Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
August 27, 2007

OT 07-58

News & views ... open thread ...

Posted by b on August 27, 2007 at 4:56 UTC | Permalink

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Marshall “Media” McLuhan

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Aug 27 2007 5:20 utc | 1


Posted by: annie | Aug 27 2007 5:31 utc | 2

Walter Pincus writes in WaPo: A Potentially Winning Tactic, With a Warning

Fourteen months ago, a 300-page Defense Department-sponsored research paper titled "Iraq Tribal Study: Al-Anbar Governorate" was completed and delivered to the Pentagon. ... The study proposed changing how the United States interacts with Sunni tribal leaders, eventually contributing to winning their support in fighting al-Qaeda in Iraq forces.
The Iraq Tribal Study provided a handbook on how to gain that support by covering the basics. One section, titled "How to Work With Tribesmen," explains that "RESPECT ( Ihtiram in Arabic) is the key," and also warns: "Do not assume that they want to be like you."
The study identified three tribes in al-Anbar province, all of which initially fought as insurgents against U.S. forces. But more recently, all three tribes -- or "significant parts of them" -- joined the movement against al-Qaeda in Iraq. "This presents a window of opportunity for engagement and influence of the tribes by the coalition," the study stated.

However, the study warned that with two of the tribes, such cooperation "should not be considered as support for, or even acceptance of, coalition activities." Instead, it occurs "for no other purpose but to rid the area of a common enemy, al-Qaeda and its allies." With the third, it cautioned, "the recognized leadership plays both ends of the insurgency, coalition versus the insurgents, against the middle while maintaining a single motive, to force the coalition to leave Iraq."

In short, the study's experts pointed toward what has become a short-term U.S. success, while warning more than a year ago -- as the intelligence community did last week -- that it is all temporary.

People who read Pat Lang's site will know that he was the principal author of that study.

One of Lang's papers on his site is how_to_work_with_tribesmen (pdf). It starts:

RESPECT (Ihtiram in Arabic) is the key to working with tribesmen anywhere in the world. Whether they are Arab Bedouin, Afghan Pushtuns, Laotian Muong or Somali herdsmen, it is always RESPECT that tribesmen look for from outsiders who come to their lands seeking their help and friendship.
Do not assume that they want to be like you. People who live within a tribal social structure usually have chosen to do so and continue to live this kind of life because they find it satisfying and protective.

Posted by: b | Aug 27 2007 5:53 utc | 3

Annie, thanks for the link to the photo essay, Indoctrination.">">Indoctrination.

Powerful photos of female Israeli draftees, with commentary.

Uncle, good reminder of papa Malcolm, along with Buckminster Fuller (google him) one of our national treasures. The footnote to Manuel Delanda's book War In The Age Of Intelligent Machines reminds me that I knew him when the book was being published. He is (was, in 1990 or so) a computer-literate artist, very funny and engaging. He told me the book was about the history of civilization from the point of view of machines rather than man, and that each weapon (the pointy part of technology) spawned each other weapon, from thrown rock to spear to gun to machine gun to guided missile to the cybernetics to guide the missile.

Manny is still outspoken and opinionated, I'll have to put his book on my Amazon wish list when I get around to having one.

Where did you get that McLuhan reference? I got mine in the used book store, On Media must have been required reading in some college course.

Posted by: jonku | Aug 27 2007 7:32 utc | 4

state of the nation

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Aug 27 2007 7:41 utc | 5

Uncle, the youtube thing doesn't work for me; they won't play. What it this one called State of the Nation?

Posted by: jonku | Aug 27 2007 7:45 utc | 6

Like a big conversation Moon can be a little distracting. Thanks Uncle Scam for the nuggets you've uncovered, I have enjoyed some really good ones including the Trail of the Octopus book.

And Bernhard thanks for keeping the conversation open to understanding the theft known as Shock and Awe 2003, Gulf War 2, Operation Iraqi Liberation.

When they fly transport planes to Iraq full of crates of $100 bills, what else is going on?

Glad to see a link to young Taibbi, he is funny and incisive, good to see him writing for Rolling Stone. He is an iconoclast journalist and worth reading.

I think it will get busy here this week and over the Labor Day weekend, so I am endeavoring to stay on topic even on the Off Topic thread.

Posted by: jonku | Aug 27 2007 8:00 utc | 7

Several yrs. ago Jewish-American ME Scholars reported that Israel set off bombs against Jews living in other ME countries so they'd think they were being persecuted & flee to fill up the new land of Israel. Now this from the bbc:

The Shin Bet security service collaborated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine to hijack the June 1976 flight from Israel that was diverted to Entebbe, Uganda, the BBC reported Friday.

Israel's rescue of the dozens of hostages taken in the hijacking of the Air France plane, popularly known as the Entebbe raid, is considered one of the most daring and successful operations in Israeli history. Elite Israel Defense Forces troops stormed the airport where the hostages, many of them Israeli, were held and overpowered the hijackers and Ugandan soldiers.

Although the captors used the hijacking to demand the release of Palestinians or Palestinian supporters, a British government file on the incident quotes the unnamed source as telling a British diplomat in Paris that Israel was behind the hijacking. The claim is not known to be backed up by corroborating evidence, and the file does not make it clear whether the British government took the claim seriously.

"The operation was designed to torpedo the PLO's standing in France and to prevent what they see as a growing rapprochement between the PLO and the Americans," the BBC report said British diplomat D.H. Colvin wrote in the document, citing his source.
U.K. file on Entebbe contains claim that Israel behind hijacking


Posted by: jj | Aug 27 2007 8:11 utc | 8

I would be grateful for illumination regarding the meaning
of this semi-promise, and I take the occasion to thank "the regulars" for many other "illuminations".

Posted by: Hannah K. O'Luthon | Aug 27 2007 10:55 utc | 9

Senator Lieberman (I,I) strikes again. In an Op-Ed in the Wall Street Journal, he pontificates:

Now the Damascus airport is the point of entry into Iraq for most of the suicide bombers who are killing innocent Iraqi citizens and American soldiers, and trying to break America's will in this war. It is therefore time to demand that the Syrian regime stop playing travel agent for al Qaeda in Iraq.

When Congress reconvenes next month, we should set aside whatever differences divide us on Iraq and send a clear and unambiguous message to the Syrian regime, as we did last month to the Iranian regime, that the transit of al Qaeda suicide bombers through Syria on their way to Iraq is completely unacceptable, and it must stop.

We in the U.S. government should also begin developing a range of options to consider taking against Damascus International, unless the Syrian government takes appropriate action, and soon.

Responsible air carriers should be asked to stop flights into Damascus International, as long as it remains the main terminal of international terror. Despite its use by al Qaeda and Hezbollah terrorists, the airport continues to be serviced by many major non-U.S. carriers, including Alitalia, Air France, and British Airways.

Pure insanity... Does this man have no limits???

Posted by: Bea | Aug 27 2007 11:42 utc | 10

This comment by "Badger"
may also be of interest with regard to the Mideast. Once again, illuminating further comment would be appreciated. It seems that some sort of major change in U.S.-Iraq policy (or at least in its implementation) is in the cards, probably in connection with the "deadline" for the Petraeus report. As usual it will be difficult to decide whether or not it's just further flailing and floundering around
a patent failure (the more likely alternative), or rather a confirmation of Macchiavelian subtlety on the part of major but invisible actors. What is depressing is that this maneuvering goes on while new casualties of the war are being created daily. It seems clear that the more lucid
minds in the American policy establishment are trying to formulate and execute an exit strategy, while the neocon "dead-enders" continue to excogitate new adventures aimed at
preventing the oncoming debacle.

Furthermore, one can not help but wonder if these "course corrections" will be permitted to unfold according to American timetables. One would guess that the Iraqi resistance is quite aware of deadlines imposed by the American political dialectic, and quite possibly capable of introducing major disturbances to that process. Conversely,
(and in a more "conspiratorial" vein) those favoring further chaos in Iraq may well furnish a suitable provocation to induce the American public to support further mayhem in Iraq.

All in all, September does not seem like a hopeful month,
not even for those who have ignorer recent stock market gyrations. Indeed, my only reason for hope is the knowledge that I am almost invariably wrong.

Posted by: Hannah K. O'Luthon | Aug 27 2007 11:46 utc | 11

Ya gotta laugh. This from todays Independent:

Iraq: British retreat descends into chaos as Shia militia occupy police centre

Shia militia loyal to the firebrand cleric Muqtada al-Sadr have scuppered an attempt by British forces to hand over the Basra joint police command centre to Iraqi police.

Iraqi police reportedly left when the Shia fighters arrived and began emptying the facility. According to witnesses, they made off with generators, computers, furniture and even cars, saying it was war booty - and were still in the centre yesterday evening.

The embarrassing episode, which comes as the British in Basra are preparing to move their remaining soldiers to the city airport as part of a planned withdrawal, once again highlights the strength of the militia in the city.

It further undermines Britain's hopes of a smooth transfer and gives the impression of a rout. Mr Sadr boasted in an interview with The Independent last week that the British had "given up" and were retreating because of the Iraqi resistance.

A small detachment of British soldiers working with the Iraqi police left the central Basra building on Saturday evening. . . .

