February 04, 2012
Open Thread 2012-04
News & views ...
Posted by b on February 4, 2012 at 09:30 AM | Permalink
Mainstream news media at it again...NYC local news is headlining "potential" Iranian activity....Synagogues and Israeli points of interest in NYC in full alert...Videos of Police in full SWAT gear protecting Jewish sites...
Posted by: georgeg | Feb 4, 2012 10:00:20 AM | 1
So, San Onofre on the west coast seems to have a leaky faulty system of pipes.
No quakes lately, so, I guess its just deterioration. So what happens when a deteriorated structure gets exposed to a 6.5? A 7.5??? An 8.0???? What happens when TWO facilities, say, uhm, Diablo and San Onofre, are BOTH within the perimeters of a major seismic event?
Tick, tock, tick, tock.......
Posted by: PissedOffAmerican | Feb 4, 2012 11:12:41 AM | 4
Romney, Torture, and Teens
The former governor's connections to abusive "tough love" camps
When Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said he’d support doubling the size of the prison at Guantanamo Bay, he was trying to show voters that he’d be tough on terror. Two of his top fundraisers, however, have long supported using tactics that have been likened to torture for troubled teenagers.
As The Hill noted last week, 133 plaintiffs filed a civil suit against Romney’s Utah finance co-chair, Robert Lichfield, and his various business entities involved in residential treatment programs for adolescents. The umbrella group for his organization is the World Wide Association of Specialty Programs and Schools (WWASPS, sometimes known as WWASP) and Lichfield is its founder and is on its board of directors.
The suit alleges that teens were locked in outdoor dog cages, exercised to exhaustion, deprived of food and sleep, exposed to extreme temperatures without adequate clothing or water, severely beaten, emotionally brutalized, and sexually abused and humiliated. Some were even made to eat their own vomit.
But the link to teen abuse goes far higher up in the Romney campaign. Romney’s national finance co-chair is a man named Mel Sembler. A long time friend of the Bushes, Sembler was campaign finance chair for the Republican party during the first election of George W. Bush, and a major fundraiser for his father.
Also has ties to the in the notorious "kids for cash" case in which several judges who orchestrated a massive kickback scheme involving for-profit youth detention centers as well as, ties to Scooter (sex with bears) Libby...
Posted by: Uncle $cam | Feb 4, 2012 1:06:29 PM | 5
Looks like they moved and changed the story above: Ex-judge gets 17.5 years in "kids for cash" case
The abuse, torture/sex thing has been a continuous and ongoing thing for years. How can we lead by these monsters for so long? What's with these psychopaths and how does this never stop?
Posted by: Uncle $cam | Feb 4, 2012 1:16:54 PM | 6
There is currently a cold wave in Europe: Nobody panic, but a famous statue in Brussels has stopped urinating...
officials in the Belgian city say they’ve had to turn off the infamous Manneken-Pis fountain because it’s too cold for the bronze statue to continue urinating and they’re concerned that the freezing weather might damage its internal mechanism. We can’t think of anything worse than if that statue stopped p*ssing all over the place.
Posted by: b | Feb 4, 2012 1:57:25 PM | 7
Base @ 3, the flyer, see link for large, is not aimed specifically, or even at all, at privacy activists.
It is the usual Orwellian jab to get ordinary ppl to grass on each other, citing so many varied actions and behaviors that any personal grudge or hate, minor spat, dislike, suspicion, etc. can lead the righteous to call the cops or write in a denunciation.
Additionally, any marginally paranoid or chronically defensive, frightened person may come to ‘read the signs’, be alarmed etc. (Old lady sees young guy change Sim card.) The aim is to divide, create strife, fear, and have ppl turn to authority for protection, arbitration, etc.
Also, to encourage conformist behavior: ppl should avoid doing things the FBI et al see as suspicious, a symptom of a disease, simply actions are that are not, a-hem, cough cough, considered ‘right’ in ‘America.‘ (1)
For ex. the below is so broad as to include 40% (?) of personal stated aims for internet use world-wide (the word ‘vulnerable’ is meaningless):
Gather information about vulnerable infrastructure or obtain photos, maps or diagrams of transportation, sporting venues, or populated locations
> bus routes, trains, maps, cities, sporting events, tourist sites, travel, Towers, Monuments, boats, etc...
