Monday, November 29, 2010

Random Thoughts

China directed Google hacking: leaked US documents
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Nov 28, 2010

The United States believes that China's leadership has directed a hacking campaign into computers of Google and Western governments, according to US diplomatic files leaked Sunday.

The documents obtained by whistleblower site WikiLeaks revealed the intense and sometimes fraught diplomacy between the two Pacific powers on a range of issues -- particularly Iran and North Korea.

In one cable, the US embassy in Beijing said it learned from "a Chinese contact" that the country's Politburo had led years of hacking into computers of the United States, its allies and Tibet's spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.

The New York Times, which viewed the cable, said the embassy found that attacks against Google were "part of a coordinated campaign of computer sabotage carried out by government operatives, private security experts and Internet outlaws recruited by the Chinese government."

Google announced in March that it would no longer follow the communist government's instructions to filter searches for sensitive material after attacks against the company and Gmail accounts of Chinese dissidents.

Hacking campaigns originating from China have been reported before, but US officials have stopped short of publicly accusing Beijing of orchestrating cyber warfare.

The thousands of leaked documents also recounted efforts by the United States to persuade China to rein in North Korea.

In one secret memo on the WikiLeaks website, the United States in 2008 instructed its embassies to press China and Central Asian nations to block a North Korean plane suspected of proliferating weapons to Iran.

In another cable a year earlier reported by Britain's Guardian newspaper, the United States asked Beijing to stop what it believed to be a missile shipment from North Korea to Iran transiting through China.

Beijing is considered the only country with real influence in reclusive North Korea.

In a meeting late last year, senior Chinese official Wang Jiarui is quoted as reiterating Beijing's call for stability on the Korean peninsula and urging the United States to reach out to the North by promising not to seek regime change.

Despite the lack of movement on North Korea, the documents gave an upbeat US assessment on China's position on Iran.

A cable on the WikiLeaks website said Wang praised US policy on Iran in a meeting with Williams Burns, the State Department number three, and said Tehran should not seek nuclear weapons.

In another cable, a Chinese official dismissed concerns that Beijing's standing in the Islamic world was hurt by its response to 2009 ethnic bloodshed in the Xinjiang region, whose indigenous Uighur population is mostly Muslim.

An official was quoted as saying that China had stepped up media outreach in the Middle East to prevent any backlash, including setting up an Arabic-language version of state-run China Central Television.

The cables show China venting anger at the United States for refusing to hand over 22 Uighurs originally held at the US prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The United States cleared the men of wrongdoing but feared they would face persecution in China.

Cables depicted US officials searching the world asking countries to take Guantanamo inmates, with Slovenia's leadership told that a meeting with US President Barack Obama was linked to its decision on taking a prisoner.

According to another document, the US ambassador to Kyrgyzstan last year confronted her Chinese counterpart on information that Beijing offered three billion dollars if the neighboring country shut the Manas air base, a key US conduit for the war in Afghanistan.

The Chinese ambassador, Zhang Yannian, "ridiculed the notion of such a deal, he did not deny it outright," US Ambassador Tatiana Gfoeller wrote.

"'It would take three dollars from every Chinese person' to pay for it," she quoted him as saying. "'If our people found out, there'd be a revolution.'"

The United States eventually renewed US rights to the air base after the United States ramped up compensation.



Chinese Oil Drilling off Cuba
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Who Will Elect Lebanon's President? Not the Lebanese
November 11, 2007 1:26 AM

The selection of a new president by the Lebanese parliament has - again - been postponed. Jeha writes that for the average Lebanese, “the election drama is nothing but a fight between marionettes in which we have little say.” That’s life in a country stuck next door to “a Syrian regime threatened by our freedom, and an Iranian theocracy insulted by our secular ambitions.”

Something in Lebanon today reeks of the 70’s… And I’m not talking about disco.

I am talking about the time when we were all huddled in makeshift shelters, reading about the plight of baby seals in a western Press that was too busy to talk about us… Back then, no one was looking while Lebanon was burning, with Syria and Israel fanning the flames. When they looked, they “farmed us out” to the Syrians, to reward them for their “support” in the first Gulf War.

It did not matter to the “free world” that Syria sponsored a few terrorists, that it co-sponsored Hezbollah, or as I like to call them, Hezbo’, Iran’s local chapter of the Pasdaran. Nor did it matter that the outgunned Lebanese army resisted their onslaught, fought to the death, and even counterattacked…

But things are different today.

Yes, today, everyone is looking again. Less than 2 years after the Cedar Revolution, the Lebanese find themselves unable to meet to elect a president.

But today, 9/11 got the “free world” got a ( somewhat better) new set of specs, and even French and Americans agree who’s to blame; it is a Syrian regime threatened by our freedom, and an Iran theocracy insulted by our secular ambitions…

For now; we live with neighbours I would not wish on my worse enemy, and all their squabbles ultimately reflect on us…

To be sure, we Lebanese share our part of the blame… Many of Syria’s useful idiots use that to berate us, as some of the reasons for that are appearing today, after the Syrian occupation melted away, issues that were suppressed for all those years started to appear.

Many Lebanese recall the 60’s, when international economic experts were asked to evaluate the Lebanese economic miracle. After much study, they decided that they had no clue how it worked. But since it worked so well, better not change anything. Back then, our per-capita GDP was comparable to Israel’s. In 1990, after the civil war, it was down to less than a third. Today, after 15 years of Syrian occupation, it is down to less than a sixth…

Not all of it is due to our neighbours. Our “system” has a deadly weakness; in the 21st century, Lebanon is still operated like a city-state, with everything concentrated on the capital, Beirut. As a result, the country is run like a (short term) for-profit business by whoever controls Beirut. Because of this short-term emphasis, the people who run the show tend to be more like “deal makers” than real businessmen, and few who “produce” anything “real” can hope to make much headway. The government becomes the largest economic player, generating 30% to 35% of GDP; all those plum jobs can be a great source of power, with little or no accountability . When the late Rafik Hariri came along, he tried to reform while still under Syrian tutelage… Since he could only tamper with the “system” without addressing the root causes of the civil war, we now have a nice downtown Beirut, a bloated government bureaucracy, and the highest debt to GDP ratio in the world.

The result of all this is that, even in “Free Lebanon”, people still need to “hedge” during election time, to make sure they maintain access to the powers of patronage of the winner.

