June 04, 2012
Open Thread 2012-15
News & views ...
Posted by b on June 4, 2012 at 12:18 PM | Permalink
The U.S. is creeping into war on Yemen: Drones, Drift and the (New) American Way of War
In other words, the US has inserted, trainers, operatives and contractors into Yemen in an effort to erode the threat presented by AQAP, but those trainers, operatives and contractors attract attacks from Yemenis who are upset with a foreign military presence (no matter how small) on their land. And then when these trainers, operatives and contractors come under attack as they have recently in Aden and Hudaydah the US feels the need to respond and so it widens the target list even further - which then drives even more people into the arms of AQAP.
This is not going to end well. At this point, how does it end. The US has tried 2.5 years of drone and missile strikes in Yemen - and despite the individuals it has killed - AQAP continues to grow and appears just as eager and able to strike at the US. So, what happens, if a "missile surge" doesn't work in Yemen?
What then does the US do?
Posted by: b | Jun 4, 2012 12:22:09 PM | 1
And to think that they tore Günther Grass a new a**hole for speaking out about such things...
Posted by: ralphieboy | Jun 4, 2012 12:45:15 PM | 3
Just to be clear about what the USA's position on Syria is at the moment:
Hilary Clinton, 3 Jun 2012: "Assad's departure does not have to be a precondition, but it should be an outcome [of any political solution or transition].... We all have to intensify our efforts to achieve a political transition and Russia has to be at the table helping that to occur. The Syrian people want and deserve change and that should, and so far as possible, come about through peaceful means." http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2012/06/03/244493/us-insists-assad-overthrow/ , http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/video/2012-06/04/c_131629696.htm
On 31 May 2012 U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta insisted that any military action against Syria would need Russian backing. Asked whether there was a scenario in which the U.S. could act militarily without U.N. approval, Panetta said, "No, I cannot envision that." But he also said: "The international community has got to take further steps to make sure that Assad steps down." http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2012/05/31/150787/no-us-military-action-in-syria.html
Lavrov, 20 Mar 2012: "An analysis of Russia’s statements on Syria will make it patently clear that the revision of Russia's position is out of question.... Most statements by Western and some Arab countries showed a lack of insight into the Syrian crisis." http://twitter.com/#!/MFA_Russia . And the Russian foreign ministry has repeatedly said that over again during the past few months.
For Assad's own position, see his lengthy speech yesterday 3 Jun 2012 at http://www.sana.sy/eng/21/2012/06/04/423234.htm
Assad said on 6 Mar 2012 that the power of Syrian State lies in popular support. I fully agree with that key point. As far as I'm able to see, most of the Syrian public supports the established State, and rejects the rebels, and will continue to do so. For instance today 4 Jun 2012 more than 400 thousand Syrian secondary school students commenced written examinations in a civilized atmosphere. (That's not what the rebels would wish for at the present time, and not what would be happening if the rebels had more support on the ground). Pressures on Assad from foreign sources are not going to change the minds of the Syria public. Most of the public have proved, month after month, their support for the institutional reforms under the leadership of the established government, their rejection of the foreign-backed incitement, and their adherence to the spirit of national unity.
والله محيي سوريا الاسد
Posted by: Parviziyi | Jun 4, 2012 1:14:59 PM | 5
Comment on Iran's Stupidity (Flame and Stuxnet)
Unlike Putin's Russia, which is rapidly moving into Linux, Iran decided to stick with an American-made (i.e., made by their enemy) operating system, i.e., M$ Windows. How stupid can you get? I wouldn't be surprised if Windows had a back-door enabling all kinds of CIA-inspired mischief.
The only safe way to use Windows if one must is inside a Virtual Machine with no Internet allowed that has a Linux system as host.
What is vital about Linux is that is open source, meaning that it is not just the operating system developers who have access to the source code, so that users don't have to wait for developers to fix security leaks.
The other important factor is that Linux started as a clone of Unix originally from AT&T's Bell Labs. In the old days, telephone companies used to be paranoid about security and so security was built into it. Contrast that with Windows, which started as a graphics environment built on top of an insecure DOS. Microsoft started out as a company selling software to hobbyists and it stills shows.
Posted by: Albertde | Jun 4, 2012 1:36:11 PM | 6
Albertde, as I understand computing you can write a virus for every operating system
it is just because linux is non commercial and not that widely used that there are less linux viruses and other malware
Apart from spying, virus software is written for commercial reason, the same people who sell antivirus software are capable of writing the stuff, and the most effective way to spread a virus (and to sell antivirus software) is to write it for windows.
same applies for apple safety.
Posted by: somebody | Jun 4, 2012 1:56:22 PM | 7
The US does a lot of favors and things for Israel, but it also does a lot of things for Saudia; Yemen is one such thing and Iran is another.
Posted by: www | Jun 4, 2012 1:59:01 PM | 8
Yeah, with over 40 years, the *x system has proved itself, and I don't believe m$ discontinued their policy of keeping three keyed backdoors in their OS, one semi-public for support, one internal for m$ developers, and one for US government access. The closed source m$ OS is inherently unsafe, and I wouldn't trust it with my bank-account, or my porn.
Posted by: Alexander | Jun 4, 2012 2:00:52 PM | 9
Parvizivi @ 5 -- Listening to Hillary this morning I was reminded of how much she sounds like Bush/Cheney, in intent at least. Bush would continually tell Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran what they "needed to do." And he might say something about respecting the wishes of the people of the country being so admonished, but in reality he meant the people could do anything they wanted as long as it was within the parameters of what the US wanted done. The US is now fond of telling Russia what it "needs" to do.
Obama has adopted that form of talking to nations, especially those that are referred to as "regimes." (Russia has now been added to that group, by the MCM and in tone by the US administration.) Nice touch of arrogance from the hegemon.
As Henry Ford used to say about the Model T you can get any color you want as long as it's black; the US is saying you can have any government you want as long as it's not your current regime and the regime change leads to toeing the US line. Oh, and the US gets access to any natural resources the US thinks it wants/needs.
Posted by: jawbone | Jun 4, 2012 2:09:21 PM | 10
It doesn't matter whether it is Linux or Windows or Mac - none of them is 100% secure. Hence, no country or anybody for that matter who has nano-gram of brain/responsibility and have minimum of education connect its network, or anything of importance, to outside world i.e. Internet.
I never believed in Stuxnet story, it is so nonsensical that it is not worth to comment on it, or even worst is story of "lost laptop with nuclear secrets, at airport". The stories of this type are coming from Wired.com or Debka and similar sites with psyop in mind. Or perhaps another objective is they are trying to attract and direct flow to own site. Those sites are certainly having close relationship with "security community" of related country.
Posted by: neretva'43 | Jun 4, 2012 2:18:14 PM | 11
Albertde, it's true what you said..But there's more to it than meets the eye..It's been public knowledge that the US/Israel etc. have been engaged in a cyber war against Iran for years..I seriously doubt Iran's critical infrastructure are linked to the internet as we're made to believe..Much of the "leaks" coming from the usual sources about cyber attacks appear to be an attempt to paint the US as a "tough guy" in cyber-warfare - a form of bragging to increase their street credo.The aim? China, Russia???
If we're to believe IAEA reports, Iran's enrichment output have increased rather than decrease so if these attacks were meant to disrupt Iran's nuclear program, it has failed..The centrifuges keep spinning.
The side effect of such leaks is damaging to the US itself..No sane country will buy American products for their critical network if they want to be safe from such attacks..German companies like Siemens will now suffer because their name's now associated with the Stuxnet virus etc..It's also a declaration to the world that cyber warfare against the US is also legitimate. Again, short term gain, long term blowback..They never learn.
