Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
December 24, 2007

OT 07-85

Open thread - your comments, news & views are welcome ...

Posted by b on December 24, 2007 at 03:20 AM | Permalink

Comments

Pat Lang's take on yesterday's MTP encounter between Ron Paul and Tim Russert. Since I haven't seen the originial encounter (and am working with a computer without a working audio card) I would be very interested in hearing reactions from barflies. Certainly, taking a contrarian position on Abraham Lincoln is NOT standard political fare.

Posted by: Hannah K. O'Luthon | Dec 24, 2007 4:38:36 AM | 1

A very popular error: having the strength of one's convictions; rather it is a matter of having the courage for an attack on one's convictions!
-- Frederick Nietzsche

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Dec 24, 2007 5:05:08 AM | 2

I found a site that might be of interest to fellow barflies, Swedish Meatballs, I thought it might have something to do with ASKOD at first but that is not likely. A link there led me to Center for Media and Democracy which has the top ten propaganda videos.

and I found a great quote,

In an ever-changing, incomprehensible world the masses had reached the point where they would, at the same time, believe everything and nothing, think that everything was possible and that nothing was true. ... Mass propaganda discovered that its audience was ready at all times to believe the worst, no matter how absurd, and did not particularly object to being deceived because it held every statement to be a lie anyhow. The totalitarian mass leaders based their propaganda on the correct psychological assumption that, under such conditions, one could make people believe the most fantastic statements one day, and trust that if the next day they were given irrefutable proof of their falsehood, they would take refuge in cynicism; instead of deserting the leaders who had lied to them, they would protest that they had known all along that the statement was a lie and would admire the leaders for their superior tactical cleverness.

--Hannah Arendt, The Origins Of Totalitarianism

all this stuff is still fairly new for me and I find very few in my circles who are curious or aware of this very effective way of controlling the masses. I wonder if those who have observed this and found themselves alone with their knowledge and insight feel the same despair I do. I sometimes picture myself as the weird lemming standing on a rock watching all the others rush to the sea and questioning myself why I can't be like them.

Posted by: dan of steele | Dec 24, 2007 5:09:36 AM | 3

According to http://abuaardvark.typepad.com/>Marc Lynch Ahmednejad and King Abdullah had a second meeting on the Hajj. Some interesting cold water speculation in the arab world about defusing cheney inspired tensions over Iran. I suppose there is a cutting edge moment when the interlocutor is seen as no longer necessary to create the narrative. And then a big hook comes out and grabs the unsuspecting fool around the neck.

Posted by: anna missed | Dec 24, 2007 5:39:54 AM | 4

Police Begin Fingerprinting on Traffic Stops

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Dec 24, 2007 7:25:51 AM | 5

Sunni/Shia come together anna missed????

That would be a powerful alliance and all thanks to GWB.

Posted by: Cloned Poster | Dec 24, 2007 10:26:49 AM | 6

anna missed, noticed non arab arab in badgers comment section. he/she posts about current SA-Iran coordination...

I was in a meeting today with an old friend who has spent many years in the Gulf and Washington. He is a private citizen, always has been, i.e., not part of the power structures in either place. But he knows and is privy to the thoughts of many of the power brokers. I have respected him as an individual and an analyst for many years, he is far less hot-headed than I am and is always deeply insightful.

He was asked by someone in the meeting his views on current state of Iraq. In a nutshell his view can be summarized as:

* The Saudi-US relationship is badly soured, they have lost respect for the United States as a nation deeply in debt to China (i.e., squandering global influence to the rising new power), and for having deliberately harmed the Palestinians and now the Iraqis with the invasion that the Saudis openly warned them would be a disaster.
* The Saudis want the US out of Iraq, they’re just making a mess of it, but they want the Americans out on their terms.
* The Iranians feel almost exactly the same – they want the US out, but on their terms.
* So the Saudis and Iranians have found common ground and have more or less struck a deal to help calm Iraq so that the Americans can “claim victory” and get out. The Saudis and Iranians are meeting regularly behind the scenes and closely coordinating their efforts.
* So the Saudis are funneling huge support to anti-Al-Qaeda Sunni elements to tamp those hotheads down, and the Iranians have used their influence to calm down Sadr. So each side is calming down their respective sectors.
* They are perfectly happy to let the Americans pretend the “surge” is what has caused the recent calming as it will let Americans feel good about themselves then skidaddle quicker.

* Nobody in Washington has a clue what’s really going on on the ground. He thinks Petraeus and a few others likely do, but of course it serves their interests to pretend and let Washington think that they brought about the success instead of other actors beyond their control.

So, realist power politics in the Gulf, and yet more incompetence in Washington.

Posted by: annie | Dec 24, 2007 11:38:50 AM | 7

Joyeux Noël

Posted by: n/a | Dec 24, 2007 12:54:37 PM | 8

Eid El Leil

Posted by: n/a | Dec 24, 2007 12:59:32 PM | 9

O Tannenbaum

Posted by: n/a | Dec 24, 2007 1:03:26 PM | 10

Here's AP story relating to climate and crowds: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22260892/>3,000 walruses die in stampedes tied to climate

Posted by: plushtown | Dec 24, 2007 2:14:11 PM | 11

dan at #3,

There is quite a bit of discussion of this propaganda phenomenon over at Rigorous Intuition in the Discussion section, off and on but still pretty much alla time.

Hugh Manatee Wins seems to have a "good" handle on the techniques used by govt/press to manipulate story content/images so that meme implantation is painless or even pleasurable to the viewer. As we know just about 100% of the newspaper & TV AND THE MOVIE INDUSTRY are shackled to this game, so it takes some searching to find relief.

Since this mind control scheme goes back several generations (do you remember the 1st or 2nd grade reader with Dick, Jane, Sally, Spot the dog and Puff the kitten? Early 1950s) it is extremely difficult for most to toss the bullshit of their upbringing and start all over again. Your lemmings again but it isn't their fault really.

I noticed a marked acceleration of the power consolidation as Dubya was selected in 2000. There was a visible relaxation of secrecy in a desperate effort to move the program forward more quickly, as if a hard deadline approached, one that these earthly players had no power to push ahead. The Press and Congress were pretty much under control by then, and other contrary forces could be managed as they went along.

It is early yet to know, but this power-grab scheme seems to be cracking up under its own arrogance finally. Like you, I am agonised by the refusal of my close friends to face what is happening. Many who choose to be ignorant I can excuse; they were brought up expecting to be led by their superiors and that is most comfortable. The main key to breaking the monster's back is awareness among the populace and we are in a close race with this cadre which intends to keep them silent.

In the end I believe there are strong benevolent forces on our side and we will win; just don't expect the world to be the same after the battle is over.

Posted by: rapt | Dec 24, 2007 3:22:14 PM | 12

IDF investigates IDF war crimes in Lebanon, declares them kosher.

Posted by: ran | Dec 24, 2007 8:26:11 PM | 13

short, two-part interview w/ pepe escobar on the media

Embedded with power

...
My suggestion is that readers forget about reading serious news on mainstream/corporate media: stick to the sports and entertainment pages. At least you can't politicize infotainment to death ... In the case of weeklies, stick to the actual reporting and forget about editorials (well sometimes even that is impossible; in Time magazine ideology drips from every report). The Wall Street Journal or The Economist may carry excellent reportage, but frankly no one has to swallow as fact Wall Street and the City of London's wishful thinking.

For politics/economics, the real info is on the net. The problem for most people is how to fish for info on the net. You need a lot of time, a lot of patience and a lot of discipline to cut through the ideological fog, the lunatic ravings, the hardcore propaganda and tons of disinformation. Plus you have to keep it all up on a daily basis. But it is possible.

thanks again for MoA, b!

