Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
January 16, 2006

OT 06-06

News & views ...

Posted by b on January 16, 2006 at 7:27 UTC | Permalink

Comments

I had to go for a walk after reading this...

Bush's Unlikely Co-conspirators
At least seven House Democrats learned about the NSA's secret spying program four years ago. So why didn't anyone blow the whistle then?

It's unbelievable how many levels of hate I find for these people.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Jan 16 2006 7:38 utc | 1

Thousands Demonstrate in Mongolian Capital

About 2,000 people gathered in the main square of Mongolia's capital on Monday, demanding their president resign.

The Mongolian United Movement, an alliance of three civic movements that have been calling for political reform in this vast nation, organized the protest.

''Dawn has broken in Mongolia. We are getting poorer everyday and corrupt officials are getting richer. Now is the time to take action,'' a leaflet distributed by the rally organizers said.
...
This sparsely populated nation of 2.5 million people sandwiched between Russia and China has struggled with a steep economic slide since it initiated radical free-market reforms in the 1990s.

Posted by: b | Jan 16 2006 7:49 utc | 2

Congrats to Chile
Chile Elects First Female President

SANTIAGO, Chile, Jan. 15 -- Socialist Party candidate Michelle Bachelet, a political prisoner during Gen. Augusto Pinochet's military dictatorship and a single mother of three, was elected president on Sunday, the first woman to lead a country long considered one of the most culturally traditional in Latin America.

With 97 percent of voting sites reporting, Bachelet had won 53 percent of the vote to about 47 percent for billionaire businessman Sebastian Piñera.

Posted by: b | Jan 16 2006 8:05 utc | 3

Scowcroft callsfor international troopüs in Iraq:

Such a force could be contributed by NATO or provided by other international military units. The new post-election circumstances, combined with an enhanced U.N. role, could provide a basis for asking countries such as India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Morocco and Egypt to provide enough additional countrywide security and training capabilities to accelerate the development of a stable, progressive Iraqi state. (Some Arab states could provide financial support for infrastructure reconstruction and rehabilitation.) Initially, these forces might be engaged in missions such as the training of Iraqi troops, infrastructure protection and holding areas cleared of insurgents. The presence of such forces might also encourage members of the current coalition to continue their participation.
And how do you get international troops? Let's try blackmail:
Acknowledging Dutch politicians must weigh all the considerations, he said question marks would be raised on the US side about Nato if the mission doesn't go ahead. "What is Nato all about if our allies are not prepared to stand should-to-shoulder with us?"

Bremer said Europe was correct to want more international cooperation "but when the possibility emerges, people are side-stepping it," he said.

Consequences would be unavoidable if the Dutch does not send the troops. "Time and time again decisions must be taken by the US government, by Congress, that influence Dutch economic interests. It is not difficult to imagine decisions could be taken that would not be in the interests of the Netherlands," Bremer said.

Posted by: b | Jan 16 2006 8:43 utc | 4

Report: IAF trained for Iran attack
IAF pilots have completed their mission training and fighter jets have been prepared for an Israeli attack on Iran, the British Sunday Times reported. — The article reported that "the elite 69 strategic F-15 I squadron" had been equipped with weapons …

No wonder the Netherlands are digging a deep hole to store vital seeds "to save civilization". I read it here or somewhere and can't find it now.grrrr

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Jan 16 2006 8:54 utc | 5

Nice guys here...

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Jan 16 2006 8:57 utc | 6

you crack me up! a glimpse of my constant reality

Posted by: annie | Jan 16 2006 10:27 utc | 7

weird... my post was , i'll try again (and preview)

No wonder the Netherlands are digging a deep hole to store vital seeds "to save civilization". I read it here or somewhere and can't find it now.grrrr,

you crack me up! a glimpse of my constant reality

Posted by: annie | Jan 16 2006 10:31 utc | 8

He is at it again: Jack Straw: Up to Iran to prove its nuclear intentions: Straw

"The onus is on Iran to act to give the international community confidence that its nuclear programme has exclusive peaceful purposes -- confidence, I'm afraid, that has been sorely undermined by its history of concealement and deception."

So Mr.Straw, how to prove a negative. Didn´t you ask for Saddam to do the same?

Posted by: b | Jan 16 2006 12:01 utc | 9

@ uncle$cam & Annie:

" No wonder the Netherlands are digging a deep hole to store vital seeds "to save civilization". I read it here or somewhere and can't find it now.grrrr,

you crack me up! a glimpse of my constant reality"

There's really not a lot to be said for the aging process. I dunno if it helps but, I remember reading the article, can't find it of course, but I remember the country as being Norway. The seed bank is set in permafrost on an island up by the Nth pole and in the past when this idea has been mooted the Russians have also laid claim to the island but this is now settled. Hmm I didn't think I'd remembered that much.

ps It is just aging isn't it or is there really grey matter trickling out the ears whenever I take off the tinfoil?

Posted by: Debs is dead | Jan 16 2006 12:50 utc | 10

I'm still stewing on the couple of families rendered to their constituant parts on Friday night in Pakistan.

I know it won't do anything but for some reason I feel obliged to remember them.

One of the reasons is that not only have they been erased from the planet, because the Pakistani backlash is actually, considering the circumstances quite mild, nevertheless it is more than the insensitive morons that planned this raid intended, so now their little payback has caused some blowback they are slandering the dead.

"Local officials say 18 civilians were killed, but Pakistani intelligence sources were quoted as saying the actual death toll was higher and included 11 militants - seven of Arab origin, and four Pakistanis. A report in The New York Times said that the bodies of the seven Arabs were taken away by a local cleric who had been at the dinner but left before the air strike, Maulavi Liaqat. The bodies of the four Pakistani militants were taken by a second cleric, Maulavi Atta Mohammed. Dawn newspaper reported that both clerics were wanted in Pakistan for harbouring militants."...

...."Three houses were destroyed by missiles fired from an unmanned American Predator drone, including the one in which the dinner party was being held."

Absolutely no evidence is offered to support these claims and you can be sure that there would have been plenty of resources set to 'come over the horizon' once the attack started to prevent any such escape. If any of the bodies in situ were foreign much less arabic, they would have been seized by army or police straight away. Well as soon as possible I imagine it would take quite a few hours even if you had the gear to dig bodies outta rubble. the villagers probably only had shovels powered by the adrenilin that flows in these circumstances. There is no way that bodies would have been got out in time.

BushCo is learning though. The pakistamis were inveigled to tell these lies so that in a couple of months when the truth comes out there shouldn't be too much blowback on shitface or shit fer brains..

The drone had been hanging around for two days before the atack so if anyone AQ had been there they would have bolted.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Jan 16 2006 13:16 utc | 11

If we had hit our target, we could have claimed that the other dead pakistanis were "collateral damage" in the War on Terrorism. Failing that, we have to promote them to the level of "secondary targets".