Posted by: Zico | Jun 4, 2012 2:22:32 PM | 12
demanded that Iran stop uranium enrichment in return for incentives such as spare parts for civilian planes.
oh wow, how tempting/not. meanwhile, the no brainer: Easing sanctions might show the West's good faith and help resolve the nuclear standoff.
i'm sure they know that, so why not just offer it?
Posted by: annie | Jun 4, 2012 2:24:24 PM | 13
hans @ 2 -- Does putting nuclear weapons in subs mean Israel is "proliferating nuclear weapons"?
Which the US so terrified of Iran doing by building even one nuke bomb?
Okay then. Surely the US will take this to the Security Council? /snark
Posted by: jawbone | Jun 4, 2012 2:28:06 PM | 14
somebody@7: Yes, that is true, but the point remains that an open source operating system has more "eyes on the ball" than a closed source system and also that an open source system by definition cannot have "hidden" components, where any kind of manipulations can be coded.
Another point is for a program to be executed in Linux, you have to give it permission to do so.
All in all, I would say that currently, Apple iOS is the most vulnerable followed very closely by M$ Windows.
neretva'43@11 and Zico@12: I agree - my comment was meant to be sarcastic.
Posted by: Albertde | Jun 4, 2012 3:08:04 PM | 15
""" والله محيي سوريا الاسد """
Some are more deserving than others?
Posted by: www | Jun 4, 2012 3:09:02 PM | 16
On Stuxnet vs Windows, and Linux 'security'...
1) The 'open source'-ness of Linux means that you can build your own copy, swapping in source modules that fit your needs. That is, you can heavily customize to eliminate known vulnerabilities, or at least make them more obscure, or to 'misbehave' so hackers can't easily exploit.
2) The Siemens control modules that control the actual hardware (centrifuges, whatever) may likely only be interfaceable to Windows, and may possibly be only licenseable on Windows systems.
3) These kinds of systems are probably completely isolated from the Internet. What the plant personnel do (or what spies posing as personnel do) is the biggest security hole. The prime theory regarding the 'infection vector' for Stuxnet is a spy within the plant walking up to a computer and plugging in a USB stick. That's probably where the Iranians got stupid...forgetting to disconnect the USB ports, or filling them with epoxy if they are motherboard-mounted (as in the back panel).
Posted by: Dr. Wellington Yueh | Jun 4, 2012 3:43:53 PM | 17
@7 I've been using linux for years. I've never had a virus, and never taken extraordinary methods to avoid them. The only way it could happen is if someone on the outside discovers my password, makes himself root and does his thing, all the while leaving no trace in any log. Does not compute.
Posted by: ruralito | Jun 4, 2012 4:51:51 PM | 18
I had a rootkit installd on my box, from an exploit to ssh many years back, but never a virus.
Posted by: Alexander | Jun 4, 2012 5:08:18 PM | 19
Actually, it never got passed my firewall, but that was a linux-box with sshd.
Posted by: Alexander | Jun 4, 2012 5:12:23 PM | 20
MURDERING MILITANTS IN YEMEN
hi there, dead Yemen men of fighting age
your corpses have all been called militant
to absolve our president of killing innocents
which he does, like it’s no big thing
(as reported by the New York Times)
I’m sorry dead Yemen men of fighting age
that the seed of terrorism has taken root
in the harsh sands of your desperate poverty
but understand you now have been killed
for a power larger than yourself
listen live Yemen men of fighting age
there’s no point getting all emotional
after 9-11 the game changed drastically
so you’ll die by the whim of our dear leader
because at our core the fear burns bright
don’t fight us, live Yemen men of fighting age
from our soil we can analyze your patterns
then boom from your pitiless sky
as our death-dropping drones fly away
while back at home the president explains
you were clearly up to no good
Posted by: lizard | Jun 4, 2012 6:34:10 PM | 21
Does somebody have a credible explanation for Vietnam's pas de deux with the US? I can't believe they, of all people, can be so trusting. They're letting the Yanks look for a few downed airmen's remains. Good lord, there must be thousands of Vietnamese whose bones have been churned into the muck of the paddies never to be found.
Posted by: ruralito | Jun 4, 2012 7:33:42 PM | 22
On the subject of Stuxnet, the Flame intrusion - Microsoft released and out-of-band security update: "Flame" malware was signed by rogue Microsoft certificate.
Microsoft released an emergency Windows update on Sunday after revealing that one of its trusted digital signatures was being abused to certify the validity of the Flame malware that has infected computers in Iran and other Middle Eastern Countries.
Backdoors in Win OS…
The US is playing with fire with their admission that they unlashed those digital attacks on Iran (b. mentioned the drones issue a couple of days ago - same if not ‘worse’ implications). The conventional wisdom is that the US lost control of the Stuxnet one (did it really disable some control mechanisms at the Fukushima Daiichi plant ?). And contrary to drones, which require some serious industrial production systems and where the US still has a major advantage, digital warfare is open to many more players.
Posted by: Philippe | Jun 4, 2012 7:40:31 PM | 23
22, ruralito, it is simple, they won ...
Posted by: somebody | Jun 4, 2012 7:54:02 PM | 24
I suspect it also has much to do with the fact we killed a generation off and demographics. A US Veteran I know recently asked a similar question while over there... the young guide said something along the lines of nobody here is old enough to remember it all anyhow.
Posted by: Eureka Springs | Jun 4, 2012 8:35:42 PM | 25
@25, that must be it. The new generation with no one to instruct them goggles at the antics of the latest Hollywood Bitch Goddess and her Bad Boy Buddies and believe they're receiving wisdom.
There is no guarantee the righteous shall triumph. None.
Posted by: ruralito | Jun 4, 2012 10:08:41 PM | 26
It is foolish to imagine any computer - connected to the internet or not - cannot be infiltrated and the data extracted/corrupted.
I've probably mentioned this before; anyone who is even vaguely concerned with the methods used to gather data from 'unwilling' humans should read a book written back in the 1970's called SpyCatcher.
Written by Peter Wright a bloke who served as senior or supervising scientist for english counter-intelligence for many years, it outlines the methods they used to capture other people's business.
The english government banned its publication but Wright who had just retired, was a totally paranoid 'believer' convinced that the head or english counter-intelligence was a soviet mole, so he published the book in amerika & Oz.
The guy was delusional in the same way Angleton the amerikan spook catching spook at the same time was. Angleton never recovered from the fact that during WW2 when he had just been recruited outta college into the OSS and sent to england to learn the 'tricks of the trade' he let Guy Burgess play with his bottom. The humiliation for being called out on his repressed sexuality was bad enough but once it surfaced that Burgess, who continued the dalliance when he got sent to Washington after WW2, was a "red" & a spy, Angleton really lost the plot.
Wright's issues were similar if more mundane, he had been called out for being petit bourgeoisie, by colleagues in the most class conscious elite segment of the english establishment- english intelligence.
Wright took this to heart and blamed his stalled career on the 'reds' and 'homos' who he believed ran MI6 and MI5. More likely he was left behind because he claimed to be a scientist but had no degree, little or no formal training. It is true though that even dedicated Marxists like Kim Philby were classist assholes who believed they were better just because they went to public schools and had an Oxbridge degree.
For them Marxism was about the elite 'giving' to the masses not the masses grabbing what they needed after slaughtering every last two faced, silver tongued dropkick.
But I digress. Wright gives lengthy explanations of how they captured data back in the era of analogue.
The spooks could examine the electro magnetic field of an IBM golfball typewriter and work out what had been typed by measuring the fluctuations in the magnetic field created by electrical induction. All from a building next door to the one that housed the typist target.
