Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
December 05, 2007

OT 07-82

We need your comments, news & views ...

Open thread ...

Posted by b on December 5, 2007 at 05:30 AM | Permalink

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Now that's an interesting combination ...

Lo, Murdoch did bring the good news and stored up riches on earth

Rupert Murdoch is out to prove that you can serve God and mammon after all. The media tycoon's Fox Entertainment has bought beliefnet, the largest online faith and spirituality network.

The site is a portal that includes interviews with celebrities and politicians, social networking tools, blogs, inspirational stories, sacred text searches and views from teachers and preachers. Discussion boards carry topics such as "Can inter-faith dating work?" and "Extreme abstinence". Beliefnet was founded in 1999 and the company claims to have 3 million unique visitors a month and nearly 11 million subscribers to a daily email newsletter.
...
The market for religious goods and services is growing. According to the Pew Internet Project, more than 82 million Americans and 64% of all internet users go online for faith-related matters. Research cited by Fox suggests the market for religious books, DVDs and software is worth more than $8bn.

Posted by: b | Dec 5, 2007 5:34:58 AM | 1

The Iran-Contra Cargo Plane, Now a Restaurant and Bar!

On October 5, 1986, a cargo plane delivering supplies to the Nicaraguan Contras was shot down. This ultimately led to the uncovering of the biggest scandal of the Reagan administration: the Iran Contra [wiki].

But what happened to the plane itself? Turned out, someone made it into a restaurant and bar aptly called “El Avion”!

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Dec 5, 2007 7:24:50 AM | 2

The retrun of refugees to Iraq is touted as a success. Now how does that fit with this:
Iraq Urges Refugees To Stay Put

The Iraqi government on Tuesday urged some refugees not to go back to their homes yet, saying the country was unprepared to accommodate their return.

"The reality is that we cannot handle a huge influx of people," Abdul Samad al-Sultan, the minister of displacement and migration, said at a news conference to announce a joint plan with the United Nations to help returning Iraqis. "The refugees in some countries, we ask them to wait."

Posted by: b | Dec 5, 2007 8:08:44 AM | 3

The reason why Israel may once fall apart in secular-religious strive: MKs debate protection of 'equality' in future constitution

Religious and secular MKs participating in a meeting of the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee were at loggerheads Teusday over the inclusion of the principle of equality in the draft of Israel's constitution.

During the meeting, members of the ultra-Orthodox parties and the National Religious Party reiterated their objection to the incorporation of the concept of equality into a constitution, as they say it contradicts their religious beliefs.

Posted by: b | Dec 5, 2007 8:11:10 AM | 4

"64% of all internet users go online for faith-related matters"
Geee, and it once was a tool for academics to share findings and improve research and communication between scientists and knowledgeable people. How lower can it fall?


By the way, and in all seriousness, I envy you, Bernhard. You have some officials who at last can see the light and how things should be done to fight the scum in Hamburg.

Posted by: CluelessJoe | Dec 5, 2007 8:52:02 AM | 5

@CluelessJoe - the Scientologists are a pest and need to be handled appropriately. They have cornered parts of the housing market here and its quite difficult to get rid of them.
---
One of the best explaining pieces on the credit crunch by WaPo's Perlstein: It's Not 1929, but It's the Biggest Mess Since

What's important to understand is that, contrary to what you heard from President Bush yesterday, this isn't just a mortgage or housing crisis. The financial giants that originated, packaged, rated and insured all those subprime mortgages were the same ones, run by the same executives, with the same fee incentives, using the same financial technologies and risk-management systems, who originated, packaged, rated and insured home-equity loans, commercial real estate loans, credit card loans and loans to finance corporate buyouts.

It is highly unlikely that these organizations did a significantly better job with those other lines of business than they did with mortgages. But the extent of those misjudgments will be revealed only once the economy has slowed, as it surely will.
...
One analysis, by Eidesis Capital, a fund specializing in CDOs, estimates that, of the CDOs issued during the peak years of 2006 and 2007, investors in all but the AAA tranches will lose all their money, and even those will suffer losses of 6 to 31 percent.
...
And it doesn't stop there. CDO losses now threaten the AAA ratings of a number of insurance companies that bought CDO paper or insured against CDO losses. And because some of those insurers also have provided insurance to investors in tax-exempt bonds, states and municipalities have decided to pull back on new bond offerings because investors have become skittish.

If all this sounds like a financial house of cards, that's because it is. And it is about to come crashing down, with serious consequences not only for banks and investors but for the economy as a whole.

That's not just my opinion. It's why banks are husbanding their cash and why the outstanding stock of bank loans and commercial paper is shrinking dramatically.

It is why Treasury officials are working overtime on schemes to stem the tide of mortgage foreclosures and provide a new vehicle to buy up CDO assets.
...
This may not be 1929. But it's a good bet that it's way more serious than the junk bond crisis of 1987, the S&L crisis of 1990 or the bursting of the tech bubble in 2001.


Posted by: b | Dec 5, 2007 9:55:17 AM | 6

@6-b,

If only they had privatized social security funds to play with as well.

Posted by: biklett | Dec 5, 2007 10:17:49 AM | 7

Interesting mismatch of arguments in the article CluelessJoe cites:

• The rep. for Hamburg cites Scientology's abuse of human rights as a reason for a nationwide ban against it.

• The Scientology spokesperson "replies" that Scientology has been determined to be a religion by the European Court for Human Rights.


Hmmm... Unless no religion ever abuses human rights, that's not an argument.

Posted by: citizen | Dec 5, 2007 1:30:25 PM | 8

b, 4


"There cannot be a constitution in a Jewish and democratic state if it does not defend the unequal values of Judaism - and they are unequal"

how can it be democratic w/unequal values? why are they so set on calling themselves a democracy, when the clearly are not.

Posted by: annie | Dec 5, 2007 1:32:04 PM | 9

25 dead in Iraq bombings as Gates visits

Posted by: annie | Dec 5, 2007 2:17:05 PM | 10

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Depression#Federal_Reserve_Chairman_Marriner_Eccles:_Inequality_of_Wealth_and_Income>One Theory on the depresssion:

Marriner S. Eccles who served as Franklin Roosevelt’s Chairman of the Federal Reserve from November, 1934 to February, 1948 detailed what he believed caused the Depression in his memoirs, Beckoning Frontiers (New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 1951):

As mass production has to be accompanied by mass consumption, mass consumption, in turn, implies a distribution of wealth -- not of existing wealth, but of wealth as it is currently produced -- to provide men with buying power equal to the amount of goods and services offered by the nation s economic machinery. [Emphasis in original.] Instead of achieving that kind of distribution, a giant suction pump had by 1929-30 drawn into a few hands an increasing portion of currently produced wealth. This served them as capital accumulations. But by taking purchasing power out of the hands of mass consumers, the savers denied to themselves the kind of effective demand for their products that would justify a reinvestment of their capital accumulations in new plants. In consequence, as in a poker game where the chips were concentrated in fewer and fewer hands, the other fellows could stay in the game only by borrowing. When their credit ran out, the game stopped.

That is what happened to us in the twenties. We sustained high levels of employment in that period with the aid of an exceptional expansion of debt outside of the banking system. This debt was provided by the large growth of business savings as well as savings by individuals, particularly in the upper-income groups where taxes were relatively low. Private debt outside of the banking system increased about fifty per cent. This debt, which was at high interest rates, largely took the form of mortgage debt on housing, office, and consumer installment debt, brokers' loans, and foreign debt. The stimulation to spending by debt-creation of this sort was short-lived and could not be counted on to sustain high levels of employment for long periods of time. Had there been a better distribution of the current income from the national product -- in other words, had there been less savings by business and the higher-income groups and more income in the lower groups -- we should have had far greater stability in our economy. Had the six billion dollars, for instance, that were loaned by corporations and wealthy individuals for stock-market speculation been distributed to the public as lower prices or higher wages and with less profits to the corporations and the well-to-do, it would have prevented or greatly moderated the economic collapse that began at the end of 1929.

The time came when there were no more poker chips to be loaned on credit. Debtors thereupon were forced to curtail their consumption in an effort to create a margin that could be applied to the reduction of outstanding debts. This naturally reduced the demand for goods of all kinds and brought on what seemed to be overproduction, but was in reality underconsumption when judged in terms of the real world instead of the money world. This, in turn, brought about a fall in prices and employment.

Unemployment further decreased the consumption of goods, which further increased unemployment, thus closing the circle in a continuing decline of prices. Earnings began to disappear, requiring economies of all kinds in the wages, salaries, and time of those employed. And thus again the vicious circle of deflation was closed until one third of the entire working population was unemployed, with our national income reduced by fifty per cent, and with the aggregate debt burden greater than ever before, not in dollars, but measured by current values and income that represented the ability to pay. Fixed charges, such as taxes, railroad and other utility rates, insurance and interest charges, clung close to the 1929 level and required such a portion of the national income to meet them that the amount left for consumption of goods was not sufficient to support the population.

This then, was my reading of what brought on the depression.