Of course the poms are banking on most media reluctance to leave their Green Zone accomodation so deny that any such thing ever happened, but the rest of us should celebrate because unlike what big Bad Bushy Wooshy and his band of rapists and murderers claim, it seems troop departure doesn't lead to bloodbaths or violence of any sort really.

Al-Sadr must have done a lot more consolidation in the South than anyone has been letting on. He has probably done much more consolidation with the anti-seperatist pro-nationalist Sunni clans as well, This is the real reason Maliki is on the outer, he is close to complete fucking irrelevancy outside the Green Zone. Mayor of Baghdad. Bush is correct in his analysis of the similarity with Vietnam except he got the detail wrong/lied. In neither case is a blood bath the go.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Aug 27 2007 12:08 utc | 12

Gonzales resigns

Posted by: beq | Aug 27 2007 12:32 utc | 13

@Hannah - 9 -

Kouchner stated he hoped Damascus would "not create obstacles to Lebanon's sovereignty" when it holds presidential elections next month. "If Syria does not create obstacles to Lebanon's sovereignty ... then France will open up to Damascus in a spectacular way," Kouchner told Le Parisien newspaper.
Translation: "Hand Libanon, our old colony, back to us and we might eventually give you a cookie."

Kouchner is one of the biggest idiot in the Foreign Policy circle. Yesterday he also told Condi Rice that Maliki has to go AND offered cooperation to the Iraqis. I'm sure the Iraqis understood that very well ...

Posted by: b | Aug 27 2007 13:28 utc | 14

So b, can we have a thread to speculate about "Why Gonzales Now?"

I am really struck by the serial departure of so many key folks. Is Bush perhaps really losing it? I truly thought the two diehards Rove and Gonzales would never leave. Maybe Condi will be next???

Posted by: Bea | Aug 27 2007 13:56 utc | 15

This discussion of Iraq exit strategy may merit attention, as also this note on the non-existent peace process in Palestine, the latter being notable for both its conclusions and the credentials of its author.

Posted by: Hannah K. O'Luthon | Aug 27 2007 14:25 utc | 16

@Bea (#15)

"I am really struck by the serial departure of so many key folks.

Don't think of rats leaving a sinking ship... see this as brilliant strategery. A lame duck admin is going to be beginning a pre-election campaign in earnest very soon. Scandals are erasable when new names and faces occupy key positions. Picture if you will...

A: "But what about all the contempt for the Constitution and destruction of everything America and the world at large values? How can you support those neocons?"

Freeper: "What contempt?"

A: "Gonzalez/Rumsfeld/Rove did/said [fill in a huge blank here]!!!"

Freeper: "Gonzalez/Rumsfeld/Rove isn't even the Attorney General/Secretary of Defense/Chief Toady anymore! You libs just can't let anything go, can you?"

Remember, only "elected" (nudge, nudge) officials get to blame predecessors with any credibility. The rest of us are just "filled with liberal hate" by bringing them up. Brilliant strategery, indeed.

Posted by: Monolycus | Aug 27 2007 14:39 utc | 17

Debs is dead @12, the bit in the Independent article where it says "Mr Sadr boasted in an interview with The Independent last week..." I can't believe the paper is referring to that interview as if it were established fact. Sadr's office refuted the interview the day after Ind. published it:

Meanwhile Sheikh Ahmed al-Shibani, the official spokesman for al-Sadr's office in Najaf, denied that Sadr had given an interview to the British newspaper The Independent on Monday.
"The interview published by the paper was fabricated and groundless. His Eminence (Sadr) has never granted this paper any interviews," Shibani told VOI by telephone.
"We will sue any newspaper, TV station or web site that publishes fabricated news about His Eminence Muqtada al-Sadr or his office," affirmed Shibani.

Gabriele Zamparini at The Cat's Blog is still waiting for a reply from the Independent's editors to his query about it.

Posted by: Alamet | Aug 27 2007 16:38 utc | 18

Don't think of rats leaving a sinking ship... see this as brilliant strategery.

Oh please, I really was happy thinking of rats leaving a sinking ship. I can't possibly attribute any iota of brilliance to this team ever again. If this is their strategy, then it is pretty pathetic anyway. But somehow I suspect it is more like the implosion of their whole enterprise.

Posted by: Bea | Aug 27 2007 16:47 utc | 19

jonku, 4. yeah, i look at them and they just seem like regular girls. with the right brainwashing at the right age these are the people used to implement genocide. weird


here is the bbc report from last june.

haaratz left out a few nuggets of important info and omitted

'released from the national archives'..

"An unnamed contact from the Euro-Arab Parliamentary Association told a British diplomat in Paris ...

"The documents also reveal that the British government debated whether or not to praise the Israeli raid after its completion.

It was decided in the days after the raid that it was not clear whether the Israeli offensive was justified under international law.

One document in the file reads: "The Israelis have been critical of the fact that the prime minister did not send a personal message of congratulations to Mr Rabin and that our public statement fell short of endorsement of the Israeli action at Entebbe."

The file also contains correspondence from UK citizens to the government expressing concern that the government had not expressed support for the Israelis.

But in a document dated 9 July an official cautions against such a statement because there is likely to be "no internationally agreed view about the legality of the Israeli action".

The document says the legality of it would depend on whether or not the Ugandans had helped the kidnappers.

In a draft document included in the file an official says it appears Idi Amin did collude with the hijackers.

It reads: "On balance it seems that there was a culpable degree of collusion between President Amin and the hijackers, and that the president's attitude made it much easier for the hijackers to persist in their demands."
the bbc report ends on this note

The file does not make it clear how seriously the government took the claim that Israel also may have aided the hijackers.

just me splitting hairs but there is a differnce between 'how much' and 'whether or not'

The claim is not known to be backed up by corroborating evidence, and the file does not make it clear whether the British government took the claim seriously.

they took the claim seriously enough NOT to praise the actions of the heroic rescuers.

also, just because the contact was unnamed in the report, doesn't mean he is/was unknown to the british intelligence, does it?

Posted by: annie | Aug 27 2007 17:23 utc | 20

i forgot to end my blockquote.

this is from the bbc

The file does not make it clear how seriously the government took the claim that Israel also may have aided the hijackers.

here's haaretz

The claim is not known to be backed up by corroborating evidence, and the file does not make it clear whether the British government took the claim seriously.

just me splitting hairs but there is a difference between 'how seriously' and 'whether or not'. they took the claim seriously enough NOT to praise the actions of the heroic rescuers and to question whether they violated international law, both not mentioned by haaretz.

also, in january '76 The US vetoed a UN resolution that called for an independent Palestinian. so i don't buy that is was as a result of the US cozying up to the plo.

Posted by: annie | Aug 27 2007 17:33 utc | 21


i wish they left to face a firing squad in downtown washington dc

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Aug 27 2007 17:47 utc | 22


Oh a firing squad would be way too merciful for them. I think that a lifetime of Padilla-style treatment in an isolation cell would be more appropriate.

Posted by: Bea | Aug 27 2007 18:08 utc | 23

@Bea (#19)

I'd be very happy to discover that I'm auguring incorrectly, but I'm sorry to say that I see more of a warm-up than a wind-down going on. I admire your optimism and hope you're right, but I've seen these guys "imploding" and coming back again too many times now.

Posted by: Monolycus | Aug 27 2007 18:24 utc | 24

Thank you, Monolycus.

Is there a German word that describes how we seem to be continually learning to appreciate worse and worse ex-officials, because the ones they get replaced with are always somehow even worse?

This always looking on the bright side of life is blinding me...

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Aug 27 2007 18:36 utc | 25

future's so bright, I gotta wear shades

Posted by: | Aug 27 2007 19:06 utc | 26

Cage Bush

A sensible plan of action from down under.

Posted by: catlady | Aug 27 2007 19:12 utc | 27

in fact was the plan of marshall zhukov - was to transport hitler back to moscow in a cage - allowing people en route to say what needed to be said

it seemed a good plan

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Aug 27 2007 19:34 utc | 28

@Alamet I don't understand what whether or not al-Sadr gave an interview has got to do with the fact militia loyal to his cause currently control most of Basra. Both the Independent and al-Sadr's office agree on the one big thing - that the brits are being chased out.

al-Sadr needs to appear as pious as Ayatollah Sistani who has consistently refused to meet any western politician or diplomat much less a newspaper reporter. al-Sadr can't upset the old school Sistani loyalists, he needs to know which way Ayatollah Sistani will infer. Given Ayatollah Sistani has remained so distant it can appear that he has become irrelevant to the process, but we will never know what Iraqi people feel in their heart for him so any judgement made on that assumption would be risky.

We'll never know what the truth of the interview is since everyone plays the game of one story in english language news and one story in Arabic. They figure most of what is said in Arabic language newspapers which isn't supported by a YouTube video will probably never seep thru into english speaking mass media. This dual dialogue process is pehaps the largest obstruction to arabic and northern people gaining a mutual understanding of each other. Politicos on all sides of the debate have exploited this for years. Rabin and the zionists would say one thing in Hebrew and another in English while accusing Arafat and the PLO of having two soundbites for every issue.