That would pose a much more significant challenge with the imprecise instruments available 50 years ago, than key logging a computer's input using a similar technique with far more accurate tools would now.
No need to go through the hassle of getting a script past the firewall - just sit outside the target in a van and point a focussed EM detector at the keyboard inside the house or the monitor, or even the cpu.
Of course that only works when directed at specified pre-defined targets and collection of data on each and every human needs a less resource intensive approach which is why hardware manufacturers have been suborned into building backdoors into all their products.
Even that is insufficiently scattergun and many humans are being 'too stubborn' about just going with the flow and giving up on their increasingly tedious efforts to protect their privacy.
Currently a new war is being waged against virtual private networks (VPN's) so I thought I'd share with MoA-ites a couple of examples of the hoops new and existing VPN subscribers have being told to jump through in the past month or so:
From a mob who call themselves 'Pure' VPN (quotation marks are mine) after I paid for their service in advance using a prepay credit card which is the same as cash ie the transaction cannot be reversed, no refund given on lost or stolen cards:
We are eager to get you started with our system, however, our anti-fraud system rated your transaction as 'Request additional verification' which calls for a simple verification.
In order to serve our legitimate customers, like yourself, with a VPN network that is free from troubles/downtime we humbly request you to kindly verify your transaction. The mere purpose of asking for such verification is the fact that we need to keep fraudsters, who will always fail this verification, away and because we believe you are a genuine customer you will have no issues in verifying using this 100% safe and secure method.
Verification Method - Send us Blacked-out Copy of your Credit Card:
Kindly email us a scanned copy or photograph of your credit card's front end to firstname.lastname@example.org (Please leave first 4 digits visible, black out the rest). There is absolutely no security risk as you would black out most of the digits on your credit card. Why we need this? Well, again, we need to see that name you used in transaction + the first 4 digits.
If you have paid via PayPal, AlertPay or MoneyBookers kindly send us image / scan of any other official document having your name on it. It should not be web based."
I was gobsmacked when I read that so I went to a VPN provider who I had been registered with (albeit under a comprehensive nym) since their service's pre-launch beta-testing phase.
I had never been late with a bill and had paid them in advance using the same bulletproof pre-pay plastic:
"Due to the increasing number of fraudulent
transactions we are facing, we asked for additional verification in
order to confirm the identity of the person making the payment. The
reason behind this is simple i.e. Securing the interests of our users
as well as our organization. Fraudulent signups have been on the rise
and to cope them we need some sort of verification. If we do not ask
for such stuff, scammers may get an account and start abusing our
network which will disallow the legitimate users to use our service
properly. So this step has been taken for the mutual interest and
security of both the parties and users should understand that.
Please share image /scan copy of any non-confidential document like ID
Card, Passport, Driving License etc. with us having the same name as
used in order then we will proceed accordingly"
Notice how both of these (as well as multiple others who asked for the same thing) use similar cover stories that they have been subjected to fraud, even though the way I had paid their subscription made it practically impossible for them to lose the measely $10 or so i paid each month for a subscription.
I emailed some services pointing that out as well as the irrationality of an anonymising service demanding that customers not be anonymous.
Of course none of the VPN suppliers ever responded to any of these issues they just kept whining about how they had been ripped off by unscrupulous customers.
The amount of resources some put into responding & trying to get me to acquiesce by sending my ID, far exceeded the cost of a $10 subscription, let alone the profit from that.
I didn't sign up - after several days of attempting to join the plethora of VPN providers I finally came across one or two who didn't give a toss where the money came from or how it got there, had no interest in me outside my cash, and provided a good fast and secure service.
Natch none of those providers are located in amerika or the EU.
I wrote to EFF outlining alla this, but never got a response.
So as happy as I am that my rants and musings are transported behind an encrypted tunnel, only a foolish optimist would believe that even if my browsing is currently secure( a doubtful supposition), that it will stay that way for very long.
Posted by: Debs is dead | Jun 4, 2012 10:32:08 PM | 27
so the official denial is over...a known war maker is arming german made subs with nukes....thats brazen...and clueless german tax payers pay for aiding a known war criminal...No wonder israeli jews are so rich...they keep getting freebies from slave states...sorry..'democracies'.......
attack noone in 200 years get your peaceful nuclear program crushed..wages several wars in 20 years ,....receive tax free aid to build nuclear armed subs...this sums up the so called 'free world'
Posted by: brian | Jun 4, 2012 10:50:36 PM | 28
What official denial, Brian? Those subs were built to accomodate the missiles, so there was no secret about it. It's been out in the open from way back; the CIA has known about it since 1968 and whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu made it public in 1986 for which he was jailed by Israel for 18 years and is still not allowed to travel outside the country. It was out in the open again in 2006 when Olmert mentioned it in a German TV interview. Israel and the US play make-believe games about it simply to continue letting the US keep legally funding Israel; from the Guardian that you hate so much:
"Calls for Olmert to resign after nuclear gaffe
· PM admits on TV that Israel has atomic weapons
· Blow to longstanding policy of ambiguity
Luke Harding in Berlin and Duncan Campbell
The Guardian, Wednesday 13 December 2006
Israel's prime minister, Ehud Olmert, was yesterday trying to fend off accusations of ineptitude and calls for his resignation after he accidentally acknowledged for the first time that Israel had nuclear weapons.
After decades in which Israel has stuck to a doctrine of nuclear ambiguity, Mr Olmert let slip during an interview in Germany that Israel did indeed have weapons of mass destruction.
He told Germany's Sat.1 channel on Monday evening: "Iran, openly, explicitly and publicly, threatens to wipe Israel off the map. Can you say that this is the same level, when they are aspiring to have nuclear weapons, as America, France, Israel and Russia?"
Mr Olmert's admission comes less than a week after the incoming US secretary of defence, Robert Gates, speculating at a Senate confirmation hearing on Iran's possible motives for trying to build nuclear arms, suggested that Israel had the bomb."
Posted by: www | Jun 5, 2012 3:02:17 AM | 30
the israeli official denial:.yes we have no nukes
Posted by: brian | Jun 5, 2012 3:16:19 AM | 32
germany allies with a dictatorship like qatar...while its ready to help Israel with nuclear armed subs...this is what happens in modern 'democracies'..bet the Fuhrer didnt ask the german people
Posted by: brian | Jun 5, 2012 4:21:26 AM | 35
go read Amnestys latest shilling for war:
i i cant wait to read their caveat on this one: 'no we dont support war on syria'
Posted by: brian | Jun 5, 2012 4:52:18 AM | 36
The story of NATO forces in Syria is spin. MSNBC that picked up the story bent backwards to not mention that it was the UK Daily Star.
It's great for Qatar to be teaming up with Germany to help in rebuilding Syria.
Posted by: www | Jun 5, 2012 5:08:38 AM | 37
We love you dear Sudanese. The worst a Jew will ever do to you will be better than the live bullets fired at you at the Egyptian border. A society personifying a social time bomb of robbery, violence, sodomy as well as assimilation alongside the destruction of the institute of marriage and the proper family unit, such a society must be separate and distant, and the sooner the better. The Jewish people returned to their homeland after many years in exile to fulfill the positive potential of the human race. You have proved this is not 'your thing' and that is why it's best if we part as friends. You're ruining our dream. Perhaps you may have helped us in various ways, but under the current circumstances it's probably not the case. This is not about racism or any racial doctrine but a question of leadership, and social principles of decent human beings. This has nothing to do with Nazi racism, God forbid, where things were the other way around: a corrupt, murderous society disposed of a foreign and honest people who only benefitted it and balanced it with its pure virtues. Listen up, dear and kind Sudanese people. In the US, Martin Luther King's dream came true. Giuliani will tell you how he made it happen. Go forth and implement this in Sudan and Eritrea. We promise to help you, we'll even be delighted to help, as always.
