Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
August 31, 2011

Libya: Rebel Unity Already In Question

In the NYT Kirkpatrick and Nordland write from Tripoli:

Fighters from the western mountain city of Zintan control the airport. The fighters from Misurata guard the central bank, the port and the prime minister’s office, where their graffiti has relabeled the historic plaza “Misurata Square.” Berbers from the mountain town Yafran took charge of the city’s central square, where they spray-painted “Yafran Revolutionaries.”

Where are the fighters from Tripoli? Are there any? How long will the people of Tripoli allow these red neck marauders in their streets?

The U.S. and the Brits tried to arrange for something like an occupation force. The plans UN Special Adviser Ian Martin leaked to Inner City Press of provided for 200 unarmed UN Military Observers. Unarmed? Not really, those "unarmed observers" would be protected by several thousand of heavily armed troops from some foreign country. The National Transitional Council (NTC) nixed the plan. If it would allow foreign troops now it would immediately lose some of the tribal gangs that currently support it.

The next aim for the rebels is to take Sirte. NATO is already bombing the city where Gaddhafi was born and its 100,000 inhabitants. As hundreds if not thousands of the rebel fighters are needed to keep Tripoli occupied one wonders how many forces they have left to push against that city. This could again turn out to be a long and bloody business.

It is likely that Gaddhafi slipped away to prepare for a new phase of the war. It will be interesting to see how that unfolds. There is absolutely no unity within the various rebel groups and no unity within the National Transitional Committee. They will likely fight each other in the coming weeks and month. This gives Gaddhafi a chance to set everything up and to negotiate with various tribes to allow for his comeback.

Posted by b on August 31, 2011 at 12:46 PM | Permalink | Comments (13)

August 30, 2011

What The Taliban Don't Want

In the New York Review of Books Ahmed Rashid sets out his take of the Eid message the Taliban leader Mullah Omar put out: What the Taliban want.

I do not know what the Taliban want. But I am pretty sure they do not want to have their dead one-legged commander Dadullah be depicted as their alive one-eyed emir Mullah Mohammed Omar. (Thanks to Alex Strick van Linschoten for identifying Dadullah.)

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Aside from that photo mix up, Ahmed Rashid claims that, contrary to recent reports, negotiations with Taliban are continuing:

An AP report on August 29 that quoted some US and Afghan officials as saying the talks have stalled is completely wrong according to my well-informed sources, who insist that they are continuing despite leaks to the press, as well as threats to the security of the participants and other problems.

That is good news.

Mullah Omar is calling for an inner-Afghan compromise provided that foreign troops leave the country and overly foreign interference, from the U.S. as well as Pakistan, stops.

The Afghan government, the White House and the State Department could probably agree to such a solution if they would only stop ignoring inner-Afghan politics. But the Pentagon will still want permanent bases in Afghanistan and may therefore, probably in cooperation with some Northern Alliance war lords who stand to lose power in a compromise, sabotage further negotiations. Rashid's report of "threats to the security of the participants" points to such interferences.

Like other international issues, for example the New START agreement, the biggest hurdle to clear in the Afghan conflict may be poltics within the Washington beltway.

Posted by b on August 30, 2011 at 02:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (6)

August 29, 2011

On Electricity Networks

Yesterday I asked:

Why has a well off industrialized country an electricity system which breaks down for a million people due to a simple regular sized storm?

That was a serious question. Unfortunately it didn't get any serious answer but polemic accusations of Schadenfreude towards the people hit by the storm and by the partiality breakdown of the U.S. electricity distribution system. The question was serious and I have yet to find out why it was taken differently.

Here are my thoughts towards answering my question.

The electricity systems in well off industrialized countries were build within three historic-political frames. The people that built and run it maximized profits (not necessarily monetary ones) within these frames.

The political frames consisted over time of three major historic themes and what followed from them:

  • In the emerging 20th century there was popular public demand for comfortable universal access to this new thing called electricity. This despite the fact that providing electricity everywhere is not an economic optimum. Some difficult to reach places are, in total, cheaper to heat and illuminated with other forms of energy. But politicians followed the populist call - see FDR's Tennessee Valley Project or Lenin's claim that "Communism is power of the committees [soviets] plus electrification."
  • After World War II all industrialized nations recognized that military application of nuclear energy could be an essential part of their national power. They promoted civil programs to use nuclear energy for providing electricity to further their military nuclear programs as means of national power. Civil nuclear energy programs are only cost efficient if they use very large power generation stations. This led to a an electricity system where power generation is concentrated and often quite far away from the usage point. Before nuclear energy was used electric power generation for a city usually took place within that city's boundaries. Now it is usually far away from it and requires long vulnerable supply lines.
  • Generation and providing of electricity was long seen as a public task which allowed for subsidizing reliable access to electric energy even to outlying places. Politically the optimal target was providing electricity everywhere on equal terms. That changed with increasing political corruption furthering the trend towards privatization of even natural monopolies. The result was Enron and generally the neglect of reliable distribution structures due to profit maximization of private entities in monopolistic positions.

These three points: electricity access seen as a public right, centralization of power generation due to nuclear energy promotion and optimization of privatized profits instead of reliability in monopoly positions led to the situation where a storm or some unfortunate system effect can suddenly take out electricity for a lot of people for a relatively long time.

There are ways to prevent future incidents like this by healing the excesses of the above mentioned policies.

  • Electricity access is not a human right. If you decide to live on an Appalachian mountain top or in the middle of a desert do not expect that the general public will provide you with subsidized reliable electric energy. You'll have to make it yourself.
  • Localize electric energy generation to where that energy is needed. This eliminates vulnerable overland lines. Unfortunately the "green energy" folks do not get that point. They want wind farms out on the seas even where the major consumption areas are inland and far away from the wind-farms. They repeat the mistakes of nuclear energy. It would be much better to further efforts to find ways for generating energy locally (solar, geothermic, bio, fossil etc.).
  • Do not privatize natural monopolies. To lay an electric energy line to a house usually only pays off in the frame of several decades. That payoff time frame is too long to make a second line and thereby competition profitable. Privatized networks means that everyone gets stuck with a private monopoly provider which has no incentive to adopt its prices to its real costs. This is a state where things are better (cheaper for consumers) when in non-profit public than private hands. Natural monopolies like electricity-, water-, sewage- and telecommunication networks should be kept in public ownership and maintained with more weight towards reliability than profits.

If those preventive points would have been policy the recent storm would have had, in my estimate, less negative effects.

What is your take on the issue?

Posted by b on August 29, 2011 at 03:58 PM | Permalink | Comments (17)

August 28, 2011

Abdelhakim Belhadj And Saif al-Islam Gaddhafi

The Independent reports today what was to be expected of some of the rebels in Libya:

Yesterday, The Independent on Sunday learned that the rebel military commander behind the successful assault on Tripoli had fought in Afghanistan alongside the Taliban and was an Islamist terror suspect interrogated by the CIA. Abdelhakim Belhadj, the newly appointed commander of the Tripoli Military Council is a former emir of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) – banned by Britain and the US as a terrorist organisation after the 9/11 attacks.

Maybe the Independent on Sunday learned this from watching Pepe Escobar who reported it yesterday on Russia TV (video).

Or maybe Pepe Escobar and the Independent read about this in the piece by Hossam Salama published last Thursday in the English version of Asaraq Al-Awsat:

Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat – Abdelhakim Belhadj is the commander of the Libyan rebel Tripoli Military Council; he emerged as a leader during the Libyan rebels’ operation to liberate the Libyan capital from Gaddafi control. Belhadj is also a former Emir of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), which was banned internationally as a terrorist organization following the 9/11 attacks.
...

Funny how much gets reported without giving credit where its due to those who did the original work.

But away from that the the issue is interesting because what follows from it. Abdelhakim Belhadj and his fellow LIFG fighters now in charge of Tripoli have personal reasons to hate the U.S. and to like Saif al-Islam. This could further a comeback for Saif.

Abdelhakim Belhadj (aka Abdelhakim Al-Khoweildy aka Abu Abdullah Assadaq aka Abdallah al-Sadeq) fought with the Mujahedeen against the Soviets, was caught after 9/11 and tortured by the CIA.

According to Human Rights Watch which later interviewed him in a Libyan prison:

Malaysian security officials had arrested him on March 3, 2004 and handed him over to the CIA which he says interrogated and tortured him in Thailand. The CIA rendered Abdelhakim Al-Khoweildy to Libya on March 9, 2004.

In a footnote HRW notices:

His claims are consistent with what is known about the CIA's treatment of detainees, ...

In Libya Abdelhakim Belhadj was kept in prison on death row until March 2010 and was released on the insistence of Gaddhafi's son Saif al-Islam:

"These releases come in the context of national reconciliation and social peace," said Mohamed al Allagi, chairman of the human rights committee of the Gaddafi Foundation, the charity which helped organize the release.

The charity is headed by Saif al-Islam, a reform-minded son of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi who some analysts say could eventually succeed his father.

Saif al-Islam has campaigned for reconciliation with Islamists who promise to lay down their arms. His initiative has met resistance from conservatives in his father's entourage with whom he is competing for influence.

Saif al-Islam seems to have trusted Abdelhakim Belhadj's on others claimed conversion to peaceful means. He has some reason to be disappointed by them. But he has even more reason to be disappointed with the "west".