Posted by: b real | Dec 26, 2007 11:24:53 AM | 14

Just as an aside question, is there a functional difference between the CIA, NSA, FBI, BATF, HS, DoD, Secret Service (initializing that one would be too revealing) and DARPA anymore? I'm losing track of the purview of the Praetorian predators these days. It looks to me like they're all announcing the same projects.

FBI aims for world's largest biometrics database

Posted by: Monolycus | Dec 26, 2007 10:41:34 PM | 15

Oh, and regarding Monolycus's #15... in case you missed it, Police Begin Fingerprinting on Traffic Stops now.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Dec 27, 2007 12:57:37 AM | 16

a surprise to come across this syndicated opinion piece in the western press on xmas day, even if it simplifies the situation & flippantly assigns the blame to the islamic courts union for their woes b/c of their choice of names...

CIA behind Somalia's bloody occupation by Ethiopian troops

On Friday, it will be is exactly a year since Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, fell to Ethiopian troops and the occupation has been one of the most brutal on record. The resistance started at once, and Ethiopian counter-insurgency tactics are not gentle.

As early as last April, Germany's ambassador to Somalia, Walter Lindner, wrote a public letter condemning the indiscriminate use of air strikes and heavy artillery in densely populated parts of Mogadishu, the systematic rape of women and even the bombing of hospitals. By now, the Ethiopian army's attempts to terrorize the residents of Mogadishu into submission have driven 600,000 of them - 60 percent of the population - to flee the city.

The Ethiopians and their local allies indignantly deny these figures, but they come from the United Nations aid coordinator for Somalia, Eric Laroche, and the makeshift camps along the roads leading away from Mogadishu are there for all to see. It is, says Laroche, the worst humanitarian crisis in Africa, worse even than Darfur. But "since it is in Somalia, no one cares."

You will notice that some of the phrases used above do not appear in the agency reports about Somalia. The wire services do not talk about an Ethiopian occupation of Somalia, and they refer to the local Somali collaborators as the "transitional federal government," or TGF. This is mainly in deference to the United States, which organized and backed the Ethiopian invasion of Somalia.
...
The people of Mogadishu, enjoying their first taste of normality in 15 years, overwhelmingly supported the UIC, but the United States decided it must be overthrown. To do the job, Washington turned to its close ally Ethiopia, Somalia's perennial enemy. The Ethiopians, who have no interest in a stable and strong Somalia, were happy to oblige - and for diplomatic cover, the U.S. could use the "transitional federal government" of Somalia.
...
The TFG set up in the town of Baidoa in early 2006, and promptly went to war with the Union of Islamic Courts that controlled the capital. Since it had only about 5,000 soldiers of its own, the TFG depended from the start on far larger numbers of Ethiopian troops to do the actual fighting. Large numbers of government members resigned as it became clear that the TFG had fallen into the hands of the Central Intelligence Agency and the Ethiopians, but a force of about 20,000 Ethiopian troops (with some U.S. air support) fought its way into Mogadishu a year ago.

With the occupation of Mogadishu, the interval of peace ended, and the past year's fighting has driven more than half the city's population into flight. The TFG has been permanently discredited by its link to the hated Ethiopians, but it will probably take more years of war to end the occupation, and a lot more Somalis will die.

as a companion piece, for something else you don't see anything on, check out

sourcewatch: Select Armor, Inc.

Select Armor is a private military corporation based in Virginia. It describes itself as "...a woman-owned enterprise HQ in The Plains, VA with offices in Santa Fe Springs, CA, Jebel Ali, United Arab Emirates, Salzburg, Austria, and Baghdad, Iraq whose core team competency is Force Protection technologies, Security and Emergency Preparedness, Tactical and CBRN training."
...
Africa Confidential reported in September 2006 that the company had

"...been planning military operations in support of President Abdullahi Yusuf's Transitional Federal Government in Somalia and raising questions about an attack on Mogadishu, according to documents obtained by Africa Confidential. The documents refer to Uganda's willingness to secure arms supplies using its own end-user certificates (in contravention of the UN arms embargo) and makes disparaging remarks about 'the fucks' in the United Nations who have been 'snooping around' Select Armor's personnel."

The Observer also saw the leaked emails, and reported the contents of one sent on June 16, 2006 by chief executive Michele Ballarin:

including Chris Farina of the Florida-based military company ATS Worldwide. Ballarin said: 'Boys: Successful meeting with President Abdullay Yussef [sic] and his chief staff personnel in Nairobi, Kenya on Tuesday ... where he invited us to his private hotel suite flacked by security detail ... He has appointed is chief of presidential protocol as our go to during this phase.'

"She refers to one 'closed-door meeting' with a senior UN figure and mentions there are 'a number of Brit security firms' also looking to get involved. Ballarin claimed she has been given 'carte blanche' to use three bases in Somalia 'and the air access to reach them'. She then suggests that the CIA have been kept informed of the plans. Ballarin states: 'My contact whom we discussed from the agency side requested an in-person meeting with me. I arrived in New York at 2340 last night and was driven to Virginia - arriving at 0200 today.'"


Africa Confidential gave some more details about the planning of the alleged operation:

* "Select Armor claim to have briefed" Ugandan Minister of Security Amama Mbabazi and Intelligence Director Brigadier Noble Mayombo.
* Ballarin also claimed "...to have secured meetings with the UN’s Colonel Harry Haen and Sidi Zahab".
* Ballarin wrote that President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda "...put us up in the facility next to his compound".
* "Select's main contact in the Somali government appears to be Minister of Interior (a former US marine and son of the late General Mohamed Farah Aydeed) Hussein Mohamed Aydeed, who is code-named 'Alpha'. President Museveni provides accommodation for the Aydeed family in Kampala."
* Select's General Douglas Eaton "...was cited as handling wire transfers of money to fund the operation."

Ballarin was allegedly less than grateful for the hospitality shown to her by President Museveni. She declared that "Kampala is a real shithole", and complained that in the accommodation provided by Museveni "...we had no hot water during our five days." She also branded Somalia's Prime Minister Mohamed Ali Gedi as the 'Prime Sinister'.

Posted by: b real | Dec 27, 2007 1:16:32 AM | 17

just realized that the first part of that second nested blockquote was cut off. should read:

"Ballarin's email was sent to a number of individuals including Chris Farina of the Florida-based military company ATS Worldwide. Ballarin said: 'Boys: Successful meeting with President Abdullay Yussef...

Posted by: b real | Dec 27, 2007 1:22:04 AM | 18

Wars Cost $15 Billion a Month, GOP Senator Says

The latest estimate of the growing costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the worldwide battle against terrorism -- nearly $15 billion a month -- came last week from one of the Senate's leading proponents of a continued U.S. military presence in Iraq.

"This cost of this war is approaching $15 billion a month, with the Army spending $4.2 billion of that every month," Sen. Ted Stevens (Alaska), the ranking Republican on the Appropriations defense subcommittee, said in a little-noticed floor speech Dec. 18.
...
While most of the public focus has been on the political fight over troop levels, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) reported this month that the Bush administration's request for the 2008 fiscal year of $189.3 billion for Defense Department operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and worldwide counterterrorism activities was 20 percent higher than for fiscal 2007 and 60 percent higher than for fiscal 2006.

Posted by: b | Dec 27, 2007 3:00:47 AM | 19

I wrote about the French Kidnapper NGO in October.