Shas to Sudanese: You’re ruining our dream
Kobi Nahshoni, Jun 3 2012
b, this is what your government supports!
Posted by: hans | Jun 5, 2012 6:35:59 AM | 38
How can they be blind to the fact that they themselves have adopted the exact ideology of the nazis. Or perhaps it was the other way around.
Posted by: Alexander | Jun 5, 2012 7:35:37 AM | 39
Israel has taken the concept of "don't ask, don't tell" to a whole new level...
Posted by: ralphieboy | Jun 5, 2012 7:40:36 AM | 40
By the way, the dont ask don't tell, the Israeli parlament took it to official debate some years ago, so it's no longer a 'secret'.
Issue No. 43, January - February 2000
Relaxing the Taboo: Israel Debates Nuclear Weapons
By Merav Datan
On February 2, 2000, Israel's parliament, the Knesset, held a brief, heated discussion on the state's nuclear policy. The decision to allow an open dialogue, which lasted less than an hour, followed a motion by Member of Knesset (MK) Issam Makhoul
Posted by: Alexander | Jun 5, 2012 7:58:15 AM | 41
>>> Shas to Sudanese: You’re ruining our dream
Kobi Nahshoni, Jun 3 2012>>>
What about those other ones of the same wrong color that are the ancestors of Shlomo, the Falashas, will they be kicked out too? Israel the racist state is at the stage of purifying the race and blacks aren't welcome. I wouldn't be surprised if they did worse; they already started breaking their windows and burning their shops.
Posted by: www | Jun 5, 2012 8:44:06 AM | 42
Syrian Army fires tracers at Turkish helicopters ...
... according to Syrian army sources, the helicopters were trying to fly over Syrian airspace looking for survivors of an FSA-mounted operation that went sour. Different sources indicated that among the 70 or so FSA fighters was over a dozen Turks: This explains the Turkish commandos involvement. Coincidentally, (not) a suspicious fire was set on the demarcating line of the Syrian-Turkish border, and the Turks flew water carrying helicopters ...into the melee!
Posted by: hans | Jun 5, 2012 9:46:37 AM | 44
'BRITISH defence chiefs have drawn up secret plans to set up safe havens for Syrians fleeing President Assad’s killers.'
from Daily Star....british Tabloid journalism at its best! Their motto should be: 'No lie is too big'!
Posted by: brian | Jun 5, 2012 11:01:50 AM | 46
The politic blog unser-politikblog.blogspot.de has made an approximately half-hour phone interview with Nun Hatune Dogan on last Thursday. Nun Hatune Dogan has just returned from a lengthy trip through Syria.
Here are the English translations of some core content of the interview with NunHatune Dogan:
The insurgents in Syria are radical Islamists, poor people, who have especially entrenched in the mountains, and get money and weapons from abroad.
The insurgents perform murderous attacks on Syrian soldiers.
The term “Free Syrian Army” (FSA) for the insurgents is largely unknown at the general Syrian population.
The insurgents carry out murderous attacks on civilians, and push these crimes in the shoes of the Syrian government afterwards (SN: false-flag crimes against civilians to blame the Syrian government); they partially wear captured Syrian army uniforms and also drive captured Syrian army vehicles while committing these crimes.
The insurgents attack targeted Christians and Alawites, and they entrench themselves in churches, thus they can then assert that the government would attack churches (SN: and mosques).
The Syrian army does not fire on peaceful demonstrators, the assertion of the “Free Syrian Army” (FSA), they would protect peaceful demonstrators, is a lie. Rather, they are the rebels who abuse the demonstrations to armed provocations.
The Western media coverage of Syria is lying to 95%, it is invented and exaggerated; and the perpetrators and victims of terror in Syria are systematically reversed in the Western reporting.
Should the insurgents, which are supported by the West, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, succeed to overthrow the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, it is to expect that the radical Islamists are going to commit genocides against Christians and Alawites.
Sister / Nun Dogan Hatune calls on all politicians and journalists to not make themselves guilty in the genocide of the Syrian Christians and Alawites, to refrain from trying to overthrow Bashar Assad, and to stop spreading lies, which are delivered by the terrorists, about the Syrian government (SN: and the situation).
Posted by: brian | Jun 5, 2012 12:23:02 PM | 47
One TV-segment stuck to my memory; a rebel points to a tank, saying "look, the army were supposed to withdraw their tanks and forces, but here it is, in a civilian area", and there it was, a army tank, covered in grafitti.. as if it wasn't a rebel-captured vehicle. Pathetic - still, it works in western media.
Posted by: Alexander | Jun 5, 2012 12:45:30 PM | 48
the picture for us is utter desolation: the church of Mar Elian is half destroyed and that of Our Lady of Peace is still occupied by the rebels. Christian homes are severely damaged due to the fighting and completely emptied of their inhabitants, who fled without taking anything. The area of Hamidieh is still shelter to armed groups independent of each other, heavily armed and bankrolled by Qatar and Saudi Arabia. All Christians (138,000) have fled to Damascus and Lebanon, while others took refuge in the surrounding countryside.
A interview with French Bishop Philip Tournyol Clos
Posted by: hans | Jun 5, 2012 2:07:53 PM | 49
A very important post by Hans above. First it was the Russian Orthodox Church putting our an appeal on behalf of Syria's Christians and now another appeal by the Catholic Orthodox in a Vatican publication. The biggest threats to the Christians of the Middle East in countries like Iraq, Egypt and Syria, have been other Christians from Western countries supposedly bringing them democracy. Without Western democracy, Middle East Christians were much happier and much safer. Syrian Christians are now holding their breath until the Pope visits Lebanon on September 14th and makes an announcement of some sort on behalf of the Syrian Christians. If President Assad's regime falls, the fundies will take over and it will be curtains for Syria's Christians.
Posted by: www | Jun 5, 2012 3:57:46 PM | 50
What are the christian percentage in Syria, 18 - 20 %? A minority, but a huge minority.
Posted by: Alexander | Jun 5, 2012 4:06:44 PM | 51
As far as I can see it is more than just the Russian Orthodox Church who feel strongly about Syria within Russia. Those who imagine Russia will back down on Syria they way they did on Libya may be in for a surprise. Libya was just another independent non-aligned state with cash as far as Russia and before that the Soviet Union were concerned. The Libyans didn't bow to amerika or the ussr during the cold war and consequently whatever way russia voted at the UN could be sold to Russians as realpolitik.
This isn't the case with Syria where the social and cultural links between the two nations go much deeper.
I have formed the bad habit of watching TV News in the morning before I drag meself outta the pit, an awfully depressing business but I had thought I had found a channel which didn't put the curmudgeon in a dudgeon for the day until the massacre of 10 days ago when this channel kept stating the massacre had been committed by 'Syrian military forces' right from day one, but never offering any evidence to support their smear. Many viewers furiously tapping out angry messages to the TV station on tiny 'smart' phone screen keyboards with their ancient eyes still crusted by sleep later, the Russian ambassador to NZ was put on the show late last week.
He presented the alternative view, that the massacre was a complex crime with many potential perps and there was a need to establish exactly what happened before the media trampled the truth beyond repair. He also went on to discuss the close relationship between Syrians and Russians and how Russia would never desert that relationship.
Remember ambassadors don't speak for themselves, they speak for their governments and it is unlikely that the current mob in Moscow will be going anywhere soon, so it is safe to say that there is no show of the UN security council agreeing to any further harassment of the Syrian govt.