The importance always rests with what is actually happening on the ground. The Brits are getting out of Basra and by the look they don't want amerikan baby killers coming in there until they've gone. That means that the Iraqi nationalist forces will probably have consolidated their position before the amerikans get near Basra.

Amerika will have to either negotiate or fight a major battle at a time when the amerikan politicians are trying to say the worst is over, Iraq has been pacified, surged or whatever.

This is what the verbal attacks and threats against the Iranian revolutionary guard are about. Amerika wants to portray the Iraqi nationalists as Iranian puppets which is fucking difficult in the case of al-Sadr since he has demonstrated time and time again he doesn't have a lot of time for Persians.

Maliki's mob does, SCIRI and the al-Badr brigrades are full of Iranian born arabs, and they are Maliki's primary support base.

The amerikan strategy appears to be to try and build a coalition of anti-Iranian sunni and shia leaders, who will undoubtedly be tagged in the western media as 'moderates' no matter what slaughters they may have been up to. I mention the slaughtering side because it is unlikely that any principled Iraqi's would go near the deal with a 6 ft pole much less a 5 ft shrub, everyone has been burned by amerika, so that leaves the types that would lie down with any immoral murdering slug for a dollar. (eg Allawi or Chalabi)

Even most of those will think twice since the stink of amerikan pork never really goes but the amerikans will, and that leaves any Iraqi ass licker exposed. Somehow I doubt that it would be an easy sell for for an amerikan government to persuade their population, who they have subjected to a concerted campaign of anti-arabic racism for a generation, to turn around and welcome their Iraqi allies when amerika has been driven out of Iraq.

Mainchancers are quick to read which way the wind blows, paranoia verging on the psychic permeates that sort of scum, so many Iraqi mainchancers realise that despite amerikan blandishments to the contrary helping the murderers and rapists now means big trouble very soon.

The one thing about George W Bush that the whole world has come to recognise as a truth. The man is a complete incompetent who couldn't run a brothel on a troopship. He may think that just because he says something to be so and the amerikan media repeats it ad infinitum that makes it so, but other people in other cultures don't see it that way. The Irai invasion is finally getting close to one of Dubya's 'tipping points'. However this isn't the sort of tipping point these racist incompetents had in mind when they marched into the sovereign state of Iraq.

The total meltdown which Iraqis have had to endure for getting on 5 years is about to extend into the Green Zone. There are going to be few if any Iraqis who have any real pull in their society, lining up with the murdering scum who invaded. Amerika has made the same mistake which the brits made in the 19th century and the crsaders made a thousand years ago. They thought that with enough pressure the arab leaders would 'see reason' and reach a compromise. The sort of compromise which western politicians learn early on in their careers is the basis of administration.

Trouble is other cultures may not see it that way. Iraqi leaders can probably be persuaded into some sort of deal eventually but not while foreigners are on their soil. If USuk had launched a mass invasion of Saudi Arabia back in the 1920's they would ever have got their deal with the ibn-Saud family. I'm sure that prospect was considered during the process of sequestering Saudi oil resources but the wily Sinjin Philby would have explained the idiocy of that approach.

Some cultures put their freedom from invasion by foreigners ahead of nearly everything else. The Arab point of view on this has been informed by thousands of years of Persians, Greeks, Romans, slavs, western europeans, even Mongols having a crack at them.

The point where the invasion becomes totally unsustainable is getting close.

This is the important news - not whether one corrupt official is going to be replaced by another corrupt official. Apart from the leaks about british incompetence and lack of courage most of the amerikan media has been ignoring or downplaying the fact that a big chunk of Iraq, the chunk with most of the oil, is about to be recovered by Iraqis from the theiving imperialist grasp.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Aug 27 2007 21:57 utc | 29

To Hannah,

the Frrench Doktor (Kouchner) that many Americans adulate is a warmonger of the very worst type. He is smart, and knows to dress up in humanitarian garb. Sarkozy (right) slavered over him, and Bernard (socialist) knew it. Wink wink they went. Foreign Minister is the most important post after President in France, or is so now.

Kouchner dissed Maliki bad, overreaching his power, acting like the bushy tailed aspirant, new boy on the block; had to apologize, after Maliki demanded it. Argh, Stellar diplomacy!

So Lebanon will ‘be taken over’ - has been really by now - and Syria has been warned once again, the French might even fight, vague threats, its up in the air.


Posted by: Tangerine | Aug 27 2007 21:58 utc | 30

The man is a complete incompetent who couldn't run a brothel on a troopship.

debs, sometimes you make me spit up on my keyboard

Posted by: annie | Aug 27 2007 23:33 utc | 31


yes the good doctor - i find a particularly slimy piece of work & have had an instinctual reaction to him always - i have never believed a word that has passed his lips

his acceptance of his position in this govt particularly craven

& unfortunately here you have that on the parliamentary left. i like jack lang but i shouldn't because he is not so far removed. luckily my region is represented by a number of people of principle but the next five years may tell another tale

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Aug 27 2007 23:55 utc | 32

Here's the new xUS choice to succeed Saddam, w/CIA controlling spy agency as always & he/they clearly running the anti-Maliki campaign:

Alleged billion dollar thief Hazem Shaalan isn't Ayad Allawi's only infamous friend. Allawi is also a close ally of the head of Iraq's largest intelligence service -- a man who takes his billions from Washington, not Baghdad.

On the ground in Baghdad is a sprawling intelligence operation called the Iraqi National Intelligence Service, or INIS. Only INIS isn't really "National" at all. To the great chagrin of the Maliki government, it's financed and controlled by the CIA. And its boss is a longtime Allawi friend and CIA asset, Muhammed Shahwani.

Who's Muhammed Shahwani? He's a former Iraqi military officer who, along with Allawi, helped plot a botched coup against Saddam Hussein in 1996. Despite the failure, the CIA considered him a valuable asset, largely on the strength of his considerable knowledge of Saddam's military apparatus. In his memoir, ex-CIA Director George Tenet writes that when Shahwani returned to Iraq as part of "the Agency-sponsored Iraqi paramilitary group known as 'the Scorpions'" he became "key to developing a strong network inside Iraq for the Agency.


Shahwani's U.S.-funded independence from the Iraqi government helps contextualize the recent push for Allawi. Unlike most alternatives to Maliki, Allawi has at least something resembling a security apparatus that he can call upon. Of course, whether it can actually take control of fractious, chaotic Iraq is a dubious proposition -- and Allawi has never called for an outright coup. But when Maliki opens his newspaper and reads about Allawi's push in Washington to become premier again, he has reason to look to INIS and see a threat to his administration." Preferred Puppets Emerge

Posted by: jj | Aug 28 2007 1:48 utc | 33

Longtime CIA Spy Unmasks for Retirement

With little fanfare, Jose Rodriguez, who heads the National Clandestine Service, had his cover lifted about a month ago. CIA spokesman Mark Mansfield said the driving factor was his interest in publicly participating in minority recruitment events. He's also retiring later this year after more than three decades with the agency.

Why is it almost always having to do with the war on 'some' drugs...?

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Aug 28 2007 4:13 utc | 34

Taliban Raise Poppy Production to a Record Again

Afghanistan produced record levels of opium in 2007 for the second straight year, led by a staggering 45 percent increase in the Taliban stronghold of Helmand Province, according to a new United Nations survey to be released Monday.

The report is likely to touch off renewed debate about the United States’ $600 million counternarcotics program in Afghanistan, which has been hampered by security challenges and endemic corruption within the Afghan government.

Ever notice that every time this government declares "war" on something, whatever it is seems to get infinitely worse, rather than better?

The alleged "war on drugs" is no exception.

And that 600 million dollar US taxpayer-funded campaign against narcotics in Afghanistan?

Completely, utterly useless.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Aug 28 2007 4:16 utc | 35

Iraq Weapons Are a Focus of Criminal Investigations

Several federal agencies are investigating a widening network of criminal cases involving the purchase and delivery of billions of dollars of weapons, supplies and other matériel to Iraqi and American forces, according to American officials. The officials said it amounted to the largest ring of fraud and kickbacks uncovered in the conflict here.
One of the investigations involves a senior American officer who worked closely with Gen. David H. Petraeus in setting up the logistics operation to supply the Iraqi forces when General Petraeus was in charge of training and equipping those forces in 2004 and 2005, American officials said Monday.
In an interview on Aug. 18, General Petraeus said that with ill-equipped Iraqi security forces confronting soaring violence across the country in 2004 and 2005, he made a decision not to wait for formal tracking systems to be put in place before distributing the weapons.

“We made a decision to arm guys who wanted to fight for their country,” General Petraeus said.

But now, American officials said, part of the criminal investigation is focused on Lt. Col. Levonda Joey Selph, who reported directly to General Petraeus and worked closely with him in setting up the logistics operation for what were then the fledgling Iraqi security forces.

That operation moved everything from AK-47s, armored vehicles and plastic explosives to boots and Army uniforms, according to officials who were involved in it. Her former colleagues recall Colonel Selph as a courageous officer who was willing to take substantial personal risks to carry out her mission and was unfailingly loyal to General Petraeus and his directives to move quickly in setting up the logistics operation.

Some $5 billion of weapon contracts is involved ...