In his last public interview Saif al-Islam said that he will join forces with the Islamists:

“The liberals will escape or be killed,” the son, Seif al-Islam el-Qaddafi, vowed in an hourlong interview that stretched past midnight. “We will do it together,” he added, wearing a newly grown beard and fingering Islamic prayer beads as he reclined on a love seat in a spare office tucked in a nearly deserted downtown hotel. “Libya will look like Saudi Arabia, like Iran. So what?”

By no means is the rebellion or revolution in Libya over. Lots of things will still happen.

Saif al-Islam has personally helped to get Abdelhakim Belhadj and many other LIFG folks off the death row and out of prison. He knows them well. They have at least some good reason to be thankful to him. 

The "western" forces that arranged for the current upper hand of the rebels will now try to scheme their ways into installing a pliant puppet regime. The LIFG folks will not like that and Abdelhakim Belhadj will remember who tortured him.

An "expert" in the Independent says 30% of the rebel front fighters are Islamists. They do have the force and military means to win against the more liberal revolutionaries. They did not join the rebellion for seculatity, liberty or democracy. If Gaddhafi or his son can get some of their constituency to join with them, there may well be a comeback to the top for at least Saif al-Islam.

Posted by b on August 28, 2011 at 01:41 PM | Permalink | Comments (42)

Question Of The Day

My question of the day?

Why has a well off industrialized country an electricity system which breaks down for a million people due to a simple regular sized storm?

Posted by b on August 28, 2011 at 11:02 AM | Permalink | Comments (18)

August 27, 2011

Weekend Reads and Open Thread

Some interesting stuff to read over the weekend:

A recommendation for MoA readers:

The London Review of Books (LRB) currently offers a hurricane special which allows 7 days of free reading of the magazine and its archive after a registration here. (The registration only requires a valid email address.) I recommend to do so and to walk through the archives. A lot of good staff was and gets published in the LRB. As I am not on the U.S. east coast I'll use this opportunity to fill up my harddisk with reading material for the next hurricane here :-).

Please post your reading recommendations in the comments.

Posted by b on August 27, 2011 at 06:40 AM | Permalink | Comments (30)

August 26, 2011

Libyans Asked For No Foreign Intervention


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This picture was published on March 1 in a Guardian blog and elsewhere.

The demonstrators in the picture asked for "no foreign intervention". But their movement was already being captured by foreigners.

Go read Craig Murray on the currently ongoing attack on Sirte. Excerpt: Sirte – the Apotheosis of “Liberal Intervention”

The “rebels” are actively hitting Sirte with heavy artillery and Stalin’s organs; they are transporting tanks openly to attack Sirte. Yet any movement of tanks or artillery by the population of Sirte brings immediate death from NATO air strike.

What exactly is the reason that Sirte’s defenders are threatening civilians but the artillery of their attackers – and the bombings themselves – are not? Plainly this is a nonsense. People in foreign ministries, NATO, the BBC and other media are well aware that it is the starkest lie and propaganda, to say the assault on Sirte is protecting civilians. But does knowledge of the truth prevent them from peddling a lie? No.

It is worth reminding everyone something never mentioned, that UNSCR 1973 which established the no fly zone and mandate to protect civilians had

“the aim of facilitating dialogue to lead to the political reforms necessary to find a peaceful and sustainable solution;”

That is in Operative Para 2 of the Resolution

Plainly the people of Sirte hold a different view to the “rebels” as to who should run the country. NATO have in effect declared being in Gadaffi’s political camp a capital offence. There is no way the massive assault on Sirte is “facilitating dialogue”. it is rather killing those who do not hold the NATO approved opinion. That is the actual truth. It is extremely plain.
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“Liberal intervention” does not exist. What we have is the opposite; highly selective neo-imperial wars aimed at ensuring politically client control of key physical resources.

Posted by b on August 26, 2011 at 08:57 AM | Permalink | Comments (33)

August 25, 2011

PublicIntelligence.net Taken Down Over Complain

The website publicintelligence.net was taken down by its hosting company after yet unknown complains by an unknown institution.

A mirror, current up to August 18, is available at publicintelligence.info.

The Public Intelligence group has published many official reports of public interest that were kept secret from the public. Among those were more than 90 reports of U.S. local Intelligence Fusion Centers, documents from NATO and the UN and information about the collaboration of law enforcement and intelligence services with companies like Facebook and Microsoft.

From the About page:

Public Intelligence is an international, collaborative research project aimed at aggregating the collective work of independent researchers around the globe who wish to defend the public’s right to access information. We operate upon a single maxim: equal access to information is a human right. We believe that limits to the average citizen’s ability to access information have created information asymmetries which threaten to destabilize democratic rule around the world. Through the control of information, governments, religions, corporations, and a select group of individuals have been able to manipulate public perception into accepting coercive agendas which are ultimately designed to limit the sovereignty and freedom of populations worldwide.

According to Public Intelligence tweets their shut down down server is hosted in the Netherlands by Leaseweb. PI says:

There have reportedly been "complaints" about content on the site. That's all we know at this time.

Leaseweb is not know to take down websites only due to complains. In 2007 it took a court ruling to force them to take down some bittorrent sites. One wonders what threats came with that unknown complain about Public Intelligence.

As John Young of Cryptome.org remarks:

Public Intelliigence is a rare gem. Support it. Shutting down such sites one by one is a strategy.

I concur.

Please spread the word about this.

Also, to elevate the issue, it may help to contact Leaseweb and to ask why they took down Public Intelligence. Let them know that people are aware of this and care. But please be friendly, it is probably not their fault.

Censoring of the likes Public Intelligence and of the papers they publish is a threat from the security elites to all societies and their people.

Posted by b on August 25, 2011 at 10:32 AM | Permalink | Comments (8)

Attacks On Embassies In Libya

Armed gangs in Libya have ransacked the residence of the South Korean ambassador, broke into the embassy of Bulgaria and looted the Venezuelan embassy.

The folks at Intelnews have some suspicions:

[C]ould it be that these attacks are not led by the rebels themselves, but by some of their embedded American and Western European intelligence operatives, who may be taking advantage of the chaotic situation in the Libyan capital to collect valuable documents from selected foreign embassies?

Maybe, maybe not. It is weird that some embassies get protection by the rebels while others do not. One could explain this with regards to the Venezuelan embassy as Venezuela supports Gaddhafi's position, but why attacking the embassies of Bulgaria or South Korea?

It shows that the new puppet dictatorship of the Transitional National Council is either incapable of keeping foreign embassies safe or is deliberately leaving some unprotected. On who's advice?

Posted by b on August 25, 2011 at 06:16 AM | Permalink | Comments (20)

August 23, 2011

The Upcoming Occupation Of Libya

The Independent reports that "former" UK special operation forces led the western rebels in their onslaught on Tripoli. These several handful of mercenaries, payed for with British and Qatari money, will not be enough to occupy the country. But an occupation is what the "western" countries involved want.

It is quite possible, even likely, that the fighting will continue even if the attackers somehow manage to get Gaddhafi out of the way. I pointed out quite early that Libya is a tribal country and that historically the various groups of tribes never got along very well. There is also an ethnic component with Berbers of the south disliked by the Arabs in the north and vice versa. There is a religious point with Salafi Muslim in the east and much more secular people in the west and Tripoli with each side certainly having different opinions on how to run Libya. There is a lot of money to be taken and to be made and there will always be some group which will want to have a bigger part of the loot.

My best advice is to let the Libyans fight this out on their own. It will be bloody and take a while but it will very likely be much less bloody and shorter than with outside intervention.

But my advice will not be taken.

The argument will be that the anticipated civil war will necessitate "peacekeepers" and "humanitarian intervention" with boots on the ground.

Here is the head of the U.S. Council Of Foreign Relations, Richard Haas, in the British Financial Times preparing us for such:

International assistance, probably including an international force, is likely to be needed for some time to help restore and maintain order. The size and composition of the force will depend on what is requested and welcomed by the Libyan National Transitional Council and what is required by the situation on the ground.

President Barack Obama may need to reconsider his assertion that there would not be any American boots on the ground; leadership is hard to assert without a presence.

The UK has already several hundred soldier ready to decent on Tripoli:

Hundreds of British soldiers could be sent to Libya to serve as peacekeepers if the country descends into chaos, Downing Street indicated last night.
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Two hundred troops are on standby to fly to the North African state at 24 hours’ notice if needed.

The soldiers from 2nd Battalion the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers are stationed in Cyprus, about 1,000 miles from Libya.

A source said: ‘The troops have been on standby for Libya since the start of July. All their kit is packed and they are just waiting to get the call to go.’

Up to 600 Royal Marines are also deployed in the Mediterranean and would be available to support humanitarian operations.

The French will certainly also send a few battalions.

The British written rebel plan calls for some special security force in Tripoli:

The document includes proposals for a 10,000-15,000 strong "Tripoli task force", resourced and supported by the United Arab Emirates, to take over the Libyan capital, secure key sites and arrest high-level Gaddafi supporters.

I wonder what "resourced and supported" means in this context. Will that task force be mercenaries from a foreign country or Libyan tribal gangs paid by the UAE?

The right wing German minister for defense made some noise of sending German troops. There is no way he will be allowed to without a UN resolution. But even with a resolution I doubt that the German parliament, which must decide on this, would agree.

The current UN Security Council resolution 1973 explicitly excludes "a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory."

The countries involved might argue that any boots on the ground will not be an "occupation" but neither China nor Russia nor the public will accept that interpretation. Some legal cover from the UN will be needed for inner political reasons. It is doubtful that, after having been scammed with the "no-fly-zone" resolution 1973, China and Russia will agree to any new resolution without each demanding a very, very hefty price maybe even the size of Taiwan or Belarus.