Posted by: anna missed | Dec 5, 2007 3:11:48 PM | 11

I guess that came from a time when the Fed Chairman could speak English.

Posted by: anna missed | Dec 5, 2007 3:16:11 PM | 12

They have cornered parts of the housing market here and its quite difficult to get rid of them.

b, how have the 'cornered' parts of the market? i'm curious.

Posted by: | Dec 5, 2007 4:48:56 PM | 13

World renowned 'guerrilla graffitti artist' leaves his mark on the Holy Land bansky hits bethlehem! bbc video @ link

Posted by: annie | Dec 5, 2007 4:55:05 PM | 14

I saw something on Danish television this evening that people in the US don't see as often as we do here -- a Hercules transport discharging caskets draped with the national flag, here the Danebrog.

Kind of odd, Danish casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan are in the low double digits -- and yet we've seen more flag draped caskets on television than Americans.

Posted by: Chuck Cliff | Dec 5, 2007 4:55:19 PM | 15

Asia Times:

The plan to topple Pakistan's military

The author is obviously pro-establishment, he could possibly be seen as an unofficial spokesman given his government job. So it is quite striking that he accuses the US unequivocally.

Posted by: Alamet | Dec 5, 2007 8:34:54 PM | 16

Good Daily Kos diary:

Shock Doctrine and Union Busting

(snip)
Tactics:

*Lower the expectations of the other side, divide and conquer.

*Raise and lower the expectations of the other side, divide and conquer.

*Do everything possible to destroy the credibility of the other side’s leadership, divide and conquer.

*Use confidants and back channels to go over the heads of the stronger leaders to the softer targets. Divide and conquer.

*When you figure out the other side’s bottom line, offer a fraction. It’s surprising how many times that stands.
(snip)

The diarist's reference to Naomi Klein reminds me, does anyone else here have the suspicion that blueprints are already at hand to administer liberal doses of shock therapy globally once the pain of the credit crisis spreads at the street level?

Posted by: Alamet | Dec 5, 2007 8:44:52 PM | 17

Anna missed, thanks for the Great Post on '29 Depression. I suspected something along those lines as I've watched in recent yrs. the massive over-accumulation of capital in the hands of a very few, desperate for something to do w/it.

til i finish my Iraq-Iran post, I'll just share this for everyone's wkend enjoyment: The Coming China Crash . Jerome has been concerned about many sources of Chinese instability for quite awhile.

Posted by: jj | Dec 5, 2007 10:27:11 PM | 18

two reports out today on the niger delta

small arms survey: Small arms, armed violence, and insecurity in Nigeria: The Niger Delta in perspective

Preface

This report is based on field research that was carried out by the Small Arms Survey and our Nigerian partners from September 2006 to April 2007. Consequently, the analysis presented here reflects the situation in Nigeria during this period. While the report does address some key events that took place after April 2007—the inauguration of the new president, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua; the initiation of peace talks in the Niger Delta; and the release of Alhaji Mujahid Dokubo-Asari from prison—these events are covered in far less detail. The findings in the report and the trends identified in terms of small arms proliferation, growing insecurity, and the important role of armed groups in security and politics continued to hold true through October 2007.
...
This study aims to raise awareness of a number of issues relating to insecurity, armed violence, and the proliferation of illicit small arms in Nigeria since the return to democracy in 1999. To this end, the core of this report is divided into five sections. The first section looks at the causes of armed violence in Nigeria, including the context of the 2007 elections, the various dividing lines in Nigerian society, and the long-term challenge of economic development and the redistribution of resources. The second section discusses the circulation of illicit small arms, the availability of legal and illegal arms, the manufacture of craft weapons, and popular demand for small arms. The third section looks at armed violence in Nigeria, with the intention of providing a more nuanced understanding of the types of violence in Nigeria, the contexts in which violence is more likely to occur, and the nature of the perpetrators involved. The fourth section concentrates on the role of armed groups in Nigeria by first discussing the types of armed groups that operate in the country, and then focusing on the evolution of such groups in the Niger Delta region in particular. The fifth section presents an overview of the challenges the government faces in addressing armed violence and insecurity, and more closely investigates specific attempts by the government to tackle these problems in the Delta. The conclusion reviews the numerous challenges that the newly elected president now faces and must address in the coming five years to prevent further deterioration in the security situation in the country.

int'l crisis group: Nigeria: Ending Unrest in the Niger Delta

The Niger Delta is again at risk of sliding into chaos. The 29 May 2007 inauguration of new federal and state governments offered an opportunity to resolve longstanding conflicts afflicting the oil-rich, deeply impoverished region. Six months later, the opportunity is unravelling amid new violence and criminality. Decisive action is necessary to stop militant violence and criminal hostage-taking, initiate quick-impact development projects that can build public confidence in President Umaru Yar’Adua’s administration and tackle constitutional and legal issues that have fuelled unrest in the region.

Yar’Adua’s early statements and actions raised hopes in the Delta. The selection of Goodluck Jonathan, an ethnic Ijaw and then governor of Bayelsa State, as his running mate responded to the region’s demand for representation in the presidency. Yar’Adua identified the Delta as one of seven priority areas in his inaugural address and followed up by initiating consultations with ethnic and militant organisations and endorsing the regional development master plan launched by his predecessor, Olusegun Obasanjo, in March 2007. But none of this has yet led to a comprehensive and credible strategy for ending the violence. Repeated postponements of the Niger Delta summit, initially called for June, and lack of clarity over its participants, methods and goals are eroding confidence and threatening a relapse into even more intensive conflict.
...
If Yar’Adua is not to lose his opportunity to resolve the Delta crisis, he must urgently go beyond drawn-out consultations with militants and ethnic leaders and translate his promises into credible policies which address the violence and legitimate demands. The federal legislature needs to provide constitutional solutions for the political, economic and environmental grievances that have been at the roots of ethnic and communal agitation for decades. The Rivers State government, whose territory has seen the worst and most recent violence, must act with restraint to avoid aggravating the already volatile relations between ethnic groups in the state.


Posted by: b real | Dec 5, 2007 11:21:31 PM | 19

while AFRICOM's commander ward is wrapping up a visit to angola,

OPEC Assigns Quotas to Angola and Ecuador

OPEC assigned a production quota of 1.9 million barrels of oil a day to Angola and 520,000 barrels a day to newcomer Ecuador Wednesday, potentially crimping the countries' future oil production plans.

Angola, which currently produces about 1.8 million barrels a day, has said it plans to lift production to 2 million barrels a day by 2008; Ecuador, which currently produces about 500,000 barrels a day, aims to increase that to 530,000 barrels a day by 2009.

Angolan Oil Minister Desiderio da Graca Verissimo e Costa refused to answer reporters' questions about the new allocation.

The quota could potentially impact major western oil companies with interests in sub-Saharan Africa's second-largest oil producer after Nigeria.

French energy company Total SA (TOT) and U.S. oil company Marathon Oil Corp. (MRO) have recently made new deep-water oil discoveries in offshore block 32 in which they each own a 30% stake. British oil giant BP PLC (BP) started production from Angola's Greater Plutonio oil project in October, which can produce up to 240,000 barrels of oil per day. Angola is also currently in the middle of a new licensing round for 10 new onshore and offshore blocks.

Angola will export 1.85 million barrels a day of crude in January 2008, compared with 1.95 million barrels a day for December 2007, according to a provisional loading program seen by Dow Jones Newswires in November.

Some oil companies have expressed concern about an OPEC quota potentially putting the brakes on Angola's rising oil prospects.

OPEC has avoided outdated output quotas and based recent output policy on outside assessments of the group's output. Thorny talks on production quotas often have brought forth claims of high capacity from member countries looking for a bigger slice of the OPEC pie. An Angolan oil official recently said his country would be happy with a quota of 2.5 million barrels a day, a figure which industry analysts say would be about 500,000 barrels a day above real output capacity.

and, from another article, this was news to me

Luanda, 12/03 - "Accenture Angola", a company specialised in global management consulting, information technology and outsourcing and Microsoft will promote on 06 December 2007, in Luanda, a workshop for directors of the Oil and Gas industry in Angola.

The meeting, according to organisers, aims at contributing to the analysis of current topics like: the optimization of production, management of reservoirs and how to maximise the efficiency and efficacy in management of oil projects.

Lecturers to the workshop, happening at Tropic Hotel, in Luanda, are the director general of Accenture Angola, Carlos Moutinho, and the manager of Microsoft for the oil and gas field in the Middle East, Omar Saleh.

According to a note from promoters, which was delivered to ANGOP this Monday, the meeting also intends to share, with executives of the oil industry in the country, the view and experiences of these two companies (Accenture and Microsoft) in the oil and gas field in Angola.

accenture is, of course, the washed arthur anderson, but i had no idea microsoft was embracing & extending fossil fuel extraction operations.

Posted by: b real | Dec 5, 2007 11:45:20 PM | 20

You know the jig is up when Am. Elites building massive seed vault - in the arctic...preparing for massive nuclear war w/China etc. or, even less benign, Biowarfare or destruction, advertant or otherwise, of evolution's seed stock through genetic mutilation.