Six French Citizens Found Guilty in Chad

A court in Chad on Wednesday sentenced six French charity workers to eight years of hard labor each on charges of trying to kidnap 103 African children.

The conviction and sentencing were handed down on the fourth day of the trial of workers from the charity Zoe's Ark, who were accused of fraud and kidnapping for attempting to fly the children to France for adoption in Europe.

The defendants argued that they were trying to find homes for orphans from the war-ravaged Darfur region of Sudan, which borders Chad, and were duped by local intermediaries about the family status of individual children. Investigations showed that most of the youngsters, who ranged in age from 1 to 10 years old, were Chadians who lived with at least one parent or other relative.

Posted by: b | Dec 27, 2007 3:20:15 AM | 20

From Antiwar.com this link regarding Chomsky's view of Ron Paul, which seems very close to local MOA orthodoxy. Naturally, Chomsky's points are well-taken and well-stated, and one can understand why Hillary's "progressive" domestic social program (at least compared to that of RP) make her a more attractive candidate for Chomsky, or perhaps one should say "less unattractive". Nevertheless, the need for a sharp break with established convention seems compelling.

Posted by: Hannah K. O'Luthon | Dec 27, 2007 4:35:55 AM | 21

The U.S. is helping Turkey to bomb kurdish north Iraq. But the Kurds believe they have more friends, like Israel. So what is Israel doing?

Report: Israeli crews manning UAVs in Turkish operations against Kurds

Crews from Israel Aerospace Industries, operating unmanned aerial vehicles, are participating in Turkish military operations against PKK militants in northern Iraq, according to Turkish reports to be published today in the Turkish Daily News.

Ten days ago, the Turkish television station Star reported that IAI Heron UAVs are being used in the offensive against the Kurds.
...
However, in the Turkish Daily News report, a Turkish military source is quoted expressing criticism that the IAI and Elbit, which is also part of the Heron program, have failed to meet their contractual obligations and have delayed the supply of UAVs ordered for the Turkish Air Force in 2005.
...
Security sources told Haaretz that as Turkey is carrying out offensive operations against the PKK operating in northern Iraq, there is increased suspicion in the Turkish government and its defense establishment toward the United States and Israel.
...
The reports in the Turkish media about the failure of Israeli firms to meet their contractual commitments is likely to increase tensions between the two countries, even though an interim solution has been provided. On the other hand, the news that Israeli crews are involved operating the UAVs used to target Kurds, is not likely to be well received by the Kurdish government in northern Iraq.

If you play both sides, you'll be hated by both sides ...

Posted by: b | Dec 27, 2007 5:19:50 AM | 22

Let the mystery be
Smart lady here...lol Iris Dement.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Dec 27, 2007 3:15:37 PM | 23

Operation Falcon and the Looming Police State

Operation Falcon is the clearest indication yet that the Bush administration is fine-tuning its shock-troops so it can roll up tens of thousands of people at a moment’s notice and toss them into the newly-built Halliburton detention centers. This should be a red flag for anyone who cares at all about human rights.

vs

Cheney Impeachment - Mainstream Media Wakes Up

The mainstream media has awakened to this movement and to the extraordinary support you have given it. Your calls, letters, and emails have clearly made a difference. Already 140,000 people have joined us in demanding impeachment hearings for Vice President Dick Cheney by signing up at WexlerWantsHearings.com.

Ho[over]! Ho[over]!Ho[over]!

According to a document that was one of many declassified [PDF] by The State Department yesterday, “Former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover had a plan to suspend the rules against illegal detention and arrest up to 12,000 Americans he suspected of being disloyal....The plan called for the FBI to apprehend all potentially dangerous individuals whose names were on a list Hoover had been compiling for years. ‘The index now contains approximately twelve thousand individuals, of which approximately ninety-seven percent are citizens of the United States,’ Hoover wrote in the now-declassified document. ‘In order to make effective these apprehensions, the proclamation suspends the writ of habeas corpus.’”


hmmm?? Anyone else see where I'm going with this?

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Dec 27, 2007 7:55:00 PM | 24

Nice Iris Dement, U$ & will follow with one of my favorite John Prine http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xoQkWQd0Mj8>Big Old Goofy World

(Love this song because its uninspired inspired running on empty creativity - making something from nothing)

Posted by: anna missed | Dec 27, 2007 10:37:53 PM | 25

Bush to sell US High Tech Bomb Technology to Saudi Arabia

A plan to sell Saudi Arabia highly accurate Boeing Co bomb-guidance kits is roiling Israel's backers in the Congress, setting up a potential clash with President George W. Bush. The administration could formally notify lawmakers as soon as January 15 of the possible sale to Riyadh of Joint Direct Attack Munitions, or JDAM, technology.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Dec 28, 2007 12:34:37 AM | 26

yep, iris rocks.

damn anna missed, this is one of my favorite songs. the whole album (i bought it when it came out) marks that era of my life. my kid's dad grew up w/prine's music because his parents performed his songs. when i was pregnant we went to hear him perform (taos) and i dragged his dad backstage (he's shy). we had so much fun. john is super real. went out after the show. so much fun. what a guy. thanks.

Posted by: annie | Dec 28, 2007 1:16:06 AM | 27

not sure exactly what occurred wednesday but

un: UN mission calls on Ethiopia, Eritrea to show restraint after shooting incident

27 December 2007 – The United Nations peacekeeping mission monitoring the ceasefire between Ethiopia and Eritrea today called on both sides to show maximum restraint after a shooting incident in the border area where the two countries fought a two-year war that ended in 2000.
...
The UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) reported that its Indian Battalion Post and Military Observer Team Site at Tsorena inside the Temporary Security Zone (TSZ) on the Eritrea side heard firing sounds in the general direction of Gergera, southeast of Tsorena yesterday.

The Team Site and post patrol could not go to the scene due to permanent restriction on access to the area, but UNMEE has been in contact with both parties, who recognised that the incident had occurred, and is investigating it.

eritrea's ministry of information, shabait: TPLF’s small-scale attack in Eritrean sovereign territory meets with failure

Asmara, 26 December 2007 – In continuation to its ongoing provocations against the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Eritrea, the TPLF regime has unleashed a relatively small scale attack at exactly 03:00 am local time yesterday December 25 in Southern Tsorona area of the Southern region upon dispatched Eritrean militias and security forces assigned to patrol the Security Zone, but was met with utter failure, Colonel Zekarias Okbaghabir Commissioner to the Eritrean Ethiopian Peace Keeping Coordination Commission disclosed in a press statement to ERINA in the evening hours today.

The statement further noted that the TPLF regime had planted land mines during the past three days at Igri-Mekhel area in which a peace keeping vehicle was met with casualty.

ethiopia's ministry of foreign affairs (via nazret): Eritrea accuses Ethiopia of border attack, Ethiopia denies

The version of the story about an incident along Ethiopia Eritrea border recounted by Eritrea on December 26, 2007 is not based on what really took place. There was an incident, it is true. But the incident is of Eritrea's making which is being looked into. It is possible that it may have been a result of an accidental encounter between the reconnaissance missions of the two parties. The claim that there was an attack by Ethiopia is just pure fabrication.

operating from a history of the level of spin & propaganda that has flowed from both regimes in this ongoing conflict over the years, it's probably a safe bet to not fully believe either one for the time being.

[interesting sidenote - tigrayan peoples liberation front's meles zenawi's mother is from eritrea & eritrean peoples liberation front's isayas afeworki's is from tigray]

several western media sources really seem to have been helping to increase the tensions (e.g., the economist) but, as a recent oxford analytica analysis of the top hotspots in the HOA pointed out

Tensions between Ethiopia and Eritrea spiked dangerously in 2007. A large-scale military build-up on the border has placed the two in very close proximity, increasing the risk of accidental incidents and escalation. The final date for agreement on demarcation of the border passed without an accord in November.