Posted by: ralphieboy | Jan 16 2006 15:23 utc | 12

Text of Gore speech, January 16, 2006
It was a barn burner! Now if only we could see some follow up action.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Jan 16 2006 18:32 utc | 13

iran to msm 'don't screw w/us'

Iran Bars CNN Over Translation of Remarks

�Iran said Monday it is barring CNN from working in Iran "until further notice" due to its mistranslation of comments made by the president in a recent news conference about the country's nuclear research. In a speech Saturday, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad defended Iran's right to continue nuclear research. State media have complained since the speech that CNN used the translation "nuclear weapons" instead of "nuclear technology." The ban by the Culture and Islamic Guidance Ministry was read in a statement on state-run television.

"CNN quoted Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as saying that Iran has the right to build nuclear weapons," the network said in its report of the ban. "In fact he said that Iran has the right to nuclear energy. He added that, quote, a nation that has civilization does not need nuclear weapons and our nation does not need them. CNN has clarified what the Iranian president said and apologized here on the air to the Iranians directly, as well as on the air."

this morning i was sobbing over gore's speech. i think i have been emotional lately. i probably already mentioned that. just a heads up i may veer off and use poor judgement w/the post button

Posted by: annie | Jan 16 2006 19:58 utc | 14

Yea Debs, and then that despicable asshole McCain opines that while the innocent dead are "regrettable", we gotta do what we gotta do, and we'll keep on doing it, cuz we're "fighting terror" doncha know.

So this risible War on Terror means we get to murder anyone in the world anytime and we don't even have to pretend to be sorry when it happens to be just a bunch of innocent civilians. Sweet!

A cynic might observe that Bushco and is doing everything possible to incite another attack on US soil so he can declare martial law and cancel elections. If you assume that's the plan alot of things start to make sense.

Posted by: ran | Jan 16 2006 20:06 utc | 15

"Opps"...

CNN banned in Iran for translation gaffe

CNN's simultaneous translation of Ahmadinejad's lengthy news conference on Saturday included the phrase "the use of nuclear weapons is Iran's right."

In fact, what the Iranian president said was that "Iran has the right to nuclear energy," the official IRNA news agency reported. CNN later clarified in an apology on Sunday night.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Jan 16 2006 20:15 utc | 16

MLK: a message from the grave

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Jan 16 2006 20:17 utc | 17

A nice SPIEGEL piece (disclosure again, I did work for SPIEGEL online some time ago):

What American Conservatives Need to Know about Europe

That's the difference between the US and Germany: Americans are used to minimal government, but for Germans, after two world wars and the collapse of almost every religious certainty, the welfare state has become a spiritual necessity, which can be reformed but not revolutionized without damage to the collective soul.

Angela Merkel understood these connections only after her muddled election last fall; the champions of a "community of values" still haven't understood them. But in the end, an alliance based on common interests won't collapse just because the values are different. History, too, has seen alliances bound goals rather than values.

Posted by: b | Jan 16 2006 20:25 utc | 18

Interesting about Mongolia, b.

I saw some free-market shit waxing lyrical a good while back about the introduction of a stock market for the first time ever there, and how the related "liberalizing" "reforms" were going to lead to unemployment in the region of 30%. And how that was just, um, tough.

Fight the good fightback, people.

Posted by: Dismal Science | Jan 16 2006 20:28 utc | 19

L. Paul Bremer on Meet the Press-

"Mr. Russert: In terms of budgets and monies, as you well know, the inspector general has been very critical of your tenure, and let me write--read it on the screen and give you a chance to respond.

"The" Coalition Provisional Authority "did not implement adequate financial controls to ensure ... funds were properly used. ... the CPA did not maintain adequate documentation to support budget spending plans, budgets disbursements or cash allocations made by coalition forces." They suggest that billions of dollars were wasted and squandered.

Amb. Bremer: Well, let me answer that. First of all, I took the threat of corruption seriously. Saddam, after all, had institutionalized corruption. We know that from the oil-for-food thing, and I took steps to deal with that. But the inspector general was essentially saying we should not operate the government, the Iraqi government, until we had imposed Western modern accounting procedures.

I'll give you an example. He recommended that we shouldn't pay the Iraqi civil servants and pensioners until we had established a modern payroll system. That would have taken months. I--there were millions of families dependent on us paying the government salaries right away. They hadn't been paid for two months, since before the war, and I decided to go ahead and pay them.

He wanted instead to impose an army of American auditors into all of these ministries to follow every dinar down to the very last dinar. This would have been a recipe for a real mess, and I just think he's wrong. I share his concern about the corruption, which is why I took steps, but I think he was unaware that we were in a country at war and you can't impose Western accounting on them right away. It just couldn't happen."

and on to the next question...

I can't believe the interviewer let that answer stand.
http://msnbc.msn.com/id/10822231/

Posted by: correlator | Jan 16 2006 20:39 utc | 20

I can't believe the interviewer let that answer stand.

I can...

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Jan 16 2006 22:11 utc | 21

I heard the citizens in France, and perhaps around Europe told the effing bankers to screw themselves w/their plans to Piratize the Ports. Huge Demonstrations - shutting down ports, at least around France, if not Europe. I hrd. something about it extending to Gdansk. Thousands @European anti-democratic Parliament building. Americans roll over like dying cockroaches. Oh, you want to give the Chinese our factory. Fine. We'll go home quietly. We don't care....While the blogs keep whistling along like it's not happening. Congratulations to the Europeans for standing up for their rights.

Sorry, don't have time to hustle up links - I hrd. this on radio.

Posted by: jj | Jan 17 2006 3:55 utc | 22

@JJ - EU dockers' protest turns violent

Protesters threw firecrackers, stones and metal missiles, smashing windows and causing "considerable damage".

The dockers, from across the EU, had converged on Strasbourg to protest at controversial proposals to open up port services to greater competition.

Elsewhere, strike action disrupted work at major ports from Greece to Sweden.

The EU's Port Package II proposals will be debated in Strasbourg on Tuesday, with a vote expected on Wednesday.

The dockers fear they could lose their jobs if port services are liberalised - as the proposals recommend - allowing private contractors or ships' crews to unload freight, for example, or to pilot ships into port.

It was the first real pan-EU labor action and it was great (I don´t mind a few windows to break in such an issue). There is a movement against neoliberal reform and it is growing.

Posted by: b | Jan 17 2006 6:38 utc | 23

As expected, illegal NSA spying is useless

Spy Agency Data After Sept. 11 Led F.B.I. to Dead Ends

President Bush has characterized the eavesdropping program as a "vital tool" against terrorism; Vice President Dick Cheney has said it has saved "thousands of lives."

