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Saturday, 15 August 2015

China Sends In Chemical Warfare Troops, Orders Tianjin Blast Site Evacuation After Toxic Sodium Cyanide Found

Four years ago, following the Sendai tsunami and resulting explosion at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, the Japanese government had just one goal: to minimize panic among the population, even if it meant blatantly lying about the resulting deadly radioactive fallout the public was exposed to. After all the top prerogative among government bureaucrats has always been to minimize social disturbance even if it means sacrificing countless individuals to a death that could have been avoided if only the government had told the truth from the beginning.

This was also the playbook followed by the Chinese government three days ago after the massive chemical plant explosion in China’s port of Tianjin where the casualty count is increasing with every passing day (85 dead at last check and rising fast), but where the real danger is that toxic gases and chemical fallout, just as dangerous and lethal as Fukushima’s beta and gamma waves, have spread in the air and water, and are jeopardizing the local population.

Initially the government did everything in its power to cover up the spread of deadly contaminants. As we reported yesterday, People’s Daily openly lied to the local population: “Authorities tasked with marine monitoring announced there were no hazardous chemicals detected in waters off the blast site in north China's port city Tianjin on Friday.

A statement from the State Oceanic Administration (SOA) said major measurement of seawater composition did not show any anomaly compared with historical records.

Hazardous materials such as cyanide and volatile phenol were not detected, while the variety of zooplankton was not affected either, it added.

The problem is that the Chinese government long ago lost all credibility and as we reported yesterday, local residents “wondered if even the air was safe because of the smoke, still billowing hours later from vestiges of the inferno, which destroyed an industrial zone near the port. Many people wore masks.”

“Right now, we don’t know anything,” said Sun Meirong, 52, an office cleaner who descended 13 flights of stairs with her 1-year-old grandson after the explosions blew in her apartment windows and front door.


… According to the Tianjin Tanggu Environmental Monitoring Station, calcium carbide was one of several toxic industrial chemicals stored by the company. The others included sodium cyanide, which can produce hydrogen cyanide, a volatile and flammable liquid; and toluene diisocyanate, which can also react violently in the presence of water.

We were quite skeptical the Chinese government can maintain the charade for long: unlike radiation whose effects take years to materialize, and thus afforded  the Japanese government free reign to lie to the people with impunity for years, the effect of the Chinese toxic gases manifest themselves quickly, and usually with a combustible or deadly outcome.

Which is why we were not surprised to learn that Chinese authorities ordered the evacuation of residents within a 3km radius of the Tianjin blast site “over fears of chemical contaminationaccording to BBC.

Replace fears with reality: the evacuation came as police confirmed the highly toxic chemical sodium cyanide was found near the site.

People sheltering at a school used as a safe haven since the disaster have been asked to leave wearing masks and long trousers, reports say.   

According to a tweet by The People's Daily, anti-chemical warfare troops have entered the site to handle highly toxic sodium cyanide which had been found there.

The discovery was confirmed by police "roughly east of the blast site" in an industrial zone, state-run Beijing News said.

What is Sodium Cyanide?

The chemical sodium cyanide is white crystalline or granular powder which can be rapidly fatal if inhaled or ingested, as it interferes with the body's ability to use oxygen.

It is mostly used in chemical manufacturing, for fumigation and in the mining industry to extract gold and silver.

It is soluble in water, and absorbs water from air, and its dust is also easy to inhale. When dissolved or burned, it releases the highly poisonous gas hydrogen cyanide.

* * *

Which means that the lies can now end: officials have so far insisted that air and water quality levels are safe.

BBC adds that officials have also confirmed the presence of calcium carbide, potassium nitrate and sodium nitrate. Calcium carbide reacts with water to create the highly explosive acetylene.

Ironically, just like in the case of Fukushima where the government is desperately hiding the fact that there has been a core meltdown, so in Tianjin the deadly chemicals have made such a toxic mix that some fires have continued to smoulder and at least one reignited on Saturday.

Xinhua said several cars at the site had "exploded again".

*  *  *

Since the port of Tianjin a critical infrastructure hub in the inbound commodity pathway, handling a substantial portion of China’s iron ore and steel supply chain, today’s evacuation and the admission that the chemical fallout from the explosion was far worse than officially admitted, means that a non-trivial component of China’s trade is about to be mothballed indefinitely.

