrist, Clawson and Willadsen elementary schools.

Petty replaces Principal Jeff Felton, who retired. Petty's new salary is $106,641.

Petty grew up in Shoshoni and earned an associate's degree in agriculture from Central Wyoming College in Riverton and a bachelor of science from UW in agriculture education.

He earned a master's degree in educational administration and an education specialist degree, both from UW. He is a candidate for a Ph.D.

Petty taught for 11 years, starting in Kaycee, and in Worland and Wright. He taught seventh through 12th graders in vocational ag and science.

Petty was a principal for 17 years, including an assistant principal/activities director at Laramie High and principal at Thermopolis High.

He was principal at the Green River schools of Monroe Middle, Washington Elementary and an alternative school there. He was principal of McKinnon Rural School close to Utah border.

Petty was associate superintendent for curriculum, instruction and assessment for Sweetwater County District 2 in Green River.

He and his wife, Tina, have a son in college and a grown daughter. Tina will teach at Hebard Elementary this fall.

Tory Richey, the new principal at Carey Junior High. His father was a school teacher, and his mother was a school nurse.

He replaces Evelyn Abbott, who retired. His new salary is $107,404.

Richey was born in Sidney, Neb. His family moved to Woodland Park, Colo., when he was 2 years old.

He earned his bachelor's degree in history and political science with a minor in drama at Jamestown (N.D.) College.

He earned his master's degree at the University of Phoenix at Colorado Springs, Colo., in educational leadership. He will receive his Ph.D. on Aug. 14 in educational leadership from the University of Denver.

He started teaching in 1995 at a junior high/middle school in Laredo, Texas. He taught at Panorama Middle in Woodland Park and was an assistant principal at Woodland Park High.

He and his wife, Aimee, have two children.

Margaret Robertson is the new assistant principal at Carey Junior High. She replaces Don Brantz, who is principal at Arp Elementary. Her salary is $80,948.

Robertson taught occupational foods and professional baking at Johnson Junior High and Central High for a year.

She completed her administrative internship at Mount Logan Middle School in Logan, Utah.

She taught eight years in Texas. Robertson taught math, science, art and business computer application classes at Shoreline School in Austin, Texas and taught in Round Rock, Texas. She also taught in Fort Collins, Colo.

She earned a bachelor's of science degree in family and consumer science from Baylor University in Waco, Texas and a master's degree in public school administration at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Okla.

She and her husband, Michael, have three children.

Matt Schlagel has lived in Cheyenne since he was a toddler. He is the new principal at Cole Elementary, replacing Bob Bowen, who retired. His new salary at Cole is $91,487.

Schlagel has been assistant principal at Dildine Elementary for two years.

He is a graduate of Cheyenne's East High. He earned a degree in elementary education and a master's in educational leadership from UW.

Schlagel taught sixth grade for four years at Davis Elementary and the same grade for four years at Jessup Elementary.

He and his wife, Tami, have two children.

Chimps To Become Extinct In the Wild Within Ten Years

The Jane Goodall Institute Puts Up for Adoption Chimps Orphaned by Poachers

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (RPRN) 7/27/2009 - The Jane Goodall Institute Chimpanzee Eden is a sanctuary for rescued wild and abused captive chimps in South Africa. Continuing the mission Dr. Goodall began in 1977, this twenty-five hundred acre habitat ensures the survival of those who have escaped poachers, and the well being of those who were used as entertainment in traveling circuses. Despite their healthy numbers scattered among the JGI sanctuaries across Africa and the globe, the Institute estimates the species will become extinct in as few as ten years if left to their own defenses in the jungle.

“There are no certain facts about the numbers of chimpanzees left in the wild,” Susan Slotar, Executive Director of the Jane Goodall Institute of South Africa, told RushPRnews, “but it is somewhere between 80,000 and 150,000…We have 31 chimpanzees at our sanctuary at the moment. There are a number of other sanctuaries in Africa, they can hold up to 150 (each).”

One simple way for concerned animal lovers to help JGI save the chimps is by adopting one for as little as $80 per year. ‘Parents’ can follow their adoptive pet’s progress by reading the habitat’s observation notes posted on-line daily.

“We are always happy to work with other organizations who have the same goals and ethics,” says Slotar, “We are members of the Pan African Sanctuary Alliance (PASA)… Having so many member sanctuaries that are all doing more or less the same thing, means that if one has a problem, very often another has had (it) in the past and managed to solve it.”

Chimp Eden, located in Nelspruit near Johannesburg, is also a 5 star resort where potential adoptive ‘parents’ can stay and observe their new family member in a tranquil, natural setting. For more information on the Escape to Chimp Eden television series, go to the official website.

Children of the 80s can clearly recall a time when the notion of saving our planet was all the rage. Save the Whales was the rallying cry. Made-to-order motivational Scholastic posters of whales and the view of Earth from the moon donned the walls of every educational facility, gym and pre-teen bedroom, while mysteries of the universe were explored through science-fiction films such as E.T., Star Trek and Back to the Future.