...

No project is more interesting at the moment than a curious project in one of the world’s most remote spots, Svalbard. Bill Gates is investing millions in a seed bank on the Barents Sea near the Arctic Ocean, some 1,100 kilometers from the North Pole. Svalbard is a barren piece of rock claimed by Norway and ceded in 1925 by international treaty (see map).
On this God-forsaken island Bill Gates is investing tens of his millions along with the Rockefeller Foundation, Monsanto Corporation, Syngenta Foundation and the Government of Norway, among others, in what is called the ‘doomsday seed bank.’ Officially the project is named the Svalbard Global Seed Vault on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen, part of the Svalbard island group.

Doomsday Seed Vault

The seed bank is being built inside a mountain on Spitsbergen Island near the small village of Longyearbyen. It’s almost ready for ‘business’ according to their releases. The bank will have dual blast-proof doors with motion sensors, two airlocks, and walls of steel-reinforced concrete one meter thick. It will contain up to three million different varieties of seeds from the entire world, ‘so that crop diversity can be conserved for the future,’ according to the Norwegian government. Seeds will be specially wrapped to exclude moisture. There will be no full-time staff, but the vault's relative inaccessibility will facilitate monitoring any possible human activity.


Did we miss something here? Their press release stated, ‘so that crop diversity can be conserved for the future.’ What future do the seed bank’s sponsors foresee, that would threaten the global availability of current seeds, almost all of which are already well protected in designated seed banks around the world?kilometers from the North Pole. Svalbard is a barren piece of rock claimed by Norway and ceded in 1925 by international treaty (see map). "Doomsday Seed Vault" in the Arctic - by Wm. Engdahl

Posted by: jj | Dec 6, 2007 12:15:47 AM | 21

in a stmt released by sec rice after her talk w/ ethiopia's dictator meles today, via nazret, she writes

During today’s meeting, we emphasized the need for a comprehensive ceasefire agreement to be forged between Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and non-extremist opposition groups, which would help prevent further violence and facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance in Mogadishu. We also discussed the need for the TFG to urgently resume the transitional political process outlined by the Transitional Federal Charter leading towards national elections in 2009. On Sudan, I encouraged Prime Minister Meles to send Ethiopian troops pledged to the United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) as soon as possible, and to work with Khartoum to allow UNAMID deployments, including non-African troops, to move forward unhindered.

heh. supposedly meles has 8-40k soldiers in somalia currently (sen. inhofe recently said 100,000 though i've seen nothing to verify that large of a number) after 11 months of occupation, a large number in the north near the border w/ eritrea (one thinktank recently cited 100,000 troops there too), and many engaged in counterinsurgency operations in the eastern region of ogaden, though many sources claim that the ethiopian govt forces locals to arms against the rebel ONLF or face execution.

where are the troops going to come from? and then there's the irony in that the cries for help in somalia from other AU members are falling on (not really) deaf ears since intelligent actors are steering clear of that debacle, thus leaving meles in a quagmire. and now rice is "encouraging" him to commit more bodies to the rapidly disintegrating u.n. mission in darfur...

as one commentator in that nazret thread states

You got to like America`s policy. why seend American troops to anyware in the world, while you can afford to buy cheap lifes to fight your war; and look no farther, there is nobody in the world cheaper than the ethiopians.

America is not there to help ethiopia to be developed country, America is simply shoping ethiopian troops, ethiopia has the best deal when it comes to cheap life to buy. the new policy is working fine for know! I hope ethiopians wake up & smell there own coffee. Americas involvment in the East Africa is not good for everybody!

but it's not just the u.s.a.

jpost: Rate of Ethiopians joining IDF higher than average

The rate of Ethiopian Israelis joining the Israel Defense Forces is higher than that of the general population, the Knesset Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs was told Monday.
...
According to IDF statistics presented to the committee, which is chaired by MK Prof. Michael Nudelman (Kadima), 90 percent of Ethiopian males join the army, with 30% becoming part of fighter units. This at a time when the participation of the general population in the army has been plummeting. According to figures released in August, 25% of 18 year-old males avoided the draft.

Posted by: b real | Dec 6, 2007 12:26:39 AM | 22

Posted by: b real | Dec 6, 2007 1:31:22 AM | 23

b real,
email me about accenture.

Posted by: biklett | Dec 6, 2007 1:37:57 AM | 24

They have cornered parts of the housing market here and its quite difficult to get rid of them.

b, how have the 'cornered' parts of the market? i'm curious.

The scientiolgists in Hamburg run a huge realtor operation. Buying complete multi unit houses, slicing them up and selling the apartments. The contracts they make are very onesided and they have dupped quite a lot of old people out of their money. They disregarded the housing regulations. This started when their top guy was an excellent but ruthless lawyer and it took a while until the administration caught up and since then its a fight over every house the try to get.

It is simply a money making machine - nothing religious there.

Posted by: b | Dec 6, 2007 2:49:53 AM | 25

thanks b, i was curious

It is simply a money making machine - nothing religious there.

i already knew that. have you heard about the clams?

;)

Posted by: annie | Dec 6, 2007 8:42:27 AM | 26

one for uncle $cam's notebook

uganda: Surveillance cameras working - Police

A BODA BODA cyclist knocked a pedestrian on the Entebbe-Kampala highway but he just accelerated, leaving the hapless person sprawled on the tarmac.

Little did he know that the sh1.8b Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) system had recorded him. He was arrested when the Police in Kampala alerted their colleagues deployed on the road.

In another incident, two taxis, which had parked at the Kabalagala-Muyenga junction in Kampala with no regard for traffic regulations, were towed away when officers at the control centre at the Police headquarters saw them.

These were some of the incidents the Police narrated to journalists as they refuted allegations that the system had crashed on November 19, two days before the Queen arrived for the Commonwealth meeting.

The Police spokesperson, Asan Kasingye, showed the press footage shot in Kampala at night and in Entebbe at 7:00am on the day the machines are alleged to have crashed.
...
“We are in an era where technology can be used to investigate and deter crime. Gone are the days when you had to deploy hundreds of Police officers in an area.

Posted by: b real | Dec 6, 2007 11:23:15 AM | 27

GOP Lawmakers in "Closed" Meeting With Blackwater's Erik Prince

The following memo was sent to members of the Republican Study Committee (RSC) for a Wednesday meeting.

"All RSC Members are encouraged to join Rep. [Patrick] McHenry [R-N.C.] in welcoming Blackwater's Erik Prince to a Special RSC Members' meeting ... As you may know, Mr. Erik Prince, founder and CEO of Blackwater USA, testified before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in October. His company has been under intense scrutiny by Congress, government agencies, and the media regarding contracts and actions in Iraq. Not only has Mr. Prince personally been targeted by partisan warfare repeatedly over the past months, but the use of contracting throughout the government has been under attack by this Congress."

Posted by: b | Dec 6, 2007 1:15:56 PM | 28

maybe that story on "pirates" who hijacked the chemical tanker in somalia has nothing to do w/ concerns about illegal dumping after all, a dot i was speculating based on a couple reported comments by locals supposedly in the know stating that it was.

a completely different reason pops up now according to this article today at garowe online
Pirates accuse hostages of killing their comrades, want payment

BOSSASO, Somalia Dec 6 (Garowe Online) - An armed showdown continues off of Somalia's northern coast for the third straight day, with a coalition of Somali, American and German warships surrounding a group of pirates holding people hostage.

The group of Somali pirates is estimated to number 60 heavily-armed men, according to military sources in the Somali region of Puntland.

The pirates hijacked the Golden Nori chemical tanker in late October, but after weeks of hunting, authorities have managed to surround the ship near Puntland's port of Bossaso.

A spokesman for the pirates told Radio Garowe that the Golden Nori destroyed a fishing boat and killed two Somali civilians related to the pirate leaders.

The hijacking of the Golden Nori was in response to the double murder and the destruction of valuable property, according to the pirates' spokesman who declined to be named in print.

He claimed that the Golden Nori’s owner “promised to pay” for the damages, at which point the hostages from Benin and the Philippines would be released.

But the Puntland administration considers the hijackers pirates and has threatened to use military force to retake control of the Golden Nori.

and, now that condi rice's talks in ethiopia are over, somalia's TFG president is showing signs of an incredible recovery.

Somali leader fine in hospital and off to UK


...
Suggestions by some security and diplomatic sources that Yusuf was in a very serious condition were "lies", the envoy, Mohamed Ali Nur, told Reuters after a morning visit to the hospital where the president has been since Tuesday.

"He is doing well and is very upbeat. He was walking and exercising in his room," Nur said...

what was that all about?