Posted by: b | Aug 28 2007 5:32 utc | 36

If it's night where you are, don't forget to look at Luna in a couple of hours (10:37 UT).

Posted by: catlady | Aug 28 2007 5:39 utc | 37

Uncle, i heard someone, who has Parkinsons so he was speaking as someone w/considerable personal acquaintance w/people in severe pain, make an interesting suggestion on that. England & other countries are having a shortage of poppy derived drugs. Why shouldn't they be used to rememdy that pharma shortfall?? What line btw. organized crime & legit business??

Posted by: jj | Aug 28 2007 5:57 utc | 38

FINALLY. Someone, Geo. Monbiot unsurprisingly, points out that it's the radical right wing nut economics that's behind the current debacle. How the neoliberals stitched up the wealth of nations for themselves

Interesting to see if anyone follows up - anywhere, or at least in Eng. press. Or any of those well-known self-appointed "lefty bloggers"!!

A cabal of intellectuals and elitists hijacked the economic debate, and now we are dealing with the catastrophic effects

Posted by: jj | Aug 28 2007 6:51 utc | 39

Thinking about "Just War"

I propose that if the peculiar evil of terrorism is not only the killing of innocent people but also the intrusion of fear into everyday life, the deliberate violation of private purposes, the insecurity of public spaces, the endless coerciveness of precaution, then -- so it seems to me -- war, whether just or not, does that too. The brutality of a state army and of a terrorist group have much in common, and although in a formal sense state armies are subject to international humanitarian law this does not constitute as much of an obstacle to deliberate cruelty as might appear at first sight. We have learnt as much in the recent conduct of Western armies of occupation.

Posted by: b | Aug 28 2007 7:06 utc | 40

The Rich Steal Everything, then move it overseas so it's value isn't affected by the collapse of the bits they've left. But just 'cuz they can't move their homes overseas, doesn't mean they should lose them, like mere commoners, in a fire, does it? Of course not. Wealthy Get Extra Shield for Wildfires

Posted by: jj | Aug 28 2007 7:09 utc | 41

b #35, i wonder if this is connected to Col. Ted Westhusing's suicide.

Posted by: annie | Aug 28 2007 7:11 utc | 42

A Conversation on Genocide - Phillip Atkinson goes wild!

the original text vanished from googlecache, but you can read it here.

Posted by: snafu | Aug 28 2007 8:23 utc | 43

Lockheed takes over Saudi oil fields (not yet, but now it has the option):

Huge Saudi force to defend oilfields from al-Qaida

Anxieties about al-Qaida attacks and a US-led war against Iran have prompted Saudi Arabia to establish a special force - being trained by an American defence contractor - to protect its oilfields. Saudi authorities have already recruited 5,000 members of the Facilities Security Force and plan to raise the number to 8,000-10,000 over the next two years, in a project being run by the Lockheed Martin Corporation, officials confirmed.
The plan to set up a force that will eventually number 35,000 to guard oil and other installations was announced in July by the country's interior minister, Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz. The Middle East Economic Survey (Mees) reported: "The scale of the latest security initiative is immense and several years are likely to elapse until the new force is fully capable." The total cost was likely to reach $5bn (£2.48bn), it said.

According to Mees, recruits are being trained in the use of laser security and satellite imaging surveillance equipment, countermeasures and crisis management under a programme managed by Lockheed Martin. Members of the force are being heavily vetted and largely recruited from outside the Saudi security forces. The protection of oil facilities is currently the responsibility of a 15,000-strong force run by Aramco, the state oil corporation.

Very interesting move. Why wouldn't Aramco keep the security control? There must be fight over this within the Saudi government. Interior minister coups against oil minister?

Posted by: b | Aug 28 2007 8:25 utc | 44

Interesting, exchange there snafu, @ #43. I hope took a long hot shower afterwards.
Thnx for sharing...

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Aug 28 2007 9:25 utc | 45

"we've lost our good old mama...."

a dragon is eating the moon.

Posted by: catlady | Aug 28 2007 10:25 utc | 46

catlady, that lunar eclipse was something from where I'm looking.

Full eclipse of the moon, blood red moon colour.

Actually i think it is a bad omen. It might help explain why Bush just ranted that he's not pulling out of Iraq, Vietnam, Syracuse or any damn place.

Posted by: b2 | Aug 28 2007 11:45 utc | 47

jj #41: "The rich steal everything"

The "rich" guy in the article is paying $10,000 a year to protect his home. This fire protection service for a home is available to anyone for a fee, whether one has fire insurance or not.

Two common themes found at Moon of Alabama: Hate rich people and hate those with religion. Certainly leaves me out - I work hard to have a better life and I try to be more religious.

Posted by: Rick | Aug 28 2007 13:57 utc | 48

when I read about the great humanist Phillip Atkinson (or here ) this morning, it made me laugh a bit. it is so over-the-top you could hardly take it serious.
then I learned about the NSPD 51 (pretty old news). hmmmmm. I will not belive the implications of all this, but it still gave me the creeps for a moment.
how do you feel about it?

Posted by: snafu | Aug 28 2007 14:00 utc | 49

Two common themes found at Moon of Alabama: Hate rich people and hate those with religion.

I don't hate rich people, but I think many can be unaware assholes, but I also know just as many poor people who are unaware assholes , and as for religion, well, you got me there. I think religion virus, a mind virus. Nothing wrong w/personal ritual and community though.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Aug 28 2007 15:06 utc | 50

Alright, it must be the effects of the lunar eclipse.

No one hates the rich individually. They have great stereos, fantastic CD collections, and hold smashing parties at their beachhouses. Lot's of fun in general.

What is hated is the effects of their actions on the poor and defenseless of this world. Wars are not started by isolated mad politicians; those politicians are funded by the ultra wealthy, popularized by media controlled by those same people, and their policies are crafted by think tanks also funded by those same people. As disastrous as this illegal invasion of Iraq is, the vast majority of the elite of this country are supportive of the invasion, even if they are critical of the way it was carried out.

The odd rich person who shows any compassion for humanity and the poor of the world, like Gore Vidal for instance, is shunned and written off as an eccentric.

There is no great wealth without great poverty for it is the labor of the poor which creates the wealth of the rich. Wealthy people are protected by all manner of socialistic devices: bail-outs, tax cuts and credits, government contracts, etc., while the average person must compete in the free market: make a mistake, or suffer a catastrophic illness and see your life destroyed.

Privatization of basic services is just another way of transferring commonly held assets like water and land and services like fire-fighting to the wealthy.

This is all pretty basic. Anyone on this blog should have read the basic primers: Chomsky, Parenti, "Take the Rich off Welfare," by Zepezauer, etc. Reading a little history to learn how once well-to-do civilizations were reduced to penury by conquest could also be helpful. But perhaps even basic education is a service only the rich can afford.

Posted by: Malooga | Aug 28 2007 15:53 utc | 51

We got us a language problem here. We need more words to delineate different degrees and kinds of "the rich." Maybe a scale from one to ten, with one being the lilies of the field: "I got plenty of nothin" and ten being corporate "persons" like Halliburton.

What number would you give to the average life-bettering middle class folks? A three or four, maybe? Where does your local real estate maven fit? Your orthodontist? Where does Paris Hilton fit? Bill Gates? George Soros? Remember, at the top, it's not individual humans, it's firebreathing oily mega-multi-armasauruses.

Posted by: catlady | Aug 28 2007 16:59 utc | 52

Hate rich people and hate those with religion. Certainly leaves me out

No Rick, we don't want you left out. You are a valued voice here. Please don't take it that way.

Posted by: Bea | Aug 28 2007 17:09 utc | 53

friend rick

i think most of us including yourself understand that the spiritual question is implicity a private one & what is critiqued here are the political manipulation of what are intensely intimate thoughts

any wealth or privilege built on the oppression of others is implicity immoral. tho it is clearly possible, as you do to build a business without wounding another, of being concious of the others

my gods have always been the people & the people alone. but that does not exclude affinities with taoism, shintoism, sufism, gnostic, kabbalah or other strains of escoteric or speculative thinking

but if a god exists - he is named baruch spinoza

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Aug 28 2007 17:09 utc | 54

chavez giving more money to latin america & the carribean than the united states

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Aug 28 2007 17:15 utc | 55

Aha, right after I posted about finding language for different kinds of wealth/richness, I find an article on the difference between the "Empire prosperity" and "Earth community prosperity" stories.

...conventional economic growth indicators rarely measure growth in human prosperity. Rather, they measure the rate at which the rich are expropriating the living resources of the planet and converting them to products destined for a garbage dump after a brief useful life. The process generates profits for people who already have far more money than they need while displacing people from the resources they need for their modest livelihoods. In summary, the primary business of the global financial system and the corporations that serve it is to increase the wealth gap. It works well in the short-term for the privileged few, but it is disastrous for the society.

Go, Hugo, go.

Posted by: catlady | Aug 28 2007 17:52 utc | 56

On second thought, what r'giap said @ #54

much more conveys the message of what I was thinking..

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Aug 28 2007 18:15 utc | 57

Thank you, rgiap, for using more detailed language to define "religious." Big furry abstract words get humants in so much trouble: freedom, security, God, religion, rich...