So, when more than 70% of the nation went to the streets on March 14th 2005, at the heyday of the Cedar Revolution, our anger was not only directed against Syrian oppression and terror, it was also directed against a corrupt system that allowed the gangsters of Damascus to rule the streets of Beirut.

The demonstration was also partly a reaction to the March 8th demo in support of Syria, when about 10% of the nation showed up, backed by 50,000 or so Syrians… by choosing to celebrate the anniversary of the Syrian regime in downtown Beirut, Nasrallah and his goons had though they would intimidate the silent majority, but they only galvanized us even more… We all knew the time was different, and we all understood the threat posed by an organized, well funded outfit such as Hezbo’.

In the shadows of the Syrian occupation, Hezbo’ had been able to use the Lebanese “system” to their advantage, and hijack the Lebanese Shiite community by a combination of coercion and patronage. By diverting Lebanese government resources to their parasitic mini-state, Hassan Nasrallah and his followers were able to make optimal use of Iran’s yearly influx of USD 300 – 500 Million, and capitalize on Lebanese ingenuity to build the ” best guerrilla force in the world”. So it is no wonder they forced Israel out in 2000. And it is no wonder they were able to see off an ill-conceived Israeli invasion in 2006.

But Hezbo’ is hindered by its own nature, and the fact remains that the party is a sectarian force, and for all its armaments, it remains a guerrilla.

For all its calls for worldwide revolution, Hezbo’ remains a sectarian party with limited sectarian appeal, unable to expand beyond its core in the Shiite community. And it cannot “grow by acquisition” to reach the Lebanese political centre, as any allies they gain from other communities will themselves lose support from within their own “side”.

For all its power, Hezbo’ cannot grow its parasitic canton into a state. As it consolidates its canton, it is only “fixing” its guerrilla forces in three isolated regions where they can be easily targeted, and whose lines of communications remain vulnerable to other militias. Those mountain passes are easy to close, and this tent city is dangerously isolated…

The party and its Syrian and Iranian patrons are fighting hard to maintain a status-quo that benefited well in the past. But their “conservative revolution” will not work; aside from being an oxymoron, they picked off too many enemies at once. They are not only terrorising the Lebanese, but they are endangering Arab and western Interests.

With all the “noise” surrounding us in Lebanon, I like to take a break away from the news feeds, to try to listen to the life of people… To most real people, the election drama is nothing but a fight of marionettes in which we have little say. We did not know if there will be an election on November 12th, we don’t know if we’ll have one on November 21st, and I do not think the pawns who rule is have any more clue.

Those who will decide are not among us in Lebanon. They are not even close by in Damascus. The Syrian regime may feel its cause is winning, with the US in the Iraqi quagmire, the Lebanese divided, and the French still too amateurish.

The Saudis, however, are another matter, especially now that larger US interests in the region are aligned with an increasingly assertive House of Saud. They now consider that Syria is “in the way” of complex interests , and prefer to address its Iranian patrons directly when they want Damascus to do something

So now we know who’s electing our President. We just do not know when.


Chinese Claims Around the World
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Friday, August 06, 2010

China Targets US Carriers, Blacks Cause More Crimes

Question: when a foreign nation starts deliberately targeting for destruction another nation's Navy, when exactly does that become a hostile act? When does it become an act of war? China is now openly targeting for destruction the United States Navy in an effort to control most of Asia. The USA had better wake up and realize that "the Dragon" really is a dragon and is looking to devour its neighbors, while annihilating any that stand in their way.


Chinese missile could shift Pacific power balance
By ERIC TALMADGE, Associated Press Writer Eric Talmadge, Associated Press Writer – 2 hrs 52 mins ago

ABOARD THE USS GEORGE WASHINGTON – Nothing projects U.S. global air and sea power more vividly than supercarriers. Bristling with fighter jets that can reach deep into even landlocked trouble zones, America's virtually invincible carrier fleet has long enforced its dominance of the high seas.

China may soon put an end to that.

U.S. naval planners are scrambling to deal with what analysts say is a game-changing weapon being developed by China — an unprecedented carrier-killing missile called the Dong Feng 21D that could be launched from land with enough accuracy to penetrate the defenses of even the most advanced moving aircraft carrier at a distance of more than 1,500 kilometers (900 miles).

Analysts say final testing of the missile could come as soon as the end of this year, though questions remain about how fast China will be able to perfect its accuracy to the level needed to threaten a moving carrier at sea.

The weapon, a version of which was displayed last year in a Chinese military parade, could revolutionize China's role in the Pacific balance of power, seriously weakening Washington's ability to intervene in any potential conflict over Taiwan or North Korea. It could also deny U.S. ships safe access to international waters near China's 11,200-mile (18,000-kilometer) -long coastline.

While a nuclear bomb could theoretically sink a carrier, assuming its user was willing to raise the stakes to atomic levels, the conventionally-armed Dong Feng 21D's uniqueness is in its ability to hit a powerfully defended moving target with pin-point precision.

The Chinese Defense Ministry did not immediately respond to the AP's request for a comment.

Funded by annual double-digit increases in the defense budget for almost every year of the past two decades, the Chinese navy has become Asia's largest and has expanded beyond its traditional mission of retaking Taiwan to push its sphere of influence deeper into the Pacific and protect vital maritime trade routes.

"The Navy has long had to fear carrier-killing capabilities," said Patrick Cronin, senior director of the Asia-Pacific Security Program at the nonpartisan, Washington-based Center for a New American Security. "The emerging Chinese antiship missile capability, and in particular the DF 21D, represents the first post-Cold War capability that is both potentially capable of stopping our naval power projection and deliberately designed for that purpose."

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Setting the stage for a possible conflict, Beijing has grown increasingly vocal in its demands for the U.S. to stay away from the wide swaths of ocean — covering much of the Yellow, East and South China seas — where it claims exclusivity.

It strongly opposed plans to hold U.S.-South Korean war games in the Yellow Sea off the northeastern Chinese coast, saying the participation of the USS George Washington supercarrier, with its 1,092-foot (333-meter) flight deck and 6,250 personnel, would be a provocation because it put Beijing within striking range of U.S. F-18 warplanes.

The carrier instead took part in maneuvers held farther away in the Sea of Japan.