With the occupations we witness in Iraq and Afghanistan we can be confident to estimate how a "western" occupation of Libya will likely develop. The TNC puppet government will turn out to be mediocre and not inclusive. The troops send will soon be shot at by someone every once a while and will start to shoot back. An insurgency against the occupation will develop. Salafi fighters from the various countries around Libya will come in and join the fun. More troops will be needed and send. It will take years and a lot of blood will flow until everyone is exhausted, the fighting dies down and the foreign troops go home.

Libya has only six million people. But two million live in Tripoli and it will thus be the core of the fight and the occupation. The outlying towns in the desert can not all be occupied without sending many more troops than the "west" will be willing to send. They will be left to the insurgency and will be their bases and retreats. The oil, which is mostly found in the southeastern desert and pumped through long pipelines, will be hard to recover.

Some ten years from now books will be sold describing the idea of supporting and installing a Libyan rebel government and the occupation following as an idiotic idea. Nothing will be learned from it.

Posted by b on August 23, 2011 at 11:25 AM | Permalink | Comments (46)

Look Who's Been Lying

THE HAGUE, Netherlands -- Rebel "special forces" arrested Seif al-Islam Gadhafi - a son of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi indicted along with his father on crimes against humanity charges, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court said early Monday.
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Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo told The Associated Press that Seif Gadhafi had been detained by "rebel special forces." He declined to give more details of the arrest or the source of the information.
Int'l court: Rebels have detained Gadhafi's son 08.21.11, 07:52 PM EDT


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Rebels in Libya said late Monday they had captured Saadi Kadafi, a third of Moammar Kadafi's seven sons.

Saadi Kadafi was taken after two of his older brothers were detained earlier in the day, the head of the rebels' National Transitional Council told Al Arabiya satelite network.

Earlier on Monday, Libyan rebel leader Mustafa Abdul Jalil confirmed the overnight capture of two of Kadafi's other sons, Mohammed and Seif al-Islam, and said that they were "under the control of the revolutionaries and ... in safe places."
LIBYA: Third Kadafi son is captured, rebels say


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Euphoric Libyan rebels raced into the capital Tripoli on Sunday and moved close to center with little resistance as Moammar Gadhafi's defenders melted away. Opposition leaders said Gadhafi's son and one-time heir apparent, Seif al-Islam, has been arrested.
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Sidiq al-Kibir, the rebel leadership council's representative for the capital Tripoli, confirmed the arrest of Seif al-Islam to the AP but did not give any further details.
Libyan rebels enter Tripoli, arrest Gadhafi's son

The appearance on camera early on Tuesday of Seif al-Islam, son and one time heir-apparent of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, appears to defy earlier claims that he had been detained by rebel forces. (Aug. 23 2011)

Posted by b on August 23, 2011 at 12:49 AM | Permalink | Comments (21)

August 21, 2011

Libya: Mission Accomplished?

Obama, NATO and its Libyan rebels seems to believe that the fight over Libya is over.

“Tonight, the momentum against the Qaddafi regime has reached a tipping point,” Mr. Obama said in a statement. “Tripoli is slipping from the grasp of a tyrant. The Qaddafi regime is showing signs of collapsing. The people of Libya are showing that the universal pursuit of dignity and freedom is far stronger than the iron fist of a dictator.”

Mission accomplished!

Wait.

There is something curious here:

After six months of inconclusive fighting, the assault on the capital unfolded at a breakneck pace, with insurgents capturing a military base of the vaunted Khamis Brigade, where they had expected to meet fierce resistance, then speeding toward Tripoli and through several neighborhoods of the capital effectively unopposed.
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Few would have predicted that the rebels would meet so little resistance from the 32nd Brigade, a unit that NATO had considered one of the most elite in Libya and commanded by Khamis Qaddafi, one of the leader’s sons.

When the U.S. invaded Iraq to kick Saddam out his forces melted away only to come back in a years long war against the occupiers and their puppets. This looks similar to me.

Did Gaddhafi plan for this and decided to take the same route?

Whatever. The decades of free education, free healthcare and free housing for Libyans are likely coming to an end. The full force of a neoliberal onslaught will now unfold onto the Libyan people. The tribes, and the coalition, will fight each other over the loot.

This affair is not finished. Obama's "Mission accomplished" banner will be frowned upon for years to come.

Posted by b on August 21, 2011 at 11:29 PM | Permalink | Comments (50)

Obama Supports Indemnifying Of Criminal Banks

There was a deal in preparation between the 50 U.S. state attorneys and the five big mortgage banks, including Bank of America which had acquired the then leading mortgage company Countrywide, to release the banks from all liabilities for falsification of documents, unlawful bundling of mortgages and selling those under false pretense to investors. For a payment of a few billions the banks would be freed from further criminal charges of crimes that led to several hundred billions dollars of losses for investors.

The state attorneys of New York, Delaware, Nevada and a few other states are barking against this insane deal. They are sure that they can prove fraud on a huge scale and want to, as is their job, hold the banks responsible for this.

The Obama administration takes its to be expected stand and lobbies for the criminals and against the rule of law.

Eric T. Schneiderman, the attorney general of New York, has come under increasing pressure from the Obama administration to drop his opposition to a wide-ranging state settlement with banks over dubious foreclosure practices, according to people briefed on discussions about the deal.

In recent weeks, Shaun Donovan, the secretary of Housing and Urban Development, and high-level Justice Department officials have been waging an intensifying campaign to try to persuade the attorney general to support the settlement, said the people briefed on the talks.

The proposed deal itself is a joke:

An initial term sheet outlining a possible settlement emerged in March, with institutions including Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo being asked to pay about $20 billion that would go toward loan modifications and possibly counseling for homeowners.

In exchange, the attorneys general participating in the deal would have agreed to sign broad releases preventing them from bringing further litigation on matters relating to the improper bank practices.

The main issue for the Obama administration is the imminent bankruptcy of Bank of America. With acquiring Countrywide, the then biggest mortgage company, a few years ago BofA is on the hook for an immense amount of losses:

The deal would require Bank of America to pay $8.5 billion to investors holding the securities; the unpaid principal amount of the mortgages remaining in the pools totals $174 billion.

As Countrywide did a lot of criminal stuff with regards to mortgage documentation and the issuing of mortgage securities, the investors in those mortgages will likely have a loss rate of some 50% or more. The penalty for BofA in this indemnifying deal is only 10% of that.

On the consumer side the wrongful documentation of house titles for mortgages by Countrywide and others (via MERS) leads to unjust evictions from houses and makes those houses with dubious titles difficult to sell.

The deal is only about criminal charges and would not solve these problems at all.

But the Obama administration takes the side of the criminals and against the rule of law. A bankruptcy of BofA could create quite a mess in the financial markets and some headaches for the administration. By pushing the deal and pretending that it would clean up all issues about housing it is trying to sweep the dirt under the mat and hopes that no one will notice that it is still there.

Mr. Schneiderman should watch his back. With so much at stake it will not be beyond the thinkable for some people involved, including the administration, to let him fall from a high rise or to use other methods to get him out of the way.

Posted by b on August 21, 2011 at 11:13 PM | Permalink | Comments (5)

An Effort To Keep Iraq Occupied?

The U.S. has been pressing Iraq for some time to be allowed to prolong its occupation.

There were deadlines set for the end of July and lots of U.S. generals and politicians trotted out to call for troops to stay there.

Still Iraq did not invite the U.S. to stay.

Then, on the 16th, 42 terror attacks took place with over 80 Iraqis dead. These were by al Qaeda we are told. This despite some 50,000 U.S. troops in the country. Obviously they are no help despite their claim of proficiency.

On the 20th Sec Def Panetta claimed that Iraqi politicians hat somehow reached a consensus and would ask the U.S. to stay. The Iraqis immediately denied this.

Next thing we hear is that al-Qaeda in Iraq wants to make 100 attacks in Iraq to revenge the death of Osama Bin Laden.

Call me suspicious, but somehow this all seems to relate.

Is this al-Qaeda in Iraq the real thing? Then how come it seems to coordinated with the U.S. desire to keep Iraq occupied? Why do I get the feeling that something is very wrong here?

Posted by b on August 21, 2011 at 02:08 PM | Permalink | Comments (5)

#Flagman

Image via Friday Lunch Club

Ahmad Shehata taking down the flag from the Israeli Embassy in Egypt.

Video below the fold.

Notice what the people shout. As Egypt goes ...

Posted by b on August 21, 2011 at 10:27 AM | Permalink | Comments (7)

August 19, 2011

Turn Away From Neoliberalism Or Lose Government Legitimacy

Neoliberal deregulation, captive oversight, too low interest rates and outright criminality within the banks led the "western" world into a financial crisis. A very wrong step was taken when governments stepped in to rescue failed banks and to guarantee their bad debt. Central banks again showered the shattered financial markets with even more liquidity increasing speculation. (This, through oil and food price increases, led to the Arab spring revolutions.) While some stimulus programs where launched these were too small to restart the economic growth process while the serious underlying problems stayed unsolved.

Private bad debt was turned into government bad debt. The financial crisis of the banks was thus turned into a financial crisis of governments.

Still the wrong steps get taken. Attempts to save Greece and other European countries will be fruitless. They will default and leave the Euro zone as they can not economically survive within a strong currency.

The "western" world will now fall back into recession while an insetting austerity ideology will prevent more Keynesian programs. Unchallenged this will lead into the second world depression.

