Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
November 30, 2004

Open Thread

Posted by b on November 30, 2004 at 06:41 AM | Permalink | Comments (90)


Some stats on MoA: 5 months, 300 posts, 10,500 comments, 170,000 hits and an amazing average visit duration of some 16 minutes.

MoA has taken more time, soul and energy than I imagined and it would take even more to keep it going. The non-monetary opportunity costs are increasing. I do not want to afford them any longer.

I plan to shut the site down at the end of December. Until then I will leave you an open thread and may rotate it once a while.

You may want to download and archive the wealth of thought the site generated.  For your convenience there are now links to monthly MoA archives in PDF format at the About page.

Warm thanks for what I have received from all of you who wrote, read and commented and an extra thank you to Billmon.



Posted by b on November 30, 2004 at 06:41 AM | Permalink | Comments (51)

The Torture Never Stops

Who are’ll those people
That is shut away down there
Are they crazy
Are they sainted
Are they heroes someone painted
Someone painted
Are they -isms
Later ornated
Once they come they have been tainted

NYT: Red Cross Finds Detainee Abuse in Guantánamo

The International Committee of the Red Cross has charged in confidential reports to the United States government that the American military has intentionally used psychological and sometimes physical coercion "tantamount to torture" on prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
"The construction of such a system, whose stated purpose is the production of intelligence, cannot be considered other than an intentional system of cruel, unusual and degrading treatment and a form of torture," the report said. It said that in addition to the exposure to loud and persistent noise and music and to prolonged cold, detainees were subjected to "some beatings." The report did not say how many of the detainees were subjected to such treatment.
Last month, military guards, intelligence agents and others described in interviews with The Times a range of procedures that they said were highly abusive occurring over a long period, as well as rewards for prisoners who cooperated with interrogators. The people who worked at Camp Delta, the main prison facility, said that one regular procedure was making uncooperative prisoners strip to their underwear, having them sit in a chair while shackled hand and foot to a bolt in the floor, and forcing them to endure strobe lights and loud rock and rap music played through two close loudspeakers, while the air-conditioning was turned up to maximum levels.

Posted by b on November 30, 2004 at 02:45 AM | Permalink | Comments (3)

November 29, 2004

Smiling West

Before the iron curtain came down, I crossed the West German-East German border for some visits in Berlin. To pass the eastern border guards unhassled or at all, there were some informal rules to follow. Don´t smile, don´t laugh, don´t joke - it was no fun and not funny, just like this author describes:

On a Wednesday morning we walked across the Border at Checkpoint Charlie. We left the hustle and bustle of downtown West Berlin and (again) subjected ourselves to the East German border guards. One, who looked like Broom Hilda, got VERY agitated when Big Red had the temerity to smile.
The People In Gray

The iron curtain is gone. How about smiling?

"The subject's expression should be neutral (non-smiling) with both eyes open, and mouth closed. A smile with a closed jaw is allowed but is not preferred," according to the guidelines.
Smiling "distorts other facial features, for example your eyes, so you're supposed to have a neutral expression. ... The most neutral face is the most desirable standard for any type of identification," said Angela Aggeler, spokeswoman for the State Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs, which handles travel-document guidelines.
US smiles: Smiling frowned upon in visa photographs,
UK smiles: Grins banned from passport pics and
Canadian smiles: New passport rules nothing to smile about

We left. Our overwhelming impression was that of Grayness. Lack of color. Lack of spirit. Lack of vitality. This place, East Germany, was a prison. The people were prisoners, and they knew it. The East Germans finally let us out and the West welcomed us with a smile and a wave.
The People In Gray

This is not a face-recognition issue. Something deeper has changed. Why are we not allowed to smile?

Posted by b on November 29, 2004 at 06:23 PM | Permalink | Comments (9)

Rummy - Fun with Old Europe

According to the German news site Spiegel Online the US Center for Constitutional Rights plans to file a complaint against Rumsfeld, Tenet and eight other US officials with the German federal general prosecutor.

The German laws covering war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity, formed under the impression of the Nuernberg Processes, allow for prosecution in Germany, even if the defendant is not German and the deeds were not done on German ground.

Main theme of the 160 page complaint is said to be the Abu Ghraib crime complex.

Details will follow at a press conference tomorrow morning.
This could get entertaining. It will be very hard to turn the case down legally and the German public will love it. The politicians will not like it as it makes for even more trouble with the Bush administration.

Posted by b on November 29, 2004 at 02:16 PM | Permalink | Comments (16)


Finally Iran agreed to stop - for now - their Uranium enrichment program and the IAEA has verified this. The deal, with Germany, France and the UK, underlines that Iran has the right to enrich Uranium and that this is a voluntary step.

The US is obviously not happy. The US delegate at the IAEA immediately claimed the United States reserves all of its options with respect to Security Council consideration of the Iranian nuclear weapons program. This would be possible if Iran would endanger "international peace and security."

US army's General John Abizaid was more explicit: "Why the Iranians would want to move against us in an overt manner that would cause us to use our air or naval power against them would be beyond me," he said. It is beyond the Iranians also, as they have not issued any kind of threat.

Abizaid added "If you ever even contemplate our nuclear capability, it should give everybody the clear understanding that there is no power that can match the United States militarily." Does pointing to the use of nuclear weapons help "international peace and security"?

For sure there are some intelligent people thinking how to further pressure Iran. Also for sure Iranians are looking into alternative ways to get some military operational nuclear capacity. This given, the current conflict of words will escalate.

Let me propose a quite simple and effective way to deescalate the issue.

Iran sould invite a brigade of EU ground troops to help the IAEA to control their nuclear installations. Because terrorists could try to attack these by air, the Russians should chip in an air defense regiment. The Chinese could help with some patrol boats against possible pirate acts.

Finally the US could be sure that everything is under control and Abizaid could keep his nukes from "proliferating".

Posted by b on November 29, 2004 at 12:33 PM | Permalink | Comments (5)


An Israel Defense Forces officer and soldiers at the Beit Iba checkpoint near Nablus forced a young Palestinian on November 9 to open a violin case he was carrying and play the instrument, while local residents waited behind him in a long line.
According to Machsom Watch, another volunteer reported several months ago about a similar incident in which a Palestinian was forced to play for soldiers at a checkpoint in the Jerusalem region.
Haaretz: Soldiers force Palestinian to play violin at West Bank checkpoint

And now I noticed, from the corner of my eyes, that the murderer Kapo picked up his iron pipe again and was walking toward me. And I knew I'm gonna be killed. I knew it. So my right hand and my left hand all of a sudden started moving in perfect harmony. And the Strauss Blue Danube was heard coming out of my violin. Now, how? I never thought of the Blue Danube. Never. I heard it, in fact, I, I am even, hate to admit to you, I never even played it really.
And the Kapo looked at, eagerly, to, to the SS, "When shall I whack him? When shall I hit him?" Instead, the SS guard was humming the melody, and was beating the rhythm with his fingers--like 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3. And he, he just smiled and, "Let him live."
Sandor (Shony) Alex Braun Describes playing the violin for SS guards in Dachau.