Then, in a convoluted circular reasoning, ppl who pay too much attention to terrorist attacks are themselves under suspicion:
Preoccupation with press coverage of terrorist attacks
The main scare factor is to be taken on board without any examination!
1. in caps: omg you changed your sim card in the bathroom!! Cindy!! they have cameras there!!
Posted by: Noirette | Feb 4, 2012 2:21:58 PM | 8
It's been speculated that the problems with pipes are happening because high-quality stainless steel is no longer produced anywhere. The US used to produce 20-year stainless, but now the best obtainable from other sources is 5-year. Put that next to the ocean...hmmm...
Also, odd that we have a spate of 'incidents' lately. Fuku, then St. Louis, Chicago, San Onofre, the Vt. Yankee plant just failed a safety valve test...but the NRC OK'd it anyway??? WTF?!?!
Posted by: Dr. Wellington Yueh | Feb 4, 2012 4:16:21 PM | 10
Well, Doc, in the last two decades I have noticed a steady deterioration in the quality of ALL construction materials, hardware, and tooling. It is truly terrifying that what few of our infrastructural needs that are being addressed are being addressed with sub-standard materials and hardware.
I used to comment, tongue in cheek, that the Chinese are selling us shit on purpose, to undermine our infrastructure. But I have since taken the tongue and cheek out of my assertion.
Of no help are the Home Depot and Lowes chains, who are forcing the smaller hardware/building material dealers out of business. Basically, when now building custom homes, you are pretty well stuck buying whatever these chains choose to sell you, even if its worthless shit. Not only is the availability of quality materials on the wane, it is becoming impossible to match the bids that those contractors that are willing to purchase and build with sub-standard materials can offer. And, unfortunately, the over-riding effect of this dynamic is that the general public is being trained to accept shitty product and terrible craftsmanship. Simply put, the ability to recognize and appreciate quality requires that you be exposed to it, and that exposure is becoming rare indeed. "High-end" is becoming just a buzzword, having more to do with price than with quality.
I am not involved in the construction and maintainance of our infrastructure, but I can only assume that it is suffering from the same kinds of afflictions and quality deterioration that the home building industry is suffering from. I doubt I'm wrong.
Posted by: PissedOffAmerican | Feb 4, 2012 9:28:10 PM | 11
here we go again - WSJ via Fox
US Fears Iran's Links to Al Qaeda
[Un-named] US Officials believe country may have provided aid to terror group
BY SIOBHAN GORMAN
"[Un-named] U.S. officials say they believe . . . . . .
[Un-named] U.S. officials believe . . .
etc etc ad infinitum, ad nauseum"
There's a guy works down the Chip-shop,
Swears he's Elvis, Siobhan,
But he's a liar,
and I'm not sure about you, Siobhan,
Posted by: Hu Bris | Feb 4, 2012 11:13:50 PM | 12
Obama terror drones: CIA tactics in Pakistan include targeting rescuers and funerals
The CIA’s drone campaign in Pakistan has killed dozens of civilians who had gone to help rescue victims or were attending funerals, an investigation by the Bureau for the Sunday Times has revealed.
The findings are published just days after President Obama claimed that the drone campaign in Pakistan was a ‘targeted, focused effort’ that ‘has not caused a huge number of civilian casualties.’
Posted by: b | Feb 5, 2012 8:12:25 AM | 13
M K Bhadrakumar's latest...
A dragon dance in the Negev
(China cozies up to Israel for fun, profit and a bit of pro-Palestine mischief making in the UN)
This is a good read. Its tone is reflected in the last line line...
It almost seems Washington has lost the plot.
Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Feb 5, 2012 8:25:21 AM | 14
This article, on intellectual property, content rights, ‘Pirate’ parties / influence, US strong-arming and EU poodles, is interesting:
Cable Reveals Extent of Lapdoggery from Swedish Gvmt. on Copyright Monopoly
Based on cables made public by wikileaks, it is thorough and clear.
Washington has indeed lost the plot, see above...