But the results of the program look very different to some officials charged with tracking terrorism in the United States. More than a dozen current and former law enforcement and counterterrorism officials, including some in the small circle who knew of the secret program and how it played out at the F.B.I., said the torrent of tips led them to few potential terrorists inside the country they did not know of from other sources and diverted agents from counterterrorism work they viewed as more productive.

"We'd chase a number, find it's a schoolteacher with no indication they've ever been involved in international terrorism - case closed," said one former F.B.I. official, who was aware of the program and the data it generated for the bureau. "After you get a thousand numbers and not one is turning up anything, you get some frustration."

Posted by: b | Jan 17 2006 6:48 utc | 24

Weird headlines:

WaPo: U.S. Wins Support In Iran Dispute
NYT: Russia and China Demand Iran Freeze Nuclear Activity, but Reject Referral to U.N.

The NYT has the correct headline. The WaPo headline is misleading as the article behind it is rightfully describing that there is no agreement and no "Win" by the U.S.

Posted by: b | Jan 17 2006 6:50 utc | 25

California Executes Death Row Inmate, 76

Lawyers for Allen argued that his lengthy time on death row, age and ill health should have barred his execution; he recently had a heart attack, suffered from diabetes, was legally blind and used a wheelchair. But Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and a series of courts rejected those pleas over the last several days.

Raed recently had some good remarks on the death penalty and the "activists groups" against it

Anyway… Niki and I decided to go to San Quentin to examine the reactions of the protestors and see what was going on there. I was more interested in seeing whether some of the protestors had anything to say about the fact that execution is being used as a solution for murders. I had many questions in my head in our way there: If killing is wrong, how come we practice it as a society? Is institutional killing more justified than murder at the hands of individuals? Isn’t the entire concept of revenge/execution based on one of the old seven sins: Wrath?

But wait, no one gives a dime about the seven sins.
...
The rest of the people were socializing in a cocktail-party-style. Others seemed to be proving to themselves, and their peers, that they were actually here. “MARK, MARK, MARK, I’M HERE”, some woman called to her friend. He looked at her from the other side of the crowd and waived his hand.

When Tookie was actually executed, no one noticed. Most of the people were talking at that minute. People on the stage were shouting, and many people around me gossiping, laughing, and hanging around. I still didn’t see anyone who was fighting against the death penalty, but I hope they existed there, somewhere.

No two minutes of silence.
No respects paid to the life of the man killed inside.

We felt disappointed and came back home at around one in the morning, and left some hundreds of protestors hanging around there.

Posted by: b | Jan 17 2006 9:16 utc | 26

I don't know if this has been discussed before and I apologise if it is covered somewhere else. A story in The Sidney Morning Herald suggests that Ahmadinejad is a religious zealot pushing for the return of the Hidden Imam.

Wow! said I, Pat Robertson and all the other fundies are in cahoots with the leader of Iran.

Makes you wonder

Posted by: dan of steele | Jan 17 2006 11:20 utc | 27

b,

The German social system came about in the ruins left by WWII: millions of displaced & homeless, widows, orphans and invalids. And even those with a job and a roof over their heads were often surviving from hand to mouth.

The Germans needed a strong social system to keep their population intact. Unfortunately, they kept expanding it as their economy grew by leaps & bounds in the 50's and 60's, and found themselves unable to curtail it when things slowed down starting in the 70's. They are now in the position of not being able to afford it in the long run but not able to cut it back in the short run.

The dock workers' controvery in Antwerp was prompted by a move in the EU to restructure basic services to reflect their true market costs. I am a fan of the market, as I find it the best way to balance supply & demand and to direct capital to where it does the most good.

But I do not look on it as an ideology to be implemented at all costs. Even Adam Smith pointed out that the markets are there to serve the people, and not vice-versa.

Posted by: ralphieboy | Jan 17 2006 14:11 utc | 28

Poets Against the War. Winter newsletter. by Sam Hamill

Posted by: beq | Jan 17 2006 16:06 utc | 29

@ralphieboy

The German social system came about in the ruins left by WWII: millions of displaced & homeless, widows, orphans and invalids. And even those with a job and a roof over their heads were often surviving from hand to mouth.

That not right. The social security systems are much older:

However Bismarck realised that socialism could not be defeated by harsh measures alone. He knew that policies were needed to improve the position of workers in Germany so as to erode support for the socialists. Williamson wrote that he wanted “to reconcile the working classes to the authority of the state.”

In 1883 he introduced a measure that gave compensation to workers during illness.

In 1884 an Accident Insurance law was introduced to compensate workers injured at work. In 1889 an Old Age Pension scheme was introduced for workers over seventy.

Although he failed to curb growing SPD support the measures were very constructive and helped to improve the life of most ordinary Germans. They were twenty years ahead of Britain in the area of Social Welfare. As Massie noted “Bismarck had given the German working class the most advanced social legislation in the World.”

The Germans needed a strong social system to keep their population intact. Unfortunately, they kept expanding it as their economy grew by leaps & bounds in the 50's and 60's, and found themselves unable to curtail it when things slowed down starting in the 70's. They are now in the position of not being able to afford it in the long run but not able to cut it back in the short run.

Well, the system is cut back. Not being able to afford is not a question of spending, but also on intake. Higher taxes on capital gains, which had been cut back, etc. are possible and will come. In all the question of how many workers can support how many non-workers is depending on productivity increase. So far Germans have managed an incredible increase over the years and I am confident that this can continue. (Germany is exporting more than any other country in the world. There are good reasons for this.)

The dock workers' controvery in Antwerp was prompted by a move in the EU to restructure basic services to reflect their true market costs. I am a fan of the market, as I find it the best way to balance supply & demand and to direct capital to where it does the most good

There you run into a big problem as a politician if you have global markets but a local constituenty. "What is in for us?" they ask. "Why should Chinese unload ships in Hamburg, if the harbour is already the most productive and one of the cheapest per container?"

I have not heard a convincing answer to those questions. Maybe it would do some good to a Chinese worker, but talking with the local dockers here they are not really motivated by that.

Posted by: b | Jan 17 2006 17:24 utc | 30

@ralphieboy

The German social system came about in the ruins left by WWII: millions of displaced & homeless, widows, orphans and invalids. And even those with a job and a roof over their heads were often surviving from hand to mouth.

That not right. The social security systems are much older:

However Bismarck realised that socialism could not be defeated by harsh measures alone. He knew that policies were needed to improve the position of workers in Germany so as to erode support for the socialists. Williamson wrote that he wanted “to reconcile the working classes to the authority of the state.”

In 1883 he introduced a measure that gave compensation to workers during illness.

In 1884 an Accident Insurance law was introduced to compensate workers injured at work. In 1889 an Old Age Pension scheme was introduced for workers over seventy.

Although he failed to curb growing SPD support the measures were very constructive and helped to improve the life of most ordinary Germans. They were twenty years ahead of Britain in the area of Social Welfare. As Massie noted “Bismarck had given the German working class the most advanced social legislation in the World.”