Posted by b on November 29, 2004 at 07:37 AM | Permalink | Comments (6)

November 28, 2004

NVO - Thread

News, views, opinons ...

Posted by b on November 28, 2004 at 02:37 PM | Permalink | Comments (35)

They Just Don´t Get It

The Report of the Defense Science Board Task Force on Strategic Communication has some remarkable insights:

- Muslims do not "hate our freedom," but rather, they hate our policies. The overwhelming majority voice their objections to what they see as one-sided support in favor of Israel and against Palestinian rights, and the longstanding, even increasing support for what Muslims collectively see as tyrannies, most notably Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Pakistan, and the Gulf states.

- Thus when American public diplomacy talks about bringing democracy to Islamic societies, this is seen as no more than self-serving hypocrisy. Moreover, saying that "freedom is the future of the Middle East" is seen as patronizing, suggesting that Arabs are like the enslaved peoples of the old Communist World - but Muslims do not feel this way: they feel oppressed, but not enslaved

- Furthermore, in the eyes of Muslims, American occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq has not led to democracy there, but only more chaos and suffering. U.S. actions appear in contrast to be motivated by ulterior motives, and deliberately controlled in order to best serve American national interests at the expense of truly Muslim selfdetermination.
- Muslims see Americans as strangely narcissistic - namely, that the war is all about us. As the Muslims see it, everything about the war is - for Americans - really no more than an extension of American domestic politics and its great game. This perception is of course necessarily heightened by election-year atmospherics, but nonetheless sustains their impression that when Americans talk to Muslims they are really just talking to themselves.

Thus the critical problem in American public diplomacy directed toward the Muslim World is not one of "dissemination of information," or even one of crafting and delivering the "right" message. Rather, it is a fundamental problem of credibility. Simply, there is none ...

After these insights one would expect some self-inspection or a simple look into the mirror to find out if the Muslim view might be the real one.

But the authors seem not to be able to take this step. Strangely narcissistic they assume that the Muslim view cannot be the real one - it is not even discussible. They just don´t get it, because the "communication" does not work.

The report proposes better strategic communication. A new high level agency, a bigger budget, a better distribution of the message by adapting private sector and political campaign best practice. The report does not discuss the message, it does not discuss the deeds, only how to communicate them.

The report is a complete failure. They just don´t get it.

Posted by b on November 28, 2004 at 12:18 PM | Permalink | Comments (31)

Some Newsbits

The Nation: Falluja's Health Damage

In one case, according to Dr. al-Jumaili, three children died of dehydration when their father was unable to find water for them. The US forces cut off the city's water supply before launching their assault.

NYT: Lockheed and the Future of Warfare

What he sees [Lockheed CEO Stevens says] is a far grander vision. Lockheed, he said, is promising to transform the very nature of war.
"I don't say this lightly," he said. "Our industry has contributed to a change in humankind."

CS Monitor: In pockets of Fallujah, US troops still face harsh battles

Red Platoon began in typical fashion, with a reading the 91st Psalm from the Bible.
The marines used explosives, axes, and even their boots to break down doors and storm houses.

They searched rooms and destroyed food stores when they found them to deprive insurgents moving from house to house of support.
After granting civilians four hours each day to visit local food-distribution centers, commanders Wednesday extended the curfew to 24 hours a day.

WaPo: Marines Widen Their Net South of Baghdad

Johnson said the U.S.-led force would take a methodical approach to wiping out the insurgency in north Babil. ...

"I could take Latifiyah in an afternoon, but why am I going to kill innocent civilians?" Johnson said.

Many people in the town said they already feel like they are under attack. The city has no water or electricity, said residents, some of whom described the outages as a form of punishment by the Americans.

NYT: Lockheed and the Future of Warfare

Mr. Stevens, whose compensation last year as Lockheed's chief operating officer was more than $9.5 million, says cost is essentially irrelevant when national security is at stake. ".. This is not a business where in the purest economical sense there's a broad market of supply and demand and price and value can be determined in that exchange."

Iraq War: Lords of the flies

The flies are everywhere. In the hospital wards, operating rooms, canteen. You find them even where they cannot be. In the "humanitarian" plastic bottle with warm plastic-stinking water.
You can buy anything for water now.

Posted by b on November 28, 2004 at 09:06 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)

November 26, 2004

Twist Those Knifes

The lost election has put the Democrats back in their shelters to lick their wounds. Having presented a candidate "just like Bush only better" has ended in a disaster.

The Republican side has the Presidency, the House and the Senate. There is only on worse situation for a President than having the other party ruling Congress. It's when his own party rules the hill. He now has to bend to all of their boondoggle projects while at the same time there is no "obstruction on the hill" to blame when things go wrong.

The Republican Party has a default break line. On one side there are the moderate budget conservatives and on the other side the religion driven mandate claimers. If this split can be opened and displayed in public, the Republicans will have problems to follow their agenda.

Josh Marshall is doing his best to twist the knifes the republicans put into each others back. First he started a campaign to demand all republican representatives to explain their vote on the DeLay rule, which allows DeLay to stay even if he gets indicted for his bad deeds. Then Josh points to several steps Rep. Istook has taken to torpedo projects of moderate fellow Republicans.

This is a valid strategy to destroy the inner hold of the GOP and Josh is doing a great job here. But where are the Democrats?

The press will only pick up this stuff if it is pushed from the Democratic side too. The "neutral" reporting philosophy always needs two sides. If one side says the earth is flat and the other says the earth is a globe the US press writes "Shape of Earth Discussed". If one side says the White House should be green and nobody voices a different opinion, the press will write "Halliburton to Get National Paint Job".

The Dems need to come out of theirs holes NOW and start beating the drums. Use any small opening to rip the GOP apart. Show public sympathy with those who got backstabbed by their own fellows and then twist those knifes. The chances are good for a GOP internal war on the hill in 2006 but Josh can not to it all by himself. Get him some help.

Posted by b on November 26, 2004 at 08:10 AM | Permalink | Comments (29)

November 25, 2004

Breaking the Neckline

This is a 20 year chart of the traded US Dollar Index. This index is computed using a trade-weighted geometric average of six foreign currencies against the dollar.