Rick, what does being religious mean to you? For me, it's seeking understanding that connects my body and mind to my physical and social surroundings (religare, re+ligare, to tie back together). Reading from many sources, singing, dancing, watching trees grow in my back yard and burning dead limbs in the fire pit...

I don't understand George Bush's religion, wherein God whispers in his ear and tells him to lead a Crusade.

Posted by: catlady | Aug 28 2007 19:03 utc | 58

Rich = Anyone whose basic needs are met and still prefers tax cuts to taking care of those who don't have their basic needs fulfilled. Since we don't have socialized medicine in this country that sets the bar pretty high, say a net worth of several million. And yes, I hate those people with a passion as a class, though individually many are just willfully ignorant, not evil, and should be gently educated over time.


I agree with what my comrade above has said about religion, or spirituality, to put a better name to private belief and practice. Again, when religion is used as a means of advantaging one group of humans over another, either because they are supposedly "holier" in the eyes of God, or because they have suffered in some unique way (Holocaust industry), both picayune prejudices that the majority of those in the faith I was brought up in believe, that is where I have an objection.


When I was worked in the oil industry in the West Indies, after we got our work done on the refinery night shift we would gather in the control room and talk about religion (or sex). One night, around 3:00 AM a group of down-island Pentecostals were having a feverish argument. Each believed that their own small corner church of perhaps 75 members, on the small isolated island we lived on in the vast Carribean Sea, was the only one which interpreted the Bible correctly, and everyone else -- everyone they worked with, everyone they knew, everyone on the island we lived, in fact, everyone in the entire world -- was going to Hell.

The conversation grew feverish, and Bible quotations were flying back and forth faster than a pack of mongoose before an approaching hurricane. I could barely follow the conversation and I was impressed by the amount of Bible these humble working people had committed to heart and memory. (Of course, in a conversation on this level, the particular translation of the Bible into English was accepted implicitly as THE WORD OF GOD, and no one thought to question whether archaisms or unclear passages might really have a different import in the original version.)

When oil is refined into a product such as gasoline, but it falls short of the required specifications for sale, it is not thrown away, but gets diverted to a "Slop" tank to be refined again.

One of the Foremen was passing by and got an ear of the argument. The heated group tried to draw him in to the fracas, "Which Church did HE think interpreted the passage they were arguing over properly?"

He sized up the situation coolly (he needed all his workers getting along and prepared for some difficult and dangerous work towards dawn). "If I was the Lord," he said, "I wouldn't create a humanity where 99% were sent to slop." And with that, as if he had thrown a bucket of water over a group of fighting curs, the group fell into clearly embarrassed silence; he turned on his toes and walked away.


By the way, speaking of religion, I had the privilege of meeting, and spending some time with, one the holiest men I have met in my entire life, over this past month.

This man, a minister in the Anglican Church by trade, author over over a dozen books, founder of the second largest charity for homelessness in the UK, a man who spent decades ministering selflessly to the homeless, drug addicted, and sex trade workers (and the Scottish driven by poverty from their homes into central London by de-industrialization), in Piccadilly Circus, a scholar teacher and mentor, and a man who has worn many hats in his life, a political and religious radical, was not holy in my eyes for all those accomplishments.

He was holy for his deep humility, his compassion, his humanity, and especially for his ability to approach everyone, including little children, as absolute equals and care about their troubles, large and small, as if they were his own. Like other holy people I have met, he was not full of himself, or even particularly self assured, in the least.

Holy people are not the ones who always have all of the answers, but the ones who struggle to search for the right answers all of the time. One night, after he had brought a packed SRO crowd down with an entertaining and absolutely masterful lecture on homelessness, along with comparisons of the problems in our community with those he had faced and where he felt the solutions lay, I ran into him some thirty minutes later in the salon. He leaned back deeply in his chair, his eyes closed in contemplation; he sighed deeply with exhaustion, opened his eyes now red with tears, and inquired, "Do you think I was OK? I could have done better, but there was so much I wanted to share, and so little time."

Posted by: Malooga | Aug 28 2007 19:16 utc | 59

Very interesting move. Why wouldn't Aramco keep the security control?

b, this is in preparation of the iran attack. the corporations are stuffing the ME w/private security forces. everyone knows if and when we draw down forces (big if) they will have to have plenty of these private forces already placed securely in outlying areas. lockheed's minions can 'join' the war w/less political fanfare than SA can enter it.

Posted by: annie | Aug 28 2007 19:30 utc | 60

@ Rick (# 48) "Two common themes found at Moon of Alabama: Hate rich people and hate those with religion. Certainly leaves me out - I work hard to have a better life and I try to be more religious."

I don't feel like pussing around playing politically correct wordsmith games here, Rick. We've spoken before and you know that I respect you and your contributions, but you level a strawman like that, I'm not just going to absorb it and play all touchy-feely for fear that someone might get their feathers ruffled.

Do I hate "religious people"? You mean the people who use their beliefs to dehumanise the non-believers? The ones who print or consume masturbatory fantasies of the tortures of the damned like the Left Behind series of books? Or the ones who weild their beliefs like a hammer to promote public policy to disenfranchise homosexuals or people of Middle Eastern origin? Or the ones who wage jihads, "clashes of civilizations", or claim "God made me President"? You mean the ones who hide behind a church to avoid personal or legal responsibility? Or just the ones who condescendingly proselytise in the streets because of their own elitist sanctimony? Those guys? You're damned right I hate them. Nobody is saying you can't have personal faith... hell, I do myself... but I draw the line at using it to promote public policy or justify an obscene status quo.

And what about those rich guys? The ones who view the world, up to and including their own fellow human beings, as a conglomeration of mere commodities to be bought and sold? The ones who hoard resources from the needy? Or are we talking about the ones who control the media and project their avaricious worldview onto everyone to the point that even the underprivileged themselves are filled with self-loathing and are driven to become conspicuous consumers? Or do you mean the ones who justify the obvious inequities with stories about "merit", so that they can convince themselves that the poor are just retarded morons who deserve to be denied healthcare and food? Those guys? Once again, you'd be spot on. I'm none too fond.

But who are those rich, religious guys, Rick? You think anyone here is talking about you? You said you "work hard to have a better life". That immediately precludes you from those ranks since the truly wealthy wouldn't know hard work if it harpooned their parasitic asses. I trust you aren't defending them due to an unconscious hope that maybe one day they will condescend to include you in their ranks. If that were the case, I'd be embarrassed for us both... I had you pegged as smarter than that.

Posted by: Monolycus | Aug 28 2007 19:33 utc | 61

so weird (for me) that we're getting into this conversation today, after i just enjoyed bunuel's the milky way for the first time last night. maybe i should keep my fingers quiet for now.

Posted by: b real | Aug 28 2007 19:45 utc | 62

When God Becomes a Drug...


Posted by: Uncle $cam | Aug 28 2007 19:55 utc | 63

how did i miss this

Client Alert—FCC Authorizes New National Broadband Network for Public Safety and Sets Rules for $10+ Billion Spectrum Auction

The FCC has released long-awaited rules for the auction and use of 62 MHz of prime 700 MHz band spectrum that will be reclaimed when television broadcasters transition to digital service in 2009. The new rules outline an ambitious public/private partnership to create a nationwide interoperable broadband network for public safety, establish auction procedures and license sizes, and impose limited “open access” requirements on one license block.


FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein told the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials International (APCO), meeting in Baltimore this week, that his preference was to have the U.S. government pay for a nationwide, interoperable public safety network. But advocates of such a network have been calling for one for years without it happening.

private corporations are taking over everything. we know where their loyalties lie.

i came apon the first link (pillsbury) from reading b's post about facility security forces re saudi arabia and noticed this 03 link about State Law Limits on the Use of Deadly Force by Facility Security Forces. ah, the good ol days. those laws are probably off the books now like in iraq. will we have private security forces allowe to kill w/impunity?

Posted by: annie | Aug 28 2007 20:03 utc | 64


Posted by: Uncle $cam | Aug 28 2007 21:05 utc | 65

again on the Michael Vick dog-fighting case:

first I feel as much caring towards dogs & other animals (snakes included) as anyone else. And Vick's treatment of dogs was cruel, horrendously inhumane and totally unaccceptable.

however, speaking for myself alone, I have known from a very early age that the overwhelming majority of people, regardless of race or background do not have a high level of sensitivity towards animals. Its something that stopped shocking me a very long time ago.

and on Vick, the question that not nearly enough people seem to be asking is -- how do you destroy a persons career & means of livelihood for a first-time offence in which he exploited animals for the purpose of what he considered to be acceptable sport & recreation ?

and my determination is that he's Black and all of this is the same-old same-old moral-superiority thats standard, typical & perfectly predictable.

and what does one make of those who speak with the loudest outrage & venom against Vick. Heelllooo !!! What world have they been living in. And if they love animals so so much, how exactly is it that Vicks crime arouses such exceptional, particular & "its-so-unbelievably ..." type outrage. Unless these folks dropped down from the sky four weeks ago into our so-very-animal-friendly planet, it just seems theres something more than dishonesty or hypocrisy going on.