U.S. officials deny Chinese pressure kept it away, and say they will not be told by Beijing where they can operate.

"We reserve the right to exercise in international waters anywhere in the world," Rear Adm. Daniel Cloyd, who headed the U.S. side of the exercises, said aboard the carrier during the maneuvers, which ended last week.

But the new missile, if able to evade the defenses of a carrier and of the vessels sailing with it, could undermine that policy.

"China can reach out and hit the U.S. well before the U.S. can get close enough to the mainland to hit back," said Toshi Yoshihara, an associate professor at the U.S. Naval War College. He said U.S. ships have only twice been that vulnerable — against Japan in World War II and against Soviet bombers in the Cold War.

Carrier-killing missiles "could have an enduring psychological effect on U.S. policymakers," he e-mailed to The AP. "It underscores more broadly that the U.S. Navy no longer rules the waves as it has since the end of World War II. The stark reality is that sea control cannot be taken for granted anymore."

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Yoshihara said the weapon is causing considerable consternation in Washington, though — with attention focused on land wars in Afghanistan and Iraq — its implications haven't been widely discussed in public.

Analysts note that while much has been made of China's efforts to ready a carrier fleet of its own, it would likely take decades to catch U.S. carrier crews' level of expertise, training and experience.

But Beijing does not need to match the U.S. carrier for carrier. The Dong Feng 21D, smarter, and vastly cheaper, could successfully attack a U.S. carrier, or at least deter it from getting too close.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates warned of the threat in a speech last September at the Air Force Association Convention.

"When considering the military-modernization programs of countries like China, we should be concerned less with their potential ability to challenge the U.S. symmetrically — fighter to fighter or ship to ship — and more with their ability to disrupt our freedom of movement and narrow our strategic options," he said.

Gates said China's investments in cyber and anti-satellite warfare, anti-air and anti-ship weaponry, along with ballistic missiles, "could threaten America's primary way to project power" through its forward air bases and carrier strike groups.

The Pentagon has been worried for years about China getting an anti-ship ballistic missile. The Pentagon considers such a missile an "anti-access," weapon, meaning that it could deny others access to certain areas.

The Air Force's top surveillance and intelligence officer, Lt. Gen. David Deptula, told reporters this week that China's effort to increase anti-access capability is part of a worrisome trend.

He did not single out the DF 21D, but said: "While we might not fight the Chinese, we may end up in situations where we'll certainly be opposing the equipment that they build and sell around the world."

Questions remain over when — and if — China will perfect the technology; hitting a moving carrier is no mean feat, requiring state-of-the-art guidance systems, and some experts believe it will take China a decade or so to field a reliable threat. Others, however, say final tests of the missile could come in the next year or two.

Former Navy commander James Kraska, a professor of international law and sea power at the U.S. Naval War College, recently wrote a controversial article in the magazine Orbis outlining a hypothetical scenario set just five years from now in which a Deng Feng 21D missile with a penetrator warhead sinks the USS George Washington.

That would usher in a "new epoch of international order in which Beijing emerges to displace the United States."

While China's Defense Ministry never comments on new weapons before they become operational, the DF 21D — which would travel at 10 times the speed of sound and carry conventional payloads — has been much discussed by military buffs online.

A pseudonymous article posted on Xinhuanet, website of China's official news agency, imagines the U.S. dispatching the George Washington to aid Taiwan against a Chinese attack.

The Chinese would respond with three salvos of DF 21D, the first of which would pierce the hull, start fires and shut down flight operations, the article says. The second would knock out its engines and be accompanied by air attacks. The third wave, the article says, would "send the George Washington to the bottom of the ocean."


Note from author: the US Navy has decided that the huge potential loss of life by sinking an entire aircraft carrier (and the resulting devastating backlash at home) should be prevented by making smaller ships that have fewer crews, say 50 people on board total. Losing 50 people compared to 5,000 is what the brass over at Navy HQ thinks is the appropriate response to the new "carrier killer missiles" (its not, making underwater carriers that are impossible to find is the right response). These new small ships will be based on the picture of the vessel shown below:

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Suffer These Crimes in Oakland? Don't Call the Cops
Dozens of layoffs effective at midnight, barring last minute deal
By LORI PREUITT and KRIS SANCHEZ

Oakland's police chief is making some dire claims about what his force will and will not respond to if layoffs go as planned.

Chief Anthony Batts listed exactly 44 situations that his officers will no longer respond to and they include grand theft, burglary, car wrecks, identity theft and vandalism. He says if you live and Oakland and one of the above happens to you, you need to let police know on-line.

Some 80 officers were to be let go at midnight last night if a last-minute deal was not reached. That's about ten percent of the work force.

"I came here to build an organization, not downsize one," said Batts, who was given the top job in October.


That deadline has been extended to 5 p.m. Tuesday.

Here's a partial list:

* burglary
* theft
* embezzlement
* grand theft
* grand theft:dog
* identity theft
* false information to peace officer
* required to register as sex or arson offender
* dump waste or offensive matter
* discard appliance with lock
* loud music
* possess forged notes
* pass fictitious check
* obtain money by false voucher
* fraudulent use of access cards
* stolen license plate
* embezzlement by an employee (over $ 400)
* extortion
* attempted extortion
* false personification of other
* injure telephone/ power line
* interfere with power line
* unauthorized cable tv connection
* vandalism
* administer/expose poison to another's

Negotiations are going on at Oakland City Hall in the mayor's office.

Batts said the 80 officers slated to be laid off - mostly new officers - are "pretty sad and pretty depressed," and those feelings are shared by the Police Department as a whole.

The Oakland City Council voted June 25 to eliminate the positions to help close the city's $32.5 million funding gap. According to the city of Oakland, each of the 776 police officers currently employed at OPD costs around $188,000 per year. Most of the officers who will be affected by the layoffs were on the streets of Oakland when Johannes Mehserle's involuntary manslaughter conviction caused riots last Thursday.

The sticking point in negotiations appears to be job security. The city council asked OPD officers to pay nine percent of their salary toward their pensions, which would save the city about $7.8 million toward a multi-million dollar deficit. The police union agreed, as long as the city could promise no layoffs for three years. No dice, says city council president Jane Brunner.

"We wish we could offer them a three-year no layoff protection we just can't financially. It would be irresponsible of us," Brunner said. The city agreed to a one-year moratorium on layoffs, but it is not enough for the union.