To change the direction a change of mind and ideology must take place. There are signs that this is starting though it might well turn out to be a rather slow process, too late, or even fail.

Charles Moore, a conservative commentator of the Telegraph and official Thatcher biographer, recently wrote: I'm starting to think that the Left might actually be right (recommended). In Germany Frank Schirrmacher, publisher of the German "paper of record", the conservative Frankfurter Allgemeine, joined in (in German). (In France „Indignez vous!“, a bestselling political essay written by the 93-year-old former resistance hero Stéphane Hessel, earlier went into a comparable direction.)

These people now see and state that traditional conservatism has been taken over by neoliberal ruthlessness. This is a betrayal of the values and morals true conservatives (die Bürgerlichen) once held high. The same can be said for major former social-democratic parties, New Labour in Britain, the Democrats in the U.S. and in Germany the SPD, all of whom have slaughtered worker rights they once fought for on the altars of the neoliberal free-trade religion.

Should the change of mind within the ruling elite away from neoliberalism back to the original post world war II values not happen, the question of government solvency will soon turn into one of government legitimacy. The riots in the UK were one of the first signs for this to happen. But the loss of legitimacy will not only be in the eyes of the street rabble. It will also be in the eyes of conservative intellectuals like Moore and Schirrmacher and the likes of Hessel. That might be the real threat to the ruling cast.

Posted by b on August 19, 2011 at 11:24 AM | Permalink | Comments (17)

Another Step For War On Syria

March 3: Obama: Gaddafi Must Go

March 20: Libya: US, UK and France attack Gaddafi forces

August 18: Obama: Assad must go

September 2: Syria: US, UK and France ...

As Daniel Larison points out no one expected an attack on Libya when Obama said that Gaddhafi should go. Today many feel that there is no possibility of an attack on Syria. Maybe there isn't, but the precedence of the attack on Libya can not be ignored. A UN sanction resolution on Syria is already in preparation and may is likely the next step for a war on Syria.

Obama will be attacked from the right if he doesn't follow through on Syria with something more than just rhetoric and useless sanctions. As his record shows he usually follows the rights lead.

Meanwhile Turkey bombs Kurds in Iraq after a guerrilla attack in Turkey, Israel bombs Gaza after a guerrilla attack from Sinai, the Special Tribunal for Lebanon indicts (with dubious proof) four Hizbullah men for killing Rafik Hariri, Israel had huge social demonstrations against Netanyahoo's economic policies, Iraq just saw a series of terror attacks and Jordan barely suppresses protests against the king.

The areas around Syria is now more than ever a powder keg and there are too many people with matches around. This fall the Middle East could see some rather large and violent explosion.

Posted by b on August 19, 2011 at 09:14 AM | Permalink | Comments (20)

August 18, 2011

Those Huge Demonstrations In Syria

We know for a while that the protests in Syria are far smaller than reported:

That same night on July 15, I received news feeds from the AFP announcing a million protestors all over Syria, of which 500,000 in Hama alone.

In Hama however, they could not have been more than 10,000.

This ‘information’ was even more absurd due to the fact that the city of Hama counts only 370,000 inhabitants.
...
So what sources does AgenceFrancePresse (AFP) cite?

The same which crops up systematically throughout the media and has now become a monopoly in its own right, regarding the Syrian protests: the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR). Behind this superficial veneer of respectability and professionalism, hides a political organisation based in London, its president none other than Rami Abdel Raman, a man who has consistently sided against the Baath regime, who is loosely linked to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Therefore, for many months now, the Western media have diffused an edited reality, corrected by a single source which nobody has deemed it necessary, it seems, to question.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, often cited, is one that feeds the "western" image of the protests. Another source are videos uploaded to Youtube.

Today we learn of a big demonstration in Homs arranged for the sole purpose of video making:

On a recent Sunday, 200 protesters marched in front of the Safir Hotel, the city’s most famous, carrying signs calling for the fall of the government and showing solidarity with Hama, a city to the north that was stormed on July 31.

The demonstrators walked slowly, led in the chants by a man whose face was concealed with a scarf. “Hama, we are with you until death,” they cried, with a few of the protesters in back filming the crowd with their cellphones.
...
“We’re not worried about the security,” said one of the protesters. “We will be done anyway in half an hour.” Since it was a small protest, he said, they would disperse by the time the buses carrying members of the security forces arrived. The protesters had lookouts near security stations, and they sent signals when the buses left. The main purpose of this protest was symbolic, he explained: they wanted to upload new videos on YouTube.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and AlJazeerah will very likely point to that video and claim it shows a big demonstration of 20,000+ with 20+ killed by the marauding forces of the Syrian army.

But video from huge demonstrations do not make them true. Homs seems to be rather quiet now and the few Syrian cities where armed troublemakers are still roaming around will likely be cleared in a short while.

Some people hope for the Turks to get involved in Syria. Forget about it. Syria, Iraq and Iran have, like Turkey, partly Kurdish population. If they want to pressure Turkey to stay away from an intervention in Syria they only need to unleash some of the Kurdish rebels into east Turkey. Indeed they may have already done so. Erdogan understands that and will stay out of Syria.

Posted by b on August 18, 2011 at 01:29 AM | Permalink | Comments (17)

August 17, 2011

As Consequence Of Libya War Money Leaves From "Western" Banking System

When the U.S. promised the Libyan rebels access to Libyan government accounts I predicted that one of the consequences of this would be a retraction of sovereign funds from the "western" financial systems:

Anyone in power somewhere around the world is now advised to not keep any money in a U.S. based banking account. As soon as some idiots come up and proclaim a revolution, the U.S. will likely size that money and give a few crumbs of it to the revolution leader. (The rest will be taken by the usual banking crooks.)

This will be one of the many blowbacks from this lunatic attack on Libya.

Today the Wall Street Journal reports:

Venezuela plans to transfer billions of dollars in cash reserves from abroad to banks in Russia, China and Brazil and tons of gold from European banks to its central bank vaults, according to documents reviewed Tuesday by The Wall Street Journal.

The planned moves would include transferring $6.3 billion in cash reserves, most of which Venezuela now keeps in banks such as the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland, and Barclays Bank in London to unnamed Russian, Chinese and Brazilian banks, one document said.

Moving its money away from accounts where "western" government can confiscate it at a whim is good for Venezuela. It takes away a major graft motive for "western" induced revolutions and thereby lowers the chances of one occurring.

For a "western" banking system that lacks basic capital the move is not a positive sign. But given the example Obama set with Libya we can expect that more countries will silently follow this move.

Posted by b on August 17, 2011 at 03:58 AM | Permalink | Comments (22)

FP's Keating Lying About Kennedy's Cuba Briefing

Updated below

At Foreign Policy Joshua Keating is claiming that the CIA told Kennedy in 1960 that Cuba invasion plan was "unachievable". He bases his claim on CIA documents the academic National Security Archive (NSA) liberated from the CIA through various FOIA requests.

Keating asserts:

Most interesting for presidential historians may be the minutes of a briefing given to President-Elect Kennedy on Nov. 15, 1960, during which the CIA task force expressed skepticism about whether the mission was viable with the small invasion force that the administration insisted upon, in order to maintain plausible deniability.

The claim that this briefing was given to Kennedy is false.

As the NSA scholars write in their introduction to the papers (a page Keating himself links to):

On page 149 of Volume III, Pfeiffer quotes still-secret minutes of the Task Force meeting held on November 15, 1960, to prepare a briefing for the new President-elect, John F. Kennedy: “Our original concept is now seen to be unachievable in the face of the controls Castro has instituted,” the document states. “Our second concept (1,500-3000 man force to secure a beach with airstrip) is also now seen to be unachievable, except as a joint Agency/DOD action.”

This candid assessment was not shared with the President-elect then, nor later after the inauguration. As Pfeiffer points out, “what was being denied in confidence in mid-November 1960 became the fact of the Zapata Plan and the Bay of Pigs Operation in March 1961”—run only by the CIA, and with a force of 1,200 men.

The minutes of the meeting Keating asserts were given to Kennedy were from a briefing preparation meeting of some underlings who did not include the point when they briefed Kennedy himself. They were people who wanted the invasion to occur and therefore suppressed the point.

I do not know why Keating is misrepresenting this. He certainly found the quote, just as I did, through the NSA introduction. Did he simply not read the sentence immediately following the claim? Or does he want to further a "Kennedy was the worst president" claim other writers on his site are propagandizing? I for one would expect better from an editor of a major foreign policy site.

As usual such misrepresentations give cause to ask a serious question: What other stuff are Keating and Foreign Policy lying about?

Update 1:15pm Est: Keating has now corrected his piece. Anyway - why did he get it wrong in the first place if not for Kennedy bashing?

Posted by b on August 17, 2011 at 03:28 AM | Permalink | Comments (3)

August 16, 2011

NATO Wants Copulating With Those Possessed By The Devil

From this report by a Canadian journalist it seems that Gaddhafi's support in Libya has increased since NATO started bombing it. NATO is now also dropping leaflets and is showing, again, its total incompetence and lack of understanding of the local society:

As for the messages on the leaflets, the Libyans are quite amused at the clumsy translations. On one such note, the intended slogan is meant to urge civilians to go forward and "embrace" the rebels. Instead, it translates to encourage Libyans to go out and "copulate" with the rebels.

Another NATO missive was intended to advise those living within Gadhafi’s sector to pack up and move to a rebel-occupied territory. This somehow became garbled into a request for citizens to relocate to a "possessed" (as in, by the devil) area of Libya.