Our fascination with the unknown was demonstrated in the desire to sponsor various campaigns headed up by Greenpeace and NASA, among others, in what would become our first attempt at understanding the potential demise of our existence. Perhaps with all our present-day choices of specialized channels and websites, saving our planet and ourselves has become a thing so commonplace as whole wheat bread and soy milk that we have forgotten to keep tuned into the efforts being made by real people, toward real causes, around the globe.

Whale Wars is an intriguing, suspenseful docu-drama on the Animal Planet network about the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society whose mission is to prevent harpoon vessels from targeting whales in the Pacific ocean from Vancouver to the Antarctic.

“This year (we’ve saved) 305; 500 last year and 500 the year before that,” says Paul Watson, leader and founder of this pirate-like brigade being branded ‘eco-terrorists’ by some organizations.

Using strong and at times, dangerous, tactics Watson and his crew attack ships entering sanctuaries illegally, in direct violation of the global moratorium on whaling. He justifies his harsh actions against harpooners as vigilante heroism and won’t let danger get in the way of protecting his ‘clients’. As in military offensives, he takes his job seriously, even using codes over the radio such as ‘tora, tora, tora!’ which, in Japanese, means ‘attack!’. But the animal kingdom is not lost amid the turmoil and tough exterior of this series: the Sea Shepherd’s main vessel is aptly and affectionately called the ‘Steve Irwin’.

But harpoons aren’t the whales’ only enemies: the Colossal Squid has become not only the biggest predator of whales, but also of sharks and the ocean’s eco-system as a whole. Not to be confused with the Giant Squid, the Colossal has sharp claws at the end of its tentacles and can measure up to 45 feet long – as long as a school bus! This largest-known invertebrate preys on anything in its path, whether large or small. Most scars found on whales swimming in the Pacific ocean come from Colossal Squid. One specimen caught and dissected by marine bioligists is on display in the Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand.

A growing number of shark populations are facing extinction as well, mostly from overfishing but also due to ‘unsustainable finning’: the practice of slicing off a shark’s valuable fins and tossing its lifeless body back to sea. To help save the ocean’s shark species from their needless imminent destruction, you can sign the on-line Ocean Conservancy petition.

An unlikely creature on the endangered species list was once known to be ‘king of the jungle’. Most lions live in eastern and southern Africa, however their numbers are rapidly declining, with an estimated 30–50 percent decrease in population over the past two decades.

The African lion population ranges between 16,000 and 45,000 living in the wild, down from early 90s estimates that ranged as high as 100,000 and even higher in the 50s with an estimate of nearly half a million. They are considered vulnerable according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. By comparison, the smaller, Asiatic lion living primarily in India is virtually extinct with numbers dwindling in the low hundreds. Their last-known refuge was in the Gir Forest National Park in western India.

The Asiatic Lion Reintroduction Project is an initiative whose mission is to re-establish their species at the Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary. This attempt to repopulate the dying species is crucial in effectively creating a strong gene pool for the last surviving members, preventing inbreeding among family members of packs, allowing the fittest to survive so that future generations of humans can appreciate this beautiful and strong, yet vulnerable, creature.

One of the primary focuses of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) since the 70s has been the Iraqi Marshlands, the largest wetland ecosystem in the Middle East. This former major wildlife habitat has been damaged significantly, as a direct result of dam construction and drainage operations performed by the former Iraqi regime. In addition, due to its recent war-torn climate, the area’s extensive ecological damage is considered to be one of the country’s major prolonged environmental disasters and is in desperate need of assistance.

Many commercial products are launching new campaigns to save various wildlife populations all over the world. One such familiar household name is Dawn dish soap. Dawn now serves a purpose other than ridding one’s pots and pans of unsightly grease: one dollar of every sale now goes to saving birds that are victims of oil spills. Once marketed as the brand chosen by wildlife conservationists to wash them once rescued from the afflicted bodies of water and their shores, Dawn has decided to campaign in raising funds for the International Bird Rescue Research Center and Marine Mammal Center.

The following is a touching excerpt from the JGISA’s on-line journal of chimpanzee observations. One such, rather ‘human’, observation posted July 21 reads:

“Jessica and Charles met again today. Charles was puffed up and charged into the room but calmed down when Jessica vocalized submissively. He then sat down and ate his breakfast. Jessica tried to approach him a few times but he wasn’t that interested and at one stage even shielded himself by putting his hand over his face. When the food was finished, he allowed her to approach and she gave him a friendly bite on the eyebrow. They were difficult to separate though and Charles actually ushered Jessica into his own room later on.”

If only we humans had someone observing our everyday actions, we might be better able to learn from our mistakes, as quickly as primates do. The result could very well be a happier planet for all inhabitants.