The military stand-off will continue, and hostilities will continue to be played out through regional and local proxies. Conflict is not inevitable, as both governments have reasons to avoid war

for ethiopia, there's the growing economy & foreign investments, not to mention the tight relationship at the moment w/ the u.s.

for eritrea, oxford analytica forsees that "Should war break out with Ethiopia, Eritrea will be thrown into a state of major upheaval, most likely resulting in regime replacement, insurgency and widespread displacement."

during the last border war, which reportedly claimed some 70,000 to 100,000 lives, as the late ethiopian historian harold marcus wrote: "Both Addis Abeba and Asmera wanted to settle the conflict, but neither side was willing to admit defeat or wrongdoing. They turned facts on their head to prove their blamelessness, often reducing rationality to absurdity."

let's hope the absurdity stays w/i the realm of rhetoric

Posted by: b real | Dec 28, 2007 1:54:54 AM | 28

looks like the united states' partner in kenya, the incumbent prez kibaki is gonna lose to the challenger odinga raila. had read elsewhere (one of salim lone's columns perhaps) that word was that if kibaki played along w/ the u.s. on the GWOT narrative, they'd support him in the 2007 elections. i guess it's not officially over yet - apparently lots of funny stuff going on - polls not open, misprinted ballots, delays, violence, etc - but odinga's moved comfortably ahead according to the latest returns. interestingly, odinga had hired dick morris to help run his campaign.

yet, while perhaps the u.s. can't control kenya's presidential election outcome, looks like they've been involved in subverting the law in burundi
Burundi sends its first troops to Somalia

Bujumbura, 2007-12-26 (Burundi Réalités Agence Presse) - Burundi sent its first 94 troops to Somalia on Saturday 22 December 2007. Their mission is to prepare for the arrival of a battalion of Burundian troops to be deployed later. The last stage of military training for Burundian troops ended in early October. For six weeks Americans marines trained two Burundian battalions that are to be deployed in Somalia. The training mainly focused on combat tactics.
...
It appears that the parliament was not consulted before the deployment of these troops to Somalia where various Muslim factions do not welcome any force that is mainly made up of Christians. Article 250 of the Constitution of the Republic of Burundi provides that the President of the Republic must inform promptly and in a detailed way (a) the reason for the deployment of the national defence force; (b) where the force is to be deployed, and (c) the length of the deployment.

Posted by: b real | Dec 28, 2007 2:09:11 AM | 29

thank you for the music videos

in recognition of saturday the 29th being the anniversary of the massacre at wounded knee, allow me to throw in two more

bill miller - ghost dance
john trudell - crazy horse

Posted by: b real | Dec 28, 2007 3:08:46 AM | 30

From over at A Tiny Revolution blog someone asks, is The Scanner = the new Billmon?

It's good writing, but...

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Dec 28, 2007 6:50:04 AM | 31

so now that ObL is going to release another tape, we can probably save ourselves some hassle and just go back and re-read what was written the last time this happened.

these folks sure 'nuff do go with what they know..

Posted by: dan of steele | Dec 28, 2007 8:53:35 AM | 32

Nice forensic WSJ piece on how Wall Street Wizardry Amplified Credit Crisis

They took credit bonds rated BBB (marginal investment class) mingled them a bit and sold 80% of the mingled stuff as AAA rated (top investment security).

In principle, credit-default swaps help banks and other investors pass along risks they don't want to keep. But in the case of subprime mortgages, the derivatives have magnified the effect of losses, because they allowed bankers to create an unlimited number of CDOs linked to the same mortgage-backed bonds. UBS Investment Research, a unit of Swiss bank UBS AG, estimates that CDOs sold credit protection on around three times the actual face value of triple-B-rated subprime bonds.

The use of derivatives "multiplied the risk," says Greg Medcraft, chairman of the American Securitization Forum, an industry association. "The subprime-mortgage crisis is far greater in terms of potential losses than anyone expected because it's not just physical loans that are defaulting."
...
Such cross-selling benefited banks, because it helped support the flow of new CDOs and underwriting fees. In fact, the bulk of the middle-rated pieces of CDOs underwritten by Merrill were purchased by other CDOs that the investment bank arranged, according to people familiar with the matter. Each CDO sold some of its riskier slices to the next CDO, which then sold its own slices to the next deal, and so on.

Critics say the cross-selling reached such proportions that it artificially propped up the prices of CDOs. Rather than widely dispersing exposure to these mortgages, the practice circulated the same risk among a relatively small number of players.

Posted by: b | Dec 28, 2007 9:07:22 AM | 33

Hold the phone...

U.S. Aegis Missle Defense System Software Found On Petty Officer's Hard Disk

With the MSM doing only reports on the assassination of Benazir Bhutto this story is flying under everyone's radar including Congress, I bet.

While Wikipedia is not always the best source for information because anyone can go in and alter the information they do have a good bit of information on the U.S. Aegis Defense System.

How could a low level seaman get a hold of it?


Posted by: Uncle $cam | Dec 28, 2007 9:23:34 AM | 34

The next shoe to drop: Credit Crisis? Just Wait for a Replay

But just how different was subprime lending from other lending in the days of easy money that prevailed until this summer? The smug confidence that nothing could go wrong, and that credit quality did not matter, could be seen in the many other markets as well.

That was particularly true in the corporate loan market. Loans were cheap, and anyone worried about losses could buy insurance for almost nothing. It was not an environment that encouraged careful lending.

“The severity of the subprime debacle may be only a prologue to the main act, a tragedy on the grand stage in the corporate credit markets,” Ted Seides, the director of investments at Protégé Partners, a hedge fund of funds, wrote in Economics & Portfolio Strategy.

“Over the past decade, the exponential growth of credit derivatives has created unprecedented amounts of financial leverage on corporate credit,” he added. “Similar to the growth of subprime mortgages, the rapid rise of credit products required ideal economic conditions and disconnected the assessors of risk from those bearing it.”
...

Corporate loans and their derivates: $45 trillions - $45 000 000 000 000 of potentially bad debt.

Posted by: b | Dec 28, 2007 2:32:09 PM | 35

Happy New Years to All. Anyone else have any thing else they'd like to celebrate?

Posted by: jj | Dec 29, 2007 5:12:00 AM | 36

Britain Drops 'War on Terror' Label

The words "war on terror" will no longer be used by the British government to describe attacks on the public, the country's chief prosecutor said Dec. 27.

Sir Ken Macdonald said terrorist fanatics were not soldiers fighting a war but simply members of an aimless "death cult."
...
The term "Islamic terrorist" will also no longer be used. Officials believe it is unhelpful because it appears to directly link the religion to terrorist atrocities.

Fine. Now when will the War of Terror end?

The bombing of the population in Iraq and Afghanistan?
The terrorizing of the population in the 'west' by paranoid government agencies?
The waste of immense amounts of money to (re-)colonize countries with resources?

Posted by: b | Dec 29, 2007 10:54:39 AM | 37

whoa, did anyone think a war on terror covered all the bases? think again, i think we have been one upped!

Pope's exorcist squads will wage war on Satan

lol, it's for real!

Posted by: annie | Dec 29, 2007 3:01:37 PM | 38

it’s a world of laughter, a world of tears
it’s a world of hopes, and a world of fears
there’s so much that we share that it’s time we’re aware
it's a police-state after all...