The Germans needed a strong social system to keep their population intact. Unfortunately, they kept expanding it as their economy grew by leaps & bounds in the 50's and 60's, and found themselves unable to curtail it when things slowed down starting in the 70's. They are now in the position of not being able to afford it in the long run but not able to cut it back in the short run.

Well, the system is cut back. Not being able to afford is not a question of spending, but also on intake. Higher taxes on capital gains, which had been cut back, etc. are possible and will come. In all the question of how many workers can support how many non-workers is depending on productivity increase. So far Germans have managed an incredible increase over the years and I am confident that this can continue. (Germany is exporting more than any other country in the world. There are good reasons for this.)

The dock workers' controvery in Antwerp was prompted by a move in the EU to restructure basic services to reflect their true market costs. I am a fan of the market, as I find it the best way to balance supply & demand and to direct capital to where it does the most good

There you run into a big problem as a politician if you have global markets but a local constituenty. "What is in for us?" they ask. "Why should Chinese unload ships in Hamburg, if the harbour is already the most productive and one of the cheapest per container?"

I have not heard a convincing answer to those questions. Maybe it would do some good to a Chinese worker, but talking with the local dockers here they are not really motivated by that.

Posted by: b | Jan 17 2006 17:25 utc | 31

I ran across some quite interesting stuff suggested by the author of Television and the Hive Mind that some but not all may appreciate:The Power of Delusion

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Jan 17 2006 18:14 utc | 32

b,

whew, you left no Stein unturned there, I meant the current German social system under their current government was started after WWII.

Another motivation for Bismarck's social system, of course, was to keep qualified workers from emigrating to America. Of course America had no use for a social system back then, there was still enough cheap labor coming over from Europe...

The dockworkers' strike is a case of the EU going too far; bringing prices in line with real costs does not necessarily equal abandoning all restrictions and barriers to trade.

And the market value of Chinese dockworkers is not necessarily reflected its market price as long as as China is still a predominantly socialist nation with a fixed currency exchange rate.

The EU should concentrate more on reducing the rate of long-term, institutionalized subsidies that skewer prices and reward farmers and manufacturers for ignoring innovation and change.

Posted by: ralphieboy | Jan 17 2006 19:13 utc | 33

@ralphieboy of course they should but as may be clear if I ever finish the discourse I began on the effect of globalisation on developing primary producer nations, both the left and the right in industrialised nations are determined to support the continuing subsidisation of their uneconomic primary production industries.

Few make the connection between the continual famines in africa and the subsidy on food production in the developed world.

Subsidy doesn't really describe it.

That implies that some benevolent being is anteing up the cost of the production and ensuring that the populations in amerika and europe pay less for their food.

The truth is they pay far more for food than they should.

The bulk of charges are indirect and don't get added on to the retail price. Taxation and high freight charges are how the bulk of the real cost of food is paid in developed countries.

Oh that and the few dollars a day that the west kindly throws at the feet of the starving.
Only after sufficient strings have been attached to ensure that challenging the status quo is difficult if not impossible.

As far as dock workers go, if they can stay as staunch as their grandfathers were, they will beat this slimy attempt at payback.

The capitalists have yearned to slap down these upstarts who had the unmitigated gall to equate the cost of their work with its real value.

If they hang in, change will still come, but in a way that can work for most.

That is the older workers will manage to win a well provided for early retirement, or stake into another income and the younger workers will get job security and maintain health and safety standards without taking a pay cut.

'Overmanning' is the real issue. The technological changes in freight storage and transportation don't always translate into the productivity gains they could.

I won't pretend that this is some magic wonderful formula because it isn't.

One of the saddest elements of large scale redundancies is that no matter how good the payout is some will be destroyed.

Many of the retirees have been institutionalised into a system where they get paid regularly, they spend the lot and just before they go completely broke, payday comes around again.

When some of these guys cop a big payout that's what they still do. They piss the lot up against the wall in no time and if that hasn't terminally damaged them, they have a life of poverty, misery and isolation to look forward too.

I have seen this happen with redundancies right across the labour force; stevedores and bureaucrats and professional people (eg psychologists and sociologists).

Once of my best workmates in an Australian govt. department I worked in but left when it was obvious midget howard was going to win, killed himself within a year of getting his payout. He was down to his last couple of hundred bucks.

Only in his thirties and he joined the Australian public service as a teenager to get away from the cycle of misery and poverty his family had endured since the arrival of the whitefellas. His family was central australian aboriginal and I imagine that the idea of still ending up in a todd river camp after all the great work he had done, was more than he could bear.

Fighting and getting a total win is tough. I don't know if it has ever been done long term.

If workers stone wall, the corporations get nasty and really do over some of the more principled workers while they bribe and cajole the unprincipled or desperate.

The stevedore unions are often the first to be attacked as the battle begins. The reasons are obvious and are worth someone analysing sometime.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Jan 17 2006 20:28 utc | 34

from Raw Story

| American who advised Pentagon says he wrote for magazine that found forged Niger documents.

A controversial neoconservative who occasionally consulted for the Bush Defense Department has confirmed that he was a contributor to the Italian magazine Panorama, whose reporter first came across forged documents which purported that Iraq was seeking to obtain uranium from Niger.

who else? michael leeden of course!

Posted by: annie | Jan 17 2006 21:04 utc | 35

@ralphieboy - whew, you left no Stein unturned there, I meant the current German social system under their current government was started after WWII.

I didn´t even mention Stein at all. He was a successful reformer long before Bismark. And the "current government" has changed several times since WWII.

I have no idea why you think the social security programs in Germany were introduced after WWII. There is only one relativly small new program of fostering insurance that was introduced in the 80/90s. All other prgrams go way back, some of them to nazi times (the did quite a bit on the social fornt in the early years), but most of them were introduced much earlier.

That is he reason why people stick to those and fight change. Hey if something is successful for 5-6 generations you will need very good reasons to change it.

The EU should concentrate more on reducing the rate of long-term, institutionalized subsidies that skewer prices and reward farmers and manufacturers for ignoring innovation and change.

I certainly agree on the farmers and there is big recognized need for change (tell that those french guys) but where please are manufactures in Europe subsidized and therefore ignore innovation and change?

Posted by: b | Jan 17 2006 21:06 utc | 36

interesting link 2002 Memo Doubted Uranium Sale Claim

A high-level intelligence assessment by the Bush administration concluded in early 2002 that the sale of uranium from Niger to Iraq was "unlikely" because of a host of economic, diplomatic and logistical obstacles, according to a secret memo that was recently declassified by the State Department.

clip

The public release of the State Department assessment, with some sections blacked out, adds another level of detail to an episode that was central not only to the debate over the invasion of Iraq, but also in the perjury indictment of I. Lewis Libby Jr

clip

The memo, dated March 4, 2002, was distributed at senior levels by the office of Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and by the Defense Intelligence Agency.

clip

A Bush administration official, who requested anonymity because the issue involved partly classified documents, would not say whether President Bush had seen the State Department's memo before his State of the Union address on Jan. 28, 2003.

but they never knew joe back then? yeah right.