So NATO wants the Libyans in Tripoli to go and copulate with those possessed by the devil.

Somehow I doubt that the people, even the secular ones, will find this idea worth considering.

Posted by b on August 16, 2011 at 11:28 AM | Permalink | Comments (13)

August 15, 2011

Terror In Iraq Is A False Argument For Occupation Troops

There were many very bloody terror attacks today in Iraq with over 70 dead. The U.S. media are trying to insinuate that this is good reason to keep U.S. troops there after the end of the year.

Here is the Washington Post version:

Lt. Col. Hachem Neama Abbas, an Iraqi army commander in Baghdad, said the military had been bracing for a new round of violence. The attacks, he said, are proof that insurgents still pose a threat to the country’s stability. They also raise questions about the Iraqi government’s ability to maintain security as American troops prepare to leave the country by December.

What bollocks!

These attacks don't raise that question. They give the answer. The 50,000 U.S.troops currently in Iraq obviously do not prevent such mass attacks. They are no help at all for the Iraqi governments's ability to maintain security. They are useless.

The 10,000 U.S. troops the Pentagon wants to keep there after the end of the year will not be able to do that either. They are an occupation force. Totally useless for Iraq and Iraqis and only to be put there in the perceived interest of the U.S. empire. A division size force that can be used to threaten Iran and when the chance arises to steal its hydrocarbons.

The attacks also show that U.S. military action in foreign countries is always destructive to their societies. The liberal interventionists who argue for interventions on the basis of human rights should take this as another point against their flawed theories.

Posted by b on August 15, 2011 at 01:50 PM | Permalink | Comments (8)

Buffet Is Lying On "Future Promises"

In an NYT OpEd Warren Buffet is begging to make him pay more taxes:

Last year my federal tax bill — the income tax I paid, as well as payroll taxes paid by me and on my behalf — was $6,938,744. That sounds like a lot of money. But what I paid was only 17.4 percent of my taxable income — and that’s actually a lower percentage than was paid by any of the other 20 people in our office. Their tax burdens ranged from 33 percent to 41 percent and averaged 36 percent.

The reason for Buffets ludicrous low tax rate is the very low 15% tax rate on capital gains.

It would make sense, and save a lot of problems, if the U.S. would tax capital gains at the same rate as income form a regular job.

But Buffet isn't asking for that. Instead he has an agenda which is to cut "entitlements" while only moderately rising taxes for the very rich. With regards to new super congress committee which is supposed to find a compromise on $1.5 trillion of government revenue and spending he remarks:

Job one for the 12 is to pare down some future promises that even a rich America can’t fulfill. Big money must be saved here. The 12 should then turn to the issue of revenues. I would leave rates for 99.7 percent of taxpayers unchanged and continue the current 2-percentage-point reduction in the employee contribution to the payroll tax. This cut helps the poor and the middle class, who need every break they can get.

But for those making more than $1 million — there were 236,883 such households in 2009 — I would raise rates immediately on taxable income in excess of $1 million, including, of course, dividends and capital gains. And for those who make $10 million or more — there were 8,274 in 2009 — I would suggest an additional increase in rate.

Here Buffet is just offering the false neoliberal conventional wisdom and follows the stampede into austerity. Those "future promises that even a rich America can’t fulfill" do not exist. Social security has enough accumulated money and regular income to pay out what it promised for another 30 years or so. There is no need to cut it, or to increase payroll taxes, at all.

Medicare and medicaid would be fine too if they would be allowed to negotiate over, or self produce, the drugs people need. That a good socialized health care system can be run for less money than medicare is daily proven by the veteran health care system.

Social security and access to medical care are not entitlements. The people who get them have (in average) paid for them all their life. To get them is their right.

The whole op-ed is thereby a trap. "Look a billionaire asking for higher taxes. The man must be right." In reality Buffet is not offering to give up much at all. If he would asked to increase capital gain taxes to the payroll tax level it would have made a difference. But what he offers is just a undefined tax increase for very few, who will not even feel it at all, to set out a false argument to cut from many in need.

Posted by b on August 15, 2011 at 06:14 AM | Permalink | Comments (22)

August 14, 2011

Libya: The "West" Is Finally Acknowledging The Tribal Conflict

On March 7 I wrote:

The "western" media is reporting the crisis in Libya as something similar to what happened in Egypt and Tunisia. But this is not a modern youth movement protesting against a dictatorship, this is a developing civil war between tribal entities - not exactly a novelty in Libya....

Five month late the so called paper of the record finally acknowledges these facts:

While the rebels have sought to maintain a clean image and to portray themselves as fighting to establish a secular democracy, several recent acts of revenge have cast their ranks in a less favorable light. They have also raised the possibility that any rebel victory over Colonel Qaddafi could disintegrate into the sort of tribal tensions that have plagued Libya for centuries.

In recent weeks, rebel fighters in Libya’s western mountains and around the coastal city of Misurata have lashed out at civilians because their tribes supported Colonel Qaddafi, looting mountain villages and emptying a civilian neighborhood.

I was accused of arguing from a feeling of "cultural superiority" when I wrote that March piece about Libyan tribes. Maybe I was, though I don't think so, but at least I was right.

My piece finished with this:

With "western" intervention the situation on the ground would quickly deteriorate. This would cost a lot more lives than any situation in which the Libyan people fight this out by and for themselves.

The New York Times finishes with a somewhat similar sense:

Members of the tribes close to Colonel Qaddafi — like his own tribe, the Qaddafa, or the larger Maghraha, and small tribes associated with them — may face the greatest danger from “tribal revenge,” George Joffe, a Libya expert at the University of Cambridge, wrote in another e-mail. “And, of course, the longer this struggle continues, the more likely and bitter that will become.

It is time to stop any support for any side of this conflict. Let the Libyans fight it out for themselves. That would, in the end, be a much less bloody affair than onside support for this or that tribe.

Posted by b on August 14, 2011 at 01:41 AM | Permalink | Comments (18)

August 13, 2011

Open Thread - Aug 13

News & views ...

Posted by b on August 13, 2011 at 12:46 PM | Permalink | Comments (33)

August 12, 2011

Free Speech - Only When Convenient

Getting challenged from the street reactionary governments all over the world response in just the same ways:

The prime minister told parliament on Thursday that Facebook, Twitter and Research in Motion (Rim), the maker of BlackBerry devices, should take more responsibility for content posted on their networks, warning the government would look to ban people from major social networks if they were suspected of inciting violence online.

The home secretary, Theresa May, is to hold meetings with the three companies within weeks.

The police have promised to track down those suspected of inciting the violence on Twitter, but much of the planning for the disturbances took place in the relatively private world of the BlackBerry Messenger service.

Meanwhile in Washington (slightly modified):

In the wake of historic protests in Britain spurred by the use of social media, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivered a speech in strong support of Internet freedom in Jack Morton Auditorium Tuesday.

Clinton commended the British people and journalists who took to Facebook and Twitter to organize protests and share stories from London.
...
“What happened in Britain and what happened in Iran, which this week is once again using violence against protesters seeking basic freedoms, was about a great deal more than the Internet,” Clinton said. “In each case people protested because of deep frustrations with the political and economic division of their lives.”

It would certainly be interesting to listen in on Clinton's next talk with Cameron.

I suspect she will explain how the U.S. will shut down social internet media when the protest wave will finally move there.

Posted by b on August 12, 2011 at 10:27 AM | Permalink | Comments (12)

A False NYT Claim About Friendly Fire Incidents

The authors of this NYT story, U.S. Troops Fire on Afghan Police, Survivors Say, make a conscious effort to claim that such incidents are uncommon.

While there have been dozens of cases of Afghan soldiers firing on members of the NATO-led military coalition, reports of NATO soldiers firing on their Afghan counterparts are rare.
...
NATO and Afghan forces have shot at each other before, often as a result of heated arguments. About 50 coalition soldiers, at least 30 of them Americans, have died in what the military calls “green-on-blue” attacks since March 2009, when Afghan and coalition forces began patrolling together regularly.

But reports of NATO soldiers firing on their Afghan counterparts are uncommon.

Shorter NYT: "Those damned Afghan police kill our soldiers while our soldiers nearly never kill them."

But as a cursory web search can easily prove, that claim is utterly false. About as many Afghan security forces get killed by NATO soldiers in "blue on green" events than NATO soldiers get killed by Afghan security forces.

For the record an incomplete list:

Afghan police reported killed in NATO strike, Aug 1 2011

The governor of a province in northeastern Afghanistan said Monday a NATO airstrike killed four police officers at a checkpoint in the remote, mountainous region.

Jamaluddin Badar said the strike took place late Sunday in the Wama district of the province of Nuristan, a lawless, rugged area near the border with Pakistan. He said coalition forces detained 12 police officers following the airstrike.

Nato air strikes kill 52, claim Afghans authorities, May 29 2011

Separately the governor of Nuristan on Sunday told AFP that 18 civilians and 20 police were killed by “friendly fire” during US-led air strikes against insurgents in his troubled northeastern province.
...
“The policemen were killed due to friendly fire,” Badr said, adding the air strike in the troubled district of Do Ab targeted a location that the officers “had just” taken from the insurgents during fighting.

NATO friendly fire kills up to 10 Afghans: police , May 3 2011

GHAZNI: Up to 10 Afghan guards were killed Tuesday in a NATO air strike along a highway in southern Afghanistan, police said, in the latest friendly fire incident involving the alliance's forces.