The problem is money. In the last five years, the police budget -- along with the fire department budget -- have amount to 75 percent of the general fund. After years of largely sparing those departments the budget ax, now it appears there are few other places to cut.

These are the last hours of negotiation and Brunner is hopeful that the city and police will find some sort middle ground.

"It's been very good conversation and not a whole lot of grandstanding." Brunner said. "There's actually real conversations. Each side understands the problem," she said.



Layoffs to gut East St. Louis police force
BY NICHOLAS J.C. PISTOR

EAST ST. LOUIS • The Rev. Joseph Tracy said he’s tired of going to funerals. And now, he suspects he’ll be going to more of them.

"It’s open field day now," said Tracy, the pastor of Straightway Baptist Church here. "The criminals are going to run wild."

Gang activity. Drug dealing. Cold-blooded killing. Tracy worries that a decision to shrink the police force by almost 30 percent will bring more of everything.

The pastor voiced his concern on Friday at a raucous special City Council meeting at which East St. Louis Mayor Alvin Parks announced that the city will layoff 37 employees, including 19 of its 62 police officers, 11 firefighters, four public works employees, and three administrators. The layoffs take effect on Sunday.

Parks said the weak economy has robbed the city of badly need money. For example, revenue from the Casino Queen was $900,000 below budget expectations last year. There are no signs of improvement, Parks said.

"I want our citizens to know we have some of the bravest police officers and firefighters in the country," Parks said. "But we don’t have the money to pay them. We have to have fiscal responsibility."

City officials wanted police and fire unions to accept a furlough program that would have required employees to take two unpaid days in each twice monthly pay period. If accepted, emergency responders would have seen a pay cut of about 20 percent for the rest of the year.

Parks said the two sides couldn’t reach an agreement. On Friday, he stared at a standing-room only crowd and told his emergency response chiefs words they didn’t want to hear: "Tell your workers to start packing their things."

The news spurred shouts from the crowd.

"The blood is on your hands," yelled Michael Hubbard, an East St. Louis police officer.

Hubbard said he will be the lone patrolman for East St. Louis’ midnight shift when the cuts go into effect.

"This is devastating," Hubbard told a reporter after the meeting.

East St. Louis has been crippled by crime and poverty for decades. Police officials say the cuts will mean fewer officers for patrols, investigations and juvenile cases. Fire officials said the region should be upset because the department will have fewer people at the ready to fight fires on some of the region’s major highways and bridges.

The police already rely on other agencies to handle some of the heavy case load. For example, the Illinois State Police routinely work on the city’s homicide investigations.

Capt. Steve Johnson, of the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department, said his agency has no plans for stepping up work in East St. Louis.

"We don’t do calls for service in East St. Louis," Johnson said. "But, if we’re called for assistance, we will help when we can."

Worries about East St. Louis’ crime rate got little sympathy from Councilman Roy Mosley, who gave a 10-minute speech on Friday blasting the city’s police officers.

"We don’t have the money," Mosley said. "You lay off when you don’t have the money. The money’s gone."

Mosley complained that police officers take patrol cars home, park them in other jurisdictions, and misuse the city’s gasoline.

"I’m only telling the truth," he shouted.

The crowd jeered.

"You can see how disrespectful they are," Mosley said while pointing at the police officers. "You see what they’re doing to me right now."

Richard V. Stewart Jr., an attorney for the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police union, said Mosley’s claims are untrue.

Stewart said the words amounted to nothing more than "political grandstanding."

"Unfortunately, this is what I expected," Stewart said.

The union plans to fight the layoffs and work to get the jobs back.

Bad blood already exists between the two sides. An arbitrator has ruled that the city improperly imposed unpaid furlough days on its employees earlier this year. The city was ordered to pay $500,000 back in lost wages.

On Friday, the city approved a proposal to defer bond payments until next year in order to free up $500,000.

"Next year is a different situation," Mayor Parks said.


Note from author: these articles are using PC tactics, not mentioning that the vast majority of East St. Louis residents (81%) are black. When a nation reaches a point where it can no longer tell itself the truth because it may hurt someones feelings, that nation is doomed.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

What if America fragmented?

by Paul Starobin - Jul. 3, 2010 06:07 PM
The Arizona Republic

Remember that classic Beatles riff of the 1960s: "You say you want a revolution?" Imagine this instead: a devolution. Picture an America that is run not, as now, by a top-heavy Washington autocracy but, in freewheeling style, by an assemblage of largely autonomous regional republics reflecting the eclectic economic and cultural character of the society.

There might be an austere Republic of New England, with a natural strength in higher education and technology; a Caribbean-flavored city-state Republic of Greater Miami, with an anchor in the Latin American economy; and maybe even a Republic of Las Vegas, with unfettered license to pursue its ambitions as a global gambling, entertainment and conventioneer destination.

California? America's broke, ill-governed and way-too-big nationlike state might be saved, truly saved, not by an emergency federal bailout but by a merciful carve-up into a trio of republics that would rely on their own ingenuity in making their connections to the wider world.

Arizona? Its resolute determination to chart its own course on immigration policy - a matter usually left to Washington - suggests a rebellious streak that could serve it well in a new life as an independent Republic or as part of a Southwest federation with neighbors Utah, Colorado and New Mexico.

And while we're at it, let's make this project binational - economic logic suggests a natural multilingual combination between greater San Diego and Mexico's Baja California Norte, and, to the Pacific north, between Seattle and Vancouver in a megaregion already dubbed "Cascadia" by economic cartographers.

Devolved America is a vision faithful both to certain postindustrial realities as well as to the pluralistic heart of the American political tradition - a tradition that has been betrayed by the creeping centralization of power in Washington over the decades but may yet reassert itself as an animating spirit for the future.

Consider this proposition: America of the 21st century, propelled by currents of modernity that tend to favor the little over the big, may trace a long circle back to the original small-government ideas of the American experiment. The present-day American Goliath may turn out to be a freak of a waning age of politics and economics as conducted on a supersize scale - too large to make any rational sense in an emerging age of personal empowerment that harks back to the era of the yeoman farmer of America's early days. The society may find blessed new life, as paradoxical as this may sound, in a return to a smaller form.