Posted by: annie | Jan 18 2006 5:20 utc | 37

swopa

From his usual perch (page A13) in the Washington Post, Walter Pincus finds the U.S. government quietly admitting to prospective contractors in Iraq that, yes, all the bad news the traitorous media keeps harping on really is true, and then some

Posted by: annie | Jan 18 2006 5:24 utc | 38

The irony becomes more abundant and less subtle as the BushCo world view loses what was left of its grip on reality.
Here is a little beauty.

Hitchens joins authors seeking US wiretapping ban

The British writer Christopher Hitchens, one of the most reliable allies of the US administration's conduct of the war on terror, has joined a lawsuit seeking a ban on a domestic spy programme authorised by President George Bush.

In two lawsuits filed separately yesterday by the American Civil Liberties Union in Detroit and the Centre for Constitutional Rights in New York City, the National Security Agency is accused of violating the constitution by eavesdropping on people without court oversight.

The real question is whether Hitchens has drunk himself sensible, or if the D.T,'s have really set in complete with paranoic hallucinations:

Hitchens and the other plaintiffs said they feared their email and telephone calls were monitored, compromising their contacts in the Middle East.

Hitchens' M.E. contacts would have to be pretty much the same people as the BushCo ME contacts.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Jan 18 2006 6:20 utc | 39

@ralphieboy-

They are now in the position of not being able to afford it in the long run but not able to cut it back in the short run.

Chomsky points out that if a society can afford to provide for its citizens for up to 18 years as non-productive minors, including schooling, then it can afford to pay for the same number at the other end of the life cycle. It is all a matter of priorities, not productivity.

As far as free markets: They are a myth. Markets are economic constructs set up by dominant industries to crush competition. All sorts of subsidies, our political system of legalized bribery, work to pervert free trade. Dollars and Sense has excellent documentation in its publications.

Agricultural subsidies work hand in hand with policies like those Bremer enacted to Iraq, making it illegal for a farmer to save his own seed. The agribusiness/GMO cartel have a publicly stated policy of taking over the world food markets by controlling seedstock. Subsidies to poor African nations are designed to bankrupt local farmers, and hence food self sufficiency. Is the business media crying that Zimbabwe has gone from Africa's largest food exporter to a major importer? Of course not, it is all going according to plan.

Posted by: Malooga | Jan 18 2006 6:32 utc | 40

I posted last week about "Country Boys." I spent some time this week reading through the essays by Joe Bageant. This is the world he was born into, and has now returned--as an aging ex-hippie socialist. His work is highly illuminating of that ethos. He does repeat his major points a bit in his essays, but so many of them contain unique gems of insight that I recommend you pick and choose if you have the time.

Posted by: Malooga | Jan 18 2006 6:38 utc | 41

Bageant is particulary sobering in describing the political inclinations of his ilk. He doesn't believe the Dems have a chance. He predicts '08 will be Condi vs. Hilary, and a repub landslide.

Posted by: Malooga | Jan 18 2006 6:49 utc | 42

Bageant has a good one on the rapturists at yourica report -- http://www.yuricareport.com/Dominionism/LeftBehindBageant.html>HERE.

Posted by: anna missed | Jan 18 2006 7:27 utc | 43

Selling panic closes Tokyo market

This could get very ugly. Be careful.

Posted by: b | Jan 18 2006 8:20 utc | 44

Pentagon has forbade soldiers to buy their own body armore, and occams hatchet at Dailykos followed the money trail and finds that a big Repub donor owns major stock in the company that holds a sole supplier contract for all body armor sold to the Pentagon.

Yes, the stuff the soldiers buy on their own is better (doesn't break on contact with the ground, etc.). What flesh-eating lice!

Posted by: citizen | Jan 18 2006 9:16 utc | 45

Is it a case of The falcon cannot hear the falconer ? this comment has frightened me to the core, and reactivated my clinical PTSD, which realistically prolly says more about me than the Bush greek tragedy.

However, I could imagine, Bush spying on poppy, can't you? Or am I just spooked at the moment and jumping at ubiquitous sounds and my own wounds?

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Jan 18 2006 10:22 utc | 46

b,

I've learned my lesson, I won't summarize *anything*, (and I will cite sources). The Federal Republic of Germany has had only one constitution since its founding in 1949, and by government, I mean "system of government", which has remained the same despite changing hands several times (shall I name the chancellors for you?)

But I think that the German view of the role of the social state in their lives (as you mentioned in your initial post) was formed since WWII: The state as guarantor of social equality and as supplier of basic services.

And once again: the market is a fine mechanism for balancing supply and demand and for directing the flow of capital. But the "free market" is a chimera at best, and at worst an ideology that is used to justify a lot of inhumane actions.

Subsidies are justifiable as a short-term solution to help dampen the social effects of economic changes. They are poisonous to any aconomy over the long term.

I read that the EU subsidizes its cattle industry at the rate of $2 per day per cow, which is more than the average daily income for a lot of the Third World.

Posted by: ralphieboy | Jan 18 2006 15:38 utc | 47

@ralphieboy - sorry to extend this, but I think it is important.

But I think that the German view of the role of the social state in their lives (as you mentioned in your initial post) was formed since WWII: The state as guarantor of social equality and as supplier of basic services.

This is simply wrong and one needs to get this if one wants to understand German politics at all.

The "entitlement feeling", as critics call it, was generated much earlier going back to post 30-year-war (1650+) when most of the dukes made "social" contracts with the burgher. Bismark later formalized these in laws.

In the late 1920s/early 1930s, caused by the great depression and enormes reparation payments for WWI, the "social contract" was broken by the state. In the consequence therof the nazis were voted in for promising to renew it. This they indeed did in the first years of their rule (Why is this always forgotten. It was their major base of public support when going to war later on).

There was not much discussion after 1945 about new entitlement programs, the old ones were just refined and prepped up.

The trail in the laws:

In the 1881 "emperors letter" (German source) Wilhelm I recognized the "right to welfare" and defined it as a task of the state. Bismark, his prime minister implemented this into laws. 1883 - Health Insurance Act; 1884 - Accident insurance; 1889 - old age pensions and disability insurance.

The Weimar constitution of 1919 contained a right to "claim social welfare" and the state's task of regulating the "the social economy".

The constitution of 1948-current in article 20 says:

(1) The Federal Republic of Germany is a democratic and social Federal state.
Article 28 says:
(1) The constitutional order in the Länder must conform to the principles of republican, democratic, and social government.