The armed guards were escorting a supply convoy to NATO bases in southern Afghanistan when they were hit in the province of Ghazni, Mohammad Hussain Yaqoubi, the deputy provincial police chief told AFP. "Maybe mistaking them with insurgents NATO helicopters targeted the guards. Between eight to 10 guards have been killed," he added. An investigation was underway, the police chief said.

Three Afghan police killed in Nato air strike, Jan 10 2011

A Nato air raid in central Afghanistan may have killed three Afghan police officers and wounded three others, the third such incident in fewer than five weeks.

NATO strikes kill Afghan police and civilians, Aug 21 2010

Air strikes by the NATO-led force in Afghanistan accidentally killed at least three Afghan police in the country's north and a woman and two children in the west, officials said on Saturday.

Six Afghan soldiers killed in Nato 'friendly fire' air strike, July 7 2010

Local police in Ghazni province, in south-central Afghanistan, said Nato "friendly fire" on an army post killed six officers.

The US-led Nato force said it was investigating what had happened.

NATO STRIKE KILLS AFGHAN POLICE, Feb 19 2010

KABUL: A Nato airstrike aimed at insurgents attacking a joint Afghan-Nato patrol accidentally killed several Afghan policemen, Nato said yesterday.

The patrol was operating in the Imam Sahib district of the northern province of Kunduz when it came under fire and called in air support.

US forces kill six Afghan police in friendly fire, Dec 10 2008

Afghan officials: US-led forces killed 9 police, July 20 2008

Seven Afghan police 'killed in U.S. friendly fire strike', June 12 2007

US looks at friendly fire in Afghan police deaths, April 18 2006

and so on.

Posted by b on August 12, 2011 at 12:54 AM | Permalink | Comments (6)

August 11, 2011

"The Insurgents Are Losing"

Reading through the comments on various news sides not one persons seems to believe this story:

A group of “less than 10” insurgents, including the fighter who allegedly shot the Chinook helicopter with a rocket-propelled grenade, were tracked down at a compound in eastern Afghanistan early Monday and killed in airstrikes by F-16 fighter planes, according to Marine Gen. John R. Allen, the top commander in Afghanistan, and other military officials.

One wonders why the military felt the need to come out with this obvious fairytale.

It hurts its own credibility with such a story.

The Taliban deny it and claim that the fighters had immediately left Wardak province after trapping the helicopter. That story actually makes a lot of sense.

But there is even more unbelievable U.S. propaganda further down in the first linked piece:

“All across Afghanistan, the insurgents are losing. They’re losing territory, they’re losing leadership, they’re losing weapons and supplies, they’re losing public support,” [General Allen] said. “More and more, the insurgents are losing resolve and the will to fight.”

We know that the numbers of districts with Taliban activity is up, the number of IEDs is at a record high, the number of assassination by the Taliban is up, the numbers of U.S. an Afghan security forces' casualties is the highest ever and the number of civilian casualties is sharply up. But all that does not count. The insurgents are losing - the General says so, so they must be.

But who does he think will actually believe him?

Posted by b on August 11, 2011 at 01:47 PM | Permalink | Comments (9)

August 10, 2011

Cameron's Sick Pockets Of Society

This is from David Cameron's speech today. It required only slight modifications in the third graph to be truthful and  perfect:

Its all too clear that we have a big problem with gangs in our country. For too long there has been a lack of focus and a complete lack of respect shown by these groups of thugs.

I am clear that they are in no way representative of the vast majority of young people in our country who despise them frankly as much as the rest of us do. But there are pockets of our society that are not just broken, but frankly sick.

When we see [banksters and hedge fund managers as young as 25 and 30] looting and laughing, when we see the disgusting sight of [an old couple] with people pretending to help them while they are robbing them [through fraudulent mortgages], it is clear there are things that are badly wrong in our society.

For me the root cause of this mindless selfishness is the same thing I have spoken about for years: it is a complete lack of responsibility in parts of our society.

People allowed to feel that the world owes them something, that their rights outweigh their responsibilities and that their actions do not have consequences. Well they do have consequences.

We need to have a clearer code of values and standards that we expect people to live by and stronger penalties if they cross the line. Restoring a stronger sense of responsibility across our society in every town in every street in ever estate is something I am determined to do.

Unfortunately Cameron would never make such a speech with the banksters and hedgies in mind. He totally lacks selfawareness and does not understand that the looters in the streets of London, Manchester and Birmingham are just copycats when they are taking what they do not own. The real sick pockets of his society are not the looters but are sitting in the city of London.

For years the neo-liberals have praised consumption, the selfishness of Ayn Rand and have not a shown the tiniest bit of qualm when robbing first from the people and now from whole nations.

With such amoral examples praised and held up to the highest honors by Cameron and his media friends, how can one blame the youth for following them? Preaching greed is good has consequences.

Posted by b on August 10, 2011 at 12:37 PM | Permalink | Comments (43)

Theresa May Killed Due To British Revolt

A British revolution website reported today that Home Secretary of Britain Theresa May was found dead in her London home after protesting against David Cameron's decision to use cannons against peaceful protestors. Her lifeless body was found by a maid shortly after Defence Minister Liam Fox was seen leaving her home.

The report has yet to be confirmed. As the following exmples show, reports on the death of officials by other protests movements where at times exaggerated.

Websites affiliated with Syrian opposition groups reported on Tuesday that General Ali Habib was found dead in his home a day after he was dismissed as defense minister.
Syrian opposition: Ousted defense minister dead, Aug 9 2011

---

Syria’s state television aired clip of deposed Syrian defense minister Ali Habib Mahmoud, Tuesday, after rumors circulated that Habib Mahmoud had been murdered due to criticism of the killing of demonstrators in Hama by Syrian forces.

“I remain a loyal soldier in the Syrian army,” Habib Mahmoud was shown saying.
Syria’s former defense minister appears in video to prove he wasn’t murdered, Aug 10 2011

--- ---

A Libyan rebel spokesman has claimed that a NATO air strike on the western city of Zlitan has killed Khamis Gaddafi, one of the sons of Libya's leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Mohammed Zawawi, a spokesman for the rebels, said on Friday that Khamis was among 32 people killed in the raid.
Libyan rebels claim Gaddafi son killed, Aug 5 2011

---

Libyan state television showed on Tuesday what it said was footage of Muammar Gaddafi's son Khamis, who rebels said last week had been killed, visiting Libyans wounded in an air attack east of Tripoli.

The Libyan government has denied rebel claims that Khamis, commander of one of Gaddafi's most loyal and best-equipped units, had been killed by a NATO air strike near Zlitan.
Libyan TV shows footage of Khamis Gaddafi, Aug 10 2011

Posted by b on August 10, 2011 at 09:41 AM | Permalink | Comments (12)

August 09, 2011

Hillhouse Bin Laden Story Confirmed

Commentator bokonon in a comment here pointed to posting by Raelynn Hillhouse: Bin Laden Turned in by Informant -- Courier Was Cover Story

Sources in the intelligence community tell me that after years of trying and one bureaucratically insane near-miss in Yemen, the US government killed OBL because a Pakistani intelligence officer came forward to collect the approximately $25 million reward from the State Department's Rewards for Justice program.

The informant was a walk-in.

The ISI officer came forward to claim the substantial reward and to broker US citizenship for his family. My sources tell me that the informant claimed that the Saudis were paying off the Pakistani military and intelligence (ISI) to essentially shelter and keep bin Laden under house arrest in Abbottabad, a city with such a high concentration of military that I'm told there's no equivalent in the US.

Without further confirmation I took that with some bigger grains of salt.

But here is an excerpt from comments at the blog of Patrick Lang, former Defense Intelligence Chief for the Middle East and still in good contact with the relevant agencies.

Col. Lang,
I know this is off topic. RJ Hillhouse is reporting that OBL was caught/killed due to ISI informant who wanted the 25m reward. Its on FDL--scroll down. She goes on to say Saudi government was paying Pakistan to keep him under house arrest in Abbotabad. I was curious of your take on that.

Posted by: hope4usa | 09 August 2011 at 10:39 AM
...

hope4usa

Yes to both but the ISI walk in merely confirmed the existing analytic opinion that UBL was in a major Pak city under ISI protection. pl

Posted by: Patrick Lang | 09 August 2011 at 10:44 AM

It'll accept that as confirmation.

But of course one can never be sure with all those tricky agencies involved and this will therefore just end up making the various conspiracy theories more complicated.

Posted by b on August 9, 2011 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (20)

Yang Jiechi Says Britain's Cameron Has Lost Legitimacy

Beijing — Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi condemned British Prime Minister David Cameron’s regime for failing to protect Chinese commercial merchandise in London and said the British leader “has lost legitimacy” because of his violent response to legitimate British peoples aspirations for greater social justice.

Speaking with African Union (AU) Chairman Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo at the Foreign Ministry, Yang Jiechi said Chinese officials have spoken with their British counterparts to demand that Britain honor the WTO agreement, which requires countries to protect foreign merchandise and properties, after several days of attacks by British mobs against Chinese and African shops.

Yang Jiechi said the Cameron regime will not succeed in using the attacks on foreign facilities to deflect global attention from “the real story unfolding in Britain” and the months of peaceful protests by its people who have been calling for reforms.

“This is not about China or Zimbabwe or any other country. This is about the legitimate aspirations of the British people for dignity, universal rights and the rule of law,” Yang Jiechi said.