FBI to put criminals, security issues up in digital billboard lights

The FBI today said it wants to install 150 digital billboards in 20 major U.S. cities in the next few weeks to show fugitive mug shots, missing people and high-priority security messages from the big bureau.

The initiative is made possible through a partnership with Clear Channel Outdoor, the advertising company that’s providing the space as a public service.

The billboards will let the FBI highlight those people it is looking for the most: violent criminals, kidnap victims, missing kids, bank robbers, even terrorists, the FBI said in a release. And the billboards will be able to be updated largely in real-time —right after a crime is committed, a child is taken, or an attack is launched.

The FBI said it tested its first billboard in the Philadelphia area in September, with crystal-clear images of 11 of its most violent fugitives on eight billboards and a 24-hour hotline for the public to call. The billboards paid quick public safety dividends. In October, two fugitives were captured as a direct result of the publicity, the FBI said.

Posted by: b real | Dec 29, 2007 11:19:15 PM | 39

pinr: Somalia's New Reality: A Strategic Overview

There is little likelihood that Somalia's failed transitional institutions can be made to function, much less mesh with one another, in the foreseeable future.
...
Meanwhile, the militant elements of the Courts movement and disaffected clans have carried on a steady armed insurgency against the occupiers, and the political wing of the Courts has formed an alliance with other anti-T.F.G. elements from exile in Eritrea. At present, Addis Ababa -- strained by the insurgency, a separatist movement in its ethnic Somali Ogaden region and border tensions with Eritrea -- is increasingly desperate to end its occupation and has begun to criticize the donor powers for failing to support stabilization in Somalia adequately.
...
..PINR's monitoring of daily reports of violent events confirms that despite continued Ethiopian attempts to crush it, the insurgency continues unabated and has spread to most of the regions of Somalia south of the sub-state of Puntland.

More significant than the mere continuation of the insurgency are signs that the opposition has begun to coalesce around a more militant line emphasizing armed resistance. Warnings from T.F.G. officials that the Y.M.M. and the Courts' leadership had healed their rift were confirmed through December.
...
Whether or not the military option is timely for the Courts, the fact that it is being taken makes it nearly impossible for [recently-appointed PM] Hussein to woo the opposition into his government and thereby satisfy the donor powers, which want to isolate the militants by co-opting the moderate opposition.
...
After a year of occupying Somalia ... Addis Ababa -- faced with the T.F.G.'s implosion and the persistence of the insurgency -- is losing patience with the donor powers over their failure to give sufficient support for the expansion of a small and ineffective African Union peacekeeping mission (AMISOM) in Mogadishu, and appears to be considering a policy shift that would distance it from the T.F.G., over which it no longer has preponderant influence.
...
Addis Ababa has made it clear that it is not a reluctant ally of the donor powers, to which it is tied by a marriage of convenience that is under severe strain. Although Addis Ababa, which is itself financially dependent on donor powers, is unlikely to make any precipitous policy shift, it is preparing an exit strategy. Ethiopia's faltering commitment does not bode well for Hussein's prospects of staying afloat.

the indian ocean newsletter (via ogaden online): Stay or not to stay in Somalia

When he speaks in public on the subject, the Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi denies that his country’s troops are having a hard time bringing the Islamic rebels in Somalia to heel. He even accuses United Nations agencies of not having been "positive" enough on the role played by the Ethiopian forces there. However, the internal discussions within the Ethiopian military executive are far less optimistic.

On 11 December 2007, from 11 in the morning until well after nightfall, Meles Zenawi held a meeting with his generals behind closed doors to evaluate the situation in Somalia. Those present included the army chief of staff Samora Yunis. According to information obtained by The Indian Ocean Newsletter, several participants in this conclave reached the conclusion that the Ethiopian army is faltering through the poor quality of its intelligence sources on the situation in Somalia. The morale of Ethiopian troops on the ground is at a low ebb in the face of repeated attacks by insurgents and the Somalian Transitional Federal Government’s inability to cope.

A few generals went as far as to suggest withdrawing the Ethiopian troops, at least from certain neighbourhoods in Mogadishu. One of the participants even said that in the event of a full retreat, the Ethiopian servicemen should be disarmed, in order to avert a possible mutiny. But the majority of the generals present in the meeting rejected this proposal. They pointed out that disarming an elite force would have a detrimental effect on the morale of the rest of the army and so cause even more problems. In the end, nothing was decided and no date set for a further meeting on this subject.

bbc, on friday: Ethiopia leaves key Somali town

Ethiopian troops have withdrawn from a key town in central Somalia.

Islamist insurgents say they now control Guriel, where Ethiopia had a big military base to secure the road linking the two countries.

A BBC correspondent in Somalia says it is not clear why the Ethiopian troops withdrew without any fighting.

Guriel was a stronghold of the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), which lost power to Ethiopian-backed government troops a year ago this week.

The BBC's Ayanleh Hussein in Guriel says residents have been cheering the Ethiopians' departure.

During the occupation the local hospital was out of use as it was used as the Ethiopians' military base, he says.

islam online: Somali Courts Seize More Towns

MOGADISHU — Islamic Courts fighters have seized control of two key towns in south-central Somalia, forcing Ethiopian troops to withdraw from the region, witnesses said on Saturday, December 29.

"Ethiopian troops left their only camp near the Baladweyn city (the capital of Hiiran region) before dawn," Magan Ahmed, a businessman in the Hiran region, told IslamOnline.net.

"I think they went to the direction of the border between Somalia and Ethiopia."

Islamic Courts fighters also took over Guriel town, some 300 kilometers (188 miles) north of the capital Mogadishu.

"The Ethiopian forces withdrew from the town overnight and now I can see the former Islamic courts fighters," said Mohamed Haji Elmi, a tribal leader.

Backed by the United States, the Ethiopian army invaded Somalia last year to topple the Islamic Courts at the request of the weak interim government.

The Islamic Courts, which ruled Somalia for six months after routing a Washington-backed alliance of warlords, managed to briefly restore unprecedented order and stability on most of the Somali territories after more than 15 years of unrest.

But since their ouster, Somalia has descended into chaos with almost daily attacks against Ethiopian troops and government forces.

Ahmed, the businessman, said the growing influence of the Islamic Courts in the central areas has forced the withdrawal of the Ethiopian troops.

"Now there is no Ethiopian soldiers in the central regions of Somalia," he said.

Somali experts have told IOL that the Islamic Courts fighters have grown more powerful in recent months, regaining control of at least one-third of Somalia thanks to sophisticated attacks and unified ranks in the face of the weak government.

European diplomatic sources also told IOL that several Arab heavyweights have changed hearts after an initial support for Ethiopian presence in Somalia and are diplomatically and financially supporting the Somali resistance.

Posted by: b real | Dec 30, 2007 12:12:18 AM | 40

Riots Batter Kenya as Rivals Declare Victory

Just 12 hours before, Mr. Odinga, a flamboyant politician and businessman, had been cruising to victory, according to preliminary results. He was leading Kenya’s president, Mwai Kibaki, by about one million votes in an election that was predicted to be the most fiercely fought in Kenya’s history and perhaps the greatest test yet of this young, multiparty democracy.

But that lead nearly vanished overnight. On Saturday morning, the gap had been cut to about 100,000 votes, with Mr. Odinga still ahead, but barely, with 47 percent of the vote compared with 46 percent for Mr. Kibaki. By Saturday night, with about 90 percent of the vote counted, Mr. Odinga’s lead had shrunk to a mere 38,000 votes.