The service economy, the knowledge economy, were propagandized to death as replacement for...hmm..self-sufficiency, the future, durability, fair exchange, manufacturing, jobs for Americans. Wage arbitrage, aka hiring slave labor abroad, allowed focusing on more lucrative biz, which lead to the FIRE exploding bubbles, leaving behind only content and copyright protection, for the cultural industry. (**Skipping Arms Manufacture and the Defense industry.)
Threats and desperate control measures are needed to keep revenues streaming in, per a model that is outdated, for products that ppl are turning away from.
Still, all such discourse should be tempered with some view of the ‘real’ numbers, here one summary from the Atlantic:
title: Where did all the Workers Go?
FIRE = finance and real estate
Posted by: Noirette | Feb 5, 2012 1:39:08 PM | 15
I was, until the mid-2000s, a hopeless TV documentary junkie and have recently been reviewing my extensive videotape archive to refresh my memory about topics which had caught my attention in the TV Guide back then. I found a good one from an outfit called Westdeufscher Rundfunk (WDR) from 2005 called "Africa, America's New Oil Target."
It draws on input from a wide range of talking head sources. One of the early ones is Gene Van Dyke, Oil Entrepreneur, Houston. A persistent regular, from the Dark Side, throughout the doco is Walter Kansteiner, US Assistant Sec State for African affairs. A persistent regular, from the Sane Side, is Prof Michael Klare (who I presume is the TomDispatch regular.
The reason I'm mentioning it is that it predicts an ultimate clash between China and the US in the Caspian region and/or West Africa. It's based on the premise that Dick Cheney's contribution to Bush II's National Energy Policy paper (circa 2004) explains US why the US Military has become part and parcel of the US quest to cultivate as many controllable sources for US oil imports as possible.
One of the introductory statistics bandied about is that China is responsible for 40% of the increasing global demand for oil and the US feels threatened by the competition. It ends with Michael Klare making it clear that it's no coincidence that, almost universally, wherever the US finds foreign exploitable oil resources it also finds "ter'rists" who, by and large are the disgustingly poor citizens whom the US helps the host government to marginalise by intruducing the local regime to "military coopertion" preceded by US "military advisors."
It'll be intersting to see how well this marginalisation works in Libya and how much recent Libyan history will have to be re-scripted to make the consumers of Western News believe that the average Libyan citizen will be financially better off under US-NATO than the Evil (but generous) dictator Ghaddafi.
Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Feb 5, 2012 11:21:38 PM | 17
Sideboard: It is interesting that the Peak Oilers predictions of a peak in world production in 2005 - 2007 (about, 2005 is a popular year, the year itself doesn’t matter much) based on what we know about geology, reserves, etc., first of all, and then in some measure on extraction techniques, coincides with oil consumption in many countries. (Not all, but the exceptions are few.)
The new data on oil use are being chewed over, here is Mish for ex:
Posted by: Noirette | Feb 6, 2012 11:46:25 AM | 18
""High-end" is becoming just a buzzword, having more to do with price than with quality.
I am not involved in the construction and maintenance of our infrastructure, but I can only assume that it is suffering from the same kinds of afflictions and quality deterioration that the home building industry is suffering from. I doubt I'm wrong.
Posted by: PissedOffAmerican"
I was for a time involved in large construction projects as a project manager, POA. I saw a gradual deterioration in component quality while I was on the job - while I was exhorting my sub trades to work harder, longer and cheaper if they wanted the jobs...(I was evil incarnate.)
All of our materials were...thinner...not in a real way but in a perceptual way...the stuff just didn't FEEL right. I wasn't a chemist and didn't have the time or the budget to hire one.
I stopped doing the work too long ago to determine if the trend continued, although I suspect it has, based on the destruction of every other standard of North American Quality I'm still witness to.
Nothing's fallen down since but I wonder how long those structures built to the lowest standards permissible by tradespeople squeezed to the edge of their margins by financial predators like I used to be will be still standing.
Posted by: arthurdecco | Feb 6, 2012 8:13:48 PM | 19
At the recent African Union Summit at the end of January the AU showed some signs of a spine. Jean Ping was not reelected as Chairperson of the AU Commission. The balloting was behind closed doors. I think there were three ballots. Dr. Dlamini-Zuma of South Africa ran against him but failed to secure a majority. She withdrew, according to the rules. But even unopposed, Ping failed to get the 2/3 majority necessary to win. I understand it was his handling of the Libyan crisis that angered delegates, and that many thought he was working for France more than Africa.