Dollar Chart


Many traders in the stock, commodities and currency markets use Technical Analysis (TA). TA suggests that, based on human behaviour like "herding" and basic market dynamics, certain price pattern develop and can be plotted. Such pattern have been observed in many charts and experience allows predicion of future market behavior when distinguished pattern occure.

The blue line of the monthly US Dollar index value forms a smaller scale and a bigger scale head and shoulder pattern. A left shoulder, a head and a right shoulder are visible, as are two necklines. The smaller head and shoulder pattern is marked in green and the larger one marked in red. The red neckline is incidently also the (so far) all time bottom or support line, of the USD index value.

Technical Analysis suggests that a distinctive break of the neckline of a head and shoulder pattern results in a movement of the same absolut value and direction than the difference between the head of the pattern and the neckline itself.

The top of the HS pattern was at about 122 in early 2001. The green neckline at 94 broke in late 2002. This suggested a fall of (122-94 =) 28 points below the neckline to (94-28 =) 66. A break of the red neckline suggests a fall of (122-81 =) 41 points below the neckline at 81, leading to a US Dollar Index value of (81-41 =) 40. Today's international purchase value of a US$ 1.00 would be down to 50 cents. The time horizont for reaching that level may be the same than the time distance between the heads top and the neckline break, in this case 3 to 5 years.

Currently the US Dollar Index is some 82.46. If the current downtrend continues, the neckline will be broken by the middle of next week. A more typical behaviour could be a short few month bump off the neckline followed by a downturn that significantly brakes that line and closes the pattern.

Posted by b on November 25, 2004 at 06:10 PM | Permalink | Comments (24)

Just Another Open Thread

Share your links and thoughts ...

Posted by b on November 25, 2004 at 02:18 PM | Permalink | Comments (85)



NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim ...
Proclamation by the President

Blue Lemur on the billboard
Billmon: The Future Belongs to Me

Posted by b on November 25, 2004 at 12:50 PM | Permalink | Comments (9)

Happy Thanksgiving


Posted by b on November 25, 2004 at 06:53 AM | Permalink | Comments (8)

November 24, 2004


In Europe there is a lively political discussion about models of a multi-cultural-society versus a dominant-culture-society. Different cultures with different rules living in parallel in one state versus states where the majorities culture sets the rules and laws and the minority cultures have to adopt.

In this context Helmut Schmidt, social-democratic Chancellor of West-Germany 1974-1982, talks about integration of Muslims into European societies:

"There was no success so far, in mixing European and non-European cultures. The reason is the adverseness against other religions, taught by all Christian churches to the Europeans, especially against Judaism and Islamism. Against Judaism for nearly 2000 years and against Islamism for over 1000 years. We have developed a tenor of defense against these religions and when now some idealist calls for tolerance, that plea comes hundreds of years late."

Schmidt thinks a multi-cultural society is only possible within a quite authoritarian state like Singapur. An open democracy can not, for now, support multiple cultural models. "Maybe in the long run," he says.
(Today’s Schmidt interview in German Wieviel Anatolien verträgt Europa?)

The United States has for 200 years integrated immigrants, but those people adopted essentially voluntarily to the language and to the rules and laws. With the growth of Hispanic sub-societies that model may start to unravel.

Where are the limits of not-integration? Are separate language, separate schooling, separate application of law, i.e. multi-culti societies, functional and acceptable?

Posted by b on November 24, 2004 at 02:34 PM | Permalink | Comments (51)

Distinct Disadvantage

How do you apply the concept of law to armed robbers who have no clear superiors to accept responsibility for their crimes?

If we battle the mafia, laws should apply. But when the criminals are just individuals united by one cause - armed robbery - doesn't that put the police at a distinct disadvantage to obey the rules of law, when the criminals won't? Police tactics are scrutinized and criticized by lawmakers and judges, while armed robbery is hardly even worth commenting on because everyone knows armed robbers don't care about how criminal they are.

Rather than quibble with lawmakers and judges about definitions and standards, as policemen maybe it's time to just be straight and say laws do not envision armed robbery, period.

Do you think the above is moronic? Read on.

How do you apply the concept of prisoners of war to suicidal fighters who have no clear superiors to accept responsibility for any actions of their "soldiers?"  If we battle a nation, the convention should apply.
But when the enemy is just individuals united by one cause— hatred of the U.S.— doesn't that put us at a distinct disadvantage to obey the rules of armed conflict, when they won't?  Our tactics are scrutinized and criticized by the world, while their beheadings and mutilations are hardly even worth commenting on because everyone knows they don't care about how inhumane they are.

Rather than quibble with the international community about definitions and standards, maybe it's time to just be straight and say Geneva did not envision this type of warfare, period.

Who wrote and published this? Donald Rumsfeld? The Weekly Standard? John Ashcroft? The National Review? Charles Krauthammer? The Free Republic? Alberto Gonzales? Little Green Footballs?

No - Dan Abrams, MSNBC Anchor & NBC News Chief Legal Correspondent and staunch liberal writer for a ban on assault weapons, at the MSNBC website.

Geneva did not envision urban warfare with terrorists

Posted by b on November 24, 2004 at 09:08 AM | Permalink | Comments (15)

November 23, 2004

Economic Armageddon

One seldom sees such a sober US bashing in economic circles: Andy Xie - Asia Should Sell Treasuries Now

The US has been binging beyond its means since 1999.  In 1999 and 2000, the new economy hype sucked the rest of the world into buying US tech assets.  Asian portfolio investors now hold worthless NASDAQ stocks and European MNCs own many US tech companies that have heavy debts but weakening revenues.

After the tech burst, Mr. Greenspan cut interest rates aggressively, causing US treasury yields to fall to around 4% from 6%.  The bond market rally sucked in foreign buyers, who supported US consumption and the dollar.

As treasury yields have bottomed out, the US now wants to devalue the dollar (which would be to the cost of foreigners who hold trillions of dollars of US financial assets) to create jobs to sustain its consumption.  I see the weak dollar policy as simply another way to get foreigners to subsidize US spending.

Xie goes on asking Asia's central banks to sell their treasuries and keep the Dollars in cash. US yields would rally, the Fed would have to raise rates, inflation would raise and the over consumption via borrowing would stop. He continues:

The US should have seen a recession following the tech burst.  However, it shied from this, and has since been juggling to sustain demand growth.  When this juggling act falters, a recession will occur anyway.

Andy Xie's boss, Stephen Roach, also thinks this is inevitable: Economic `Armageddon' predicted

Press were not allowed into the meetings. But the Herald has obtained a copy of Roach's presentation. A stunned source who was at one meeting said, ``it struck me how extreme he was - much more, it seemed to me, than in public.''

     Roach sees a 30 percent chance of a slump soon and a 60 percent chance that ``we'll muddle through for a while and delay the eventual armageddon.''