And thats exactly how its works in this golden age of moral-superiority.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Aug 28 2007 21:19 utc | 66

It's just the standard Two Minutes Hate against Rich Niggers, jony, practically an annual summer picnic event, all planned to keep the white trash in line as their pay and benefits get slashed one more time, their houses are repo'ed, and they are forced to contract their pimply flat asses off to Iraq to pay for junior's dirt bike.

I mean you get these young kids coming right out of college and signing contracts larger than the foreign aid for all of Africa, dammit -- you'd think that the NFL, or the individual teams, might have some sort of counseling service set up to monitor these mega-kids, if only to keep their own image squeaky clean with the public.

It is hard to believe that no one in the NFL knew about Vick's little hobby all these years, and either squealed, or warned him about it.

As I said before, something about this smells rotten. I spell that S-E-T-U-P, by the way.

Anyway, it keeps all the boring stuff happening in Iraq out of one's consciousness for those who think reading the sports section of the paper, and watching five minutes of FOX while on line at the auto center counts as being informed. Hoo Ahhhh!

Posted by: Malooga | Aug 28 2007 22:49 utc | 67

Yes Malooga, the whole matter has that rotten-ness, contrived-ness, setup-ness thing about it. I agree.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Aug 28 2007 23:28 utc | 68

, scroll down for the client list.

Posted by: annie | Aug 29 2007 1:40 utc | 69

The article b linked to @40 had this excellent paragraph:

The second reason is that crime and punishment, loss and restitution, are impossible to separate when the act of killing is also the act that removes the killer beyond justice. Since that separation is essential to the functioning of modern law on which liberal identities -- and freedoms -- depend, deaths in suicide operations are especially intolerable.

Excellent as it so clearly formulates why suicide bombings are view as worse then just old plain bombings. We do not get to punish the bombers as they blew themselves up. And that is fricking unforgivable.

Posted by: a swedish kind of death | Aug 29 2007 2:30 utc | 70

Regarding the rich, and especially who is really rich I think Monbiot summes it up pretty good:

But as David Harvey proposes in his book A Brief History of Neoliberalism, wherever the neoliberal programme has been implemented, it has caused a massive shift of wealth not just to the top 1%, but to the top tenth of the top 1%. In the US, for instance, the upper 0.1% has already regained the position it held at the beginning of the 1920s.

Its in this article (which has already been linked on this thread).

Posted by: a swedish kind of death | Aug 29 2007 2:35 utc | 71

Paintings inspired by the abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison have been donated by Colombian artist Fernando Botero to the University of California, Berkeley, officials said Tuesday.

A spokeswoman said Botero and officials at the northern California university were close to finalising details for the gift, valued at 10 to 15 million dollars, which will be housed at the University's art museum.

raw story

Botero is considered Latin America's most celebrated and commercially successful living artist and his paintings regularly auction for between one and two million dollars.

But the Abu Ghraib series, the artist has said, is not for sale.


Botero turned down an offer by the Kunsthalle Wurth Museum near Stuttgart, Germany to build an additional wing to house the work, and has said that the collection should have a home either in the United States or Baghdad.

Though the work toured widely in Europe, American museums broadly passed on the collection.

Posted by: annie | Aug 29 2007 3:25 utc | 72

Colombian artist Fernando Botero

Posted by: annie | Aug 29 2007 3:27 utc | 73

making my blood boil

There are four main misconceptions that diplomats bring with them to Israel. Primary among them is the idea that solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a prerequisite for stability in the Mideast. The truth is that the region is riven by clashes that have nothing to do with Israel. For instance, the Jewish state plays no role in the conflict between Shiites and Sunnis, between Persians and Arabs or between Arab nationalists and Arab Islamists.

The second misconception is that Israeli territorial concessions are the key to progress. The reality is that an ascendant jihadist Islam believes that it is leading the battle against Israel and the rest of the West. Given this dynamic, Israeli territorial or other concessions simply fill the jihadists' sails, reinforcing their belief that Israel and the West are weak and can be militarily defeated.


Western governments and their emissaries must refrain from pressuring Israel for territorial or security concessions, which at best produces only short-term gains and emboldens the Islamist terror groups....governments should set up an international fund that would offer Palestinian refugee families aid -- say $100,000 to $200,000 a family -- for their resettlement on the condition that their acceptance of the money would signify resolution of their refugee status.


The emissaries who travel to Israel must draw on their rich diplomatic experiences, free themselves from misconceptions about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the petty politics that flows from them -- especially the binds of political correctness -- to lead us all toward freedom, security and peace. Anything else is mere meddling.

it's hard to believe this editorial is in the la times!!!!!

Posted by: annie | Aug 29 2007 4:08 utc | 74

sorry, my blockquoting was flawed

Posted by: annie | Aug 29 2007 4:10 utc | 75

More military "justice"

The title and subtitle of the article says it all:

Abu Ghraib Officer Cleared of Detainee Abuse Verdict Means No One in Army's Upper Ranks Will Be Imprisoned for the 2003 Mistreatment in Iraq

Detainees murdered, raped, tortured? Mission Accomplished and Medals of Freedom all around!

Posted by: ran | Aug 29 2007 4:17 utc | 76

annie @74.

hard to believe? the op-ed page that includes such neocon notables as Max "exterminate the brutes" Boot and Jonah "doughy pantload" Goldberg?

Posted by: ran | Aug 29 2007 4:23 utc | 77

Gosh, I missed Rick's Two common themes found at Moon of Alabama: Hate rich people and hate those with religion. Certainly leaves me out - I work hard to have a better life and I try to be more religious.. And to think I usually follow the Open Threads first, too! Tsk!

I cannot speak for others, but: yes, I hate rich people and those with religion. The latter only because it's a little hard to hate religion itself -- you can't have religion without people, but now that corporations have more rights than people do, you can have wealth without people. If they ever start building robots that rant about hell and tell a lot of lies in defense of books written thousands of years ago while defrauding each other of their savings and committing pedophilia, incest, rape, and/or homosexual and/or extramarital sex on the sly, I'll look into hating religion without people.

I hate religion for very specific reasons. Bear with me for a minute, here:

It has been established for decades now that one cannot prove the truth of any religion using logic and evidence. If you could prove your religion with outside evidence, your faith would cease to be faith as such. In addition, history has shown that any religion may become a center of violence: Catholicism and Protestantism have being doing their dance of death since the Reformation, mirrored by the Sunnis and the Shiites; the Jews have made Israel synonymous with bloodshed; the Japanese used Buddhism to justify occupying China; there's violence from Hindus and Australian Aborigines, from Sikhs and Shintoists; Quetzalquotl didn't inspire peace, either. Furthermore, even when not fighting over mutually-exclusive doctrine, religions often have bad effects. Religions have stood against: abolition of slavery, universal suffrage, inoculations against disease, sanitary sewage funding, abolition of torture, and even literacy.

At the same time, religions have failed signally to show any substantial evidence for a link between their existence and improved morality, a claim which they make repeatedly. Just as an example: before the abolitionist movement, slavery was explicitly approved by American Christianity. After all, 'tis in Scripture! The Old Testament spends quite some time on how to treat slaves, and will even let you beat them as much as you like as long as they don't die for at least one day! The New Testament tells slaves not to run away! It took some time, but now, after the abolitionist movement and a Civil War and any number of lawsuits, American Christians are broadly anti-slavery! The same religion in both cases -- if religion really were a source of morality, this would not happen. As if the many, many examples of this sort of change were not apparent, when is the last time you were actually surprised to find that a prominent religious figure was a hypocrite? Even Mother Theresa, whose enemies would hardly have compared to, say, Ted Haggard, was hardly immune. (And all the money she collected went where, precisely? Not into her clinics, that's for sure.)

Every instance of moral progress in the last several centuries which I can recall was begun not by people acting from religious faith but from people deliberately setting religious faith aside; perhaps you can come up with even a single counterexample? Even today, there is almost no outcry against torture "because it's against our religion" but rather because of the general concept of human rights -- and human rights come from philosophers thinking on society and civilization, not from Buddha or Jesus or Moses or Mohammed. Go back 500 years and see if anyone in the entire world would even be able to grasp the concept.

So, what can we say about religion? It's a force which is independent of morality, which frequently refutes progress and often tenaciously clings to immoral ideas, which is not afraid of violence, and which is held to be immune from any logical connection to the real world. It often pulls complete reversals on moral issues in the space of a single generation. How could anyone not hate it? It worries me desperately that I have to live on the same planet with people who actually think religion is a good thing; it's like having a neighbor who has a prized collection of gasoline-soaked rags stored all over his house and who smokes.

As for the rich? I hate the rich because they have privileges which are not explicitly for sale. If, during the 1960s, the Army had had a policy whereby one could bring $1000 and get out of the draft, it would have been unfair to the poor, but not as unfair as excusing the children of the very rich out of hand and sending everyone else off to fight and die, which is what actually *cough* George Bush *cough* happened. If the only privileges of the rich were of the "they can afford to buy X but I cannot, but if I had the price of X around I would not be prevented from doing so" variety I would not hate them. That simple.