Posted by: b real | Dec 6, 2007 2:59:32 PM | 29

berkeleyan: Taking a bullet for research


To geographer Michael Watts, who made headlines in a summer shootout in the Niger Delta, the real story is the impact of oil development on Nigerians themselves

Ask Michael Watts about his encounter with a gang of armed thugs last July in the Niger Delta — a guns-blazing assault in which he was pistol-whipped and robbed, then shot in the hand by a late-arriving attacker — and he replies with a steady river of words, at once purposeful and gently meandering, deepened by any number of historical tributaries and multidisciplinary feeder streams. The recounting flows through the global oil market, U.S. energy security, environmental pollution, political corruption, the “paradox of plenty,” Che Guevara, and youth violence (among other things) before finally tumbling down, as surely as the Niger into the Gulf of Guinea, to the episode that grabbed international headlines during the 2007 summer break.

Looking back, Watts — who’s been traveling to the region for 35 years and knows the lay of the land both literally and figuratively — says he should have known better. And he’s happy to count the ways.

“It’s like Monty Python, to be honest with you,” laughs the British-born geographer. “It’s a catalog of failures.”

Posted by: b real | Dec 6, 2007 10:28:53 PM | 30

My bet - there ARE copies of these torture tapes somewhere ... maybe in Cheney's and Rumsfeld's private porn library?

C.I.A. Destroyed 2 Tapes Showing Interrogations

The Central Intelligence Agency in 2005 destroyed at least two videotapes documenting the interrogation of two Qaeda operatives in the agency’s custody, a step it took in the midst of Congressional and legal scrutiny about its secret detention program, according to current and former government officials.

The videotapes showed agency operatives in 2002 subjecting terrorism suspects — including Abu Zubaydah, the first detainee in C.I.A. custody — to severe interrogation techniques. The tapes were destroyed in part because officers were concerned that video showing harsh interrogation methods could expose agency officials to legal risks, several officials said.
...
In his statement, General Hayden said leaders of Congressional oversight committees had been fully briefed about the existence of the tapes and told in advance of the decision to destroy them. But the two top members of the House Intelligence Committee in 2005 said Thursday that they had not been notified in advance of the decision to destroy the tapes.
...

Posted by: b | Dec 7, 2007 2:40:10 AM | 31

In case anyone wants to keep up with list of terrorist-torture targets, the Defense Intelligence Agency makes available flash-cards with photos of major league torture candidates together with a brief rap sheet. Unfortunately, the evidence and sourcing for the rap sheets are (of course) lacking.

Posted by: Hannah K. O'Luthon | Dec 7, 2007 3:59:25 AM | 32

**BARFLY ALERT*** COULD WE PLEASE AVOID USING HOT LINKS TO GOVT. SITES!!!

Posted by: jj | Dec 7, 2007 4:02:49 AM | 33

***Uncle Scam Alert ***

Jeremy Scahill has an update on StinkyBlackWater. Blackwater's Bu$ine$$

This showed up in the comment thread:

"In one of the company's most bizarre recent actions, on December 1 Blackwater paratroopers staged a dramatic aerial landing, complete with Blackwater flags and parachutes--not in Baghdad or Kabul but in San Diego at Qualcomm Stadium during the halftime show at the San Diego State/BYU football game".

Posted by: jj | Dec 7, 2007 5:57:54 AM | 34

Oh my, poor little Mahmoud Abbas, double crossed by the Egyptians and the Saudis -- and so soon after Annapolis. Couldn't his Aunt Condi have arranged a happier ending for him? tsk tsk.

An Egyptian/Saudi Slap to Abbas

The news from the Rafah border crossing earlier this week astounded the leaders of the Palestinian Authority (PA) in Ramallah. They had arranged with Israel to allow some 2,000 Palestinians from Gaza to go to Saudi Arabia via the Kerem Shalom and Allenby Bridge [on the Israel-Jordan] border crossings for the hajj celebrations. [These crossings would entail the Palestinians entering Israel.]

But Cairo apparently had different plans. The Egyptians allowed 700 Palestinians on Monday and 1,300 on Tuesday to cross the border into Sinai, where buses were waiting to take them to Saudi Arabia.

"The Egyptians stabbed us in the back," a senior PA official said. It turned out that the move had been coordinated with the Hamas government and Saudi Arabia. The Saudi embassy in Cairo swiftly processed the Gaza pilgrims' visa applications sent by the Hamas government, while the Saudi embassy in Amman held up all the visa applications sent by the PA, even those of West Bank pilgrims.

The PA, which had invested huge efforts in organizing the pilgrims' trip to Saudi Arabia in a bid to improve President Mahmoud Abbas' status in the Gaza Strip, was enraged by Egypt and Saudi Arabia's conduct.

Posted by: Bea | Dec 7, 2007 6:20:28 AM | 35

Thanks guys, been trying to keep up but, been having ISP and speed issues due to the ever increasing buyouts and merger phenomenon. My hometown local ISP is no more. Interesting to find out my new ISP is now based in Fairfax County, Langley Virginia ;-)

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Dec 7, 2007 12:27:25 PM | 36

when i hear, "leading democrats call for inquiry...." - i reach for the vaccum cleaner

Posted by: | Dec 7, 2007 1:47:26 PM | 37

& who the fuck are the united states to question either the state or the jurisprudence of venezuela

every fucking breath the cheney bush junta breathe is illegal. this week we have the intelligence estimates that were illegally hidden, we have the documentss & tapes in relation to interrogations that have 'dissapeared', in fact every week we have a smorgasboard of illegalites to choose from

the jurisprudence of the empire could be better performed & understood by fucking monkeys & even monkeys possess too much discernement & sense of proportion to take the jurisprudence of empire seriouslly

who the fuck are these monster that they can question the people's movements of latin america. these same fucking monsters who question chavez are responsible in their own country for the greates attacks on democracy - whether it is the venal empire itself or the supine lackies of the pumped up pomposity they call a parliament in london

they are too fucking much

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Dec 7, 2007 4:16:27 PM | 38

& witness the re-formation of the fascist shock troops from the forties & fifties in bolivia against the power of the people

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Dec 7, 2007 4:30:50 PM | 40

i have been trying to post tonight without success - but there is a good text at counterpunch on the cia intervention in australia in the seventies

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Dec 7, 2007 10:25:44 PM | 41

Rgiap,
Here’s the link to the Counterpunch Story:
US Meddling in Australian Politics
by Heather Gray

Posted by: Rick | Dec 7, 2007 10:51:25 PM | 42

not sure if this applies outside of firefox on a windows box, but i found that if you continue to get the spam filter denial from typepad, by completely closing your browser and then reopening it to obtain a new session you can then post. if i didn't close the session, no matter what i tried to post elicited the same spam msg. (oh, and always make sure to save or copy your post content somewhere first!)

Posted by: b real | Dec 7, 2007 11:09:24 PM | 43

re somalia "pirates"

finally found the figures i was looking for that show the number of reported incidents of piracy before, during, and after the period when the islamic courts union was in control of most of southern somalia.

unosat: Reported Incidents of Pirate Attacks and Hijackings off the Coast of Somalia (as of 5 dec 2007)

This map illustrates newly reported cases of piracy off the Somali Coast from January to November 2007 (highlighted with red halo). Events in 2005 and 2006 are also shown. The incidents are classified into 7 types: "Hijacked" where pirates have taken control of a ship; "Attempted Boarding" where pirates have deployed weapons and attempted to board a ship and failed; "Suspected Pirate Pursuit" where a suspected pirate vessel has followed or chased another ship; "Pirates Captured" where pirates have been arrested; "Pirate Land Base" where pirates concentrate ashore; "Pirate Mother Ship", where a large vessel is used to launch multiple attacks with smaller, high speed boats in deep water, and "Pirate Ship Destroyed" where a foreign naval vessel has engaged and sunk small pirate vessels (or skiffs) used in an attack.

The associated graph represents the number of reported pirate attacks since January 2005. Of special interest is the apparent reduction of pirate activity during the period of Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) control, as well as the rising levels of activity following the Ethiopian intervention in December 2006.

the dropoff from pre-UIC to the UIC period goes immediately from 20 reported attacks for the two months prior to UIC control to 5 for the first two months, then 2, then 1, and then 2, for a total of 10 reported attacks during the entire eight month period of UIC control. since january of this year there have been 33 reported attacks up through dec 5th.

also, roadblocks, which were a major problem in the period preceding UIC control but then, by most reports, virtually wiped out by the islamic courts, are now a big problem again.

an afp article date 04 dec quoted un under-secretary for humanitarian affairs john holmes & a world food programme official on the obstacles these roadblocks now impose

"There are checkpoints everywhere and aid agencies are stopped at these points and at times charged a lot of money. This is what I intend to discuss with the president and the prime minister," he said Monday.

Yet a day later the WFP's Smerdon complained that fees at the many checkpoints dotting the road from Merka to Mogadishu had abruptly shot up.

"Prices at checkpoints suddenly rose from 50 or 75 US dollars per truck to 500 per truck. Consequently, a convoy carrying 2,500 metric tons of WFP food from Jowhar to Mogadishu is now blocked," he said.

and, even worse, in this post-UIC climate is the impact on women.

UN: Rape is now "part of the game" in brutal Somali conflict

Nairobi_(dpa) _ Sexual violence against women in the Somali capital Mogadishu has reached an unprecedented level, with women raped at checkpoints and during the day in front of bystanders by all parties to the vicious conflict, the United Nations said Friday.