It also means that with both imports and exports set to suffer even more following last month’s shocking prolapse, which was the sole reason for China’s currency devaluation (the justification used by some pundits that China is simply eager to gain SDR acceptance is utter nonsense: China would not reveal it is adding to its gold holdings if it intended to appease the IMF, and certainly would not intervene daily to prop up its stock market, something the “free market” IMF finds abhorrent if only publicly), and with critical logistical networks now certain to be blocked indefinitely, resulting in GDP-crushing supply chain bottlenecks, Beijing – which was eager to slowdown its Yuan devaluation on Friday in order to avoid cross-asset contagion and further selling of stocks and an acceleration of the capital outflow – will have no choice but to devalue the currency even more in the coming week as the only offset to what may have well been a true black (or rather mushroom cloud shaped) swan event, one for which neither China nor the world, had absolutely any contingency plan.

An Introduction to Pentagon Contracts

Hundreds of corporations profit directly from the Pentagon’s global wars. Understanding information about the Pentagon’s acquisition process is crucial to establishing and maintaining an informed citizenry. Using this guide, citizens can break down and decipher Department of Defense (DOD) contracts as an act of education, empowerment, or resistance.

The general format of a DOD contract involves:

NAME OF CORPORATION, City, State, has been awarded a $---,---,--- [TYPE of] contract for PRODUCT. Contractor will provide … [further details, often quite obscure, esoteric, or cloudy]. Work will be performed in City, State. Work is expected to be completed by Month, Day, Year. These types of funds are being allocated. This unit is the contracting activity [a.k.a. what DOD authority arranged for the purchase].

The main corporations supporting DOD are: Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, Textron, and United Technologies. Other frequent contributors include: BAE Systems, CACI, Exelis, General Atomics, General Dynamics, General Electric, Honeywell, Huntington Ingalls, Jacobs Engineering, L3, Orbital ATK, Rockwell Collins, Rolls Royce, and SAIC. Hundreds of other corporations, big and small, cover the landscape.

DOD employs many different contract types. They have fancy names, which vary depending on: whether or how they can be adjusted at a later date; the quantity of the product involved; the product’s delivery schedule; and anticipated price fluctuations. Examples of contract types include: firm-fixed-price; firm-fixed-price with economic adjustment; firm-fixed-fee; cost-plus-fixed-fee; and indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity. For thorough elaboration, consult the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR).

Exorbitant initial costs worry the taxpayer. Subsequent costs are tacked on later in the form of modifications. Modifications are adjustments and additions to existing contracts. Corporations make a lot of money from modifications. Corporations justify modifications by claiming need for frequent maintenance, upkeep, tweaking, and upgrading.

The product varies. The product can involve: so-called unmanned vehicles; advertising and recruitment; weaponry and materiel; aircraft and maintenance; payment to universities for academic collusion; extortionate weapons platforms, like Aegis, Littoral Combat Ships (LCS), or the X-Band radar; clothing and gear; fuel and energy; medical and dental services; environmental remediation; food services; base administration and logistics; domestic and overseas construction projects; river dredging; or many other goods and services.

Look at this example, which has been revised to highlight the important parts:

Airtec Inc.,* California, Maryland, is being awarded an $80,661,914 modification against a previously issued firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract (N68335-14-D-0030) for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) services in support of the U.S. Southern Command. The contractor will provide ISR services utilizing a contractor-owned, contractor-operated Bombardier DHC-8/200 multi-sensor aircraft, with government-furnished property previously installed on the aircraft. Work will be performed in Bogota, Columbia (90 percent); and California, Maryland (10 percent), and is expected to be completed in September 2018. No funds will be obligated at time of award. Funds will be obligated on individual delivery orders as they are issued. The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, Lakehurst, New Jersey, is the contracting activity.

The aforementioned contract now becomes:

Airtec Inc. received $80,661,914 to provide ISR services in support of USSOUTHCOM utilizing an Airtec owned/operated Bombardier DHC-8/200 multi-sensor aircraft, with government-furnished property previously installed. Work will be in Bogota, Colombia (90%); and California, MD (10%).

Those who compile DOD contracts often misspell the names of sovereign nations. In this case, they misspelled Colombia. We can begin to see the value of distilling these contracts. From this contract alone, we learn much regarding DOD’s overseas posture and bureaucratic competence.