Posted by: The Truth Gets Vicious When You Corner It | Aug 29 2007 4:31 utc | 78

@TTGVWYCI - you are mixing up organized religion and its inherent abuse and personal religion/believe - cetrainly those are different animals.

Bush Wants $50 Billion More for Iraq War

The request -- which would come on top of about $460 billion in the fiscal 2008 defense budget and $147 billion in a pending supplemental bill to fund the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq -- is expected to be announced after congressional hearings scheduled for mid-September featuring the two top U.S. officials in Iraq. Army Gen. David H. Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker will assess the state of the war and the effect of the new strategy the U.S. military has pursued this year.
The revised supplemental would total about $200 billion, indicating that the cost of the war in Iraq now exceeds $3 billion a week.
Let's see: $200B divided by 52 weeks per year = $3.84 billion a week up from 147/52=2.8.

To the NYT that "exceeds $3 billion". That is a correct statement "exceeds $1 million" would also be true. But somehow this misses the truth.

Posted by: b | Aug 29 2007 5:41 utc | 79

I'm registering as an Independent tomorrow

hahahaha...Man, I'd love to see more like this...

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Aug 29 2007 6:15 utc | 80


AMEN brother, A-A-A-A-MEN

Posted by: jcairo | Aug 29 2007 8:45 utc | 81

Hey, even Fiskie may be starting to get a clue.

Posted by: DM | Aug 29 2007 10:06 utc | 82

Actually, b, no I'm not. There is no such thing as a purely internal religion.

Don't believe me? Let's have a thought experiment. (It has to be a thought experiment for ethical reasons.) We take a baby, and we have it brought up by robots. It is taught to read and write, and mathematics, and science -- things which stem from logic and observation. We give it a grounding in basic modern neurology (read that one -- it's a bit long -- and think of the implications!) and explain what hypnogogia is. We give it only literature and entertainment which does not contain any religious material. In short, we give it no external reasons to formulate a religion.

Now, if religion arose spontaneously without outside intervention, one would expect this hypothetical person to spontaneously come up with religion, right? Well, then, at roughly what age (and by what reasoning) would they come up with any of the following:

1) The universe was created by a conscious entity (or group of entities).
2) There is some portion of you which will live on when your body dies. This incorporeal part either:
2a) Will go through eternal bliss or suffering, depending on whether you believe the right thing.
2b) Will go through eternal bliss or suffering, depending on what you did while alive.
2c) Will be reincarnated as some other living thing, precise details dependent on behavior during life.
3) Natural phenomena are the will of an invisible entity or entities which are intelligent and extremely powerful but unwilling to appear in person and talk to us

The rather obvious answer is that these things would not occur to them; knowing that their personality was dependent on their brain would prevent them from formulating an afterlife, and there isn't much to a religion without that. (To say nothing of the specific doctrines which religions insist are necessary -- no such hypothetical person would ever deduce that there is no god but allah and some guy on a flying horse was his prophet, or that god has three personalities and that one of them was incarnated via a virgin, got killed, and then came back to life, or that divinity wants ritual mutilation of the male sex organs and forbids wool-linen mix clothing, or that reciting a long list of names of god was a good thing.)

It takes a society to create a religion. If you had never heard of, say, Christianity, and someone described the narrative to you, would you be inclined to take it seriously?

Well, see, there's this all-knowing and all-powerful god who looks like us, and he created the first humans, you see. And they were perfect and immortal and happy, and did everything god said to do. But then they ate a forbidden fruit which made them able to tell the difference between good and evil, so they were no longer perfect -- what? No, I don't know how they were supposed to know not to disobey if they didn't know the difference between good and evil; just take it as read, okay? Yeah, perfect is stupid. Gotcha. Who's telling this story, anyway? So god kicks them out and curses them and when they start having kids he splits the kids up into factions and then waits a thousand years or so and decides he's going to wipe out all the evil in a flood and start again, but it doesn't work. Somehow the "all-knowing" thing wasn't working that day. So then after humans have spread out again and another few thousand years have passed he decides that the only way he can forgive humanity is for him to get born and then killed; apparently the "all-powerful" thing wasn't working out either, so he couldn't, you know, just forgive us, or maybe fix us, he had to get killed, you know. S'like, artistic integrity, or something. Dude loves us so much, he can't forgive us without some blood. So he does it, and then gets up again afterwards, but the mojo only works if you hear about this and believe in it, right? No, I don't know why god didn't do the whole act before we spread out. Fossil evidence? Evolution? Nah, you don't want to believe any of that. That kinda thing will make you go blind. So whaddya say, obviously true, right? Say, you have some cash you can spare me for saving you? Don't forget to tell your friends.

You wouldn't take this seriously. You would class it with Scientology, except that you might decide that it was discredited simply by being so out of date. (Out viz ze old scamz, und in viz Xenu, so to speak.)

So where do religions come from? A religion is formed when a society which is ignorant (or credulous, or desperate to escape reality -- there's a traffic cop claiming to be Jesus where the Russian economy and educational system have failed, and he has competition in South America where the U.S. has crippled both as well) is encountered by either scam artists or reformers willing to tell lies in a good cause, or sometimes both. I'd love to see one that doesn't fit that description, but every single one I've encountered so far fits that description uncomfortably well.

Posted by: The Truth Gets Vicious When You Corner It | Aug 29 2007 10:08 utc | 83

but religion is ancient science! - according to a "christian" friend of mine - it isn't born out of ignorance, but is the wisdom we require for a greater understanding of the universe and reading the bible will reveal all to us - but don't you quote any 'old testament' to him, because he knows which passages are relevant and science doesn't have a monopoly on the truth

Posted by: jcairo | Aug 29 2007 11:17 utc | 84

regarding the Russian-traffic-cop-son-of-god - "Sandals with socks! Oh, dear, what a fashion faux pas! Anyway, how can he be the Son of God with socks on? It doesn’t stand up to reason."

Posted by: jcairo | Aug 29 2007 12:35 utc | 85

@83 - There is no such thing as a purely internal religion

Who are you to claim such?

Are you saying there are no phantasies? As a kid I KNEW I was a sleeping dragon and human life was just that dragons dream.

The steril person you make in your argument is a pure theoretical figure. Does it have morale? If it does it puts duties on itself. It may recognize these duties as devine commands.

Next to that human beings can and do make up beliefs all the time.

Religious beliefs are made to suffice two urges:
- to give sense to live
- to take away fear of death
As worse life is as bigger are these urges.

There are many ways to develop something around these urges. There seem to a comunality between nearly all religions that involve some "live after death" or some "circle of live(s)" and some higher beings influencing duty, fate or karma.

An atheist may say this is all nonsense. That may be his/her belief. Others believe something different. It is futile to prove either side.

As long as belief is a personal voluntary thing it doesn't matter at all.
As soon as belief system gets codified, organized and inflexible, i.e. becomes organized religion, there is danger that someone will come and use it as a tool for other things than its original purpose. That is the only issue I have with religions.

Others may believe whatever they want. There is nothing negative to personal belief and if it has something positive for them I congratulate them. If they are good people I value them as such. Would you not?

Posted by: b | Aug 29 2007 14:35 utc | 86

actually, i kinda wish more people believed in reincarnation, since the msg is that you have to take care of things now - esp the natural world - so that things aren't so bad when you come back. imagine if that was the prevailing worldview, rather than one that posits the insignificance of the material world.

Posted by: b real | Aug 29 2007 14:38 utc | 87


Are you saying there are no phantasies? As a kid I KNEW I was a sleeping dragon and human life was just that dragons dream.

I'd bet you any amount of money that if anyone had asked you whether this was true, you would have said no. Adults like to make this kind of claim, but kids aren't as lost in unreality as all that.

Next to that human beings can and do make up beliefs all the time.

Religious beliefs are made to suffice two urges:
- to give sense to live
- to take away fear of death
As worse life is as bigger are these urges.

Yes, so? Religious beliefs also used to be used to explain natural phenomena. We then came up with science, which provides a better and more useful -- and simpler, overall -- explanation. Why should we not seek a better way of giving sense to life and taking away fear of death than something that causes continuous conflict around the world? Ask any honest person who deals regularly with the dying in a secular society, and you'll hear that the more religious someone is, the more afraid they are of death. It's been noted again and again and again. Where is the comfort you claim they get?

When I die, it will all be over. No more me, and I admit that it's sad. (At least, from my perspective! Others might not think so. :) ) On the other hand, when I die, I'll never be sick again, never be hungry, never have pain, never have an unfulfilled desire, never have a worry. Why should I be afraid of that? In many respects, it's actually better than being alive. The dead don't have to work.

There are many ways to develop something around these urges. There seem to a comunality between nearly all religions that involve some "live after death" or some "circle of live(s)" and some higher beings influencing duty, fate or karma.

Did you read my link? Neurology says, with quite good evidence these days, that this is false. No soul, and therefore no afterlife or reincarnation. Life is strictly what you make of it.

An atheist may say this is all nonsense. That may be his/her belief. Others believe something different. It is futile to prove either side.

The very real attempts to overthrow secular government and impose religious rule show that this is not futile. Continuing to assume that religion is a benign force is very, very dangerous.