     The chance we'll get through OK: one in 10. Maybe.

Consuming on borrowed Dollars and than to devalue the Dollar to have to pay back less is not a friendly behaviour. Asia should recognize this and follow Xie's advice.

On the hopeful side an economic Armageddon may keep some radical Christian nuts away from causing a physical one in the Middle East. At least they should have trouble to finance it. Now that would be a real positve result.

Posted by b on November 23, 2004 at 11:04 AM | Permalink | Comments (45)

Bio Fuel

Fuel for nought
The adoption of biofuels would be a humanitarian and environmental disaster

Road transport in the UK consumes 37.6m tonnes of petroleum products a year. The most productive oil crop that can be grown in this country is rape. The average yield is 3-3.5 tonnes per hectare. One tonne of rapeseed produces 415kg of biodiesel. So every hectare of arable land could provide 1.45 tonnes of transport fuel.

To run our cars and buses and lorries on biodiesel, in other words, would require 25.9m hectares. There are 5.7m in the UK. Even the EU's more modest target of 20% by 2020 would consume almost all our cropland. If the same thing is to happen all over Europe, the impact on global food supply will be catastrophic: big enough to tip the global balance from net surplus to net deficit.

If, as some environmentalists demand, it is to happen worldwide, then most of the arable surface of the planet will be deployed to produce food for cars, not people.
We need a solution to the global warming caused by cars, but this isn't it. If the production of biofuels is big enough to affect climate change, it will be big enough to cause global starvation.

George Monbiot, in his piece, does not even calculate the energy (fertilizer) needed to grow the crops, to convert them to fuel and to transport them to the relevant market.

Bio fuel is just a great scam of the farmer lobbies to get just another subsidy. Putting that money into research for less energy consuming transport is more efficient.

Any regulation effort should be on stricter limits of maximum fuel consumption, maybe in form of a progressive consumtion tax, not on new ways to devastate landscapes.

Posted by b on November 23, 2004 at 03:34 AM | Permalink | Comments (21)

Open Thread

Your news, views, opinions ...

Posted by b on November 23, 2004 at 01:57 AM | Permalink | Comments (52)

November 22, 2004

Civil War in Ukraine?

BBC reports:

Officials in several Ukrainian cities have refused to accept the outcome of Sunday's presidential election.

Tens of thousands of protesters have rallied to contest the official victory for Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, amid Western concern over the vote.

Opposition challenger Viktor Yushchenko has told supporters to stage a civil disobedience campaign. But central security authorities are warning that they are ready to put down any lawlessness "quickly and firmly".

The "KGB candidate" incumbant Yanukovych has officially won. The "CIA candidate" Yushchenko has probably lost. There are concerns about election irregularities that naturally would not happen in any really democratic state.

[OECD claimed] violations included a continuing "media bias" in favour of Mr Yanukovych and intimidation of observers and voters.
Exit polls earlier suggested that Mr Yushchenko had been on course for victory with a lead of at least six percentage points.

His supporters say they do not believe the official turnout figure of 96% in eastern Ukraine.

During the campaign, Mr Yushchenko, prime minister between 1999 and 2001, claimed to have been the victim of intimidation and dirty tricks, including an alleged poisoning attempt.

His critics portray him as an American puppet who will do anything to gain power, including inciting civil unrest.

I have no firm opinion on what is happening in Ukraine, but I do prefer any nonviolent outcome, even if it is not a 100% certified democratic solution.

Posted by b on November 22, 2004 at 05:51 PM | Permalink | Comments (17)

Calorie Tax

U.S. agribusiness now produces about 3,800 calories of food a day for every American - about 500 more calories than it produced 30 years ago (and at least a thousand more calories than most of us need to consume daily). So how did business deal with the problem of oversupply? By persuading us to eat more.
Too much stuffing

St. Louis-based Hardee's said its new burger boasts two 1/3-pound slabs of Angus beef, four strips of bacon, three slices of American cheese and some mayonnaise -- all on a buttered, toasted, sesame seed bun.

The "Monster Thickburger" will cost about $5.49, Hardee's said. But chowing down on the 1,420-calorie burger, which contains 107 grams of fat, will cost around $7 with fries and a soda.
Hardee's unveils new 'Monster'

Obesity-related illnesses cost the U.S. economy an estimated $120 billion a year in medical costs and lost productivity. (first article)

Proposal:  A $0.001 health tax per calorie. With 2,500 calories per day per person this would result in $273 billion in revenue per year which could be spend to finance basic healthcare for all.

Any takers?

Posted by b on November 22, 2004 at 03:03 PM | Permalink | Comments (14)


Pizza drivers seek national union

About 600 drivers nationwide have signed up for the free union, and he feels momentum gathering for more unionization votes.

"Despite the fact that we didn't take the vote, just that it occurred is a major hurdle," he said. "It's never happened before in the history of pizza delivery driving."

Lockwood said pizza drivers make $5.50 to $6 an hour, plus tips, and are reimbursed 50 to 75 cents per delivery for gas costs, no matter how far the delivery is.

Corporate profits as a share of GDP are at 25 year record high, labor compensation as a share of GDP is at a 25 year low (Fed St. Louis, PDF, page 21). Time for unions to come back into power.

Unions tend to be protectionists (steel in the 80s), they develop a bureaucracy, they strike firms into unfulfillable long term promises. Now the UAW cries for a public bailout of the car industries pension obligations.

Unions are the only instrument to fight for fair compensation when there is slack in the labour market. Real wages are sinking and plenty a people are looking for news jobs. Without unionisation workers have no chance to raise income. 

With speculator and management benefits coupled to short term share prices, unionized workers are the only party with a real long term interest in modernization and competitiveness.

To counter the neo-liberal trend, join a union. If you deliver pizzas, contact now. And by the way, please bring me one big Siciliana and a bottle of Coke and don´t you dare to raise the price I have to pay.

Posted by b on November 22, 2004 at 11:31 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)

November 21, 2004

Iranian Problems

Iran needs to develop its economical, technical and social base, but is confronted with a series of problems.

Iran produces only 1.77 MWh of urgently needed electricity per year per inhabitant. The US produces 12.4 MWh* per year per inhabitant. To increase its electricity production Iran prepares to use its resource of natural uranium and to establish an IAEA controlled cival nuclear program.

While the US recently announced plans to fly to Mars, Iran only now tries to launch its first own satellite into a low orbit by modifying military missiles.

Drug addiction is a major problem in Iran. There are at least 2 million drug users in the country. With opium production in neighboring Afghanistan increased by 63% in 2004 to record amounts, this is likely to further endager the Iranian society. 