This perspective may seem especially fanciful at a time when the political tides all seem to be running in the opposite direction. In the midst of economic troubles, an aggrandizing Washington is gathering even more power in its hands. Not surprisingly, a lot of folks in the land of Thomas Jefferson are taking a stand against an approach that stands to make an indebted citizenry yet more dependent on an already immense federal power. The backlash, already under way, is a prime stimulus for a neo-secessionist movement, the most extreme manifestation of a broader push for some form of devolution.


Cries for secession
In April 2009, at an anti-tax "tea party" held in Austin, Gov. Rick Perry of Texas saw his speech interrupted by cries of "secede!" The governor did not sound inclined to disagree.

"Texas is a unique place," he later told reporters attending the rally. "When we came into the Union in 1845, one of the issues was that we would be able to leave if we decided to do that." The Texas Nationalist Movement claims that over 250,000 Texans have signed a form affirming the organization's goal of a Texas nation.

Secessionist feelings also percolate in Alaska, where Todd Palin, husband of former Gov. Sarah Palin, was once a registered member of the Alaska Independence Party. But it is not as if the right has a lock on this issue: Vermont, the seat of one of the most vibrant secessionist movements, is among the country's most politically liberal places. Vermonters are especially upset about imperial America's foreign excursions in hazardous places like Iraq.

The philosophical tie that binds these otherwise odd bedfellows is belief in the birthright of Americans to run their own affairs, free from centralized control. Their hallowed parchment is Jefferson's Declaration of Independence, on behalf of the original 13 British Colonies, penned in 1776, 11 years before the framers of the Constitution gathered for their convention in Philadelphia.

"The right of secession precedes the Constitution - the United States was born out of secession," Daniel Miller, leader of the Texas Nationalist Movement, told me. Take that, King Obama.

Today's devolutionists, of all stripes, can trace their pedigree to the "anti-federalists" who opposed the compact that came out of Philadelphia as a bad bargain that gave too much power to the center at the expense of the limbs. Some of America's most vigorous and learned minds were in the anti-federalist camp; their ranks included Virginia's Patrick Henry, of "give me liberty or give me death" renown. The sainted Jefferson, who was serving as a diplomat in Paris during the convention, is these days claimed by secessionists as a kindred anti-federal spirit, even if he did go on to serve two terms as president.

The anti-federalists lost their battle, but history, in certain respects, has redeemed their vision, for they anticipated how many Americans have come to feel about their nation's seat of federal power.

"This city, and the government of it, must indubitably take their tone from the character of the men, who from the nature of its situation and institution, must collect there," the anti-federalist pamphleteer known only as the Federal Farmer wrote. "If we expect it will have any sincere attachments to simple and frugal republicanism, to that liberty and mild government, which is dear to the laborious part of a free people, we most assuredly deceive ourselves."

In the mid-19th century, the anti-federalist impulse took a dark turn, attaching itself to the cause of the Confederacy, which was formed by the unilateral secession of 11 Southern states over the bloody issue of slavery. Abraham Lincoln had no choice but to go to war to preserve the Union - and ever since, anti-federalism, in almost any guise, has had to defend itself from the charge of being anti-modern and, indeed, retrograde.


Turning from the big
But nearly a century and a half has passed since Johnny Rebel whooped for the last time. Slavery is dead, and so too is the large-scale industrial economy that the Yankees embraced as their path to victory over the South and to global prosperity. The model lasted a long time, to be sure, surviving all the way through the New Deal and the first several decades of the post-World War II era, coming a cropper at the tail end of the 1960s, just as the economist John Kenneth Galbraith was holding out "The New Industrial State," the master-planned economy, as a seemingly permanent condition of modern life.

Not quite. In a globalized economy transformed by technological innovations hatched by happily unguided entrepreneurs, history seems to be driving one nail after another into the coffin of the big, which is why the Obama planners and their ilk, even if they now ride high, may be doomed to fail. No one anymore expects the best ideas to come from the biggest actors in the economy, so should anyone expect the best thinking to be done by the whales of the political world?

A notable prophet for a coming age of smallness was the diplomat and historian George Kennan, a steward of the American Century with an uncanny ability to see past the seemingly frozen geopolitical arrangements of the day. Kennan always believed that Soviet power would "run its course," as he predicted back in 1951, just as the Cold War was getting under way, and again shortly after the Soviet Union collapsed, he suggested that a similar fate might await the United States.

America has become a "monster country," afflicted by a swollen bureaucracy and "the hubris of inordinate size," Kennan wrote in his 1993 book, "Around the Cragged Hill: A Personal and Political Philosophy." Things might work better, he suggested, if the nation was "decentralized into something like a dozen constituent republics, absorbing not only the powers of the existing states but a considerable part of those of the present federal establishment."

Kennan's genius was to foresee that matters might take on an organic, a bottom-up, life of their own, especially in a society as dynamic and as creative as America. His spirit, the spirit of an anti-federalist modernist, can be glimpsed in an intriguing "megaregion" initiative encompassing greater San Diego County, next-door Imperial County and, to the immediate south of the U.S. border, Baja California Norte.

Elected officials representing all three participating areas recently unveiled "Cali Baja, a Bi-National Mega-Region," as the "international marketing brand" for the project. The idea is to create a global economic powerhouse by combining San Diego's proven abilities in scientific research and development with Imperial County's abundance of inexpensive land and availability of water rights and Baja Norte's manufacturing base, low labor costs and ability to supply the San Diego area with electricity during peak-use terms. Bilingualism, too, is a key-with the aim for all children on both sides of the border to be fluent in both English and Spanish.

The project director is Christina Luhn, a Kansas native, historian and former staffer on the National Security Council in Ronald Reagan's White House in the mid-1980s. Contemporary America as a unit of governance may be too big - even the perpetually troubled state of California may be too big, she told me, by way of saying that the political and economic future may belong to the megaregions of the planet. Her conviction is that large systems tend not to endure, "they break apart, there's chaos, and at some point, new things form," she said.


A romantic flavor
The notion that small is better and even inevitable no doubt has some flavor of romance - even amounting to a kind of modern secular faith, girded by a raft of multidisciplinary literature that may or may not be relevant. Luhn takes her philosophical cue not only from Kennan but also from the science writer and physicist M. Mitchell Waldrop, author of "Complexity: The Emerging Science at the Edge of Order and Chaos."