Now analyze this concrete example:

Raytheon Missile Systems Co., Tucson, Arizona, has been awarded a $10,647,581 not-to-exceed letter contract for Small Diameter Bomb II. Contractor will provide Small Diameter Bomb II aircraft integration test assets, to include jettison test vehicles, and instrumented measurement vehicles on the F/A-18E/F aircraft. Work will be performed at Tucson, Arizona, and is expected to be complete by Aug. 10, 2016. This award is the result of a sole source acquisition. Fiscal 2015 research, development, test and evaluation funds in the amount of $5,000,000 are being obligated at the time of award. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, is the contracting activity.

Compare that contract to previous templates. Knowing what you’ve learned so far, try to distill the essential information.

Links help the public understand information clearly. Links can be provided regarding: type of weapons platform; corporate history; Combatant Command (UCC); and any other pertinent information one deems valuable. Over time, one will become acclimated to what is essential information and what is chaff. One also may decide to keep the chaff for personal notes, along with, of course, the meat of the contract. In one’s own notes, track the corporation’s branch location, the good or service they provide, where that good/service is provisioned, and any additional information that will help understand DOD’s domestic industrial base. After a few months of this hobby, a solid picture of DOD’s industrial footprint materializes.

A modification, as mentioned briefly before, is basically an extension of a contract. A contract is inked, and later a modification adds funding to the original contract, which permits more work to be done. Take the following Lockheed Martin contract from 8 August 2014, which involves an Aegis product:

Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Training, Moorestown, New Jersey, has been awarded a $193,610,317 modification to previously awarded contract number HQ0276-10-C-0001 for procurement of necessary material, equipment, and supplies to conduct the technical engineering to define, develop, integrate and test Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense 4.1 and 5.0 Capability Upgrade baselines through their respective certifications. This modification brings the total cumulative face value of the contract to $2,002,542,722 from $1,808,932,405. Work will be performed at Moorestown, New Jersey, with an expected completion date of May 31, 2016. Fiscal 2014 research, development, test and evaluation funds in the amount of $19,500,000 are being obligated at time of award. The Missile Defense Agency, Dahlgren, Virginia, is the contracting activity.

What have we learned? We know that this modification adds almost $200 million to a previous contract involving the Aegis weapon system. We know where the product is crafted. We know the end user, in this case MDA. Googling the previously awarded contract number often yields relevant background information. Much can also be learned about this weapon platform from Lockheed Martin’s own website.

There is a surprising amount of public data available on the Internet. After all, war corporations have products they want to market and sell. Often their corporate websites display piecemeal information. When searching those locations fails, the public domain contains more information elsewhere, especially if the contract was bid on in a relatively open manner. Try consulting fbo.gov, clearancejobs.com, and LinkedIn.

Organization is key. Major corporations (Boeing, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, etc.) are large enough to each require their own word processing document. Other players can be grouped in a document based on function. For example: AM General, Caterpillar, Navistar and Oshkosh all provide vehicles to the U.S. military. Therefore, one might want to consider grouping them in a single word processing document. Other function-based groupings may include: A) major cyber-related contracts; B) space and satellite corporations; C) U.S. telecommunications providers; D) overseas base support; E) helicopter accessories; and F) Afghanistan profiteering, etc. Over time, experimentation is encouraged for arranging notes to best suite one’s personal organizational strengths.

Sometimes war corporations deliberately phrase contracts in a vague manner. Elusive phrasing results in contracts being awarded for “knowledge based service-type requirements”; “equipment related services”; and “R&D services for the purpose of creating and developing new processes or products.” While this lack of clarity can be frustrating, creative Google searches using combinations of corporate names and contract numbers often yield more information.

This guide is by no means exhaustive. Curators of the military-industrial complex (MIC) will inevitably develop individualized approaches to cataloguing MIC activities. This is both expected and encouraged. As long as citizens are engaged and diving into DOD contracts, then the public good is being served.

Concerted pursuit of this pastime requires a daily commitment of less than an hour. This includes research, organization, distillation, and frequent revision. Polishing the little pieces matters, like changing “and” to “&” when it is part of a single company’s name. That way, your reader isn’t confused as to whether the corporation in question is one entity or two.

For public consumption, attention to detail can distill this:

Parsons Government Services Inc., Huntsville, Alabama, is being awarded a ceiling $68,845,081 indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract with a five-year ordering period. The contract provides scientific and technical support to the Defense Intelligence Agency's Missile and Space Intelligence Center. Work will be performed at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, with an expected completion date of June 25, 2020. The acquisition was solicited on the basis of full and open competition, and two bids were received. Funding will be obligated on individual task orders with the initial task order scheduled to be awarded July 7, 2015, at an estimated ceiling price of $1,300,000. Virginia Contracting Activity, Washington, District of Columbia, is the contracting activity (HHM402-15-D-0007).