There was nothing new in this after WWII. It had a deep base in history and in the common mind.

Neolib politics have quite a hard stand in Germany when they touch on these issues exactly because they have these old roots. (My great-grandfather had health insurance and a pension, so why shouldn´t I have this? Progress???).

In the last election Merkel moved from a huge advantage in the polls to a very near defeat by using some neolib talking points. She has learned that lesson.

And of course as soon as anyone tries to put severe cutbacks on the social systems into law, the German supreme court has a field day throwing that law out of the window.

Posted by: b | Jan 18 2006 18:00 utc | 48

Body and Sense reports on the Medicare snafu and comes up with the unofficial motto of the Administration:

"When there's change, there's an opportunity for things to go wrong"

Posted by: citizen | Jan 18 2006 18:38 utc | 49

From the Knight Ridder (news agency still reporting!) article Body and Sense linked to, this quote sounds like, prophecy:

"We're doing the federal government a favor. We're in essence loaning them money while they get their problems worked out. ... Now we're going to not only become the bank, but the collection agency? Next, we'll be manufacturing the drugs and selling them," he [Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, the chairman of the National Governors Association] said Tuesday.

This is not a benign error - it's liquidation by 'error'. And they're going to start a another civil war, because the states that have become rich by elevating all their citizens may not put up with vampire/plantation government forever. Bushco is banking that we'll all go slave-state again, but I hear abolitionism from some of these governors and from the more and more people who know they're getting Bushwhacked.

I like the way Gov. Huckabee is starting to think.

Posted by: citizen | Jan 18 2006 18:53 utc | 50

@citizen - there is a problem with medicare???

Here is how it will be fixed:

President Bush's top health advisers will fan out across the country this week to quell rising discontent with a new Medicare prescription drug benefit that has tens of thousands of elderly and disabled Americans, their pharmacists, and governors struggling to resolve myriad start-up problems.
HHS Works to Fix Drug Plan Woes

Posted by: b | Jan 18 2006 18:59 utc | 51

BTW, that lovely little motto was said by Michael Leavitt, Medicare's Health and Human Services Secretary here.

My, what a lovely unilateral executive we have here.

When there's change, there's an opportunity for things to go wrong"

Posted by: citizen | Jan 18 2006 19:00 utc | 52

President Bush's top health advisers will fan out across the country this week to quell rising discontent with a new Medicare prescription drug benefit that has tens of thousands of elderly and disabled Americans, their pharmacists, and governors struggling to resolve myriad start-up problems.

Now b, you ain't got to get me all het up with the paramilitary lingo. You know I support me some Federal action long as there's a'killin and a'quellin involved.

I'd love me some good old fashioned Whiskey Rebellion to whack off at the knees right about now.

Posted by: citizen | Jan 18 2006 19:11 utc | 53

b,

I know the German social state has a long history and a large place in German consiousness, but it wasn't until after WWII that it started to take up such a significant chunk of government spending.

It started out with an enormous taks at hand in a war-ravaged and divided country. But now it has reached the point that government spending takes up the majority of the economy and social spending is the government's major expense.

One of Merkel's neolib talking points that I could even agree with was "The social component of the economy needs a sound economic basis to support it."

And if the economic component is not sound enough to be sustained, then the economy cannot maintain the social contract. Then folks like the Nazis come along and offer to restore it in exchange for going to war.

In America they just come and abolish the pension plan as a standard benefit. Seems like one of the only jobs left that offers lifeteime pension and health care benefits is the Armed Forces...


Posted by: ralphieboy | Jan 18 2006 19:28 utc | 54

very embarassing article from the LA Times:

Why God chose the Jews

By Andrew Klavan.

the end reads:

So here's a plan. The next time you express an opinion on what's wrong with the world, take a look around to see who's nodding in agreement. If it's some clown who thinks the Jewish state should be pushed into the sea, or that the Jews killed Christ or are conspiring to subvert the world economy or the government or the media, I beg you to consider that you might be wrong. There is no shame in changing your opinion. Falling into step with wicked fools — that's shameful, and it's dangerous too. God gave you an early detection system. Use it.

http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-klavan14jan14,0,676420.story?coll=la-news-comment-opinions>LA Times

Posted by: Noisette | Jan 18 2006 21:01 utc | 55

There's something nasty goin on in Antarctica judging by this morning's story in my local fishwrap:

" Details of a private meeting between the Prime Minister and one of the United States' top military chiefs are being kept under wraps.

Admiral William Fallon, head of the US Pacific Command, is due to meet Helen Clark and Defence Minister Phil Goff among a series of meetings in New Zealand this week after visiting Antarctica.

A spokeswoman for the Prime Minister said Helen Clark would have a "private meeting" with Admiral Fallon.

She would not say what day the meeting would be or what would be discussed."....

...."Admiral Fallon, who reports directly to US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and his travelling party were also due to meet senior New Zealand Defence Force staff for "courtesy meetings".

Among his entourage is General Paul Hester, head of the air forces in the US Pacific Command region. "....

...."His visit comes only a week after influential Republican Senator John McCain led a delegation of US politicians to Antarctica and New Zealand.

US Pacific Command spokesman Captain Jeff Alderson said Admiral Fallon was making his first visit to New Zealand and Antarctica."....

I have to be careful what i say here because like many NZers I am concerned as to how it was the USA ended up in Antarctica in the first place.

Shortly after World War 2 US forces moved in to establish what is now McMurdo, by coming in through the NZ base (Scott base).

Mc Murdo appears to have swallowed up a large (the majority in fact) chunk of the allocation of Antarctica awarded NZ under the original Antactic alliance which I believe was ratified through the old League of Nations in the 1920's.

It's hard to know what happened exactly because many of the protocols and agreements which were negotiated starting off some time during WW2 are still secret.

Did the US make ceding part of Antarctica conditional on their assisting the defence of NZ in WW2? Did the NZ government just lend the area (something we were always taught at school), to the US for scientific enquiry?

I don't know and it doesn't matter too much as long as the principles of the Antarctic Treaty are adhered to. This is how the Brits glowingly describe the treaty:

"There are few places on Earth where there has been never been war, where the environment is fully protected, and where scientific research has priority. But the whole of the Antarctic continent is like this. A land which the Antarctic Treaty parties call a natural reserve, devoted to peace and science."

However we are talking about perfidious Albion here so a cynic could say that whatever they say will not be what they are doing.

We should also ask ourselves exactly what interest any Northern hemisphere nation should have in the south pole and the land which surrounds it.

Everbody seems to have come to the party. not only the old and new Empires Britain, France, Russia, Japan, China, germany, India, the Netherlands and the US but also since the soviet break-up Ukraine, Poland and Bulgeria.
Particularly since South America appears to be confined to Brazil, Chile, Ecaudor and Peru and Africa limited to South Africa from the days when white fella ruled that joint.