The UN children's agency UNICEF said rape was becoming an "instrument" used by Ethiopian-backed government troops and insurgents, a new trend in the 17-year conflict, which has worsened dramatically since the New Year.

"Sexual violence and rape are part of conflicts in most parts of the world but we have not seen it on the level as we are seeing it now in Mogadishu," said Christian Balslev-Olesen, the UNICEF representative for Somalia.

"Sexual violence and rape is part of the game."

An aid worker based in the bullet-scarred capital said Ethiopian troops, in Mogadishu since the New Year and so embroiled in the conflict they cannot withdraw, cordon off areas after an attack, loot whatever they can and rape women left behind.

Women attempting to flee the violent capital, part of the exodus of 400,000 since the start of the year, are being raped at checkpoints and roadblocks run by the government or pro-government militias.
...
Balslev-Olesen said gathering figures on the number of rapes in the capital was difficult, with few international staff based there and many local aid agencies fearing repercussions from the government should they report such numbers.

He said figures collated from different relief agencies showed at least 50 women were raped in the last month.
...
Ethiopian-backed government troops swooped into Mogadishu at the New Year, ousting a popular Islamist group and sparking a persistent insurgency that has killed thousands.


Posted by: b real | Dec 8, 2007 12:43:21 AM | 44

thanks rick

"dems cave in on...." - that is the headline we are used to

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Dec 8, 2007 6:40:07 AM | 45

China Hand has a very well written and far looking overview of the situation ins the Middle East: GWOT R.I.P.?

Recommended reading.

Posted by: b | Dec 8, 2007 7:06:25 AM | 46

After 'Hugo the Dictator' lost the ballot for constitutional changes, the 'western' press needs new 'dictators' to get exited about about. So today's NYT editorial is about Authoritarians in the Andes

Unfortunately, Mr. Chávez’s authoritarianism is spreading in the Andes, where his allies, Presidents Evo Morales of Bolivia and Rafael Correa of Ecuador are also trying to pass constitutional amendments that would greatly consolidate their power.

In both countries there is the danger of U.S. supported color revolutions. A sane report on the situation in Bolivia are here and here.

Posted by: b | Dec 8, 2007 10:46:24 AM | 47

Meanwhile...

... the German-built freighter Scheersberg A (gross tonnage: 1,790 tons) chugged out of Antwerp harbor with a Liberian flag flying from its mast and 560 drums of "yellowcake"—a crude concentrate of uranium—packed beneath its decks. The ship never reached its declared destination of Genoa, Italy. Instead, after 15 days at sea it docked at the Turkish port of Iskenderun on Dec. 2, riding high in the water. Its strategic cargo—200 tons of uranium, worth $3.7 million, that could potentially be used for nuclear weapons—had vanished. The disappearance of the uranium was first disclosed last month by Paul Leventhal, a former counsel to the Senate Committee on Government Operations, at a conference in Salzburg, and the report was confirmed later by European Community officials.
Who had the uranium? And how did they get it? After several weeks of investigation by a team of correspondents, TIME has learned that the Scheersberg As voyage from Antwerp was part of a complex plot concocted by Israeli intelligence agents.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Dec 8, 2007 11:15:37 AM | 48

uncle, have you checked out The Plumbat Affair?

Posted by: annie | Dec 8, 2007 1:20:46 PM | 49

Regarding the seed vault, Engdahls piece is not quite accurate. While it is true that the Gates foundation is the largest donor (though I think it excludes the construction, which the government of Norway did), Monsanto is not involved. Sygenta is a minor donor, with just over a million out of a total of 140 million USD donated. The Rockefellers participation is even more minor. Except the Microsoft foundation, the big donors are governments of European of Anglosaxon countries.

Wikipedia also has some info:
Svalbard Global Seed Vault

The Svalbard International Seed Vault's mission is to store as many seeds known to humans as possible, under the terms of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. The goal is to prevent important agricultural and wild plants from becoming rare or extinct in the event of a global disaster such as global warming, a meteorite strike, nuclear or biological warfare, or gene pollution from transgenic plants. There are already over 1400 local seedbanks around the world, but many are in politically unstable or environmentally threatened nations. When this seedbank is built, the vault will be secure and isolated from much of the world's population.

Continued in next post to avoid Typepads little censors

Posted by: a swedish kind of death | Dec 8, 2007 11:07:37 PM | 50

It is also a follow-up to the Nordic Gene Bank

The Nordic Gene Bank has stored a backup of Nordic plant germplasm as frozen seeds at Svalbard since 1984 in an abandoned coal mine. The Nordic Gene Bank (NGB) has deposited more than 10 000 seed samples of more than 2 000 cultivars of 300 different species over the years. The NGB safe backup will be transferred to the new facility.

Sure it is scary that the world needs plans for making it easier for survivors of a doomsday situation, but that does not make it a plan for the doomsday. The Nordic Gene Bank did not cause a nuclear war in order to be used (that was the major fear in 1984). And the Svalbard Global Seed Vault will not cause disasters either. It is however an ark, should things really hit the fan.

All this does not make the biological and political threath of GMOs and smaller, and I am sorry to see Engdahl make his cause such disfavors.

On another note, this years Right Livelihood Award went too (among others)

Percy and Louise Schmeiser (Canada) have given the world a wake-up call about the dangers to farmers and biodiversity everywhere from the growing dominance and market aggression of companies engaged in the genetic engineering of crops.

The Jury honours the Schmeisers "for their courage in defending biodiversity and farmers' rights, and challenging the environmental and moral perversity of current interpretations of patent laws".

Posted by: a swedish kind of death | Dec 8, 2007 11:08:32 PM | 51

Has this been mentioned here?

Iran stops selling oil in U.S. dollars

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran has completely stopped selling any of its oil for U.S. dollars, an Iranian news agency reported on Saturday, citing the oil minister of the world's fourth-largest crude producer.(Advertisement)

The ISNA news agency did not give a direct quote from Oil Minister Gholamhossein Nozari. A senior oil official last month said "nearly all" of Iran's crude oil sales were now being paid for in non-U.S. currencies.

For nearly two years, OPEC's second biggest producer has been reducing its exposure to the dollar, saying the weak U.S. currency is eroding its purchasing power.

From my blogonomics degree I have learnt that the currency money is stored in matters much more then the currency stuff is traded in, but interesting all the same.

Posted by: a swedish kind of death | Dec 8, 2007 11:12:41 PM | 52

Regarding Sudan and Ethiopia, I remember a few years ago Ethiopia and Eritrea running a proxy war there too. Not Darfur though, but in southern Sudan. So somehow I would not be surprised if it turned out Ethiopia already has troops in Sudan but apparently not enough and not in the right rregion.

Posted by: a swedish kind of death | Dec 8, 2007 11:25:38 PM | 53

askod @53 - Ethiopia and Eritrea running a proxy war there too

from harold marcus' a history of ethiopia (2002)

In May 1996, President Isayas named twenty-two brigadier generals, three colonels, and a number of lieutenant colonels in Keren, where a United States training team was stationed. Ironically, the Americans were teaching the Eritreans about training insurgents, in this case southern Sudanese, to fight a guerrilla war.

Posted by: b real | Dec 9, 2007 12:56:32 AM | 54

not one to believe that the unwritten imagery expressed by photos in the media are unintentional, i find the one accompanying this story amusing for both its exaggerated effect & its imperialistic idiocy.
Germany's Merkel says Zimbabwe damages Africa's image

(i'm assuming that's south africa's mbeki, who is not even mentioned in the article.)

Posted by: b real | Dec 9, 2007 1:29:19 AM | 55

Posted by: b real | Dec 9, 2007 2:30:48 AM | 56

(posted for annie, who has problems getting through)

13 (tangerine?)"All Americans and the world at large owe a huge debt
of gratitude to the Iraqi resistance for making the cost of illegal
military operation unbearable." The price they have paid to achieve
this has been beyond our ability to imagine.

exactly, in a nutshell.

b real, i found your 15 blockquote on irancoverage http://irancoverage.com/2007/12/05/did-iran-ever-have-a-nuclear-
weapons-program/">Did Iran ever have a nuclear weapons program?

Under the current administration, it is increasingly difficult to know who the enemy is, but what is certain is that the latest National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) is a brilliantly executed psychological warfare by way of misinformation. This dastardly plan is so devious that even the anti-war groups are jubilant at its release, and they are naively sharing its contents. Perhaps non are as enthusiastic about the report as the most powerful lobby group in America hostile to Iran.

Posted by: b | Dec 9, 2007 11:26:32 AM | 57

thanks b, i think its working now..btw, that comment(from day before yesterday!) was referencing the nie ruse thread.

christmas">http://www.crooksandliars.com/">christmas in falluja, sing along.

Posted by: annie | Dec 9, 2007 11:35:44 AM | 58

Third time is a charm?

Virtually every human who takes an interest in things beyond their front gate will have noticed the announcement by News Corp that Rupert Murdoch's son James Murdoch has been appointed heir apparent of the despicable NewsCorp.