I also understand that AU rules mean that Ping cannot run again, he is considered to have received a vote of no confidence. Dlamini-Zuma may be able to run a second time when the AU convenes in July. Two VOA stories came out, one before the vote, saying Dlamini-Zuma is controversial. After the vote the VOA wrote that Ping intends to run again and is already preparing the way.
Another story that caught my attention was a recent marriage. The story is from Reuters at the end of January, but there are pictures and comments as well:
Khartoum — The Sudanese capital Khartoum was preoccupied on Friday by the wedding ceremony of Chad's President Idriss Deby, and daughter of Sudan's Janjaweed militia leader, Musa Hilal, which took place at a top hotel and was attended by a host of dignitaries led by President Omer al-Bashir.
The polygamous Chadian leader became engaged to Hilal's daughter, Amani, during his most recent visit to Khartoum in November. According to press reports, Deby paid a $26 million dowry of which $25 million was paid to Musa Hilal and the rest to his daughter in the form of gold and jewellery. …
The groom did not make it to the ceremony. I'm not entirely certain of the significance of this. The bride is lovely but it doesn't exactly look like a purely love match. Aside from the money I'm not certain of the purpose or where this leads.
Posted by: xcroc | Feb 6, 2012 10:35:31 PM | 20
does anyone here remember the "Pentagon Study" on global warming that was available in 2003, outlining what the military thought would happen in the case of.
i have been trying to find it, but alas, i am useless at finding things obviously.
I am sure it was discussed at the time at Billmons/Steve Gilliard....
anyone, i just would like to re-read the scenarios proposed by tptb
Posted by: sabine | Feb 6, 2012 11:34:42 PM | 21
Sabine, I guess this is what you are thinking of?
An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario and Its Implications for United States National Security - October 2003
By Peter Schwartz and Doug Randall
Posted by: Noirette | Feb 7, 2012 12:21:19 PM | 23
b: - "Interesting - though I can not second-source it yet."
Try here - http://plot.vsyria.com/ lots of people named and shamed here - for example beside the excerable BHL there's also that other great lover of Zionist aggression Bernard Kouchner
The conference was called the "SOS Syrie" conference as far as I remember
Posted by: Hu Bris | Feb 8, 2012 7:16:18 PM | 25
whoops - wrong thread
Posted by: Hu Bris | Feb 8, 2012 7:21:53 PM | 26
Next step, disagreeing wth government policy: either you're a terrorist or you're mentally ill. Must medicate or institutionalize.
New mental health manual is "dangerous" say experts
(Reuters) - Millions of healthy people - including shy or defiant children, grieving relatives and people with fetishes - may be wrongly labeled mentally ill by a new international diagnostic manual, specialists said on Thursday.
Also see, Psikhushka
Mass abuse onset
A crime is a deviation from generally recognized standards of behavior frequently caused by mental disorder. Can there be diseases, nervous disorders among certain people in a
Communist Democratic society? Evidently yes. If that is so, then there will also be offences, which are characteristic of people with abnormal minds. Of those who might start calling for opposition to Communism Capitalism on this basis, we can say that clearly their mental state is not normal.
Posted by: Uncle $cam | Feb 12, 2012 10:04:04 AM | 28
Also see, The DOJ’s escalating criminalization of speech
Over the past several years, the Justice Department has increasingly attempted to criminalize what is clearly protected political speech by prosecuting numerous individuals (Muslims, needless to say) for disseminating political views the government dislikes or considers threatening. The latest episode emerged on Friday, when the FBI announced the arrest and indictment of Jubair Ahmad, a 24-year-old Pakistani legal resident living in Virginia, charged with “providing material support” to a designated Terrorist organization (Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT)).