The violence, arrests and intimidation against the British people “must stop,” the minister said, and neither they nor the international community will accept “half measures or lofty speeches” from the Cameron regime.

Cameron “is not indispensable” and China has “absolutely nothing invested in him remaining in power,” she said. “Our goal is to see that the will of the British people for a democratic transformation occurs.”

The British leader “has failed to deliver on the promises he’s made. He has sought and accepted aid from the Americans as to how to repress his own people,” Yang Jiechi said. He called on more countries in the international community to speak out “as forcefully as we have.”

Mbasogo said the AU is trying to use its collective political and economic power to get Cameron to turn away from violence. He described the situation of British refugees who have fled the unrest for France as “very grave indeed.”

The AU representative called for an end to the violence, for the British people to have their voices heard, and for them to then be allowed to make the decisions about how their country should move forward.

(The just as absurd template is here)

Posted by b on August 9, 2011 at 04:29 AM | Permalink | Comments (27)

August 08, 2011

Preparing For War On Syria

Arab nations condemn Syria as crackdown mounts

Arab nations joined the international chorus of condemnation against President Bashar Assad's regime Monday, with Bahrain, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia pulling out their ambassadors as a besieged Syrian city came under fresh artillery fire.

Now this is of course a joke because those bastions of human rights Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait just put down a civil uprising in Bahrain with just the same methods Assad is using in Syria.

The difference is that, while the protests in Bahrain included rioting, the people involved were not armed. There is ample evidence by now that the protest in Syria are much more violent and some of the people involved are significantly armed.

And forget the half sentence about "fresh artillery fire". There is no evidence of all that the Syrian army is using artillery. None of the available videos has shown mortars or artillery or damage that could have been caused by them. The armies adversaries so far have used automatic weapons and sniper rifles.  That makes it somewhat difficult for the army to take the towns back under control. But that would certainly not be a reason to apply highly destructive artillery into build up areas and to destroy the roads the army needs to move on. 

Back to the Gulf states. The U.S. must have pushed them to do take this laughable step. Within the propaganda tale the "west" can now feel "invited" to take measures further. It is a sure sign that it the U.S. is planing to escalate the issue.

There was a discussion on the German TV yesterday about intervention in Syria. While the result was correct, that any intervention would be bad for everyone involved and lead to total chaos, the information given was extremely one sided. Assad was called a purposeful murderer of his people as if he wants to kill people for just for the fun of it and as if he had started the whole thing. There was no mentioning at all of the 400+ soldiers and policemen the "peaceful protesters" have killed so far or about the weapons coming in from the Salafis in Jordan, from Tripoli and Iraq.

The typical "western" propaganda machine is now in full assault mode. The people behind it will do everything to keep the protests in Syria alive and to get them more arms. Some "event" will be found, likely as false as CNN's story about Syrian baby dying in incubators, to press Russia and China to change their mind.

That mind change is unlikely to come. There might then be another NATO coalition of the willing that may press and support the Sunni Turkey government to go all in and attack Syria. I hope the Turks understand that this would rip also their country apart.

Posted by b on August 8, 2011 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (28)

August 07, 2011

The Rebels Advance On Brega

Only in June did the rebels not advance on Brega. I wonder why. And when will they arrive?

Posted by b on August 7, 2011 at 09:25 AM | Permalink | Comments (27)

August 06, 2011

Trapping The Night Raids

(updated below)

In Afghanistan the U.S. military launches about a dozen kill or capture raids each night.

These are supposed to take out leading Taliban person but, as they are based on dubious intelligence, often go wrong and hit peaceful people or even people associated with the Afghan government. Additional people get killed in the protests against such raids.

There is an obvious strategy to counter such raids or at least to make them more difficult. Traps could be laid that would provoke night raids and allow to hit the raiding force as hard as possible. I have wondered for a while if/when such were happening.

Laying a trap should be easy to do. A tip-off to the Afghan secret service NDS about an imminent Taliban leader meeting, some suspect geo-locatable mobile phone calls from and to Pakistan from a secluded compound and a few cars or motorcycle aggregating at that place at night should be enough to get the military's interest. Then hide, wait for the choppers and take them out.

I suspect that this might well have been such a trap:

Insurgents shot down a NATO Chinook helicopter during an overnight operation in eastern Afghanistan, killing at least 37 people on board, a coalition military official said on Saturday.

Afghan military officials put the death toll at 38, including 31 Americans and seven Afghan commandos.
...
The helicopter was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade in the Tangi valley of the Wardak Province just west of Kabul, the coalition official said. The Taliban claimed credit for the attack.
...
A spokesman for the Taliban, Zabiullah Mujahid, said insurgents shot down the helicopter around 11 p.m. Friday as it was launching an operation on a house where the militants were gathering in the Tangi Joyee region of the district of Saidabad in the eastern part of the province. Eight militants were killed in the fight that continued after the helicopter fell, he said.

A few of such incidents, initiated all over the country, might make the U.S. military much more reluctant to launch more raids.

Update (1:00pm) :

As it turns out my hunch was right and this incident was very likely a trap:

The Taliban claimed its fighters had ambushed Western troops after being tipped off to an imminent night raid in the district. The crash site is located in Wardak's Tangi valley, where the insurgents are extremely active.

The Wardak police chief, Gen. Abdul Qayuum Baqizoi, said the American strike was aimed at a meeting of insurgent figures in the district, which is considered a perilous one.
...
The Taliban statement, from spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid, was unusually specific in some of its details, ...

The "meeting of insurgent figures" was likely a trap as described above. The unusual detailed statement from the Taliban, and the fact that they were the first to come out with the news today, shows that the attack was actually planned in advance and the propaganda pre-prepared. The Taliban claim of having been "tipped off" is dubious. It will make U.S. military more suspicious of their Afghan co-fighters and may have been inserted just to create that effect.

But from a propaganda standpoint this will have the biggest effect:

The operators from SEAL Team Six were flown by a crew of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment.
...
One source says the team was thought to include 22 SEALs, three Air Force air controllers, seven Afghan Army troops, a dog and his handler, and a civilian interpreter, plus the helicopter crew.

The sources thought this was the largest single loss of life ever for SEAL Team Six, known as the Naval Special Warfare Development Group.

It were operators from SEAL Team Six, aka DevGru, that killed Osama Bin Laden.

To now have killed a big number of them is a huge victory for the Taliban and their associated groups.

Posted by b on August 6, 2011 at 07:36 AM | Permalink | Comments (51)

August 05, 2011

The Absurdity Of Repression In ...?

Professor As'ad AbuKhalil, aka the Angry Arab, writes:

arresting boys and girls in Tehran

Look at this example of the absurdity of repression in Iran:  "In the 40C heat of an Iranian summer, what better way to have fun and stay cool than a water fight with friends? In the Islamic republic, however, things are a bit more complicated.  For one group of boys and girls, their game turned serious when they were arrested for taking part in a water pistol fight in a park in the capital, Tehran."

The absurdity of repression. Indeed:

Wandsworth Council said organisers were inviting people through Facebook to participate in the event in late July.

Police officers with dogs will patrol the park entrances and stop suspects, who could face up to a £200 fine.

The warning comes after a similarly organised water fight in Hyde Park resulted in disorder and arrests.

Three people were arrested after some 1,500 people got involved in the water fight on 4 June, which continued for eight hours and resulted in the closure of Oxford Street to traffic.

Why do I fail to find any criticism at the Angry Arab site of the water pistol fight arrests and the absurdity of repression in the United Kingdom?

Posted by b on August 5, 2011 at 01:31 PM | Permalink | Comments (12)

Russia: NATO Planning For War On Syria

Dmitry Rogozin is the Russian envoy to NATO. He is outspoken and sometimes seems to exaggerate but he is never far from reality. See for example his early take on Libya.

When Rogozin says that NATO is making plans for attacking Syria, I believe him.

Russia's envoy to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, said Friday that the alliance is planning a military campaign against Syria to overthrow the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, local media reported.

In an interview with Russia's Izvestia daily newspaper, Rogozin said the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is also probably establishing a long-reaching goal of preparing an attack on Iran.

Rogozin said a statement Wednesday from the UN Security Council, which confirmed that the current situation in Syria had not yet called for NATO interference, meant that planning for a military campaign was underway.

"It could be a logical conclusion for those military and propaganda operations, which have been carried out by certain Western countries against North Africa," Rogozin said.
...
The diplomat also warned that the "noose around Iran is tightening," saying Moscow is seriously concerned about "an escalation of a large-scale war in this huge region."

While I still do not believe that a U.S. attack on Iran is imminent, the propaganda against Iran is ongoing with now officials(!) making stupid claims about Iranian collaboration with Al Qaeda. If a serious diversion is needed from a collapsing economy Washington might feel it needs a bigger war. Remember that it was only World War II that finally pulled the U.S. out of the first Great Depression.

Posted by b on August 5, 2011 at 05:34 AM | Permalink | Comments (10)

August 04, 2011

WaPo Lies About UN 'Resolution' On Syria

A Washington Post news piece on the revolt in Syria falsely claims that a UN Security Council resolution has been issued with regard to the situation there:

With the U.N. Security Council meeting to review a resolution condemning Syria ..
[...]
.. the Security Council issued a resolution condemning the violence ..
[...]
But activists said the resolution’s significance is blunted ..
[...]
.. “the resolution is meaningless,” human rights activist Wissam Tarif said in Beirut.
[...]
Though the U.N. resolution called for political reforms, ..

There was and is no U.N. Security Council resolution on Syria.