The Grauniad's Sunday edition, "The Observer" provides a little more detail on the position James has been stuffed in to, in a weekend sycophantic puff piece called a 'profile'. Writer James Robinson must consider he may one day return to the Murdoch stable, which famed for their elephantine memory of past slights is not a mob you want to offend. He therefore describes James as a 'quiet family man'.

Which is interesting because as Robinson goes on to say:

. . ."a newly created post at its parent company News Corp, where he will run the group's European and Asian operations. He takes responsibility for the Times, the Sun and the News of The World, the group's powerful stable of British newspapers, a move that makes him the most powerful opinion-former in the country. . . ."

Those unfamiliar with NewsCorp's english titles other than The Times, should know that News of the World and the Sun are the two most reviled rags in the foul swill which passes for an English media. They specialize in black-mailer style traps of their 'marks' where anyone who has had 15 minutes or more exposure especially by way of a rival publication's exclusive, is likely to be set up with a live boy, dead girl, gerbil and a container load of whatever drug the rag's 'contractors' can get their hands upon. The result is then video-taped at some 'country hotel' away from London to ensure that the victim has no redress, Yet another human has their world destroyed in the interests of selling the nasty, racist and capitalist lies the papers put between their revelations about minor pop singers, fading athletes , and of course, "The Royals".

What a quiet family man hopes to achieve by supervising this blackmailer's paradise is difficult to imagine.

It would be foolish to think that he will be entirely free of "Daddy's" shadow. The last heir apparent number one son Lachlan Murdoch had a very free hand but not only did he fuck up big by getting into a silly bidding war/pissing contest with rival Australian Media magnate Kerry Packer's son James over sports franchises and their TV rights, then he and James Packer blew millions on a Telco scam devised by a couple of poorer but less scrupulous "old school chums", he also managed to be implicated on the fringes of a corporate scam when Australian financier Lou Adler's son Rodney played fast and loose with the shareholder's funds.

Time has washed away most of the details but it appears the three young anointed were a little too arrogant for their own good. James Packer was also involved in the Insurance mess, I think he may have lost a lot more of Daddy's money than 'Lauchie' but since the Packers have in the main preferred private company holdings to publicly listed corporations, no one can be sure and without disgruntled shareholders whining, it gets quickly forgotten. However Rupert didn't forget or forgive quite so easily and Lauchie was 'encouraged' to spend more time in New York 'learning the ropes' than hooning around Double Bay with his millionaire mates.

That became old fast, so Lauchie spat the dummy and came home.

That was when James was first mooted as heir in waiting.


Before Lauchie was Elisabeth, named after her grandmother and Rupert's mother, Elisabeth was the eldest child, with an interest in business, so got first crack of the whip. A capable businesswoman, Elisabeth appears to have fallen out with Rupert's right hand man Sam Chisholm, and therefore fell out of favour with Rupert.

Personally I doubt she ever was in favour. Murdochian misogyny would not allow the empire to be run by a woman. Rupert sees women as the duplicitous power behind the throne, never sitting upon it. Rupert has founded his empire on exploiting women in one form or another, either by way of his scantily clad page 3 'girls' or by portraying them as harlots and seducers in countless "Sex Scandals".)

The innate misogyny probably stems from the treatment he received at the hands of Elisabeth Murdoch 1, his mother, as a child. Although they lived in a huge mansion; when Rupert was allowed home from his spartan and oppressive boarding school he would be 'put up' in a sleep-out. This structure was made of plywood and mosquito netting and set in a remote corner of the estate. The 'sleep out' had no running water or electricity. Rupert was expected to live a lifestyle in direct contrast to his wealth in the belief it would "toughen him up".

Rupert was the child of media boss Sir Keith Murdoch. Keith's interference in the running of WW1 is a typical piece of Murdochian media manipulation.

Although ambitious Keith was an out and out bumbler in comparison to Rupert. The edge in Rupert probably comes from Elisabeth who was her husband's intellectual superior.

Elisabeth 1 who makes Barbara Bush seem like Florence Nightingale in comparison, manipulated Rupert into his father's job ahead of more worthy candidates (remember the Murdochs have always used other people's money) by using the iron paw concealed beneath a velvet glove routine which Rupert himself has become famous for. I suspect his long term adulation of the Thatcher thing, is related to the fear he has always had for his mother. He saw two very similar people in Margaret Thatcher and Elisabeth Murdoch.

Unfortunately for James Murdoch, he is unlikely to get the opportunity to step into his father's shoes any time soon.

Hell Elisabeth 1 is still in charge anyhow, and she is only 98. She will be bossing around her servants, bullying them into getting everything ready for this year's family Xmas party. I betcha that will be a grim Presbyterian affair where all emotion is subsumed to the great god mammon.

By the time Media Corp does need a replacement for Rupert, the offspring of wife number 3, Wendi Deng, two daughters named Grace and Chloe will loom large in the Murdoch consciousness. Wendi Deng is by all accounts more like Elisabeth 1 and Margaret Thatcher than his previous wives were, so she may succeed in trumping his distaste for a female heir.

Third time's a charm is not more than a long shot.

p.s. others who also share a distaste for reducing a human's life to a series of scandals and/or repeating gossip, may want to remember that the Murdochs live well on their lack of scruple or discretion about other humans' existence.

I have no compunction whatsoever about repeating Murdoch gossip, any slight twists or exaggerations to be found in this account should be regarded as an homage to the master distorter.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Dec 9, 2007 5:01:56 PM | 59

This is fucking ridiculous, I'm afraid that I don't have time to be sitting around all day trying to input a post.
The typepad program which already demands a stupid and difficult to decipher code whenever I do post now refuses to accept anything I input that contains a link. I suspect the same is true for most other posters.

That is no matter what web browser I use, how long I wait - this morning I have been at it for at least a couple of hours and have rebooted the router to get a different DNS. The only thing I haven't done is change my pseudonym, even if that worked, it reeks of surrender.

This has nothing to do with ant-spam and everything to do with ensuring that the internet can no longer be a vehicle for disseminating information outside of the prescribed and approved outlets. The next step will be when the media is judged to have 'the right' to pick which sites can carry their links. The ducks are getting put in a row in time for next year's election farce.

I'm sorry B., you can 'kick their ass' all you want but I doubt they have any interest in accommodating you. If they had they would have done so by now.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Dec 9, 2007 5:07:10 PM | 60

Debs,
I agree.

After trying (repeatedly) to post the previous comment(s) I divided it and removed links that was within the wikipedia article. Bothersome. My guess is that the simple rule is less then 4 links/comment.

Posted by: a swedish kind of death | Dec 9, 2007 7:29:35 PM | 61

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Dec 9, 2007 9:21:39 PM | 62

@b57

Actually that was me.

Posted by: Bea | Dec 9, 2007 10:24:01 PM | 63

you on 13 @ nie thread bea? well, that was an f'ing excellent comment. since it's a slow evening i'll say it again

"All Americans and the world at large owe a huge debt
of gratitude to the Iraqi resistance for making the cost of illegal
military operation unbearable.
" The price they have paid to achieve
this has been beyond our ability to imagine.

yo, speaking of slow night. bartender, a round for the house. enjoy

Posted by: annie | Dec 10, 2007 12:40:32 AM | 64

more reality

Posted by: annie | Dec 10, 2007 12:59:22 AM | 65

more reality

Posted by: annie | Dec 10, 2007 1:03:08 AM | 66

While the war abroad might not be going so well, as annie and bea make clear above, the war at home is going swimmingly...for them.

S. 1959 and the Great Social Divide


Put it this way: When a family member of mine sat in a public café in then-Iron Curtain-controlled Budapest, she mentioned the word “government” and our friends immediately jumped all over her: “SSShhhhHHHH!” And this, my friends, came as a result of neighbor being recruited as spy against neighbor. That’s a hint:

Eureka, I’ve got it! Now I know why they are trying to pass S 1959! The Homegrown Terrorism and Violent Radicalization Act is dividing our country, already and even before being passed into law (fear ye thy “terrorist” American neighbor!)

Further, I'm beginning to believe the primary goal of the war abroad or outside, was so to gain complete control inside. Transform America and by proxy the world becomes less stable. And by being less stable, creates opportunity and further consolidation of control. Win -win, if your a sociopath.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Dec 10, 2007 1:09:42 AM | 67

WOW - L.A. Times broke The Taboo. Anyone else been wondering if the "r" word - recession - was actually a stand in for the Dreaded "d" word - obviously, depression; or maybe they were both being lumped in together, as no one wanted to forecast the worst? Well, wonder no more.

No one wants to utter the word "depression." But the truth of the matter is that the American economy may be entering a state of free fall. Every day brings more bad news about the sub-prime mortgage debacle, about home foreclosures, construction industry slowdowns, a credit drought for consumers and businesses, oil price shocks and the open-ended devaluation of the dollar. Where is it all leading?

Together with the debacle in Iraq and the political implosion of the Republican Party, this economic collapse could make the presidential election of 2008 a turning point in American political history. The signs are pointing to a crisis -- and a crash for the GOP.