Even for the hard-edged secessionist crowd, with their rapt attentiveness to America's roots, popular texts in the future-trend genre mingle in their minds with the yellowed scrolls of the anti-federalists.

"The cornerstone of my thought," Daniel Miller of the Texas Nationalist Movement told me, is John Naisbitt's 1995 best seller, "Global Paradox," which celebrates the entrepreneurial ethos in positing that "the bigger the world economy, the more powerful its smallest players."

More convincingly, the proposition that small trumps big is passing tests in real-life political and economic laboratories. For example, the U.S. ranked eighth in a survey of global-innovation leadership released in March 2009 by the Boston Consulting Group and the National Association of Manufacturers - with the top rankings dominated by small countries led by the city-state republic of Singapore. The Thunderbird School of Global Management, based in Glendale, has called Singapore "the most future-oriented country in the world." Historians can point to the spectacularly inventive city-states of Renaissance Italy as an example of the small truly making the beautiful.

How, though, to get from big to small? Secessionists such as Texas' Miller pledge a commitment to peaceful methods. History suggests skepticism on this score: Even the American republic was born in a violent revolution. These days, Russian professor Igor Panarin, a former KGB analyst, has snagged publicity with his dystopian prediction of civil strife in a dismembered America whose jagged parts fall prey to foreign powers including Canada, Mexico and, in the case of Alaska, Russia, naturally.

Still, the precedent for any breakup of today's America is not necessarily the one set by the musket-bearing colonists' demanded departure from the British crown in the late 18th century or by the crisis-ridden dissolution of the U.S.S.R. at the end of the 20th century. Every empire, every too-big thing, fragments or shrinks according to its own unique character and to the age of history to which it belongs.

The most hopeful prospect for the U.S., should the decentralization impulse prove irresistible, is for Americans to draw on their natural inventiveness and democratic tradition by patenting a formula for getting the job done in a gradual and cooperative way. In so doing, geopolitical history, and perhaps even a path for others, might be made, for the problem of bigness vexes political leviathans everywhere.

In India, with its 1.2 billion people, there is an active discussion of whether things might work better if the nation-state was chopped up into 10 or so large city-states with broad writs of autonomy from New Delhi. Devolution may likewise be the future for the European continent - think Catalonia - and for the British Isles. Scotland, a leading source of Enlightenment ideas for America's Founding Fathers, now has its own flourishing independence movement. Even China, held together by an aging autocracy, may not be able to resist the drift towards the smaller.

So, why not America as the global leader of a devolution? America's return to its origins - to its type - could turn out to be an act of creative political destruction, with "we the people" the better for it.

Paul Starobin is the author of the newly published "Five Roads to the Future: Power in the Next Global Age" (Penguin) and a staff correspondent for the National Journal and a contributing editor to the Atlantic.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Random People

Remember this kid--well your looking at your grandchildren if you sit on your ass and don't speak up. This Obama regime loves this kind of UNITY!!!! If you don't stand up to your so called friends and your co-workers and neighbors, well this will be their future!! GOT IT!!!!!!!

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Elian Gonzalez shown at Cuba youth meeting
Apr 5 04:55 PM US/Eastern

HAVANA (AP) - Cuba has released photos of one-time exile cause celebre Elian Gonzalez wearing an olive-green military school uniform and attending a Young Communist Union congress.

Gonzalez, now 16 with closely cropped black hair, is shown serious-faced with fellow youth delegates during last weekend's congress at a sprawling and drab convention center in western Havana. The images were posted Monday on Cuban government Web sites, then widely picked up by electronic, state-controlled media.

When he was 5, Elian was found floating off the coast of Florida in an inner tube after his mother and others fleeing Cuba drowned trying to reach the U.S. Elian's father, who was separated from his mother, had remained in Cuba.

U.S. immigration officials ruled the boy should return to Cuba over the objections of his Miami relatives and other Cuban exiles, creating a national furor that caused even presidential candidates George W. Bush and Al Gore to weigh in on the matter.

His relatives refused to give him up. Federal agents raided the Little Havana home of his uncle with guns drawn 10 years ago this month and seized the boy from a closet to return him to his father.

Elian was celebrated as a hero in Cuba upon his return and his father, restaurant employee Juan Miguel Gonzalez, was elected to parliament—a seat he retains today.

Cuba usually marks Gonzalez's birthday every Dec. 7 with parades and other local events, but such activities are not open to foreign reporters.

Gonzalez formally joined the Young Communist Union in 2008, making headlines across Cuba.

The green uniform with red shoulder patches he is seen wearing is common among island military academies. There is a military school in the city of Matanzas, near the boy's hometown of Cardenas, but it was unclear where he is attending school. Reports in state media provided no details.

"Young Elian Gonzalez defends his revolution in the youth congress," read the headline over Monday's photo posted on Cuba Debate, the same Web site where Fidel Castro has posted his regular essays since ceding power to his younger brother, Raul, for health reasons in 2006.

Revolution is what Cubans call the rebellion that toppled dictator Fulgencio Batista and brought Castro to power on New Year's Day 1959.

Elian and his father are closely watched by state authorities, who restrict their contact with the international press.



Elian Gonzalez holds a Cuban flag during the UJC, Union of Young Communists, congress in Havana Sunday April 4, 2010. Gonzalez, the Cuban boy at the center of an international custody battle 10 years ago in April 2000, attended Cuba's Young Communist Union wearing an olive green military school uniform.(AP Photo/Ismael Francisco, Prensa Latina)



Barak Hussein Obama from Kenya
Yes, his wife really says his home country is Kenya. See the video here.



Ohio Christian convert fights to stay in US
Apr 5 01:50 PM US/Eastern
By MATT LEINGANG
Associated Press Writer

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - A teenage girl who converted to Christianity and ran away from home is being blocked by her Muslim parents from fighting the possibility of deportation, her attorney told a judge Monday in an ongoing custody dispute.

Rifqa Bary, 17, who fled home last year and stayed with a Florida minister whom she met on Facebook, is an illegal immigrant and does not want to be returned to her native Sri Lanka because she fears being harmed or killed by Muslim extremists. More here. She doesn't want to be killed! Let her stay in the USA!!! Pray for Rifqa Bary!