There are even more concerns. As blogger Abu Aardvark explains:

The country is ever more dominated by conservatives and advocates of political religion. There was a time in the 1990s when the country seemed to be moving in a more liberal direction, but those days are long past.  Conservatives and religious movements have spent the last few years consolidating their control over the major political institutions - the executive branch, the legislative branch, the judiciary, even the media.  Indeed, in the most recent elections, the conservatives routed their liberal counterparts. These conservatives and their religious base express open contempt for liberals and their values. Pretty much the only remaining opposition seems to be among university students and among some liberal newspapers, but their limited power doesn't really threaten the ruling coalition. What's more, the country has recently been very active inside of Iraq, which threatens important national security interests. Leading conservative figures, including some known for very close ties to senior government leaders, have openly declared their hostility and have even spoken about the need for military action. Even relatively moderate foreign policy officials have been sounding pretty hawkish lately.

Israel has declared Iran to be its No. 1 enemy and is lobbying the US into attacking Iran. With the current political developments in the United States, described by Abu Aardvark above, Iran now is not only confronted by economic and social problem, but also has to fear an immediate attack. Further escalation looks inevitable.

I am now reestablishing my long position in crude oil.
*Update: corrected decimal sign, thx Jérôme

Posted by b on November 21, 2004 at 08:29 AM | Permalink | Comments (48)

November 20, 2004

Some Questions

by DeAnander in the last open thread:

I'm not feeling real hopeful -- reading the latest Adbusters always seems to send me into a pit of despair, even when they're trying to be inspiring -- as with the current year end issue.

However I will wave a modestly hopeful questioning essay (typesetters tip: scroll down to read it) by Greg Bates, on the issues of monoculture, diversity, and punctuated equilibrium.

Bates suggests that in the complete, incompetent meltdown of the Dem Party in the US, its inability to distinguish itself from its 'competitor' the Repubs, may be the moment of opportunity for the formation of diverse new political parties. He argues, as I read the text, that only the meltdown and utter failure of the Dems will create this window of opportunity.

I think this has a lot to do with what's called "the investment trap" in games theory and investment jargon -- where the individual or consortium cannot abandon a losing strategy because they are unwilling to let go of the investment they already have in it. They are throwing good money after bad, as the saying goes, because they cannot bear to admit that the bad money is already lost. They can't cut their losses and get over it. They probably have to lose N times the original investment (I'm sure someone has written papers on this!) before, finally, painfully, they admit that it was a mistake in the first place.

I fear that progressives in the US have got to this point with the Dem Party. Three terms' worth of betrayal so far and counting. Open question -- and my mind is not firmly made up on this -- is it really beyond repair? Can it be salvaged? Is there any hope of a massive reform of the party, or is it doomed as Bates suggests to drift further and further to the right, chasing the Nuovos Fascistas into the sunset?

One other question for gambling types. If the economic crash predicted by our pessimists (and I'm more or less one of 'em) comes to pass, then what will the reaction of the US populace be? An ugly ethnic/nationalist fascist reaction, blaming everyone in sight -- Arabs, Jews, enviros, Blacks, Asians, women, China, the EU -- for the disaster? Or a Game Over, Reset moment, a re-evaluation, and a New New Deal? Both?

Posted by b on November 20, 2004 at 03:46 PM | Permalink | Comments (32)

November 19, 2004

Greenspan Attacks US Dollar

In a brains off approach to the US Dollar the worst Fed Chairman ever today ambushed his currency.

"It seems persuasive that, given the size of the U.S. current account deficit, a diminished appetite for adding to dollar balances must occur at some point," Greenspan said. "But when, through what channels and from what level of the dollar? Regrettably, no answer to those questions is convincing," ... Reducing the U.S. federal budget deficit, Greenspan said, would be an important action to boost U.S. savings.

Greenspans remarks followed negative US Dollar remarks by Treasury Secretary Snow earlier this week.  Gold closed at $446.40/ounce today.

My opinion on the last weeks Dollar and tax plan news is not yet written out. So for now just one comment I stumbled across and find to contain a grain of truth:

This has nothing to do with sound economic policy. No, it is pure petty payback to Europe. Bush wants to strangle their recovery and growth. He will galdly let the dollar fall, and fall and fall, and consequences be damn, as long a those who didn't support him are ruined. So what if a couple of our "allies" get hurt in the process? This is just pure spite. Bush is famous for it and at some point the world is going to have to start calling a spade a spade. Bush is playing economic warfare. I doubt if he even cares what happens to the United States or what his dollar and economic policies call down upon the rest of us, or the world. He and his wealthy friends and loyal administration minions and supporters will be protected. The rest of us can rot.

Posted by b on November 19, 2004 at 03:50 PM | Permalink | Comments (22)

3rd Iraq Thread

For reference: 2nd Iraq Thread and Iraq Thread

Broken Backs

Apr. 8, 2003

The lack of resistance, the raid on Saddam's palace and the victories of previous days sparked growing elation among US troops. "I think we have broken their back," said Sgt Ray Simon. "I really think this whole thing is almost over."
Saddam's power is broken

Feb. 4, 2004

U.S. soldiers are dying at a rate of more than one a day in Iraq, despite some commanders' recent claims to have broken the back of the insurgency.
Maj. Gen. Charles Swannack Jr., commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, told reporters on Jan. 6 that "we've turned the corner" in the counter-insurgency effort in his area of responsibility, the western part of Iraq, which includes a part of the "Sunni Triangle" west of Baghdad.
Iraq toll climbs despite claim of `turning corner'

Nov. 18, 2004

"We feel right now that we have, as I mentioned, broken the back of the insurgency and we've taken away the safe haven," [Lt. Gen. John] Sattler said in a briefing outside Falluja monitored at the Pentagon.
Falluja Breaks the Back of Iraq Rebels - U.S. General

Posted by b on November 19, 2004 at 05:46 AM | Permalink | Comments (127)

November 18, 2004

Off Topic Open Thread

news, views, opinions ...

Posted by b on November 18, 2004 at 03:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (62)

Bring Out Your Dead

picture by beq

Title: Bring Out Your Dead
Artist: beq
Click on image to enlarge (120k)
Click here for an uncropped image (220k)

I had a little bird,
Its name was Enza.
I opened the window,
And in-flu-enza.
The Influenza Pandemic of 1918

Advanced forms of biological warfare that can “target” specific genotypes may transform biological warfare from the realm of terror to a politically useful tool.

"Rebuilding America's Defenses" - The September 2000 PNAC Report (PDF)

Posted by b on November 18, 2004 at 01:04 PM | Permalink | Comments (29)

November 17, 2004

Treasonous Bastard

CIA asset Prime Minister Ayad Allawi is "very concerned" about the fatal shooting by a U.S. Marine of a wounded and apparently unarmed man in a Fallujah mosque, his office said Wednesday.
".. I don't think that (the incident) in any way is a reflection on the quality and caliber of absolutely fine young servicemen and women we have serving here in Iraq,"
[US ambassador Negroponte] said.