That realisation has finally dawned on the other side where they are trying to unilaterally 'scrap' the ceasefire.
We know how this will play out the terrorists will commit awful crimes against Syrian population western media will play it down as a necessary retaliation for the alleged government crimes, then when Syria responds by going after the killers who will 'hide' among civilians, the whole massacre scenario will play out in western mass media again. But other states will see different images. Russians will be given their media's take on what is happening so the killing is likely to continue for many years. It is good that someone is standing up to the amerikan empire again but without the ideology of before it will be a tough sell to western contrarians.
This is a classic example of what we have seen played over and over again. Political movements which go outside their borders for support from foreign entities are always played for much bigger agendas, and should be regarded as traitors to their own people.
Posted by: Debs is dead | Jun 5, 2012 5:23:41 PM | 52
@ Alexander #51: I'm told the percentage of Christians in Syria is about 8%. Others have put it at 12%. There is not hard data collection on the question. The 12% figure is an overestimate today, though truer in times past. The absolute number of Christians has been increasing. But their percentage of the total population has been decreasing due to their lower birth rate and higher outmigration rate. The total population of the terrority of today's Syria was 1 million in year 1875, 1.3 million in 1922, 3.0 million in 1947, 4.5 million in 1960, 6.3 million in 1970, 9.0 million in 1981, 13.8 million in 1994, 15.1 million in 1997, and 22 million today. Source: http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=ki6yXV0qxw4C&pg=PA6&lpg=PA6#v=onepage&q&f=false .
Posted by: Parviziyi | Jun 5, 2012 5:56:30 PM | 53
Quiz question: Which president of a Middle East country said the following? Was it (a) Kemal Ataturk, (b) Hafez Assad, (c) Anwar Sadat, (d) Saddam Hussein, (e) King Hussein of Jordan, (f) Abdelaziz Bouteflika, or (g) none of the above.
Members of the parliament cannot carry out their legislative and oversight functions in an optimal manner without possessing a clear development vision. For this vision to mature, it needs two factors: the first is constructive dialogue under the roof of the parliament and among its members; and the second is continual communication with the citizenry to bring the parliament's members closer to reality and better adapted to citizens' concerns. The success of parliament and government officials is directly linked to their ability to draw ideas, plans and visions from the aspirations of the citizens and their need for a better life. If the betterment of the citizen is our objective, the citizen should be our starting point. And if we are working for the citizen, if our objective is to serve the citizen's interests, then the citizen's views should be our guiding light.
You can get the answer to the question at http://www.ilmediterraneo.it/it/politica/7855
Posted by: Parviziyi | Jun 5, 2012 6:06:17 PM | 55
Thought for the day: “Most of the greatest evils that man has inflicted upon man have come through people feeling quite certain about something which, in fact, was false.”
Posted by: Parviziyi | Jun 5, 2012 6:09:55 PM | 56
If you weren't able to answer my quiz question at #55, you might be edified to learn that the same president also said on the same day: "The realist government official (الحقيقي) is the one whose heart beats to the rhythm of his people.... We need to learn from the people how to build the homeland and how to protect it."
Posted by: Parviziyi | Jun 5, 2012 6:22:04 PM | 57
let the slave...here adapted by English poet Adrian Mitchell
and sung by Van Morrison
(Lyrics by William Blake)
Let the slave grinding at the mill run out into the field
Let him look up into the heavens and laugh in the bnght air
Let the inchained soul, shut up in darkness and in sighing
Whose face has never seen a smile in thirty weary Years
Rose and look out; his chains are loose, his dungeon doors are open;
And let his wife and children return from the oppressor's scourge
They look behind at every step and believe it is a dream
Singing: The sun has left his blackness and has found a fresher morning
And the fair Moon rejoices in the clear and cloudless night
For empire is no more and now the Lion and Wolf shall cease
For everything that lives is holy
For everything that lives is holy
For everything that lives is holy
For everything that lixes is holy
What is the price of Experience? Do men buy it for a song?
Or wisdom for a dance in the street? No, it is bought with the price
Of all that a man hath, his house, his wife, his children
Wisdom is sold in the desolate market where none come to buy
And in the wither'd field where the farmer plows for bread in vain
It is an easy thing to triumph in the summer's sun
And in the vintage and to sing on the waggon loaded with corn
It is an easy thing to talk of patience to the afflicted
To speak the laws of prudence to the homeless wanderer
To listen to the hungry raven's cry in wintry season
When the red blood is fill'd with wine and with the marrow of lambs
It is an easy thing to laugh at wrathful elements
To hear the dog howl at the wintry door, the ox in the slaughter house moan;
To see a god on every wind and a blessing on every blast
To hear sounds of love in the thunder storm that destroys our enemies' house;
To rejoice in the blight that covers his field
And the sickness that cuts off his children
While our olive and vine sing and laugh round our door
And our children bring fruits and flowers
Then the groan and the dolor are quite forgotten
And the slave grinding at the mill
And the captive in chains and the poor in the prison
And the soldier in the field
When the shatter'd bone hath laid him groaning among the happier dead
It is an easy thing to rejoice in the tents of prosperity:
Thus could I sing and thus rejoice: but it is not so with me
Posted by: lotsofnoise | Jun 5, 2012 7:46:59 PM | 58
>>> Members of the parliament cannot carry out their legislative and oversight functions in an optimal manner without possessing a clear development vision. >>>
Parviziyi, that explains why the legislative body in the old constitution and in the new one cannot present draft laws as this is in the exclusive domains of the Cabinet and the President. The legislative assembly can only propose laws to the Cabinet and discuss and question them once they have been tabled by the Cabinet or the President and vote on them to legislate them into law.
The clear development vision he's talking must be possible through the competency of the Cabinet or the President himself.
Posted by: www | Jun 6, 2012 1:31:18 AM | 59
www @ 59
That's how most european democracies work too. Syrias system is very much like the Norvegian, at least since recently, when christianity was discontinued as state religion in the constitution.
Posted by: Alexander | Jun 6, 2012 1:47:09 AM | 60
Sarah Areij Abbas 6 June 04:10
This is a very important letter written by an English lady who is married to a Syrian man. She lived in Syria for more than 40 years very peacefully. She narrates how things became after the assassination of late Lebanese minister " Rafiq Al Hariri ". She describes that it was US & Israel who murdered him in order to start a dirty war against Syria.
ي فيها عن حقيقة الأوضاع في سوريا قبل الأزمة منذ حادثة اغتيال رفيق الحريري والتي أكدت فيها أن أميركا وإسرائيل هما من نفذ جريمة الاغتيال وكيف أصبحت الأمور الآن ...
يرجى نشر هذه الرسالة الهامة على جميع الصفحات ليتم إيصالها إلى الجميع .. شكرا جزيلا
I have lived in Syria for more than 40 years, a Christian in a Muslim family, but have never felt so threatened before. There have been many times when trouble here, or war, or differences between the Syrian and British governments have arisen, but I cannot recall any time when the actions of the country I still call home have been so embarrassingly prejudiced.
Syria is not a very well-governed country, and most people complain of the various secret police forces and their power, but for almost everyone almost all the time, life has been secure. I have walked through a city of 5 million people late at night with no thought that it would be unsafe, and the different Muslim and Christian sects have worshipped in their own ways and places with little control. Even the synagogue, now deserted, is protected from damage, and the land abandoned by Jewish emigrants waits for them to reclaim it sometime.
The present hate campaign seems to me to have started when the Lebanese leader, Rafiq Hariri was assassinated some years ago. It had to be Syria's fault, though he used to spend time in Damascus, and owned a house there. There was screaming and shouting from the Americans that Syrians must be brought to trial, and only when evidence which had been ignored was forced on the attention of the world, that the Americans themselves, with Israeli help, had been involved, was the subject quietly dropped.