If it is a peace and science thing why do so many of the northern nations deploy their military down there? Science is open to many interpretations as Antarctic treaty member Japan is currently demonstrating by using science as the justification for slaughtering whales in an Antarctic whale sanctuary. The fact the whale meat is sold to be eaten is purely ancillary. Is it?

I assisted in putting the recruitment campaign together for an Australian expedition one season and at that time their expedition was a bunch of ANU geologists, botanists and biologists along with various tradesmen (carpenters, communications specialists, air conditioning and refrigeration engineers, plumbers, electricians etc) who had to be employed from all over Australia. This meant vacancies were displayed and interviews conducted in every town in Australia.
This to ensure that any Australian who wanted to go got a chance to apply. Who knows how much Howard has perverted that now? I betcha the whole deal will have been militarised and/or privatised.

I have a cousin who is a biologist in NZ who up until quite recently had spent every summer for the past 20 years in Antarctica or the islands between NZ and Antarctica checking out the species of birdlife, their numbers, and long term viability.

All of these people demonstrated a committment to keeping Antarctica as pristine as possible. That way there could be one place left in the world where plastic supermarket bags didn't circle in the wind like kitehawks.

Trouble is the place is very rich in all sorts of resources including and especially oil and gas.

The concern is that is as the Northern members outnumber the Southern ones, they won't give a second thought to mining and drilling and fucking the place over and the South will have to live with the consequences.

Secondly once all the gold was dug outta NZ in the 1880's we have been left pretty much alone, which judging by the visits of two US heavies in 2 weeks won't be the case if Antarctica is opened up (raped).

As I 've said many times before countries that are rich in natural resources aren't lucky. They've drawn the short straw, the rough end of the pineapple, sucked a melon big time.

They are going to get bashed and mugged on a regular basis until the resources run out and then they'll cop a kick in the guts from the bullies angry that there is nothing to take.

Only then are they left, lying in an alley somewhere bleeding to death.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Jan 18 2006 21:32 utc | 56

wow debs, once again you've stunned me w/an eye opener. i had no idea antarctica was so popular and rich in history. someone here posted james lovelocks incredible piece the other night.

Posted by: annie | Jan 18 2006 22:30 utc | 57

but it wasn't until after WWII that it started to take up such a significant chunk of government spending.

That is not really correct either. The quote of state spending on social issues vs. GDP was low after the great depression, higher before WWII and lower after that and again did rise after 1975, when Germany reaped the full benefit of its economic growth after WWII and at the same time had more people retiring.

It is going down since 1995 again.

German economy numbers of the last 16 years are difficult to compare to other countries. "Buying" east germany turned out to be a very, very expensive endeavor. 62 million people adopt 18 million people and immediately transfer them from C- world standard to A-.

THAT is the problem Germany is still working on and finally it looks as if we are getting a grip on it. It will take at least another decade to really do so, but any neolib idea on this will not work because it doesn´t even graps the problem.

Imagine the U.S. to include Mexico as the 51st state while promissing to bring every Mexican road, administration office, school and socialsecurity benefit to U.S. average standard within 5 years. Where would the U.S. state expenditure/GDP rate be in that case?


For Merkels quote "The social component of the economy needs a sound economic basis to support it."

how about

"The social component of the economy needs a sound tax basis to support it."

It's probably more thruthfully.

Posted by: b | Jan 18 2006 22:50 utc | 58

You're absolutely correct in your description of the neccessity for Germany to protect it's welfare net Bernhard but the chief problem is that if Merkel and company do decide to destroy it to maximise profits for their mates it won't be by obvious full on assault.

Britain under Thatcher and Chile under Allende showed the flaws in that method. Even if people don't get their rights back (which they don't) their resistance is expensive and their attitude can make them unproductive economic units for a long time.

She will make subtle changes to the structure and in that way alter people's expectations even their values so that some are racing ahead of her with their demands for change.

This anti-american militarism is a proven furphydesigned to distract the sheeple whilst making the society even more amenable for US based corporations to do their worst and then rip all 'profits' (ie proceeds of crime) out of the country.

The worst neo-lib excesses in NZ occured during the period where NZ was being most heavily threatened and cajoled by the US over it's nuclear warships ban. This was deliberate policy by some of the NZ politicians as in "We can do what we like and still stay in government as long as we keep the warships ban in place."

I'm not going to inveigle MoA with yet more obscure NZ history but I'm not being some paranoic conspiracy theorist when I tell you NZ was used as a sort of laboratory by the neo-libs in the late '80s early '90s to try out methods of persuading people it was in their interests to toss out welfare systems which had been in place locally since before NZ was a sovereign state.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Jan 19 2006 0:24 utc | 59

Sorry to be such a bore being on a different time zone to most others can make my conversations a monlogue.

Here is a story that the reactions of individual MoA barflies to can effect a change and maybe even save someone's life:

Palestinian with Aids barred from Israeli hospital

" A Palestinian Aids patient has been denied permission to leave Gaza for treatment in Israel despite warnings by senior Israeli clinicians that the case is urgent.

The man is being blocked by the military from leaving Gaza although he has been undergoing an extended course of treatment at a Tel Aviv hospital, and a written demand has been made by six leading Aids experts and the chairman of the Israeli Medical Association that he be allowed to return there.

The condition of the patient, who suffers from haemophilia and is understood to have become HIV-positive as a result of a contaminated blood transfusion in the occupied Palestinian territories, has recently deteriorated and he is in hospital in Gaza, which has no advanced facilities for treating Aids.

The Israelis claim this chap is a security threeat but they won't specify what sort of a threat and if he's close to dying from an aids related illness planting bombs or whatever will be far from his mind at the moment.

Not forgetting of course that normal human charity calls anyone to come to the assistance of anyone else despite what may have gone before.

I have just forwarded an email which includes the article to the nearest Israeli embassy. A response from Europe and particularly the US would be good as there is every chance this story won't reach US MSM.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Jan 19 2006 1:14 utc | 60

While we're on the topic of Social Welfare: Did it indeed start in Prussia and spread from there? B, you account for the German development of social wefare, what about the rest of Northern Europe. Or more to the point, can anyone recommend a good book about the development and evolution of the concept of social welfare worldwide?

Posted by: Malooga | Jan 19 2006 1:32 utc | 61

From the Say what...stack...

Likud beefs up campaign staff with Schwarzenegger aide

Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday hired American political strategist, John McLaughlin, to work as his party's campaign advisor and pollster in the upcoming general elections.