Obamanites get violent in support of the agenda
Last Saturday, a brick bearing the message "stop the right wing" smashed through the window of the Republican Party headquarters in Marion, Ohio. An Obama campaign contributor was arrested last week after threatening to kill Rep. Cantor and his wife because they are Jews. The registered voter in the "Christian militia" arrests turns out to be a Democrat.

Fill in your own incident – the real dangerous political violence in America is coming from the Obamanite left.

Be warned. The Obama regime considers opposition to its long march to "transform America" illegitimate and a fair target for government retaliation and violent retribution. More here.

Friday, March 12, 2010

NAFTA, Tea Party, and the John Birch Society

Bill requires U.S. withdrawal from NAFTA
'Proponents have had more than enough time to make this work – it didn't'
Posted: March 12, 2010
12:45 am Eastern
By Chelsea Schilling
© 2010 WorldNetDaily

A coalition of 27 lawmakers from across the political spectrum is sponsoring a bill to withdraw the U.S. from the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, in as little as six months. Rep. Gene Taylor, D-Miss., has introduced HR 4759, "To provide for the withdrawal of the United States from the North American Free Trade Agreement."

"NAFTA and similar free trade agreements have resulted in a 29 percent decline in U.S. manufacturing employment since 1993," Taylor's office said in a statement. "NAFTA discourages investments in U.S. manufacturing facilities and accelerates the erosion of our industrial base."

Taylor called the loss of manufacturing jobs a matter of national defense He pointed out that the U.S. had a trade surplus of $1.7 billion with Mexico in 1993, prior to its entry into NAFTA – and that number turned into a deficit that peaked at $75 billion in 2007 and dropped to $47 billion by 2009. Additionally, his office said the trade deficit with Canada in 1993 was $11 billion prior to NAFTA, swelling to $78 billion and dropping back to $20 billion with the decline of the economy in 2009.

More HERE.




Weak Tea or Strong Tea?
By Lee Harris Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Too many of those currently ‘analyzing’ the Tea Party movement seem to have no genuine interest in grappling with its potential historical significance.

When reading articles that aim at understanding the Tea Party movement, I am reminded of the ancient fable of the elephant and the blind men. Unable to see the whole elephant at a glance, each of the blind men drew his conclusions about the nature of the elephant by laying his hands on one of the elephant’s parts. The one who seizes the tail of the elephant says that the animal is like a rope. The one who puts his arms around the leg says that the elephant is like a tree trunk. The one who takes hold of the ears thinks he is handling a large fan, and so on.

When a political, religious, or cultural movement is first stirring, those who try to forecast its future development are in the same position as the blind men in the parable: they seize one feature of the movement and attempt to deduce its ultimate historical significance from this one feature alone.

More HERE



The John Birch Society Was Right
You know, years ago my father and mother became involved with the John Birch Society. As free thinkers that grew up in the Hippie era, they both discovered Ayn Rand and the JBS, two wonderful happenstances that changed their thinking and our family. When my mom told us growing up how evil the United Nations was, I believed her since she was my mom. When I got older however I saw he interest in the JBS as something oddball and out of step with the rest of society, a fringe organization that had little power or influence but were quite verbal. Looking back today, however, I really regret not listening to my mom and dad about the evils that this world is now ramming down our throat. From globalization to massive overspending and suborning our sovereign rights as a nation and citizens to the world government, the John Birch Society was right, as seen from this prophetic video from 1958: Click HERE


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POINTS OF NOTE

In traded goods alone, we ran up $6.2 trillion in deficits – $3.8 trillion of that in manufactured goods.

Things that we once made in America – indeed, we made everything – we now buy from abroad with money that we borrow from abroad.

China accounts for 83 percent of the U.S. global trade deficit in manufactures and 84 percent of our global trade deficit in electronics and machinery.

Over the last decade, our total trade deficit with China in manufactured goods was $1.75 trillion, which explains why China, its cash reserves approaching $3 trillion, holds the mortgage on America.

This week came a report that Detroit, forge and furnace of the Arsenal of Democracy in World War II, is considering razing a fourth of the city and turning it into farm and pastureland. Did the $1.2 trillion trade deficit we ran in autos and parts last decade help kill Detroit?

Friday, March 05, 2010

New Posts

Hey guys, I will be posting more often now that my computer is back up and running. Best wishes, Damon

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Happy New Years

To all my readers, Merry Christmas and Happy New Years. May 2010 be a heck of a lot better than 2009, and let's boot out ALL the Democrats in the elections this Fall. Damon


Who The Hell Is Winning This War?
Well, major news organizations are now calling the Mexican military's counter-cartel operations in northern Mexico a “surge.” It is accurate to say that the number of reported Mexican Army operations in northern Mexico is increasing. That does not mean, however, that the actual number of operations run by the military has gone up, rather, the number getting ink and electrons in Mexican and U.S. news outlets has jumped. The government and media reports all acknowledged that the big fight continues to be for Cuidad Juarez (Chihuahua state), but there are reports of operations by the military and national police all along the Mexico-Texas border. An example of this is the December 5, 2009 reports on the army action in the town of Nuevo Progreso (Tamaulipas state). It turns out some of the reports came from tourists who heard the gunfire. The Cartel War is now entering its fourth year and perhaps the Calderon government has decided to mark the anniversary with an offensive (a “surge,” which is a term American media understand). The government has been talking about the success of its “constant pressure” strategy on the cartels. Many critics call that hogwash and say the cartels are getting stronger. If the critics are correct, then more fights may be occurring because the cartels think they can win engagements with the military and they are in the process of proving it. The government's “pressurization” strategy is multi-pronged, but it includes “eroding” the power of cartel leaders and going after their financial assets. The government has racked up some major convictions and a number of cartel leaders have been captured or killed-- and that is erosion of a definite sort. That suggests another scenario: some of the cartels, instead of being stronger, are getting more desperate. They have decided they have to come out and fight. That means more engagements with the military, which is something the military wants.

Mexican media sources estimate 4,000 people have been murdered in drug gang-related violence in Ciudad Juraez (across the Rio Grande from El Paso) and its surrounding area during 2009. Official figures place the number murdered around 2600.