The basis of a democracy, I was taught, is a free press, and Syria is only now beginning to get that. However, how free is your own information? The official news programme from Syria is now going off the air from the Nilesat and Arabsat satellite, so others in the Arab world will not be able to get any official view of Syria. Europe has Syria on Hotbird, but the news on the BBC Arabic service usually discounts anything put out by the government. On the other hand, the programmes which are devoted to the opposition are given free rein on the airwaves, even when their content is often extremely controversial and frequently wildly inaccurate. I have seen reports of opposition rallies which showed pictures of pro-government rallies, and reports purporting to be from the North Syrian countryside, where it has been an incredibly wet year, which appear to have been taken in some desert. The news being accepted as truth by BBC World News is so biased these days that I no longer believe what they say about anything any more, after more than 60 years of crediting them with the truth.
Syria certainly needs democracy, but most of the people I speak to, from friends to cleaners, factory workers and taxi-drivers, are actually looking for 'a strong leader to be a father to his people'. Like the majority in England, if they can see life getting a little easier for them and their families, they really don't worry too much about the system, so long as it treats them fairly.
Posted by: brian | Jun 6, 2012 4:20:38 AM | 61
Brian, the lady mentioned stuff worth discussing. She talked about a secret police service, although she said that life was secure for all and she felt safe walking the streets of Damascus and I believe her and she talked about the absence of a free press that is slowly starting to appear. She didn't talk about the state of emergency that had existed for over 40 years until a year ago. Life may have been good for most in Syria, but there were some shortcomings to have caused such a stir. The West is intent on making trouble inside Syria, but you can't say there isn't any fire behind all this smoke we are seeing.
Posted by: www | Jun 6, 2012 5:32:27 AM | 64
Brian, Nun Hatun's heart is in the right place, but her numbers are all screwy. There aren't 10 million Christians in Syria and there are many more Iraqi Christian refugees in Syria than the 15,000 families she is talking about. She talks about Syria as being the country that has the most going for the Christians and she doesn't have a clue about what the Christians have in neighboring Lebanon where the constitution practically gives half of everything to the Christians, including the country's Presidency.
Posted by: www | Jun 6, 2012 6:19:35 AM | 65
Annan has a new peace plan for Syria
Kofi Annan is tinkering with a radical idea for reviving his moribund peace plan for Syria — a road map for political transition there that would be negotiated through a “contact group” that could include, among other nations, Russia and Iran.
What’s intriguing about Annan’s new approach is that it could give Russia and Iran, the two key supporters of Assad’s survival, some motivation to remove him from power, and also some leverage to protect their interests in a post-Assad Syria. This would also make the plan controversial, with Israel and Saudi Arabia asking why the United Nations would give the mullahs in Tehran a share of the diplomatic action.
Posted by: Alexander | Jun 6, 2012 8:12:50 AM | 66
>>> Kofi Annan is tinkering with a radical idea for reviving his moribund peace plan for Syria — a road map >>>
Road map; why is it that I don't trust Annan with that term? Maybe it has something to do with the last road map he was involved in that was used to screw the Palestinians.
Posted by: www | Jun 6, 2012 9:05:54 AM | 68
Any plan for 'regime-change' is morally reprehensible. Even the US didn't officially state regime-change as the purpose for intervening in Libya.
Posted by: Alexander | Jun 6, 2012 9:21:52 AM | 69
Make that outside intervention, Alexander, I insist people have a right to overthrow any government they want to overthrow.
Posted by: somebody | Jun 6, 2012 9:53:03 AM | 70
Yeah, that's what I meant.
Posted by: Alexander | Jun 6, 2012 9:58:07 AM | 72
somebody @ 70 even
Posted by: Alexander | Jun 6, 2012 9:58:54 AM | 73
Parviziyi and Alexander, I know how it works between the cabinet and the parliament in Syria and I don't agree with it, even if it's like what they have in the US and France, maybe it's because I'm used to a system that has the cabinet answering to parliament and not the other way around. I guess we each have our own definition of democracy and each of us can like whatever system. I don't have to like how it works in Syria as you don't have to dislike it.
As to the Saad-Ghorayeb essay, it's regrettable that you commented on it without having read it. It's actually written in defense of President Assad, that's why I said you'd enjoy it, and it details how the western press agencies, two of them in particular, took his operating room/blood on the surgeon's hand analogy out of context and instead of understanding that what the man was describing as a life-saving amputation, these two 2 agencies, I think AP and Reuters, did a hatchet job on Assad's words. She sums it up by saying that it was a foregone conclusion that no matter what Assad would have said, these agencies would have twisted it anyway because of the ongoing disparaging campaign on the Syrian regime.
You guys missed a good essay.
Posted by: www | Jun 6, 2012 12:41:38 PM | 74
Here's a fun and witty report from Tartous city and Tartous province in Syria, the most strongly pro-government province in Syria. It was published in Arabic at Assafir.com on 31 May 2012 and translated to English by Al-Monitor.com. Assafir is a daily newspaper in Lebanon that is editorially pro-Syrian.
The inhabitants of Tartous affectionately call Sergei Lavrov "comrade Sergei". Sheikh Arour on the Safa satellite channel has promised Tartous’s people “surprises befitting them.”
Posted by: Parviziyi | Jun 6, 2012 12:41:53 PM | 75
@ 'www' : I did read the Saad-Ghorayeb opinion piece and already commented at #71 that I read it "a rehash of her main theme about Palestine". The piece largely didn't analyze or report upon what Assad said in his speech, which would've been something worth doing; instead it was about how the Western news agencies reported on the speech.
Posted by: Parviziyi | Jun 6, 2012 12:49:01 PM | 76
Israel recently appointed a new ambassador to Norway, Naim Aradi is actually an arab druse, and the first Israeli ambassador who is not jewish. With a support in Norway at 13% for the Israeli political system, they probably figured it would be a strategical choice with a representative of their 20% arab population.
Perhaps this is a step towards abandoning the two-state solution, and integrate their semittic cousins as a full-fledged minority?
Posted by: Alexander | Jun 6, 2012 12:52:03 PM | 77
In year 2011 Tartous city had more pro-government, pro-Bashar rallies than any other Syrian city. There were dozens of them, and the crowd size for the rallies in relation to the total city population size was unquestionably bigger than in any other city in Syria. In year 2012 the number of rallies in Tartous has been drastically fewer, as the point of the rallies had been made.
Report dated 31 May 2012. It is evident to all visitors to Tartous city that there is a strong and trusting relationship between its inhabitants and members of the security forces. Greetings are constantly exchanged between them, and everyone abides the stopping and being searched at checkpoints. The quiet city’s walls, on the other hand, are adorned with slogans that salute the army and President Bashar al-Assad. The flags of Syria, Hezbollah, Russia and China flutter in great numbers throughout the squares. Banners in Arabic and Russian thank Russia. http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/politics/2012/06/tartus-maintains-its-shore-dwell.html
Posted by: Parviziyi | Jun 6, 2012 1:09:05 PM | 78
www @ 67
Yesyes, it was a nice article. And I don't disagree with anything in it.
Posted by: Alexander | Jun 6, 2012 1:09:13 PM | 79
Meanwhile, back in the state of Wisconsin in the US, a recall election to remove the sitting governor who rushed through legislation which removed collective bargaining rights from public employees (except, as of now, police and firemen -- he didn't want to tick them off at first) has failed. Republican very rightwinger Scott Walker remains as governor although the recall petition had almost double the number required to get a recall in place and, at the time of the recall petitioning, a majority regretted voting for him.