But those results may not be valid. According to Kenya’s election commission, which is considered somewhat independent from the government, at least three areas from Mr. Kibaki’s stronghold of central Kenya reported suspiciously high numbers. In one area, Mr. Kibaki received 105,000 votes, even though there were only 70,000 registered voters. In another, the vote tally was changed, at the last minute, to give the president an extra 60,000 votes. In a third area, the turnout was reported at 98 percent.

Posted by: b | Dec 30, 2007 3:12:23 AM | 41

Ali Abunimah and Omar Barghouti: Democracy: an existential threat?

Inspired in part by the South African Freedom Charter and the Belfast Agreement, the much humbler One State Declaration, authored by a group of Palestinian, Israeli and international academics and activists, affirms that "the historic land of Palestine belongs to all who live in it and to those who were expelled or exiled from it since 1948, regardless of religion, ethnicity, national origin or current citizenship status". It envisages a system of government founded on "the principle of equality in civil, political, social and cultural rights for all citizens".

It is precisely this basic insistence on equality that is perceived by Zionists as an existential threat to Israel, undermining its inherently discriminatory foundations which privilege its Jewish citizens over all others. Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert was refreshingly frank when he recently admitted that Israel was "finished" if it faced a struggle for equal rights by Palestinians.

But whereas transforming a regime of institutionalised racism, or apartheid, into a democracy was viewed as a triumph for human rights and international law in South Africa and Northern Ireland, it is rejected out of hand in the Israeli case as a breach of what is essentially a sacred right to ethno-religious supremacy (euphemistically rendered as Israel's "right to be a Jewish state").

Palestinians are urged by an endless parade of western envoys and political hucksters - the latest among them Tony Blair - to make do with what the African National Congress rightly rejected when offered it by South Africa's apartheid regime: a patchwork Bantustan made up of isolated ghettoes that falls far below the minimum requirements of justice.

Posted by: b | Dec 30, 2007 5:33:42 AM | 42

Worst shopping season in five years, reports retailers.

By BusinessWeek

Christmas has passed, but Elizabeth Milner is getting busier. The shoe associate at Macy's in Overland Park, Kan., says she's seeing even more customers now than during the Christmas rush.

That's because the store is offering an extra 30% off merchandise already reduced by half. Shave off 10% more with a pass from the newspaper and you reap a deeper discount than last year, says Milner, when the store offered 20% off items already reduced by 40%.

"There's even more traffic now than pre-Christmas," says Milner, who has worked at Macy's (M, news, msgs) since 2005. "Women are after the $100 to $200 boots now going for $30."

After the most disappointing holiday sales season in five years, retailers are turning to "desperation discounting" to rescue bleak holiday sales. From early-bird specials to new "power hours" and savings of up to 80%, chain stores such as Macy's and Kohl's (KSS, news, msgs) are trying a variety of tricks to resuscitate spending.

Along the same lines, here's a must see youtube vid..

Planned and perceived obsolescence

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Dec 30, 2007 10:21:23 AM | 43


Kenya Leader Re-Elected in Disputed Vote

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) - President Mwai Kibaki took the oath of office Sunday minutes after being declared the winner of a vote marred by allegations of rigging, and the government swiftly suspended live television coverage as riots raged in the slums home to thousands of opposition supporters.

Elections chief Samuel Kivuitu, who read the results on a single local station after other media were expelled from the main vote headquarters, said Kibaki beat Raila Odinga by 231,728 votes in the closest race in Kenya's history.

Posted by: annie | Dec 30, 2007 1:03:58 PM | 44

@44 - annie - that will be another civil war. The opposition in Kenia most likely won - see 41. Maybe b real has more on it?

Posted by: b | Dec 30, 2007 1:48:00 PM | 45

@43 - Uncle - shopping is bad - people lack money - the mortgage bubble is going bust. That's now out and known.

The next issue: New cars that are fully loaded — with debt

At the same time, the amount of money drivers owe on their cars is soaring. In October, the average amount financed hit $30,738, up $3,500 in just a year and nearly 40% in the last decade, according to the Fed. More troubling, today's average car owner owes $4,221 more than the vehicle is worth at the time it's sold -- up from $3,529 in 2002, according to industry analyst Edmunds.

After car loans - credit card debt

Consider this: It's entirely possible that under a common cardholder agreement provision called a universal cross-default clause that your dispute with the cable company over lousy service constitutes an event of default on your credit card. The default bumps your interest rate up to 32 percent, which is applied retroactively to your existing balance and (under another common practice called "two-cycle billing") to the balance you paid off last month.
...
The complexity of credit card pricing helps explain the soaring growth of American credit card debt, now approaching $1 trillion.

But low sales, and busting debt is only ONE side of the issue.

The other side is the "investment" in this "securitized" debt - i.e. the folks who gave the money and are waiting for their payments.

These are no longer banks or rich people. The "securitized" debt has been bought by your pension fund and your money-market fund ...

That shoe still has to drop.

The scam was two sided. People borrowed money, other people gave the money against promisses of return.

The real scammers were those inbetween. The big banks, rating agencies, agents and their owners who made money on any transaction - no matter how bad that transaction was.

Posted by: b | Dec 30, 2007 2:01:17 PM | 46

yea, i don't have time to spend online right now to track coverage, but the one-sentence stmt on u.s. support for kibaki that i mentioned earlier from salim lone in an april democracynow appearance

I mean, Africa is weak. It cannot really take strong stands. In my own country, Kenya, we have played a terrible role in these extraordinary renditions and Guantanamo Bay that are going on. But, of course, one leading opposition, the candidate in Kenya, said that the US has promised to support the government in the elections at the end of this year in exchange for the terrible things it has been doing. So Africa is weak—

of course he was quoting odinga. (and if not this salim lone himself, several reports the other day quoted an odinga campaign aide named salim lone on the ramifications of the newly-introduced exit polling results, which showed kibaki winning in a very restricted sample.)

Posted by: b real | Dec 30, 2007 2:05:20 PM | 47

two resources

allafrica has been running special coverage of the elections in kenya - here

reuters africa also has been running Special Coverage: Kenya Elections

kenya is a key east african base for the u.s. & partner nation. many of kibaki's ministers were voted out overwhelmingly & odinga was widely reported as the popular favorite, yet the many delays appear to have been used to manipulate the final tallies for the presidency. reminds me of what happened in ethiopia last time, but then again, it's not an uncommon practice to rig presidential elections nearly anywhere on the planet, let alone kenya.

from a reuters rpt on saturday

A Kenyan TV anchorwoman let slip an unfortunate comment live on air as her station beamed images of the chaos.

"These guys don't know how to rig properly, like Moi used to," she said, referring to the fraud-ridden era of former President Daniel arap Moi.

Posted by: b real | Dec 30, 2007 2:23:33 PM | 48

US congratulates Kenyan president on re-election

The US State Department Sunday congratulated Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki on his re-election, and called on all sides to accept the results despite opposition allegations of ballot fraud.

Posted by: b | Dec 30, 2007 3:02:55 PM | 49

b-, if you're looking for coming tsunamis from banking sector, I heard someone who works in underwriting small business loans. (Small business is defined as revenues <=$10M.) Head for the hills. This chap worked in rust belt - Penn., Ohio, etc. Calamitous situation. He said they began by strip mining the Steel, Auto & Textile Industries - completely wiped out in America. That wiped out suppliers. Then the little businesses that depended on those salaries are being taken down, as there is no money left. Finally, the families themselves are shattering. Of course, they're living on their credit cards. No one writes about the politics of credit cards. They privatize, thereby depoliticizing, the effects of Unca Miltie's Economics. W/out them, they never could have implemented those policies. They also delay the effects, til they're irreversible, as well as experienced as an individual problem, rather than consequence of elite policies.