Gen. JC Christian, Patriot points us to "the quality and caliber of the absolutely fine young men and women" at this Free Republic thread who reflect on Kevin Sites, the reporter who filmed and published the incident.

Turn Sites over to the terrorist.
That tape should have gone to DOD for vetting first!!
No need for anything overt. Unfortunate things happen in combat zones, and if the reporter fails to hear someone yell "Sniper!!", well, c'est la guerre.
The US attorney general may be able to charge him with sedition.
Someone should've deserted him right before sunset in Fallujah, or some such treatment.
I wish. This guy Sites shouldn't walk away from this unscathed. Red America wants justice.
If the government won't police the press there will come a day when the people will.
It better charge Sites, that treasonous bastard!
He's an effin traitor. He is aiding the enemy. He should be tried and killed.
He sure behaved like a Judas didn't he? He certainly is doing the leg work for our Islamofascist enemies

As pointed out here earlier, the real issue is not the Marine, or Sites, or the reaction of the freeper psychopats.

The issue is the cover up of multiple, systematic, institutional sanctioned war crimes by promoting a single personalized incident.

But as Jérôme has pointed out: in absence of easy consumable video footage of the big crimes, this personalization may be a only way these crimes will ever be publicly recognized.

Posted by b on November 17, 2004 at 05:24 PM | Permalink | Comments (24)

Double Bind

CIA Director Goss criticizes in a memorandum to CIA employees:

Intelligence-related issues have become the fodder of partisan food fights and turf-power skirmishes.

and states in the same memo:

As agency employees we do not identify with, support or champion opposition to the administration or its policies.

Gregory Bateson in "Steps To an Ecology of Mind" cited in The Double Bind remarks:

We hypothesize that there will be a breakdown in any individual's ability to discriminate between Logical Types whenever a double bind situation occurs. The general characteristics of this situation are the following:    

  1. When the individual is involved in an intense relationship; that is, a relationship in which he feels it is vitally important that he discriminate accurately what sort of message is being communicated so that he may respond appropriately.
  2. And, the individual is caught in a situation in which the other person in the relationship is expressing two orders of message and one of these denies the other.
  3. And, the individual is unable to comment on the messages being expressed to correct his discrimination of what order of message to respond to, i.e., he cannot make a metacommunicative statement.

Employees(1) of the CIA reading this memo(2) and criticizing(3) it would most probably get fired. So the main international security agency of the United States now collectivly goes into schizophrenia? That means trouble for the country and unfortunatly also for others.


Finally, the complete set of ingredients is no longer necessary when the victim has learned to perceive his universe in double bind patterns. Almost any part of a double bind sequence may then be sufficient to precipitate panic or rage.

Posted by b on November 17, 2004 at 04:59 AM | Permalink | Comments (21)

November 16, 2004

2nd Iraq Thread

The earlier Iraq Thread

Posted by b on November 16, 2004 at 10:50 AM | Permalink | Comments (232)

Psy Ops

A few days ago, Amnesty International issued a carefully worded statement about the situation in Fallujah.

Amnesty International is deeply concerned that the rules of war protecting civilians and combatants have been violated in the current fighting in Falluja. Dozens of civilians have reportedly been killed during the fighting between US and Iraqi forces and insurgents. Amnesty International fears that civilians have been killed, in contravention of international humanitarian law, as a result of failure by parties to the fighting to take necessary precautions to protect non-combatants. The humanitarian situation in the city is said to be precarious.

The meme of war crime was coming into the public play. The occupation of the Falluja General Hospital, the bombing of a clinic at the begin of the assault, the interruption of water and electricity, turning back civilians into a warzone, unproportional use of force, turning back Red Crescent deliveries for civilians are war crimes.

These and other deeds are violations of the various laws of wars codified in the Geneva conventions and the United States Uniform Military Code of Justice. These deeds were ordered at high levels of the military and civilian hierarchy. With all this done and some questions coming up, how can one keep the people and the media away from further researching and reporting this?

The Abu Ghraib tested and working method: pre-emptively point to the ant on the ground so the public eyes are driven away from the huge gorilla just in front of them.

Marine kills injured prisoner in Iraqi mosque is now the official ant on the ground everybody is supposed to look at.

The U.S. military is investigating the killing of a wounded and apparently unarmed Iraqi prisoner inside a mosque during combat operations here, the Defense Department told NBC News on Monday.

If there is a public outcry, the "investigation" may actually lead to some problems for a single young marine, if not, it will be buried.

There will be further reports about this in today’s and the following news cycles. Scartch your head and keep in mind that the incident was filmed by an embedded cameraman on Saturday and released to the press pool only Monday and the Defense Department had its statement well prepared. No TV-station so far has shown the actual shooting - it is blacked out - only the sound is there.

We don´t know if this incident was a war crime. But we do know that the big stuff happend and that it constitutes deliberate and systematic violation of the basic core Geneva conventions

To play up this small incident is pure psychological operations for the home front. Keep the eyes on the gorilla. He is the one doing real harm.

Posted by b on November 16, 2004 at 04:23 AM | Permalink | Comments (29)

November 15, 2004

Powell Resigns

Powell resigns, Zell Miller heading State?

There is but one man to whom I am willing to entrust [my families] future, and that man's name is George W. Bush.
Zell Miller

Others out are: Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman, Education Secretary Rod Paige, Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham, Attorney General John Ashcroft, Commerce Secretary Donald Evans.
It is pretty save to assume Armitage will leave State too.

Posted by b on November 15, 2004 at 10:04 AM | Permalink | Comments (29)

Broadcast Flag

In November 2003 the Federal Communication Commission issued an order to "protect" Digital TV broadcasts from unauthorized copying and distribution.

The Commission approved this rule mandating hardware vendors implement technology that recognizes a "flag" in digital broadcasts. The flag is intended to prevent the "indiscriminate" transmission over IP networks of copyrighted digital content. The FCC says vendors must comply with the broadcast flag requirements in all equipment by July 1, 2005.
The flag itself represents a series of bits, several of which define the descriptor tag and length with others reserved for "optional additional redistribution control information that may be defined in the future."

Public Knowledge and the EFF are fighting the order in court. The FCC filed a brief that claims:

Under the Communications Act’s definitions, the terms "radio communication" and "wire communication" are defined broadly to include not merely the transmission of the communication over the air or by wire, but also all incidental "instrumentalities, facilities, apparatus and services" that are used for the "receipt, forwarding and delivery" of such transmissions.