Walker campaigned partially on the idea that recall petitions must be based solely of official misconduct, and not just the whims of the voters. About 60% of voters in exit interviews agreed that recall elections should apply only to official misconduct, so that seems to have hit home.
The Democratic candidate, the present mayor of Milwaukee, the state's largest city, campaigned on...not being Scott Walker. He barely mentioned union rights until the last week or so of his campaign. The national Dems had contributed little to his campaign, apart from advice that the union rights issue didn't get much response from voters! That in spite of the huge numbers of protesters for union rights who had filled the state capital's Capital Square from months on end, even during the cold of a Wisconsin winter (albeit the winter was much warmer than usual this year, but that raises another issue being ignored on national level in the US). Plus, as mayor of Milwaukee he had used the new Walker laws to arbitrarily abrogate union contractual promises on wages and pensions, so he had little loyalty from many union members.
Walker's campaign was financed largely by out of state very wealthy Republican contributors, and he garnered about 10 times as much in campaign money as the Democratic candidate. Wisconsin is a state which heretofore had prided itself on clean and locally run and financed elections. The Koch Brothers, extremely wealthy extremely conservative Republicans, had been very big financial backers of Walker in his initial win of the governorship. Walker rewarded them by trying to rush through a law which permitted him, on his own say so with no competitive bidding, to sell Wisconsin state heating/cooling/other energy facilities, and a Koch Bros. company was the chosen new owner. Walker was ultimately unable to get that through the senate after the senate minority Dems left Wisconsin for an unknown location in Illinois, preventing a quorum. Hilarity ensued, then massive protests. The Republicans eventually passed some of Walker's new laws with a revised definition of a quorum and other legislative shenanigans.
One good outcome of the recall election is that of the 4 Republican state senators up for recall election three retained their seats, but one lost; that single Dem victory gives the Dems a single vote majority in the Wisconsin state senate. So Gov. Walker will not have a rubber stamp for his very conservative, business friendly legislation, nor will he have a close ally in charge of scheduling senate business and votes.
State Senate - District 21 - Special General
60 of 60 Precincts Reporting - 100%
Name Party Votes Vote %
Lehman, John Dem 36,255 51%
Wanggaard, Van (i) GOP 35,476 49%
Interestingly, I couldn't find the state senate results in the state's largest newspaper, a strong backer of Republicans. Also, I imagine there will be a recount demanded in the Dem victory.
Walker will be governor (unless he's indicted and leaves office or resigns -- he's currently under federal investigation for actions while Milwaukee County Executive), as of now, he will have to weedle, bribe, or threaten at least one Dem senator to his side for a tie or get two of them. Not saying he can't do that -- or that the Koch Bros. won't come up with the money to do it--, but it will be much, much, much more difficult.
So Walker will have to appear at least more "bipartisan," or just go whole hog into "official misconduct."
ALL the Dems will have to stand strong as well.
Posted by: jawbone | Jun 6, 2012 1:30:13 PM | 80
Expect bad, surprising, things to happen in the EU very soon (3 months?)
The EU is undergoing a debt crisis and a banking crisis.
While that is all linked to the EU organization itself - its history and its future - making it out to be about a currency or fiscal harmonization / corruption / competitiveness /debt to GDP ratio (one of my bugbears) and so on is a distraction that serves to obscure the the true causes, which are:
1) disastrous economic policy
2) financial de-regulation, casino finance, tolerated fraud, crony capitalism
3) complacent, blind, Gvmts, with members on the ‘take’
Another contributing factor, not deserving of a number, is that EU elected officials, leaders, and technocrats, are, in effect, top of the heap, earn far more than their ‘national’ counterparts, and have a lot of power, prestige, though they tend to hide this and stay in the shadows.
To get on and talk to each other, act in concert, they need to agree and thus become vulnerable to a ‘rich club group think syndrome’ which becomes very all encompassing.
The model adopted was, is, néo-libéral, in the French sense, economic development on a grand scale through finance, services, de-regulation, cheap labor (e.g. the ex-USSR hinterland for the Germans) and at the same time, Keynesian funding (structural funds, tax advantages, and other aids) to kick-start economies (e.g. Ireland), plus the export of industries to cheaper labor climes (e. g. Poland, Slovakia, China, etc.) All this goes hand in hand with tolerance for fraud, corruption, circuits of power and gleeful short-termism.
A merry dance, a great jamboree that made many ppl rich and ‘developed’ some countries to dizzy heights, built on unsustainable economic models (e.g. Ireland), bound to collapse.
Greece was picked out as a culprit because it is small, peripheral, energy dependent, vulnerable, in a way ‘backward’ due to its Ottoman and subsequent past thereafter - a shocking, but minor problem, that the EU could handle. But no, it turned into the tiny shit country on the block that serves as an example, and an opportunity to implement dreamed-of policies.
Spain, for ex. was THE poster child of EU development, post Franco. Partly because it is so large. Under the EU umbrella Spain increased GDP, highest year by year in the EU around 4% p y until recently, modernized infrastructure, increased foreign investment massively, rationalized agriculture, and lowered unemployment from about 20% (1994) to 8% (2006). Public finances were super healthy. Spain was one of the most virtuous public-debt countries in the EU, also the one that got the most funds from the EU. Of course its entry into the EU permitted it to borrow at low rates, saving the Gvmt. about 3% of GDP p y.
Concurrently, Spain (Aznar and Zapatero the same)
- privatized massively, sending large sums to the Gvmt.
- cut social spending big time, to end up amongst the lowest in the EU, thus neglecting education, schools, universities, families, health care, unemployment and ‘investment’ in pensions
- counted on building and construction for employment, as well as on services (tourism, hotels, hairdressers, nail filers, etc.) and Gvmt jobs which grew rapidly, not particularly in nursing/education or the like according to some reasonable plan, but in the bureaucracy, upper reaches, etc.
- regularized foreign workers somewhat to provide underpaid, cheap labor (no colonies to speak of, China too weird)
- did not invest in R and D
- invested in ‘renewables’ - wind, it cost a bomb and is now all questioned
- de-industrialized, though industry was never very strong in Spain, and I myself am not sure about this point.
- never upped salaries, which have gone down steadily - making the temp low paid worker a national figure, as he or she represents the norm. Not to mention the unemployed young person.
In short, an economy that relies on bubbles and in the real world extraction (concrete, steel, building, renewables, roads, massive agri, cheap labor, etc.) paid for with top dollar to commodity and energy cos, financed for some part by the EU, by borrowing at EU rates, and by hiding debts (Cajas, Bankia), by de-regulation, lack of controls, and cute arrangements between cronies.
Spain scooted on get-rich-quick schemes, leaving black holes behind the main actors, who are now long gone or invulnerable.
New fiscal rules and new Euro-Bonds will not fix the mess.
Posted by: Noirette | Jun 6, 2012 4:13:46 PM | 81
Paul Craig Roberts at Counterpunch, quoting Bernhard from, what, two years ago?:
Everyone wants a solution, so I will provide one. The US government should simply cancel the $230 trillion in derivative bets, declaring them null and void. As no real assets are involved, merely gambling on notional values, the only major effect of closing out or netting all the swaps (mostly over-the-counter contracts between counter-parties) would be to take $230 trillion of leveraged risk out of the financial system. The financial gangsters who want to continue enjoying betting gains while the public underwrites their losses would scream and yell about the sanctity of contracts. However, a government that can murder its own citizens or throw them into dungeons without due process can abolish all the contracts it wants in the name of national security. And most certainly, unlike the war on terror, purging the financial system of the gambling derivatives would vastly improve national security.