Posted by: jj | Dec 30, 2007 3:48:23 PM | 50

b 45, i know. i read the news directly after reading your 43.

odinga was widely reported as the popular favorite, yet the many delays appear to have been used to manipulate the final tallies for the presidency. reminds me of what happened in ethiopia last time

and ohio.

Posted by: annie | Dec 30, 2007 7:46:08 PM | 51

having just read 'charlie wilson's war' - what a vile piece of stenography. if you ever had the misfortune to see 'the green berets' with that most famous coward john wayne - you would have an idea of what this book was like

absolutely delighting in the death of the other - it is an insight into the depravity of the culture & of the civilisation

feel dirty having read it & given that it was written recently it is wholly absurd in its understanding of afghanistan, pakistan, the role & multiplicities of islam, saudia arabia etc etc - it is as if written by the dumbest boy in class with the bravado of a buffoon

given that i have been reading it as pakistan publically falls apart in a way it has been doing for decades has only made the reading of it slightly less pornographic

these scribblers of the last days of capitalism - where do they all crawl from

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Dec 30, 2007 7:59:18 PM | 52

Food Prices Set to Soar in 2008

For cash-strapped consumers already beset by higher gasoline prices and escalating mortgage rates, the hits just keep on coming. This time, it's food. For the 1st time in modern history it might be cheaper to eat out than to cook at home.

As we already know, many of us can't afford to eat healthy now, Healthy Foods Are Too Expensive for Millions, Research Shows

It's hard not to spend too much time at the dinner table during the holiday season, getting fatter on our way to the poor house. Though we are lectured constantly about eating right, most of us don't. And the reason, it seems, is more a matter of economics than self-indulgence.

Eating right, new research shows, is getting so expensive that millions of Americans can't afford it.

In what is believed to be the first study of its kind, researchers at the University of Washington focused on the cost of eating foods that are rich in nutrients, and low in calories, like fresh vegetables, whole grains, fish and lean meats. That's the stuff we're told we have to eat if we are going to shed a few pounds and remain healthy.

But when the researchers checked prices at numerous stores around the Seattle area, they found that the good, healthy foods had soared in price over a two-year period, jumping by nearly 20 percent compared to a 5 percent increase in the overall food price inflation. And during that same period, high-calorie foods had remained about the same price, and in some cases had actually dropped.

"We were shocked," Adam Drewnowsky, director of the Center for Public Health Nutrition at the University of Washington, said in an interview. Drewnowsky and fellow researcher Pablo Monsivais published their findings in the December issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

I had another link that showed food prices rise would be triple what it is now by the end of 08, but I lost it... ;-{

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Dec 30, 2007 9:28:40 PM | 53

file this along w/ #40. it contradicts some of that reporting, and i've not yet found other sources to verify this one (not an easy thing to do since independent media in somalia is pretty much illegal at the moment & there's not much english-language reporting to boot), but i'll throw it into the mix
garowe online: Somalia: Fresh Ethiopian troops deployed in Hiran region

BELETWEIN, Somalia Dec 30 (Garowe Online) - A fresh convoy of Ethiopian troops entered the Somali border region of Hiran on Sunday, less than a week after Ethiopian forces were reported to have withdrawn from Galgadud region, sources said.

Ethiopian soldiers were seen in Jawil area, near the common border between Ethiopia and Somalia, according to villagers.

The exact number of soldiers or trucks could not be independently verified, but residents said these troops crossed over from the Ethiopian side of the border.
...
About 1,000 Ethiopian soldiers are stationed in the outskirts of Beletwein, the capital of Hiran.

Last week, Ethiopian forces withdrew from parts of Galgadud region, after a six-month stay.

Residents in the Galgadud town of Guri El said the Ethiopian soldiers forcefully lived in private homes and a local hospital during their stay.

Osman Isse Nur, the deputy governor of Galgadud, dismissed media reports that Islamic Courts fighters had taken control of Guri El following the Ethiopian pullout.

Mr. Nur said armed men seen in the outskirts of Guri El are not part of the Islamic Courts but are "regional troops."

Posted by: b real | Dec 31, 2007 1:06:33 AM | 54

bits & pieces on the situation on the kenyan elections. sorry, not enough time to construct & fill out a smooth narrative from them.

telegraph: Kenya could be facing its greatest crisis

It is no exaggeration to say that Kenya is potentially facing its most serious crisis since gaining independence from Britain in 1963.

The prospect for serious violence between the country's two most traditionally antagonistic tribes, Mr Kibaki's Kikuyu and the Luo, led by his challenger Raila Odinga, is worryingly high.

Luos, marginalised since independence, have reason to feel aggrieved. Thanks to an alliance that Mr Odinga built with other tribes, they felt that this was their best and possibly last chance of taking power.

The farcical nature of the vote will only heighten their disappointment. The electoral commission initially claimed that roughly a quarter of returning officers disappeared for 36 hours without announcing results and had switched off their mobile phones.

When results did finally emerge, Mr Odinga saw a one million vote lead overturned.

Opinion polls showed that the contest was always going to be close, but if the official results are correct, Kenyans voted in an inexplicably bizarre manner.

After turfing out 20 of Mr Kibaki's cabinet ministers and reducing his party to a rump in the simultaneous parliamentary poll, they apparently voted in an entirely different manner in the presidential race.

Apart from an unusually high turn-out in some of Mr Kibaki's strongholds (sometimes more than 100 per cent ), the president then appeared to have won many more votes in some constituencies than first reported.


the nation (nairobi): EU Observers Doubt Presidential Result

The European Union election observers have expressed doubts over the outcome of the presidential race.

A statement this evening from the EU Observer Mission doubted the credibility of the tallying process for the presidential votes.

Here is the full text of the statement:

The Chief Observer of the EU Election Observation Mission (EU EOM), Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, Member of the European Parliament, issued the following statement about the announcement of the winner of the presidential election in the Republic of Kenya:

“Once again, we would like to commend Kenyan citizens for the strong commitment to peace and democracy that they showed on election day.

"With a view to the presidential elections, however, we believe that, at this time, the ECK, despite the best efforts of its chairman, has not succeeded in establishing the credibility of the tallying process to the satisfaction of all parties and candidates.

"We regret that it has not been possible to address irregularities about which both the EU EOM and the ECK have evidence. The result for the Molo constituency, for example, was announced in the presence of EU EOM Observers at the constituency tally center as 50,145 votes for President Kibaki, while the ECK today declared the result for the President to be 75,261 votes. Because of this and other observed irregularities, some doubt remains as to the accuracy of the result of the presidential election as announced today.

"We call on the leaders of Kenya to maintain this spirit of peace and democracy so admirably shown by the people of Kenya on Thursday.”


the east african standard (nairobi): Kibaki Declared Winner, Sworn In

The Electoral Commission of Kenya has declared President Mwai Kibaki the winner of the 2007 polls and he was immediately sworn in at State House gardens, Nairobi.
...
Kibaki was sworn in just after 6.00pm Kenyan Time by Chief Justice Evan Gicheru in the presence of ministers, Attorney General Amos Wako and the top brass of the armed forces.
...
Meanwhile, an official from the Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) has come out in the open and declared that the poll body is rigging the elections in favour of President Mwai Kibaki. Mr Kipkemoi Kirui, a parliamentary official, seconded to ECK was led to the press conference addressed by ODM leaders led by presidential candidate, Mr Raila Odinga.
...
"My conscience could not allow me to see what I was seeing and keep quiet," said Kirui adding: "I have seen form 16A delivered by returning officers… and the results announced here by the chairman are different."