… into this:

Parsons Government Services received $68,845,081 to provide scientific and technical support to DIA’s Missile & Space Intelligence Center (MSIC) at Redstone Arsenal.

Good luck, and keep digging!

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Christian Sorensen, a BFP Contributing Author & Analyst, is a U.S. military veteran. His writing has been featured in CounterPunch and Media Roots.

American Food Banks Struggle to Keep Up Amidst “Surprising” Demand

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Food banks across the country are seeing a rising demand for free groceries despite the growing economy, leading some charities to reduce the amount of food they offer each family.

U.S. food banks are expected to give away about 4 billion pounds of food this year, more than double the amount provided a decade ago, according to Feeding America, the nation’s primary food bank network. The group gave away 3.8 billion in 2013.

While reliance on food banks exploded when the economy tanked in 2008, groups said demand continues to rise year after year, leaving them scrambling to find more food.

Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, executive director of the Ohio Association of Food Banks, who has been working in food charities since the 1980s, said that when earlier economic downturns ended, food demand declined, but not this time.

From the AP article: Food Banks Struggle to Meet Surprising Demand

It’s an economic recovery so robust, food bank demand has increased every single year during it.

It’s an economic recovery so robust, people running food banks say they’ve never seen food bank demand increase during a recovering economy. Ever. Except this time.

It’s a fraud. The entire thing. This recovery has been a mainstream media meme used to cover up what is really happening: oligarch theft.

But don’t take it from me. From the AP:

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Food banks across the country are seeing a rising demand for free groceries despite the growing economy, leading some charities to reduce the amount of food they offer each family.

U.S. food banks are expected to give away about 4 billion pounds of food this year, more than double the amount provided a decade ago, according to Feeding America, the nation’s primary food bank network. The group gave away 3.8 billion in 2013.

While reliance on food banks exploded when the economy tanked in 2008, groups said demand continues to rise year after year, leaving them scrambling to find more food.

“We get lines of people every day, starting at 6:30 in the morning,” said Sheila Moore, who oversees food distribution at The Storehouse, the largest pantry in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and one where food distribution has climbed 15 percent in the past year.

James Ziliak, who founded the Center for Poverty Research at the University of Kentucky, said the increased demand is surprising since the economy is growing and unemployment has dropped from 10 percent during the recession to 5.3 percent last month.

Yes, the increased demand is “surprising” if you get your economic news from the mainstream media, Wall Street analysts and pundits.

The drop in food stamp rolls by nearly 2.5 million people from recession levels could be contributing to the food bank demand, he said, because people who no longer qualify for the government aid may still not earn enough to pay their bills.

That’s an interesting angle.

Feeding America spokesman Ross Fraser said a recent study by his organization estimated that 46 million people sought food assistance at least once in 2014.

Feeding America, which coordinates large food donations for 199 food banks nationwide, has seen donations of food and money to the Chicago-based organization climb from $598 million in 2008 to $2.1 billion in 2014. 

So donations to food banks nearly quadrupled during the so-called “economic recovery,” yet they still can’t keep up. Got it.

Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, executive director of the Ohio Association of Food Banks, who has been working in food charities since the 1980s, said that when earlier economic downturns ended, food demand declined, but not this time.

Perhaps because there’s no real recovery?

In Fort Smith, Arkansas, the monthly food giveaways at a local park by the River Valley Regional Food Bank draw about 1,000 families.“When people are willing to stand in 100 degree weather for hours, that tells you something,” said Ken Kupchick, the food bank’s marketing director.

So why is this happening? Because oligarchy.

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For more articles on the oligarch recovery, see:

The Oligarch Recovery – Renting in America is Most Expensive Ever

Another Tale from the Oligarch Recovery – How a $1,500 Sofa Costs $4,150 When You’re Poor

Just Another Tale from the Oligarch Recovery – $100 Million Homes Being Built on Spec

The Face of the Oligarch Recovery – Luxury Skyscrapers Stay Empty as NYC Homeless Population Hits Record High

Use of Alternative Financial Services, Such as Payday Loans, Continues to Increase Despite the “Recovery”

In Liberty,
Michael Krieger