Posted by: catlady | Jun 6, 2012 5:47:55 PM | 82
Huh -- just posted BBC article on newly announced "massacre," with same approach from the Beeb as used in the Houla massacre.
But it's not showing up. LINK to BBC.
Map shows location Quhair, about 20kim (12 miles) NW of Hama.
The BBC indicates it has not uncovered any information which shows the gov't is not at fault with the Houla massacre.
Posted by: jawbone | Jun 6, 2012 7:27:13 PM | 83
I am a British citizen in Syria for two monthson my 4th visit to the country. I am here as a citizen journalist. I can tell you from first hand experience that the vast majority of people here support Assad. Its just the truth: plain and simple. It may not be something the West want's to hear, but it IS the truth. Why do they support him? Well, because the West's reporting of Assad is nothing like the man that governs Syria. He is not viewed as an evil dicator here. He is viewed as a strong leader who has kept the peace in a nation spilt by religious factions. Now the US and UK has stuck their nose into Syrian business, by arming one side, the Syrian view of Assad has been proved right. For it is the support by the West that has allowed the increase in bloody violence. If you want to find out more about my visits to Syria - check out my website.
- Gari Sullivan, Latakia, Syria, 30/5/2012 19:15
Click to rate http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-2151866/Houla-massacre-Syria-tragedy-madness-Britain-intervene.html" \l "http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-2151866/Houla-massacre-Syria-tragedy-madness-Britain-intervene.html" \l "Rating 12
Reporting the Houla Massacre
Friday, 1 June 2012
Produced by Gari Sullivan
A glaring mistake by the BBC has brought into light the amount of misinformation and misreporting about the situation in Syria.
Citizen Journalism v Professional Journalism
http://garisullivan.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/BBC-Iraq.pnghttp://garisullivan.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/BBC-Iraq.pngThe">http://garisullivan.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/BBC-Iraq.pngThe">http://garisullivan.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/BBC-Iraq.pnghttp://garisullivan.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/BBC-Iraq.pngThe BBC publishing a photo of an Iraqi massacre in 2003 and claiming it to be of the Houla Massacre in Syria in 2012 raised little surprise and condemnation in Syria. It was seen as yet another example of mis-reporting of Syria that is endemic in Western media; particularly in UK and the US.
We all pride ourselves on having a healthy cynicism of the establishment. Yet, we still find it impossible to truly disbelieve the news we hear from our own mainstream media; believing there to be at least a modicum of fact to what we are being told.
I never really understood the depth of my self-deception and to what extent we are lied to until the Syrian crisis and I was made to choose between loyalty to my homeland of the UK and to what I know to be true as I live and travel in Syria.
We all regard alternative views from our own as something of a mirror image of the truth. If we didn’t believe we are in the right, we wouldn’t believe it. Its my fourth visit here and about my tenth visit to a Muslim country. I have begun to see things from the different point of view. My once-truth is reflected back at me, exposing the blemishes of supposition and ignorance.
Beckham Fan. Damascus 2011
There are countless times I have seen stock-footage images in the Western media of Muslims wearing religious clothing and beards coming out of mosques; nothing sinister – just re-enforcing a stereotype and a belief that they are different from us. Yet it is so easy to take a random photo in the streets of Syria and you wouldn’t know if it was in Portugal, Southern Spain or Southern Italy. In reality, Syrians wear jeans, T-shirts and suits. I have lost count of the number of football shirts displaying the names of Beckham, Messi and other European footballers that I have seen in Syria.
We live in an age when any one of us could go to Facebook and chat to someone who lives in Houla or Homs or any other city in Syria or, indeed any other news-worthy part of the world. We could ask what is really going on there, undertake our own investigation and develop our own understanding of the conflict; but we don’t. Despite having unprecedented access to our fellow humans anywhere in the globe, we still prefer to use social media only to share links from newspapers and not report our own findings or a quote from our own contact there ‘on the ground’. The question is: Why do we do that?
The easy answer would be to say that we are all too lazy to research or that we prefer the fast hit of satisfaction we get from being the first of our followers to link to a site. As someone who identifies himself as a citizen journalist and who lectures in the subject, I think the answer is that we, the citizens, don’t yet fully understand what we are capable of doing with social media. Governments and broadcasters and are ahead of the game; after all, media is what they do; and they are uneasy at the rise of citizen journalism. Governments fear losing control of the truth and broadcasters fear losing their industry.
I have spent more time in Syria during this crisis than all the Western media foreign correspondents!
Jim Muir, the BBC Middle East correspondent, is sat in a hotel in Beirut (a three and a half hour drive from Damascus) watching YouTube videos and talking to people on Skype. You – yes you! – are only a few click away from being your own BBC Middle East correspondent. News broadcasters are only too aware of this. They fear they will lose their position to social media as the purveyors of ‘truth’. This is why they rushed to publish the most sensitive of images: The brutal murder of children – at a time when Syria is frantically holding onto a fragile peace. Putting the desire to be first above the desire to the true – but Citizen journalism can be an alternative news media.
You can listen to my podcast about The West’s Reporting of the Houla Massacre for The Wire in Australia.
Posted by: brian | Jun 7, 2012 12:36:31 AM | 84
Brian @ 84 -- Thanks for the links to the citizen journalist, Gari Sullivan.
Posted by: jawbone | Jun 7, 2012 1:15:17 PM | 85
we all know media like the BBC are propaganda tools of the state...here we see the Guardian admit the same:
The BBC's Queen's jubilee propaganda failed in Scotland
Broadcasting a summer bonanza of Britishness may reinforce rather than break down cultural difference in Scotland
guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 5 June 2012 15.00 BST
A jubilee street party in Edinburgh - one of only 60 organised in Scotland. Photograph: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire
The jubilee feels very different depending where you are in Britain. Ian Bell, Scotland's most articulate republican, wrote last week: "The monarch we are supposed to celebrate this odd weekend has no claim to the throne of Scotland. She is not, and has never been, my queen." Many feel the same. There's a problem with the story we are being told about Britain. The jubilee is meant more as a unifier than a pacifier, and the national broadcaster is entrusted with gushing appropriately, often when nothing is happening but a bout of rain-washed punting. But the project of British propagandising looks like falling apart under examination......
so why expect honest journalism from the BBC about a topic like Syria or Libya where the same state has a line it wants to promote?
Posted by: brian | Jun 7, 2012 10:31:39 PM | 86
My appreciation to Germany b. I keep hearing of items from Germany that point toward a more sane and sustainable future. Rare attribute for most countries these days.
I think Germany’s response to Fukushima was a first in national moral responsibility.
Germany has already closed eight nuclear reactors, and the rest will be shut down by 2022. For now, natural gas is filling the void left by nuclear power, which formerly produced 20 percent of the country’s electricity. Under Merkel’s plan, 80 percent of Germany’s energy will come from renewables by 2050, according to the German Advisory Council on the Environment. Studies by the council show that 100 percent renewable power is a realistic goal for Germany.
And now this demonstrates the benefits of walking the walk.
Solar Auction Turns Roof Space into Energy and $$$
When you understand the potential of the rapidly evolving renewable energy revolution, you get why fossil fuel interests, and their reliable Fox News echo chamber, are so desperately trying to distort the good news, and block progress on the emerging industrial revolution. One of the world’s leading industrial nations, Germany, on a recent sunny afternoon, was producing almost HALF of its electricity from solar arrays on millions of roofs.
Posted by: juannie | Jun 8, 2012 6:29:39 PM | 88
President Correa of Ecuador to Julian Assange:.....'what is the difference between the (US) democrats and republicans? theres a greater difference between what i think in the morning and the evening than between those two parties'!
Posted by: brian | Jun 9, 2012 5:57:12 AM | 89