What is the “material support” he allegedly gave? He produced and uploaded a 5-minute video to YouTube featuring photographs of U.S. abuses in Abu Ghraib, video of armored trucks exploding after being hit by IEDs, prayer messages about “jihad” from LeT’s leader, and — according to the FBI’s Affidavit — “a number of terrorist logos.” That, in turn, led the FBI agent who signed the affidavit to assert that ”based on [his] training and experience, it is evident that the video . . . is designed as propaganda to develop support for LeT and to recruit jihadists to LeT.” The FBI also claims Ahmad spoke with the son of an LeT leader about the contents of the video and had attended an LeT camp when he was a teenager in Pakistan. For the act of uploading that single YouTube video (and for denying that he did so when asked by the FBI agents who came to his home to interrogate him), he faces 23 years in prison.
Posted by: Uncle $cam | Feb 12, 2012 10:11:15 AM | 29
Yesterday 2/13 I viewed a CNN clip of General Ham testifying recently in Congress, that the war in Libya had hurt some partnerships with African countries. Today the clip has disappeared. I can't find it on CNN, and it has been removed from the blog where I first saw it, so I don't have a link.
The discussion of proxy war is becoming more open. There is a paper by Lt. Col. Yeisley at the Air Force Strategic Studies Quarterly, Bipolarity, Proxy Wars, and the Rise of China (PDF). It anticipates decades of proxy war in Africa between the US and China over African oil and other resources.
Not entirely unrelated, you can find an excellent brief history of Boko Haram from a Chatham House discussion, http://www.chathamhouse.org/sites/default/files/public/Research/Africa/160112summary.pdf. See the section by Garba Sani. It was recommended by a Nigerian journalist and is the best I've seen so far.
Posted by: xcroc | Feb 14, 2012 6:42:20 PM | 31
The right to assembly has been crushed; the Internet is on the verge of full censorship; the legislative body of the most powerful nation in human history is about to declare pizza a vegetable. Copy right law of the land. We are tracked, herded, monitored, stamped and controlled, via drones, satellites police /military and no longer citizens, we're the addicted, wounded, poverty stricken inmates in an mental asylum /reservation run by psycopaths and sociopaths. Is this being recorded? You bet your ass.
Posted by: Uncle $cam | Feb 16, 2012 11:25:51 AM | 33
Colm O'Toole @ 9.
Ep 3 was broadcast on SBS(.au) earlier this week. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Putin had them figured out from the get-go.
It's not every day one gets to watch the world's only super-duper-power turning into a quivering mass of spineless jelly - in Stereo & Technicolor.
It was remarkably frank of the Yankees to breathe a sigh of relief (near the end) and thank their lucky stars that they hadn't pre-blustered themselves into a confrontation on Russian turf.
Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Feb 17, 2012 10:40:38 AM | 34
xcroc @ 31.
Thanks for the links.
Chatham House stuff is often thoughtful, researched and informative. Unfortunately, the link to your recommended pdf didn't work.
Yankee stuff is usually drivel-based hogwash. Yeisley's piece, for example, gets off to the worst possible start by potraying USA's unbroken history of hugely destructive bullying, looting, lying and murder as a stance forced upon it.
"The modern international system in which nation-states compete
I'll have a closer look but I'm expecting a lot masturbation of the kind found in the meandering claptrap Petraeus wrote in his ludicrous FM-22(?) about counterinsurgency.
Re strategic weddings. This sounds like the equivalent of the old European tradition of Royal Households publicly declaring that their nations have decided to get into bed together.
Didn't a would-be world conquerer smooth his path through Afghanistan by marrying the equivalent of an Afghan princess a few centuries ago?
[btw, the bride looks civilised and scrumptious]
Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Feb 17, 2012 7:06:10 PM | 35
Try the link from xcroc's article.
Posted by: Philippe | Feb 17, 2012 7:46:27 PM | 36
It looks like the period at the end of the sentence crept into the link. The whole piece on Nigeria from Chatham House is pretty good, though their recent attention to Somalia has received some criticism. I'll try pasting the link again:
Yeisley's piece is pretty badly written, I was going through it for the specific things he said about the future of proxy war and didn't register the historical point you mention. I sort of dismissed his history as a mixture of rote and gibberish. As to proxy war, events are way ahead of the article.
Deby's latest bride has a western university degree, I don't remember from where. She scoffed at people who said it is a forced marriage. I tend to believe her. She was certainly financially compensated though one might quibble about the terms. I'm sure it was like you say: with this marriage we unite our kingdoms. What I'm curious about is what is the project for which that money is intended? Is it related to the proxy war already underway around Abyei? something else? Or is it just setting up a nest egg? Does Deby get something besides a new wife?