Yesterday a statement was issued by the current president of the UNSC. Such a Presidential Statement:

is often created when the United Nations Security Council cannot reach consensus or are prevented from passing a resolution by a permanent member's veto, or threat thereof. Such statements are similar in content, format, and tone to resolutions, but are not legally binding.

The statement includes a:

Call for an immediate end to all violence and urge all sides to act with utmost restrain, and to refrain from reprisals, including attacks against state institutions.

There are armed gangs fighting against the Syrian government. The UNSC presidential statement acknowledges this when it explicitly urges to refrain from violence against state institutions.

But reading the Washington Post one would not learn this at all. Its reporting gets the very basic facts wrong in using the term "resolution", which would be something with legal consequences, instead of a presidential statement. It also does not acknowledge that the Syrian army is up against an armed resistance. With such reporting the Washington Post is again more a lying propaganda shop than a news organization.

Update:

In the comments philippe asks why I especially pick on WaPo here. I do so because the other major "western" mainstream media, unlike what philippe asserts, do report the issue as it should be reported - by making clear that this is just a non-binding statement, not a resolution.

The Guardian: Hague calls for Syria to end crackdown after UN statement

Foreign secretary William Hague urged the "discredited" Syrian regime to end its violent repression as the United Nations security council adopted a statement condemning attacks on civilians and widespread human rights abuses.
[...]
Though the presidential statement has no teeth and was less than the full security council resolution that had been pressed for by the US, UK and France, it is an indication of growing impatience within the international community towards the Syrian crackdown.

The New York Times: Security Council Rebuke of Syria Ends Prolonged Deadlock

The council’s action, which took the form of what is known as a presidential statement, condemned “widespread violations of human rights and the use of force against civilians by the Syrian authorities.”

Western nations had sought a resolution, the strongest council action. But Russia, a permanent Security Council member with veto power, which had led the opposition to any action for months on the basis of not interfering in internal affairs, had made clear from the outset that it considered a resolution excessive.

You can also check the LA Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Telegraph and others - they all report correctly on this issue.

The Washington Post is clearly standing out here with its false reporting.

 

Posted by b on August 4, 2011 at 05:25 AM | Permalink | Comments (6)

August 03, 2011

Libya: NATO Pirates Take Ship At High Sea

According to the Petrolium Economists (currently VERY slow load) some Libyan rebels pirated an oil tanker with the help of "western" special forces:

Libyan rebel forces last night boarded a fuel tanker belonging to Muammar Gaddafi's regime, seized it and are sailing the vessel laden with gasoline to Benghazi.

The ship was boarded by Libyan nationals acting without the National Transitional Council's (NTC) knowledge, said a source familiar with the operation. A European government provided logistical support for the action, which is believed to have involved special forces boarding the ship from the air.
[...]
Nato began interdicting seaborne supplies of fuel to the regime in May, leaving the Cartagena and its cargo stranded in the Mediterranean. It was originally chartered to land the fuel in Tripoli.In recent weeks, it has been anchored off Malta and then Algeria. It recently returned to Malta to pick up more bunker fuel. It was boarded by special forces while sitting offshore Malta.
[...]
At 17:00 UK time on 3 August, the Cartagena was said to be sailing towards Benghazi. Ship-tracking services could not locate the vessel, suggesting its transponder had been shut off.

The Cartagena was at high sea and pirating it has certainly nothing to do with "protecting civilians" in Libya. My best guess is that the French did this. I am curious with what excuse NATO will come up for committing piracy on the open sea.

The U.S. is currently trying to get Russia and China to agree to some UNSC statement on Syria. They are reluctant to do so as the UNSC resolutions on Libya were thoroughly abused by the "west". This will make them even more reluctant to agree on anything similar with regards to Syria or any other country.

Posted by b on August 3, 2011 at 02:30 PM | Permalink | Comments (17)

August 02, 2011

"Two To Three Years" To Take Out Gaddhafi

President Obama told a bipartisan group of members of Congress today that he expects the U.S. would be actively involved in any military action against Libya for "days, not weeks," after which he said the U.S. would take more of a supporting role, sources tell ABC News.
[...]
"We are not going to use force to go beyond a well-defined goal, specifically the protection of civilians in Libya," he said.
Obama: U.S. Involvement in Libya Action Would Last 'Days, Not Weeks'

That was on march 18. As usual, Obama lied. Here on both points, the timeframe of the role of the U.S. and the "well-defined goal".

If the current plans to overthrow Gaddhafi continue how long will the U.S. and the other attackers be involved in Libya? The imperial think tanks which are propagandizing and planing this affair believe it will be for a very looong time.

In what could hardly have been music to NATO’s ears, [a panel of experts assembled last week by the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington] concluded that while “change” will come to Libya in the form of Qaddafi’s departure from power, it could take as long as two to three years for that to happen.
[...]
[Robert Danin, a Middle East specialist at the Council on Foreign Relations] says the prospects for a drawn-out war to oust Qaddafi, coupled with the lack of standing institutions that a new government like the TNC will be able to count on, means the international community is engaged in Libya for some time to come.

“All the problems we’re seeing now are further reminder that even when Qaddafi goes, we won’t be able to just pick up and leave,” he says. “To some extent, the international community has committed to nation-building in Libya.”

And while the approach President Obama has taken means the US is less engaged than the British and French, Danin says the US will still be on the hook once Qaddafi goes.

“No one should have the illusion that we [the US] aren’t in this,” he say. “We are.”

That international community Danin dreams of are the three states that started this war. France, Great Britain and the U.S. No other country will be willing to foot the bills for nation-building in Libya. As the wars on Iraq and Afghanistan have shown nation-building, aka installing a puppy regime and stabilizing it by force, takes a decade.

I wonder how the electorates in France, Great Britain and in the U.S. feel about this.

  • Will they really allow a prolonged attack on Libya, two to three years?
  • Will they allow the de facto occupation that will have to follow if Gaddhafi falls?
  • Will they be willing to pay for a decade of nation-building in Libya?

But maybe the only relevant question is this one:

  • Will they be asked?

Posted by b on August 2, 2011 at 11:55 AM | Permalink | Comments (15)

The New Yorker On The Raid In Abbottabad

Inside a New Yorker piece which tells the official "inside" story of the Bin Laden raid in Abbottabad the U.S. government wants you to know.

There is at least one quite unbelievable detail in it. The SEALs that went in had a translator with them who's role was to keep locals off during the raid.

A Pakistani-American translator, whom I will call Ahmed, and a dog named Cairo—a Belgian Malinois—were also aboard.
[...]
Not everyone on the team was accustomed to helicopter assaults. Ahmed had been pulled from a desk job for the mission and had never descended a fast rope. He quickly learned the technique.
[...]
As long as everything was cordial, Ahmed would hold curious neighbors at bay.
[...]
Outside the compound’s walls, Ahmed, the translator, patrolled the dirt road in front of bin Laden’s house, as if he were a plainclothes Pakistani police officer. He looked the part, wearing a shalwar kameez atop a flak jacket.
[...]
Eventually, a few curious Pakistanis approached to inquire about the commotion on the other side of the wall. “Go back to your houses,” Ahmed said, in Pashto, as Cairo stood watch. “There is a security operation under way.” The locals went home, none of them suspecting that they had talked to an American. When journalists descended on Bilal Town in the coming days, one resident told a reporter, “I saw soldiers emerging from the helicopters and advancing toward the house. Some of them instructed us in chaste Pashto to turn off the lights and stay inside.”

After 10 years of continuous fighting in Afghanistan the Special Forces do not have an operational Pashto speaker but have to draft a desk jokey? And why was the translator used a "chaste Pashto" speaker? The common languages in Pakistan, the lingua franca, are Urdu and English and then there is this fact:

According to the 1998 Census of the 881,000 who resided in the Abbottabad District, Hindko was spoken by 94.26% of the population, followed by Potohari at 2.30%, Pashto at 2.22% and Urdu at 1.05%. Although the first language of most people in the district is Hindko, Urdu is understood and spoken fluently by majority of the residents and commonly used in markets, offices and formal functions. English is widely used in business and education.

If that account in the New Yorker is true it was a major planning mistake and screw up to send a Pashto speaker with the special forces instead of an Urdu speaker. For an important operation planned over months this sounds unbelievable.

There is also this curious wording in New Yorker piece:

Back in Abbottabad, residents of Bilal Town and dozens of journalists converged on bin Laden’s compound, and the morning light clarified some of the confusion from the previous night. Black soot from the detonated Black Hawk charred the wall of the animal pen. Part of the tail hung over the wall. It was clear that a military raid had taken place there. “I’m glad no one was hurt in the crash, but, on the other hand, I’m sort of glad we left the helicopter there,” the special-operations officer said. “It quiets the conspiracy mongers out there and instantly lends credibility. You believe everything else instantly, because there’s a helicopter sitting there.”

Hmm. So if you wanted to make everyone believe instantly that the raid in Abbottabad really happened as we are told what would you do?

Posted by b on August 2, 2011 at 07:41 AM | Permalink | Comments (19)

August 01, 2011

The Debt Ceiling Deal

Ably led by President Obama the Republicans managed to use his manufactured debt crisis to push the U.S. economy deeper into its second great depression.

I expect above 10% headline unemployment and near double of that in the U-6 numbers of real unemployment by the end of the year.

Time for Elizabeth Warren to run for president?

Posted by b on August 1, 2011 at 05:38 AM | Permalink | Comments (32)

 
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