McLaughlin has worked in the past with senior Republican party members, including California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

link

Posted by: jj | Jan 19 2006 3:17 utc | 62

The gulliberal problem and election fraud

Posted by: Malooga | Jan 19 2006 4:49 utc | 63

Right Malooga - it has always fractured my jaw to contemplate that problem...aren't all the near-right, self-styled blogs, guilty of same by and large, or have they come around. I so rarely stop by that I cannot really comment, but it seems that some of them -kos, atrios- on very rare occasions, note problem. Yes?

Posted by: jj | Jan 19 2006 6:17 utc | 64

@malooga I'm actually quite surprised that the article takes such a charitable view and classes the gulliberals as well meaning fools.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Jan 19 2006 6:45 utc | 65

I try not to go there much either; blood pressure, yuh know.....

Chomsky tells a very funny story in this regard, with MSM, rather than kos-sak type blogs. Let's just call it "Unsafe At Any Speed." There is a huge endless hill on route 2 in Arlington, leading from the northwest into Boston. He travels it everyday to MIT. One day he was driving in, listening to NPR, and they were doing one of their most egregiously, even-sounding but totally decontextualized, slanted propaganda coverages about poor defenseless Israel being attacked for no purpose by those dirty, swarthy Palestinian terrorists. As he listened, he got angrier and angrier (funny in itself because he is so restrained, few have ever seen him angry), and his foot fell heavier and heavier upon the pedal. Little did he notice that he was heading down the steep grade of the hill, had picked up speed rapidly, and was now flying at well over 80 mph. Well, wouldn't you know it, a police car appears in the rear view mirror and pulls Chomsky over. And he tries to argue with the policman that he wasn't speeding intentionally, but NPR made him so mad he couldn't resist. Naturally, he lost the case.

But he did learn to turn NPR off before he hits the hill now. Too dangerous not too.

Posted by: Malooga | Jan 19 2006 6:48 utc | 66

I know that one. Although I watch TV late at night when sleep is hard to find I refuse to watch the news if certain topics are mentioned in the teases. Israel is one of those because it guarantees sleep will stay away until the steam stops hissing outta my ears.

That's why the written word can be better, it can sorta be grabbed in snatches and not fully devoured until yer reasonably sure it is safe to eat LOL

Posted by: Debs is dead | Jan 19 2006 7:57 utc | 67

@Malooga, yes funny story. I stopped listening to NPR or watching pbs after they shoved Bill Moyers overboard. But i do agree that aforementioned blogs are not far from npr category. I do hope you check out Mark Crispin Miller's blog daily. He's very focused on the impt. stuff. His book on last election sounds excellent - I just haven't gotten it yet. He's keeping things focused on Imperative of Filibuster Now. It really is The Only Topic for the next week. Sad blogs so lost in the realm of emotional outrage. I was thinking as I was driving the other day how perfectly suited they are to advertising. After all the function of most of their stories is to generate the outrage fix that will guarantee frequent visits - that advertisers so love...Same w/Americablog...It's why I call 'em tablogs, as they seem like a hybrid form between blogs & tabloids.

By the way, there's a new left mag. I just found on web: StateofNature.org. Just found it, so I don't have much to say about it yet. (***Attn. R'Giap & Slothrop**)

Posted by: jj | Jan 19 2006 8:15 utc | 68

Fresh Kindling for the Impeach Tony Blair bonfire, from Richard Norton-Taylor in the Guardian.

Torture flights: what No 10 knew and tried to cover up


The government is secretly trying to stifle attempts by MPs to find out what it knows about CIA "torture flights" and privately admits that people captured by British forces could have been sent illegally to interrogation centres, the Guardian can reveal. A hidden strategy aimed at suppressing a debate about rendition - the US practice of transporting detainees to secret centres where they are at risk of being tortured - is revealed in a briefing paper sent by the Foreign Office to No 10.
link

Posted by: jj | Jan 19 2006 8:34 utc | 69

@Malooga - Or more to the point, can anyone recommend a good book about the development and evolution of the concept of social welfare worldwide?

Here is a WORD document Welfare State Proliferation: Models, Mixes, and Transcontinental Learning Processes with a long list of literature at the end.

Might be a good start.

Posted by: b | Jan 19 2006 8:48 utc | 70

@jj That link to the gruniad gave us yet another insight into the banal world these creatures who describe themselves as our leaders live.

The last couple of paras revealed a MSM outlet saying hat we have been saying here for around two tears namely that any citizen trying to work out what the hell it means when a politician says something should be highly skilled in semantics backed up by a good working knowledge of semiotics.">http://www.aber.ac.uk/media/Documents/S4B/sem01.html">semiotics.

The last paras are here:

Shami Chakrabarti, director of the human rights group Liberty, which has demanded an inquiry into allegations of British collusion in rendition flights, said she was "deeply disappointed" by the memo. "The government seems more concerned about spinning than investigating our concerns," she said. She has written to Mr Straw saying the government must now give its full support to the inquiry conducted, at Liberty's behest, by the chief constable of Greater Manchester, Michael Todd.

Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrats' foreign affairs spokesman, said Mr Blair had fully endorsed Ms Rice's statement, yet the prime minister had clear advice that it might have been deliberately worded to allow for cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. "I am submitting an urgent question to the speaker and expect the foreign secretary to come to parliament to explain the government's position," he said. "Evasion can no longer be sustained: there is now overwhelming evidence to support a full public inquiry into rendition."

Andrew Tyrie, Conservative MP for Chichester and chairman of the parliamentary group on rendition, said last night: "All the experts who have looked at Rice's assurances have concluded that they are so carefully worded as to be virtually worthless. Relying on them, as the government appears to be doing, speaks volumes". He said his committee would pursue the issue."

This is the piece here:

Posted by: Debs is dead | Jan 19 2006 9:52 utc | 71

Hmm the incomprehensible end to the last message must have been Did attempting to transmit pretty obscure signs

Anyway this Independent story should have most people firmly convinced that the 18 Pakistani deaths were a necessary consequence of getting some really bad bastards.

However it doesn't take a semanticist to conclude there isn't a skerrick of evidence pointing to anyone being blown up except the local pashtun families who seem to have committed the crime of sleeping in the line of CIA missile fire.

The one 'fact' in this article is that everything in it is untraceable back to it's alleged source and totally deniable.

So 18 lives get taken for no purpose other than to send a message that it's dangerous to live in a village where one of the families is distantly related to a woman married into an Al Queda family. That is bound to win hearts and minds.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Jan 19 2006 10:39 utc | 72

The one 'fact' in this article is that everything in it is untraceable back to it's alleged source and totally deniable.

So 18 lives get taken for no purpose other than to send a message that it's dangerous to live in a village where one of the families is distantly related to a woman married into an Al Queda family. That is bound to win hearts and minds.

Well put.

Posted by: Malooga | Jan 19 2006 14:40 utc | 73

Thanks muchly for the link, b.
I have been searching for that piece of the puzzle for a while.

Posted by: Malooga | Jan 19 2006 14:47 utc | 74

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