Posted by: jj | Dec 10, 2007 1:14:37 AM | 68

"All Americans and the world at large owe a huge debt of gratitude to the Iraqi resistance for making the cost of illegal military operation unbearable." The price they have paid to achieve this has been beyond our ability to imagine.

Thinking further on this, depending on the goal the above would certainly be true but, what if the goal was...


"The planned collapse of America"
?

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Dec 10, 2007 1:27:46 AM | 69

It may be self-promoting, and too much like a LeCarré novel, but I found Craig Murray's most recent blog entry fascinating.

Posted by: Hannah K. O'Luthon | Dec 10, 2007 2:37:15 AM | 70

Excellent post Hannah K. O'Luthon, thanks for the heads up/

Nadira's Story is indeed entralling as is Murray's. And their's together. All to human. I'm reminded of the quote, "Nothing humans do is alien to me". And in that I certainly am not judging anyone. We each have our cross's to bare, our stories to tell. It's what goes on between life and death. We each, everyone, must cross the Threshold and follow our path. Yes?

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Dec 10, 2007 3:27:46 AM | 71

@60 - I have released some comments that were cought in the typepad spam filter (though I seem not to be able to release all comments cought in it - sorry).

So 59 was actually first cought in the filter and not posted here, than debs wrote 60, then I released 59. Confusing, but I can't help it for now.

Posted by: b | Dec 10, 2007 3:28:34 AM | 72

On the "broad coalition" mortgage "relief" plan Krugman has now seen some light.

Henry Paulson’s Priorities

The plan is, as a Times editorial put it yesterday, “too little, too late and too voluntary.” But from the administration’s point of view these failings aren’t bugs, they’re features.

In fact, there’s a growing consensus among financial observers that the Paulson plan isn’t mainly intended to achieve real results. The point is, instead, to create the appearance of action, thereby undercutting political support for actual attempts to help families in trouble.

In particular, the Paulson plan is probably an attempt to take the wind out of Barney Frank’s sails. Mr. Frank, the Democratic chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, has sponsored legislation that would give judges in bankruptcy cases the ability to rewrite mortgage loan terms. But “Bankers Hope Bush Subprime Plan Will Scuttle House Bill,” as a headline in CongressDaily put it.

As Elizabeth Warren, the Harvard bankruptcy expert, puts it, “The administration’s subprime mortgage plan is the bank lobby’s dream.” Given the Bush record, that should come as no surprise.

Posted by: b | Dec 10, 2007 3:31:14 AM | 73

With Bush it's war on the poor 24/7.
I can't tell you how much this story, Political stalemate may cause income-tax processing delays will hurt Montanans working poor, who need their tax returns just make ends meet.

HELENA, Mont. (AP) - The state revenue director says a political standoff in Washington, D.C., could hold up electronic income-tax filing for weeks in Montana, and cause other delays in processing income-tax forms. Congress and President Bush have been unable to agree on how to resolve problems with the federal alternative minimum tax.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Dec 10, 2007 4:27:57 AM | 74

Continuing b's theme in his 73 and my 74, I'm also reminded of Monolycus's recent excellent post. And how soon we may all look more like this:


Extreme rich-poor divides.

Welcome to the new dark ages of future feudal times.

A stunning photo expose on what's coming for us all? These photos put it all in mindboggling proportions.

I don't mind stealing bread / From the mouths of decadence / But I can't feed on the powerless / When my cup's already overfilled / But it's on the table / The fire is cooking / And they're farming babies / While the slaves are working / The blood is on the table / And their mouths are choking / But I'm growing hungry
~Hunger Strike By Pearl jam's Eddie Vedder and Sound Garden's Chris Cornell in a project called, Temple of the Dog.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Dec 10, 2007 5:08:48 AM | 75

Sanctions? What sanctions ...

China's Sinopec, Iran ink oilfield deal

China Petrochemical Corporation, better known as Sinopec Group, and the Iranian oil ministry on Sunday signed a contract on the development of the Yadavaran oilfield in southwestern Iran.

"The initial estimation of the project's cost is about $2 billion," Iranian Oil Minister Gholam Hossein Nozari told reporters at the signing ceremony in Tehran.

He said that the project would be carried out in two phases.

"The first phase to produce 85,000 barrels per day will be carried out in four years and the second phase to produce another 100,000 bpd will be carried out in another three years," Nozari said.

Posted by: b | Dec 10, 2007 6:44:18 AM | 76

Justin Raimondo limns the case of the "Iranian" laptop.

Posted by: Hannah K. O'Luthon | Dec 10, 2007 7:14:43 AM | 77

I have no competence with regard to the merits of the Mugabe-is-the-devil
thesis, but this little "gem" may tell us something extra about why he is so unpopular in London.

Posted by: Hannah K. O'Luthon | Dec 10, 2007 10:15:00 AM | 78

Libby to drop appeal in CIA leak case

WASHINGTON - Former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby is no longer appealing his conviction in the CIA leak case, a tacit recognition that continuing his legal fight might only make things worse.

Bullshit! He is no longer appealing his conviction, because he had a nice lobster tails & filet mignon with Lemon Chive Butter, chicken breast in a red wine sauce with mushrooms, caramelized red onions, imported gorgonzola cheese, served with roasted potatoes and stuffed crab w/garlic prawns. And a $700 bottle of wine. Over which he and Jr. who had a hamburger and imported beer sat during dinner and later exchanged gifts. Libby's gift to Jr. was a virgin 10 year old Guatemala boy. And Jr's gift to Libby was a full pardon.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Dec 10, 2007 2:14:28 PM | 79

@Uncle - sounds like a nice meal - and don't forget that there were a few millions left in his legal defense fund. Libby would hate to spend that for other lawyers than himself.

Posted by: b | Dec 10, 2007 2:36:56 PM | 80

Youtube: Meet King Joe (1949)

Cartoons are great, but, excuse me while I laugh so hard, I throw up.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Dec 10, 2007 3:33:25 PM | 81

Hi, looks like Ted Turner knows controlling http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22010764/page/2/>inland acres is good, not surprising since he's one of the magnates you'll find using the phrase "useless eaters" a couple of decades ago. On seed bank in Svalbard, I mentioned/linked http://www.moonofalabama.org/2007/10/ot-07-75.html>OT 07-75 #59 earlier, including its height 400' over current sea level, am glad of reminder. A wink to the wise is insufficient.

Posted by: plushtown | Dec 10, 2007 3:51:41 PM | 82

A humorous and on-target commentary by Uri Avneri on the effect on the Israeli leadership of the NIE Israel and the NIE's Inconvenient Truth

Posted by: Bea | Dec 10, 2007 8:33:52 PM | 83

israel, no muclear threat to neighbors

MANAMA (Reuters) - U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates defended Israel's nuclear program on Saturday, saying the Jewish state did not seek to destroy its neighbors or support terrorism, unlike Iran.

Asked at the Manama Dialogue conference whether he thought Israel's nuclear program posed a threat to the region, Gates replied: "No, I do not."

The statement was greeted by laughter from a room filled with government officials from Middle Eastern countries.

Israel is widely assumed to have the region's only atomic arsenal, but refuses to confirm or deny it. Washington has long avoided pressing Israel to go public with its capabilities.

Posted by: annie | Dec 10, 2007 9:24:58 PM | 84

Some sanity from the Supreme Court: Justices Restore Judges’ Control Over Sentencing

The Supreme Court on Monday restored federal judges to their traditional central role in criminal sentencing.

In two decisions, the court said federal district judges had broad discretion to impose what they think are reasonable sentences, even if federal guidelines call for different sentences.

One decision was particularly emphatic in saying judges are free to disagree with guidelines that call for much longer sentences for offenses involving crack cocaine than for crimes involving an equivalent amount of cocaine in powdered form.

Both cases, each decided by the same 7-to-2 alignment, chided federal appeals courts for failing to give district judges sufficient leeway. The appeals court had in each case overturned a sentence that was lower than that provided by the guidelines. The two dissenters were Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr.
...
A 1986 federal law, enacted at the height of public concern about crack, incorporated a 100 to one ratio into mandatory minimum sentences — that is, the same sentence was imposed for a given amount of crack and 100 times that amount of powder.

The Sentencing Commission guidelines operated as an overlay on that statutory framework. But as the commission studied the impact, it grew concerned. A 2002 report noted that 85 percent of defendants convicted of crack offenses were black, a fact the commission warned was leading to a loss of confidence in the fairness of the system.

Posted by: b | Dec 11, 2007 2:06:06 AM | 85

hmm. the WB wayback machine... The flow of intelligence is getting good. We are draining the swamp at the high end and the low end.

Lt. Col. Steven Russell
quoted by Agence France-Presse
December 11, 2003

They need to understand that it's more than just Humvees that will be used against the resistance, and we will crush the resistance.

Lt. Col. Steven Russell
quoted by the Associated Press
November 18, 2003

We continue to drain the swamp. As the swamp drains, the eyes and the nose and the tail begin to appear, eventually, the whole alligator will be there.