The clip of General Ham I mentioned may have been from April 2011 testimony, which would explain why I couldn't find a recent link. The damage to African "partnerships" is not new news but worth noting. Of course many "partners" will smile and take the US money with no illusions about what is going on.
The IMF's man Ouattara is now head of ECOWAS.
I haven't read anything favorable about it. Currency issues are of particular concern to some. The previous head, Nigeria's Jonathan was hardly a voice of strength or independence.
Quattara said in his acceptance speech that his administration would define common policy and combine resources to fight terrorism, piracy, banditry and proliferation of small arms and light weapons in the sub-region.
The Ivorian president also said that he would ensure the modernisation of ECOMOG to tackle security challenges.
He thanked his immediate predecessor, Jonathan, for his efforts in piloting ECOWAS in the resolution of the Ivorian political crisis and consolidation of peace and stability in other member- states.
The next summit of ECOWAS has been fixed for the Ivorian Capital, Yamussoukrou, on a date to be announced by the chairman.
Posted by: xcroc | Feb 18, 2012 12:53:37 AM | 37
Its on: FINANCIAL TYRANNY - Defeating the Greatest Cover-Up of All Time
[...]A “SUPER-ENTITY” OF 147 CORPORATIONS CONTROL 40 PERCENT OF THE WEALTH
If that isn’t surprising enough for you, then how about this?
Glattfelder’s team then crunched the numbers even harder – and found a very deeply hidden “super-entity” of only 147 corporations – and “much of it” was connected to the 1,318-company ‘core’.
These 147 companies were all interconnected with each other in an “even more tightly knit” pattern than the 1,318 corporations in the ‘core’. To put it simply, they all owned each other’s companies.
[Specifically, each company within the “super-entity” owned shares in all 146 others.]
Together, this super-elite, good-old-boys-club of 147 companies directly earns a whopping 40 percent of all the wealth in the world:
When the team further untangled the web of ownership, it found much of it tracked back to a "super-entity" of 147 even more tightly knit companies -- all of their ownership was held by other members of the super-entity -- that controlled 40 per cent of the total wealth in the network.
Without the advanced technology of supercomputers and chaos theory, no one would have been able to discover this. History has caught up to the Powers that Were.
THE SAME PEOPLE RUN THE FEDERAL RESERVE
Next question: What kind of companies do you think these top 147 corporations are? Remember – they control a staggering 40 percent of the world’s wealth.
As it says on page 6 of the paper, 75 percent of the corporations within the “super-entity” were financial institutions.
The top 20 financial institutions within the “super-entity” should sound pretty familiar to you by now.
They include Barclays Bank, JP Morgan Chase & Co., Merrill Lynch, UBS, Bank of New York, Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs. [...]
Posted by: Juan Moment | Feb 18, 2012 11:34:17 AM | 38
xcroc @ 37.
Yes, the trailing period was the problem. I should have woken up to that myself. I've been habitually giving transcribed links a line(s) of their own for so long that I'd forgotten why.
Having now seen the Chatham House pdf, and followed Philippe's advice and read your article, I can understand why the conclusion in the doco referred to at #17 rang alarm bells (for both of us).
Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Feb 18, 2012 10:22:49 PM | 39
@Uncle: thanks for that, I somehow missed it until just today. and that MAN-UP piece is brilliant; I'm gonna go post it.
Posted by: lizard | Feb 19, 2012 2:12:26 PM | 40
A recent Open Thread was heading in a Climate Change direction but I don't recall which.
b linked to a Countercurrents spoof, 10 Excellent Reasons to Bomb Iran, on the Joby Warwick thread.
On C/c's Main Page there was a Climate related article about 4.5 Trillion tons of permanent ice disappearing during a 3-year period - resulting in a i/2" rise in sea level.
Today I stumbled on this Climate related story about a trend of clouds to form at, or drop to, a lower altitude in 2012 than they did 10 years ago.
Apart from the story itself, there's a spectacular photo of a storm front approaching Adelaide which, although it is irrelevant to the story, is a handy reminder for anyone who can't remember what low clouds look like.
Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Feb 25, 2012 11:07:24 AM | 41