As Susan Crawford explains in her blog

The thing is, this rule doesn't merely affect TV receiving equipment. It affects everything that RECEIVES digital files from TV receiving equipment as well -- every device inside any home network. It affects the open-platform PC.

As your PC may be used as an apparatus to receipt, forwarding and delivery of digital TV the FCC will require all PC manufacturer to implement a bullet proofed copyright protection system that recognizes a Broadcast Flag in any digital data stream.

Given that the FCC also cares for Obscenity, Indecency, & Profanity it is easy to imagine that in future the "digital broadcast" of the content of this blog - without an FCC approved broadcast flag - may not reach your PC or, if it does, may not be displayed.

Meanwhile the economic argument of piracy hurting the sales of digital content can be seriously doubted. The Big Picture even finds some hints that "piracy" via P2P networks is being used as a successful marketing instrument. "Accidental" prereleasing of songs by some in the industry, caring so much about copy protection, seems to help their CD sales.

Posted by b on November 15, 2004 at 06:17 AM | Permalink | Comments (11)

November 14, 2004

Profoundly Disturbing Trend

Mr. Ashcroft warned against "excessive judicial encroachment on functions assigned to the president" in his first major address since his resignation was announced Tuesday.    

Mr. Ashcroft told the conservative Federalist Society during a Washington meeting that a "profoundly disturbing trend" among some federal court judges interfered with the president's obligations under international treaties and agreements.
Mr. Ashcroft .. said that "intrusive judicial oversight and second-guessing of presidential determinations" put the nation's national security at risk at a time of war, adding that "risks of invasive oversight and micromanagement" had become "all too familiar."
Ashcroft rips federal judges on national security

Yes Mr. Ashcroft,  there is a trend some do find profoundly disturbing.  This speech was just another small step, preparing the grounds for other small steps to come. As you say, a profoundly disturbing trend.

To live in the process is absolutely not to notice it -- please try to believe me -- unless one has a much greater degree of political awareness, acuity, than most of us ever had occasion to develop. Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, 'regretted.'
Believe me this is true. Each act, each occasion is worse than the last, but only a little worse. You wait for the next and the next. You wait for one shocking occasion, thinking that others, when such a shock comes, will join you in resisting somehow.
From They Thought They Were Free : The Germans, 1933-45 cited at

Posted by b on November 14, 2004 at 12:24 PM | Permalink | Comments (26)

Forceful Education

Police Use Taser

The school's principal called 911 after the child broke a picture frame in her office and waved a piece of glass to keep people away from him.

When two Miami-Dade officers arrived the scene the boy had already cut himself under his eye and cut a large gash in his hand.

The officers tried to reason with the boy, but when he started cutting his own leg, they shocked him with a Taser. They then grabbed him to prevent him from hurting himself when he hit the floor and called an ambulance.

Miami Police say the Taser was necessary to prevent the boy from seriously harming himself with the glass.

The boy is 6-years old. Under the Same Sun has more.

Posted by b on November 14, 2004 at 05:14 AM | Permalink | Comments (5)

Your Open Thread

News, views, opinion ...

Posted by b on November 14, 2004 at 03:38 AM | Permalink | Comments (21)

November 12, 2004

Iraq Thread

Please post news/comments on the current Iraq situation here.

Posted by b on November 12, 2004 at 10:35 AM | Permalink | Comments (190)

Collapse of the Empire?

by remembereringgiap

the end of the beginning of the end of the empire

finally, the iraquis are learning as the vietnamese did before them - that for all the firepower the armies of america are not invulnerable. that they can be destroyed & that they can be fought & there can be a victory against them

this reminds me of the only armies that really fought in any real sense the invading armies of germany - those of the soviet union. in the first instance they were frightened - genuinely frightened. this army had already devoured half of europe & they were practically, strategically & tactically in awe of this force

but when their first battles - battles the russian did not win militarily - they began to understand practically - that this army could be fought & a victory could be won against it & it was not so long after that they began their first victories. then victory after victory followed - with only a few pockets of fanatic nazis able to resist the force of the russian people

in iraq today - they are finding a similar truth. this massacring army. this army that happily hands out collective punishment to the iraquis. this army that murders its way north & south, east & west with the help of blairs batallions. this army that drops tonne & tonnes & tonnes of bombs on iraq cannot win. will not win

the armies of resistance do not need either zaqarwi or ben laden - they need their own experience - the experience of a rich & cultured people fighting against the barbaric battallions of the 'coalition' forces - which are american by any name

the iraquis are learning a lesson that in the battle of the flea - the larger force can be defeated. & it will be defeated. & i see a humiliating defeat for the americans. if not today, tommorrow & if not tommorrow then next day & certainly that day will come & it will mark the end of the beginning of the end of that empire because that empire like all others will fall

the decline & fall of the american empire is as certain to me today as was the victory of the tet offensive would be translated sooner or later into a real defeat of the invading american armies

still steel

Posted by b on November 12, 2004 at 06:36 AM | Permalink | Comments (166)

November 11, 2004

Pre-emptive Self-censorship

This reminds on reports of the media atmosphere in Germany 1933.

ABC Affiliates Balk at 'Ryan' Airing

Fearful of the FCC crackdown on indecent broadcasts, at least 18 ABC affiliates plan to pre-empt the network's unedited broadcast of the film "Saving Private Ryan" at 8 Thursday night.

A US patriotic film, including some fierce half realistic war scenes and some typical Hollywood sentimentals, MAY be somehow seen as undecent by the Federal Communication Commission.

The media explain:

"The inconsistent manner in which the FCC is choosing to apply these rules puts TV stations like ours in a most difficult position," Cole [president of Citadel Communications, which owns three ABC stations] said. "As this relates to 'Saving Private Ryan,' our concern centers on whether the FCC would consider the context in which the intense adult language and graphic battleground violence is presented in the movie."

As an FCC type institution you do not need to censor the media. The media are censoring themselfs in anticipation of possible official censorship. You only need to stay ambiguous and secretive.


said the commission was barred from making a prebroadcast decision "because that would be censorship."

What has changed from 2001/2002 to 2004?

ABC has aired "Ryan" twice before without any pre-emption, to commemorate Veterans Day in 2001 and '02.

People tend to see history as a series of distinctive points in time. This is wrong. The way to fascism is a long, slow change in culture, not a boom-bang event. This is only one additional step, more will follow.

Posted by b on November 11, 2004 at 03:50 PM | Permalink | Comments (22)

Mandate Map Madness

by Marcin Gomulka

After all this "mandate map" madness, here is a simple yet informative one:


500 pixel wide,
255 red pixel for Bush,
5 white pixel for Nader,
240 blue pixel for Kerry.