Lt. Col. Steven Russell
quoted by Fox News
November 13, 2003

This is to remind the town that we have teeth and claws and we will use them.

Lt. Col. Steven Russell
quoted by Fox News
November 7, 2003

I believe this is a desperate, losing enemy and they're down to their last act in Tikrit. They are getting angry and careless and we are killing them ... The Iraqi people are coming out in droves to help us further destroy this regime.

Lt. Col. Steven Russell
quoted by the Christian Science Monitor
July 30, 2003

I have this image of an aging Lt. Col. Steven Russell, sitting around in the Home for Retired Imperial Stormtroopers, mumbling these same inane lines to himself over and over again.

That's assuming, of course, that the "desperate, losing" enemy doesn't get him first.

Posted by: annie | Dec 11, 2007 2:08:18 AM | 86

err, the italics.. my bad. other than the intro (hmm. the WB wayback machine....), that's billmon from the 2nd link. as you can see i posted 86 on the wrong thread...maybe not... blame the whiskey..

Posted by: annie | Dec 11, 2007 2:14:34 AM | 87

shall i go for the trifecta? that's billmon from the 2nd link. specifically here">http://www.billmon.org/">here , scroll.

Posted by: annie | Dec 11, 2007 2:23:59 AM | 88

Now that Debka file is telling us that the NIE announcement heralds the start of
a new triangular diplomacy(U.S.- Saudi Arabia - Iran) in the Mideast we can start to doubt that there is really as much there as meets the eye. Still, the Israeli spooks maintain that

...it cannot be denied that a new strategic bloc has taken its first steps and the first rumbles are already felt.

For Israel, the impact is more radical than a few rumbles. Its special relationship with the United States has collapsed amid its worst foreign policy debacle in decades. The Olmert government is paying the price for the military and diplomatic mismanagement of the war against Lebanon’s Hizballah of 2006.


As with any bit of first rate disinformation, much of the material from this link is quite likely true, and, of course, it's all confected to be highly plausible. Trying to decide what part is more artefice than substance is an enjoyable game. The Debka note would seem to "validate" the following very interesting comment by Clifford Kiracofe at Pat Lang's website (please excuse the extensive quote, which embodies
a quote from Agence France Presse)

.."But Admiral William Fallon, the head of the US Central Command, complained in a newspaper interview that incessant press speculation about military action was harming efforts to bring Iran onto a more positive path.

"It's a fundamental reversal of civil-military relations, and intelligence and political relationships, that were obvious in 2002," said Ray Takeyh, an expert on the Middle East at the Council on Foreign Relations.

He said the new intelligence assessment was "part of a larger narrative, namely how the formal institutions of government are now determined to resist the White House, which wasn't the case in 2002."
http://rawstory.com/news/afp/US_reversal_on_Iran_intel_reflects__12072007.html

Having spent over a decade on staff of the Senate of the United States, my take is what we are seeing is the institutions of our government (the intelligence community, military, etc.) challenging the Zionist Power and the politicians allied to it whether in the White House or in the Congress.

The Zionist Power has as its cutting edge two main organizations: the "Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations" which traditionally targets the White House and AIPAC which targets Congress. To monitor their activities and personnel simply see their websites. One might say, as H.G. Wells did, it is something of an "open conspiracy."

Two other organizations exert undue influence in Washington, particularly on Captitol Hill: the "Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs" (JINSA) and the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA). To monitor their activities and personnel see their websites.

On the Christian Zionist front, the Southern Baptist Convention is probably the leading power. And there is Hagee and all the rest.

The Senate committees with jurisdiction in the Iraq-Iran etc. matter are: Foreign Relations, Armed Services, Intelligence, and Judiciary. It is their Constitutional duty to exercise oversight over the Executive Branch. In case folks have forgotten, we have a Republic in which there is a "separation of powers" between three co-equal branches: Congress, Executive, Judicial. Contrary to the fascists lurking inside the Beltway, the founding fathers did not intend a Prsidential dictatorship, which is why we have the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

Seems to me we are watching the mobilization of a political lobby composed of Jewish and Christian Zionists linked to a foreign power against the institutions of our government.
One institutional response is certainly in the counterintelligence area...


In this vein, I find it striking that in an earlier posting Lang himself, usually a frank but moderate rhetorician, comes within a hair of characterizing the neocon penetration of the U.S. policy making structures as treason. If this really is the way the wind is blowing in Washington these days, we may be witnessing the beginnings of the most radical reconfiguration of the boundaries of political orthodoxy in the U.S. since the late 1940's when the pro-communist leftists saw their status changed from that of avant-garde in the battle against fascism and nazism to that of a fifth column for Stalin and Mao. It was not pretty then, and it certainly would not be any more edifying this time. However I doubt that there are sufficient "loyalist" forces in play to recapture the ramparts of the citadel and purge the treasonous interlopers.

Posted by: Hannah K. O'Luthon | Dec 11, 2007 3:38:00 AM | 89

Mugshots, for now just daydreams.

Posted by: Hannah K. O'Luthon | Dec 11, 2007 3:51:01 AM | 90

More radical extremism from Hugo Chavez and other "terrorists" (or should that be
"dictators"?).

Posted by: Hannah K. O'Luthon | Dec 11, 2007 4:38:41 AM | 91

[backstep from preview results in posting glitch ... but enough about me...]

Israelis want to help us out.


Mullen reassures Israel on Iran

Participants in the meetings said Israeli officials took issue with the U.S. view that the weapons program had stopped, saying Iran's continued enrichment of uranium was aimed at developing a nuclear bomb.

....

Mullen said after the meetings that both Barak and Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, the new head of the Israeli defense staff, expressed a desire to work with the U.S. on analyzing American intelligence on the Iranian program.

Posted by: rjj | Dec 11, 2007 6:36:00 AM | 92

Having trouble with the "spam filter" (maybe it's more intelligent than
I might have hoped).
Anyway, here's another try of part of what I wanted to post:
None of the following links are "nice", but overall they seem to indicate that the question of CIA torture (who ordered it, who did it, and what it wrought on both its victims and its perpetrators) is about to be reconsidered under a more intense light than previously. In particular the ABC interview with John Kiriakou (trascripts here and here)
will merit analysis (to be continued)

Posted by: Hannah K. O'Luthon | Dec 11, 2007 11:28:27 AM | 93

(continuation)
analysis beyond that of the 230 comments at the ABC site or the discussion at Larry Johnson's No Quarter blog or the TPM Muckraker site .


We seem (in my un-informed view) to be once again in the presence of a little fish being tossed into the mediatic maw while those really responsible remain in the shadows.

Posted by: Hannah K. O'Luthon | Dec 11, 2007 11:30:22 AM | 94

Bomb Blast in Algerian Capital

Bomb Blasts in Algerian Capital; 45 dead

The story mentions links to Al Qaeda. Yeah, Al Qaeda, *rolls eyes*

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Dec 11, 2007 12:38:09 PM | 95

uncle, a large number -- one of the largest, actually -- of the recruits that various govts shuffled off to afghanistan back in the 80's to train & fight the soviets hailed from algeria. afterwards, when they found their ways back home, they have used some of their training to fight against the govt in algeria which went so far as nullifying an election in 1991 after islamists apparently won.

the various political islam groups in algeria, which naturally consist of some mujahideen that returned from afghanistan, never refered to themselves as "AQ" until a couple years back when one of the leaders of the main resistance army, the salafist group for preaching and combat (gspc), changed the group's name to capitalize on the AQ brandname & gain affiliation w/ other political islam mvmts throughout that part of the world.

aside from politically-motivated anaylsts though, most accounts recognize that this is largely a localized battle aimed at gaining true political representation in governance & islamic law and not part of some international "jihad".

Posted by: b real | Dec 11, 2007 3:01:20 PM | 96

@b real - 96 - AQ "branding" - there is something to this which I haven't gasped yet. AQ certainly is a brand now, but how exactly was it introduced and formed. Such creating of a brand is not accidential but a deliberate process and there are various models how such a process should be run. There must be some economic textbook on branding OLB has read and used. Which one?

Posted by: b | Dec 11, 2007 4:10:39 PM | 97

@b - i haven't come across any discussion of this branding topic, however UBL was a businessman -- first for his father's firm & then for his own ventures -- before he was a bogeyman.

Posted by: b real | Dec 11, 2007 4:50:20 PM | 98

b real is absolutely correct on this. they are an extremely marginal movement in algeria & all evidence suggests that no real connection with aq exists. as b real says - its really a miniscule sect taking advantage of the brand name to make the threat they pose seem much more vast than it actually is

the situation benefits both the sect & the govt - who have at times been one & the same thing & that is the dilemna of algerian politics - it remains a culture of clans who have emascuated the politics of liberation

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Dec 11, 2007 5:08:22 PM | 99

Funny, the UN has not said so far that they believe it to be AQ. Also, I'm of the mind that the vast majority of AQ incidents are from an arm of our CIA. In most cases anyway. Not that their aren't militant groups out there who would use the brand. But I haven't seen any indication that this is a group calling itself AQ.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Dec 11, 2007 5:55:36 PM | 100

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