A journalist from the town of Tulum (Quintana Roo state, southeastern Mexico) was murdered by a gunman on a motorcycle. The murdered man, Jose Alberto Velazquez Lopez, owned a newspaper in Tulum. He had recently accused the local mayor, Marciano Dzul Caamal, of corruption. Velazquez and Dzul are described as “sworn enemies.” Media lobbyists have asked the Mexican government to investigate.

Drug cartel gunmen attacked the family of a Mexican Marine who was killed in the Navy's raid that killed drug kingpin Arturo Beltran Leyva. The government called the murders an act of reprisal. The mother of the dead marine, two siblings, and an aunt were killed, in their home in Tabasco state, by the cartelista hit men. A media report said that the gunmen were likely members of Los Zetas. Some government critics now say that releasing the names of military members and police officers killed in battles with drug gangs is a mistake.

Mexican Marines have also killed notorious drug lord Arturo Beltran Leyva (nicknamed “The Beard”) when they raided an apartment in Cuernavaca (south of Mexico City). Five of Beltran Leyva's bodyguards also died in what Mexican media described as a “dramatic shoot-out” in the apartment and in the streets of the town. Three marines were wounded by grenade fragments. One marine later died. The Beltran Leyva cartel split from the Sinaloa cartel. It is closely aligned with Los Zetas. Beltran Leyva himself had been dealing drugs since the 1980s. Mexico's Marine force (Infanteria de Marina) are sometimes called Mexican Naval Infantry. The Marines are part of the Mexican Navy. The Marines are a select force trained for amphibious operations, port security, reconnaissance, and crisis response. Crisis response includes performing security and emergency functions in natural disasters (like hurricanes). Mexico's Marines are a very professional outfit. Like U.S. Marines, they have a high esprit de corps.

The U.S. is going after “kingpin” businesses. The U.S. Treasury Department announced that it had blacklisted three men who it accused of providing material and financial support for the Sinaloa cartel. Treasury can now freeze the assets of the men involved and can exclude them from doing business in the U.S..

The government said Gulf cartel gunmen (likely members of Los Zetas) “dumped” six severed heads in a town in Durango state. The heads were those of a state prosecuting attorney and five policemen. The government said it believes the six men were killed as an “act of revenge.” The Mexican Army killed ten Gulf cartel gang members in the area earlier this month.

The Calderon government proposed that future presidential elections, where no candidate receives over fifty percent of the vote, be decided in a run-off election. Several recent elections have been decided by a percentage point (or less) between two candidates who both collected around 35 percent of the vote in a three-way race. The run-off idea has merit, since it would give the new president a definite mandate. The government reform proposal also backed citizen ballot initiatives.

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The Return of the Russian Bear
After a devastating economic crisis Russia seemed to be changing its ways. But an unexpected rebound in export prices has eased the pressure. As the boom gains strength, memories of tough times are fading fast. So are the reforms. That was the story in 2000. Then Russia rebounded spectacularly from the 1998 financial crash. It’s also the story for 2010. Russia is poised for economic recovery, but not a particularly healthy one. The country still depends too much on commodity exports. When prices fell, Russia’s GDP slumped – by an estimated 7.5 percent in 2009. But with prices up, the government spending and foreign capital coming into the country, 5 percent growth is possible in 2010.

Russia has a few pluses. Its financial system is less indebted than that of more developed peers. Strong neighboring Asian economies are big markets. And the latest crisis has spurred some reforms, including a revival of the moribund privatization program and a re-energized a bid to join the World Trade Organization. A new nuclear weapons treaty with the United States will be welcomed around the world.

But the reform drive is largely superficial. Indeed, there is less push than a decade ago. Vladimir Putin, now prime minister, has become more of an obstacle than a change-agent. The fate of fallen oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky is an ominous example. His second trial, which should end in the spring, will probably extend his prison sentence by many years, and further tarnish the reputation of the country’s legal system.

President Dmitry Medvedev, Putin’s protege, seems to have the desire to do more, but as yet he lacks the necessary clout. If he does get more authority, the result could be a paralyzing fight with Putin, rather than big changes. Investors may be willing to overlook the Russian economy’s structural woes, but they shouldn’t forget the country has had a crisis almost every five years. Watch out for 2013.



Why China Really Wants A Big Navy
The growth of the Chinese navy, seen from the Chinese point of view, is the result of China's three decades of economic growth and modernization. This economic growth depends on massive imports of raw materials, particularly oil and ores, especially iron ore. While China's economy could continue to grow without its massive exports, that economy would collapse without the imports. Thus China has gone from being classic "Continental Power" (that was not dependent on seaborne commerce), to a maritime power, that must maintain access to oceanic supply routes. Thus China needs a navy to help preserve that access.

Russia, the other great Eurasian continental power, is still one. Russia produces its own oil, and can get anything else it needs via land routes in Eurasia. Thus Russia is not overly concerned that its navy is shrinking to the size of coast guard. China, however, has to be particularly concerned with the sea routes to distant Persian Gulf and Africa. Australia is closer, but still a long sea distance away. It's not that China wants to fight a naval war, but it does want a strong enough navy to prevent any smaller, rogue, nation from interfering with Chinese shipping. For example, China's contribution to the anti-piracy patrol in the Gulf of Aden is a big deal in China. For once, the Chinese Navy is able to reach a long distance, and protect Chinese interests.

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In particular, China has to worry about the Straits of Malacca (the narrow seaway providing the quickest passage between the Pacific and Indian oceans). Some 20 percent of all world trade moves through these straits. Sea traffic here is vulnerable to naval mines and sinking large ships in shallower channels. This would disrupt some traffic. Near total shutdown of the straits would cause economic disruption worldwide, and especially in China. Shipping costs would go up and there would be lots of shipping delays. Ultimate economic costs would run into the hundreds of billion dollars. China needs to stay on good terms with Singapore (the island city, populated largely by ethnic Chinese, right on the straits), and have a naval force capable to protecting the straits from any threat.

Then there is the Indian Ocean. India takes the name seriously, and considers itself the guardian of the sea routes through this vast area. This includes most of the oil coming out of the Persian Gulf (where most of the world's known oil reserves are). India needs access to that oil, as well as to African resources. India is not receptive to seeing the Chinese Navy operating nearby, but the Chinese feel they have to show up, to prepare for any contingency. From China's perspective, the U.S. Navy is not the big threat, unless the Americans ally themselves with India, or anyone else trying to cut China's maritime supply lines.





An Obama Tour
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