(picture resized to 50% to stay within layout limits)

Posted by b on November 11, 2004 at 01:07 PM | Permalink | Comments (20)


There are mixed feelings about this man - freedom fighter, terrorist, Nobel prize winner, President and selfish ruler.

Helena Cobban writes in Arafat: a Palestinian tragedy

I've been following Arafat's political progress fairly closely for 30 years now-- I last saw him in person in the Muqataa, last February--and I can honestly say that I don't think he's a bad person... Just extremely, extremely limited in his political capabilities and personal vision.

At one level he's quite a phenomenon. The post-colonial world has in the past couple of decades--tragically-- seen all too many of what the Africans call "big men". You know: men who in their youth led daring and visionary independence movements, who were then handed the reins of power and spent some years in the heady and sometimes productive phase of nation-building... but whose rule later hardens into the autocracy/kleptocracy of the "big man", who has come to identify his own fate almost totally with that of his "nation"...

Arafat skipped through that middle phase--the one of nation-building--almost completely.

The big question now is how the Palestinians will proceed. As'ad AbuKhalil sees a more radical Palestine (thx CP), with fractions fighting for domination.

Sharon sees a 'historic turning point for the Middle East'. We can be sure he will do everything he can, to split the Palestinians and deny any fraction or person to gain a strong position. We can also be sure that he will not receive any pressure from the ever paying United States to moderate his position.

It´s not a good day for Palestine.

Posted by b on November 11, 2004 at 05:07 AM | Permalink | Comments (6)

Open Playground Thread

news and views ...

Posted by b on November 11, 2004 at 03:50 AM | Permalink | Comments (38)

November 10, 2004

New AG: "Law is difficult"

Can you trust an Attorney General with major challenges if he says it is difficult to predict with confidence what actions might be deemed to constitute violations of law?

Official: Gonzales is likely Ashcroft replacement

President Bush favors White House counsel Alberto Gonzales to replace Attorney General John Ashcroft, because he is "very close to the president and someone he knows can be trusted with major challenges," a senior administration official said Wednesday.

Memos Reveal War Crimes Warnings

[Gonzales] strongly urges Bush to stick to his decision to exempt the treatment of Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters from the provisons of the Geneva Conventions. ... One reason to do so, Gonzales wrote, is that it "substantially reduces the threat of domestic criminal prosecution under the War Crimes Act."  He added that "it is difficult to predict with confidence what actions might be deemed to constitute violations" of the War Crimes Act just as it was "difficult to predict the needs and circumstances that could arise in the course of the war on terrorism."

Other cabinet candidates:

  • State Department: Zell Miller
  • Department of Defense: Jim Woolsey
  • National Security Adviser: John Bolton or Paul Wolfowitz

The War Cabinet

Posted by b on November 10, 2004 at 01:52 PM | Permalink | Comments (49)

Operation "Phantom Victory"

"So we made it," said a surprised and sweating Lance Cpl. Carlos Cabezasrojas of Secaucus, N.J., as his company launched its final attack of the day. "I got my confirmed kill, too."

Looks like he knows why he is doing this. And look at these officers. They do have a very gentlemen like behaviour.

Capt. Gil Juarez, the light armored reconnaissance company commander, began the assault by blasting his 25mm turret gun down a street toward a target house. Teams fired small mortars. "You want me to fire one more volley?" Juarez asked a Bravo Company officer. "Please, sir, if you would," the officer replied.

Marines blast into Fallujah

Meanwhile there is a new Iraq-US-alliance forming between Riverbend and Rumsfeld. She writes:

There are a couple of things I agree with. The first is the following:

"Over time you'll find that the process of tipping will take place, that more and more of the Iraqis will be angry about the fact that their innocent people are being killed..."

He's right. It is going to have a decisive affect on Iraqi opinion ...

The second thing Rumsfeld said made me think he was reading my mind:

"Rule of Iraq assassins must end..."

I couldn't agree more: Get out Americans.

Posted by b on November 10, 2004 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (69)

November 09, 2004

"Stuttgart, We Have a Problem..."

Via CNN Money:
These models earned ratings Most and Least reliable in Consumer Reports' 2004 reliability survey.

Small cars

Most reliable: Toyota Corolla, Scion xB, Honda Civic, Mazda3, Subaru Impreza, Toyota Echo, Mitsubishi Lancer (except Evo)
Least reliable: Volkswagen Golf (turbo), Volkswagen Jetta (turbo), Volkswagen New Beetle


Most reliable: Lexus IS300, Acura RL (previous version), Toyota Camry (4-cyl.), Toyota Avalon, Lexus LS430, Lexus GS300/GS430 (previous versions), Buick Regal (discontinued), Pontiac Grand Prix, Hyundai Sonata, Infiniti G35 (AWD)

Least reliable: Mercedes-Benz S-Class, Jaguar S-Type, BMW 7 Series, Jaguar X-Type, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Mercedes-Benz C-Class (V6), Volvo S60 (AWD), Saab 9-3, Pontiac Grand Prix (supercharged), Volkswagen Passat (AWD), BMW 5 Series

Being a German engineer- this hurts. What happened?

"Oh Lord, don´t you buy me a Mercedes Benz, ..."   

Posting on 11/9 on a German topic I should mention some German history related to this date:
- Excecution of Robert Blum marks the end of the 1948 revolution
- Revolution against the war - Kaiser abdicated - begin of the German Republic
- Hitler attempts coup in Munich
- Kristallnacht
- The Fall of The Wall
- German cars are rated least reliable

(via A fistful of €)

Posted by b on November 9, 2004 at 10:57 AM | Permalink | Comments (29)

November 08, 2004



Posted by b on November 8, 2004 at 04:39 PM | Permalink | Comments (56)

Open One

More news, more views ...

Posted by b on November 8, 2004 at 01:24 PM | Permalink | Comments (103)

Incendiary Filler


The M242 25mm "Bushmaster" Chain Gun, manufactured by McDonnell Douglas, has a single barrel with an integrated dual-feed mechanism and remote ammunition selection. Either armor piercing (AP) or high explosive (HE) ammunition may be selected with the flick of a switch. The Gunner may select from single or multiple shot modes. The standard rate of fire is 200 rounds per minute, and has a range of 2,000 meters (depending on the ammunition used).

Gasses produced by the burning propellant send the projectile out of the gun at 1,100 meters per second (plus or minus 20 meters per second). On impact, the M758 mechanical fuze ignites and the HEI filler detonates. This projects steel fragments from the body, rotating band assembly, and incendiary filler over a 5-meter radius.
M792 High-Explosive Incendiary with Tracer (HEI-T)

Posted by b on November 8, 2004 at 06:58 AM | Permalink | Comments (46)