@b real:

actually, i kinda wish more people believed in reincarnation, since the msg is that you have to take care of things now - esp the natural world - so that things aren't so bad when you come back. imagine if that was the prevailing worldview, rather than one that posits the insignificance of the material world.

On the other hand, reincarnation posits that there can never be an end to life, because that would imply that reincarnation can be stopped by purely physical means, so there is a limit to the environmentalism imposed by that belief. Yeah, you might have to come back as a mouse, or on another planet, or something, but the notion of mass extinction doesn't fit very well in that scheme.

If I had a wish about faith, I'd wish that fewer people believed in a higher power, because it's always used as a justification for the sort of human suffering which it is within human power to prevent. "Maybe you're poor and sick and badly-educated, and maybe the rich can arrange to have just about anything taken away from you including your life, but just you wait until you're dead, my lad, you'll get your reward!"

Respect for religion has, by attempting to throttle science, killed respect for truth in the abstract. Can we have it back now?

Posted by: The Truth Gets Vicious When You Corner It | Aug 29 2007 15:50 utc | 88

"Partner Vetting System"

The plan [which became effective yesterday] would require charities, religious organizations, colleges and universities, and corporations seeking [U.S.] foreign aid funds to give the [U.S.] government detailed information about key personnel, including dates and places of birth, employment, citizenship, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses. The government would send that information to the FBI, intelligence and law enforcement agencies, but would shroud the results in secrecy by not telling the groups deemed unacceptable why they were rejected.

The data "will be used to conduct national security screening" to ensure that these persons have no connection to entities or individuals "associated with terrorism" or "deemed to be a risk to national security," according to the Federal Register notice. The notice estimated that 2,000 individuals could be screened.

Kunder said his agency is working in countries "where terrorism is a major concern" and is carrying out programs that are "undermining causes of extremism." The screening program, he said, would try to make sure that, "in those environments, taxpayer dollars are not going into terrorist organizations."

Under present security rules, organizations doing business with USAID are required to certify that they have checked their personnel and partners against government terrorist lists and found no connections. Under the proposal, organizations would be required to file information on each officer, board member and key employee, and on those associated with an application for aid funds or managing a funded project.

Hmmm, with a such a ridiculous system in place, who would want US aid any more anyway? They might just start to look elsewhere.

Posted by: Bea | Aug 29 2007 16:09 utc | 89

but religion is ancient science! - according to a "christian" friend of mine

religion WAS ancient science!

So where do religions come from?

here is my theory. ancient man wasn't raised by robots. we have involuntary reactions. why? for our own survival. we have pain, sorrow, joy. we do not have to learn to smile, laugh or cry. we do not have to learn that pain does not feel good. our original sense of 'morals' come from basic instinct. myths were created around those instincts to justify or explain them. rules are not created for people who follow them, rules are created for people who don't.

for example, most people would not kill an innocent child. w/or w/out belief in god. now, someone kills a child. a 'group think' says this is wrong. why? a narrative is formed to explain why? within that narrative are caveats that allow for killing. a story (myth) is created to demonstrate the lesson, or rule.

we take our images from what is around us, nature and animals. religions were orginally formed around common myth entailing the sun /moon dieties. the exception to this would be if we were not raised by humans. the robot...

the idea of god was most likely formed as a result of an experience of a overpowering strong sense of 'knowingness'. conceptualizing that who we are, and all we are is a grain of sand, and that our entire universe in contained inside something the size of a baseball inside our head is inconceivable to many people, much less conceivable than 'knowing' we are a part of something much larger. especially people who have psychic abilities, which is many of us.

there has always been night and day, conscious thought, and unconscious thought, this is translated into the outer world and the underworld. for ancient man (more so than today) the physical things in the environment represented and became a manifestation of inner world or a spirit world. and why not! religions were created as narrative to explain nature or sync the outside world w/the reality of thought or mind.. hence.. the concept of 'whole world', 'whole thought' 'whole mind'..'greater mind'...god.

Posted by: annie | Aug 29 2007 16:17 utc | 90

Adults like to make this kind of claim, but kids aren't as lost in unreality as all that.

maybe you weren't but many kids believe in santa. i have told this story on moon before but i will tell you again. i did not believe in santa as a child btw and in general i think i have always been a very sceptical of things unexplained. i had very very vivid flying dreams (still do sometimes), i used to take flying lessons. sometimes in my dreams i had a recollection that i couldn't always fly so i would make a real effort to exactly remember how i could, when i was flying (i can tell you the instructions if you are interested!). once my dream was so convincing i insisted i could fly. my neighbor opened the window of the attic, invited me to stand on the bed about 10 feet away (there was a pole there i could get a good swing off of) and take off out the window. i absolutely thought i could do it, took off with all my might, and fell flat.

i will never forget this. i was about 4 maybe 3.

Posted by: annie | Aug 29 2007 16:28 utc | 91

a such a ridiculous system in place, who would want US aid any more anyway?

yeah, the 'aid' usually has 'strings' attached. think of all the 'humanitarian' efforts we contribute to...

Posted by: annie | Aug 29 2007 16:36 utc | 92

i absolutely thought i could do it, took off with all my might, and fell flat.

Ouch annie ... how far?

Posted by: Bea | Aug 29 2007 17:22 utc | 93

"An atheist may say this is all nonsense. That may be his/her belief. Others believe something different. It is futile to prove either side."

I say it is all balderdash and this is far from a belief. It is wisdom gained by the failure of the religious to provide not one single convincing argument...

b, where did the idea for dragons come from? Are you saying that you had formed this creature in your dreams PRIOR to learning of them from society?

This is rich - especially people who have psychic abilities, which is many of us.

Utter BS.

There is 1 MILLION dollars, awaiting you or your fav mountebank here - $$$$$$$$ It has been unclaimed for over a decade and the famou$ p$ychic$ won't go anywhere near it while providing the most pathetic of excuses.

Did you know that Philadelphia recently shut down all the psychics in a single day raid? This is true.

It is also true that not one p$ychic saw it comin. Not one.

Why don't they clean up on the lotteries?

There's a p$ychic up the road from me still charging $10 after all these years. It should be easy for him/her to divine the winning numbers, yet...

Oh and the Philly p$ychics? When I read that story, I predicted that city council would relent in favour of these petty charlatans, er, entrepreneurial small businesses. And lo it came to pass but a few sleeps later.

Woohoo, p$ychic!

On the Value of Skepticism

Posted by: jcairo | Aug 29 2007 17:57 utc | 94

Fellow Americans, your tax dollars, hard at work:

How the Senator from Idaho Spends His Time in DC's Union Station

If this is the level of folks we have in the Senate, then no wonder this country is going down the toilet.

Posted by: Bea | Aug 29 2007 18:06 utc | 95

Listening to Thom Hartmann...he had someone on I'm not sure - maybe Ellen Ratner of Talk Radio News Service, maybe someone else, but someone well-connected, sane... - said her sources said the Assault on Iran cannot be stopped.

Enjoy whatever you can while you can...

Posted by: jj | Aug 29 2007 18:09 utc | 96

Taking a Stand Against the War in Louisville, KY:

Be sure and watch the video -- scroll down the site to reach it.

Posted by: Bea | Aug 29 2007 18:21 utc | 97

Ouch annie ... how far?

well, the bed was probably a couple feet off the ground, i don't remember and i would imagine, being the size i was, i couldn't have an extended jump more than a few feet. arms fluttering up and down like a hummingbird. lol. i had an audience too, probably 6 or 7 kids i had been bragging to about how i could fly.

This is rich - especially people who have psychic abilities, which is many of us.

Utter BS.

there is a lot of unexplained phenomena out there and we don't know how it works. considering we use such a small portion of our brain to think we don't have mental abilities we aren't using is naive. some people translate this as god talking to them or thru them. personally, i think there is an abundance of information available to us we just don't know how to tap into or use to our benefit. during the bicentennial time magazine interviewed 50 of the worlds top scientista and ask them what they thought was going to be the dominent theme of science in the next century. by far, the overwhelming majority said.. the study of the brain.

at the turn of the previous century i wonder how many people, if you described the web, would have said

Utter BS

or how many people would have thought it would have required an act of god.

Posted by: annie | Aug 29 2007 18:30 utc | 98

That interview was followed by Hartmann taking a few phone calls. Someone called from Jim McDermott's district. She said she'd just attended a constituents meeting. Jim said he has "reason to think & fear" that there will be a war in Sept.

Posted by: jj | Aug 29 2007 18:33 utc | 99 Lockerbie Evidence Faked

ZURICH - A Swiss businessman on Monday said that a key piece of evidence in the Lockerbie trial was faked, following a French press report that one of his employees had lied to Scottish investigators.

Edwin Bollier, head of the Swiss-based Mebo group, said that one of his employees had supplied Scottish investigators with a stolen timing device, which was then presented in the trial as having been found amidst the plane's wreckage

Mebo makes electronic equipment for the security forces.

In fact, Mebo employee Ulrich Lumpert has now admitted that the device he handed over to Scottish investigators was one he himself had stolen from the company, rather than part of a batch delivered to Libya in the 1980s.

"The exhibits were manipulated and used to make a link between Libya and the attack," Bollier said.

Posted by: Bea | Aug 29 2007 18:43 utc | 100

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