The officer said "blatant and shameless alteration of documents" was being done particularly by "information technology officials."

He said the results for Coast and upper Eastern provinces were the most affected, and named Moyale, Laisamis, Saku and Matuga among other six constituencies.

Raila said Nakuru Town, and Maragua constituencies had presented fake results.


nyt: Tribal Rivalry Boils Over After Kenyan Election

One Western ambassador said that Western diplomats tried for hours on Sunday to persuade the election commission to do a recount of the vote figures using original results but that the commission refused.

“This was rigged,” the ambassador said.

The election commission acknowledged that there were irregularities but said that it was not their job to address them.

The opposition, said the chairman, Samuel Kivuitu, “can go to the courts.”


voa: US Congratulates Kenya Presidential Vote Winner, EU Monitors Question Results

The U.S. State Department on Sunday congratulated Mwai Kibaki as the winner of Kenya's presidential election and called for calm in the African nation already disrupted by deadly riots.

But European Union election observers have questioned the credibility of the results.
...
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband expressed "real concerns" over Kenya's election irregularities, calling on political leaders to address them "in a way that will bring the respect and support of the Kenyan people."

He urged all sides to settle their disputes peacefully through dialogue and the judicial appeals process.

The European Union team and other election observers initially declared Thursday's election to be free of fraud but withheld later judgment as delays developed during the vote-counting.

On Sunday, they EU said its observers were blocked from the count.

the nation (nairobi): Violence erupts after Kibaki sworn in

After being sworn in at State House Nairobi, President Kibaki asked his opponents to accept the outcome of the polls, which he described as “credible”.
...
“I thank the ECK, security agents, observers and all other players for remaining committed to the conduct of honest, orderly and credible elections that have enabled the true verdict of the people to prevail,” he said.

In other developments, the Government through Internal Security minister John Michuki suspended all live broadcasts by television and radio stations and threatened to arrest anyone publishing alarming materials.

voa: Kenya Bans Live Media Broadcasts

..a state of emergency has been imposed on some parts of the country as fighting escalates. Joseph Magoott is a Kenyan political analyst. From the capital, Nairobi he tells reporter Peter Clottey the elections outcome is a sad day in the life of Kenya’s young democracy.

“There has been an order directing all media outlets not to broadcast live materials from their stations. Remember, the ODM’s Raila Odinga was scheduled to make a statement to challenge the electoral result. And I think one of the media houses begun a broadcast, but all of a sudden it was switched off and that I think is retrogressive to essentially kill the democratic rights and again is a breach against the freedom of expression. Given that this is the very government that raised the standards and the KTN group,” Magoott noted.

He said the media ban undermines the government’s commitment to freedom of expression.

“This action evokes bad memories that this government is not committed to freedom of the media. Remember, that even the announcement of the results were done by the state media, recorded in the state house and the recorded materials were taken to the rest of the media houses,” he said.

Magoott said some Kenyans are shocked about the outcome of Thursday’s elections.

“Kenyans cannot really believe (what happened) remember it was like the rest of Kenya versus one region given the fact that this is a government that really favored one region in terms of the forming of the government and appointments in public services, and so it was a government by one tribe. And so it is shocking that this government managed to come to office. But there have been reports of the fact that this government had planned and executed rigging and cheated in the election. These are legitimate grounds that the ODM team had raised, and the announcement made by Kivuitu (electoral commissioner) were not reflective of the results of the districts, and so there was some cooking so to speak along the way. So Kenyans have not received the news well,” Magoott pointed out.

kenyan pundit (blog): Post-media blackout update


All live broadcasts have been suspended by the government. The order was released as ODM was addressing their press conference.

This is now officially a police state.

So we have no idea what ODM is saying, and what the security situation is around the country.

...

With live media shut down [update - ban just extended to phone interviews with journalists and political reporting] rumors are dominating.

...

Drove to a friend’s house less than ten minutes away and had to go through a police checkpoint. Very scary.

I have no news to report. It’s a total total blackout. Watching TV feels like watching TV under some crazy dictatorship. I mean we all know that the country is on fire, but KBC is airing Just for Laughs. WTF???

I, however, remain committed to keeping whatever news I can flowing so keep the info coming (even though it might sit in moderation for a while). And hopefully I’ll have something updates tomorrow from what is now for all intents and purposes my bunker.

also reports of "shoot to kill" orders in some districts, rumours of odinga and/or his comrades being arrested or held temporarily.

more will come out in the next day or so, but it's pretty telling that the u.s. was the first to congratulate kibaki & call for kenyans to accept him amidst all the controversy.

Posted by: b real | Dec 31, 2007 1:45:38 AM | 55

Although the insight of Bernhard and the comments in general on MOA are generally excellent, there appears to be lacking an important aspect in our discussions. We skirt the issue when we talk of progressive agendas regarding people’s needs, or when we talk of various topics such as domestic politics, conservation, peak oil, global energy, geopolitics and war. Somehow we rarely, if ever, directly address a most prime issue. It is nothing obscure – it is basic. The most basic need of people is food.

Agriculture has been transformed more than ever in the last century because of one basic factor – nitrogen production. Increased crop yield via increased fertilization has been astounding. However, there are very intelligent people who believe this is the wrong tactic for food production. Such methods show a pronounced flaw in design approach, that is, ignoring nature and past human culture. The best and brightest engineering and design people often look to nature for efficiency in design, whether it be in architecture (both in form and function), component designs from aeronautical, automobile, marine to industrial processes, or even in methods of crop production. Nitrogen production is highly energy dependent and unfortunately, corn and soy – which the U.S. food supply is based on, is highly needy of nitrogen for high yield.

I am attempting to become “closer to the land” and “psychologically” less dependent on “the system” that ensnarls us all. If time and talent permit, becoming less physically dependent on “the system” would be a plus if it is not too tedious.

For childish reasons, similar to a kid in a candy store, I have rushed in and approached this problem completely backwards, literally, as the old saying goes, putting the cart before the horse. In this case, it is getting the horses, before the most important part of agricultural life, which is “the pasture”. [Two months ago on a whim I adopted two wild Mustangs from the U.S. government. I knew nothing about horses and I did not even have an enclosure for them as I filled out the papers to adopt them. This was on a Friday morning. It was necessary for a friend and myself to rush back to finish an enclosure before the wild horses were to be delivered in two days, Sunday afternoon. This was not an easy task, because the corral posts had to be heavy duty (6in x 6in) and 6ft. high using 2in.x 8 in. planking and a roofed shelter was also necessary. We worked way into the nights with floodlights, a gas-powered post hole digger and a generator. Perhaps those two days may make an interesting story for another time.]

With a severe drought here in the U.S. Southeast, a bale of hay has increased from less than $4.00 a bale to currently around $8.50 a bale! Worst yet, grain prices have never been higher and show no signs of changing. As for my personal situation, the need for a pasture is paramount for economic reasons, plus the horses will need some room to romp. I am in the process of building an initial strong fenced pasture 308 ft. x 40 ft. and have winter rye grass started which is already a couple of inches high.

An excellent book for all regarding nutritious “organic” food production is ’An Omnivore’s Dilemma’ - by Michael Pallon. In this book, Pallon emphasizes the basics of pasture and when techniques are properly done, organic farming can be high production, high yield, and leave the earth more enriched as the years go by without need for chemical fertilizer application. It is not a “zero” or limited resource game.

With that said however, I feel that the world is currently headed for very significant increases in food prices, especially in the U.S., due to the falling dollar, higher energy prices, and increased importation of fertilizers.

Below are some excellent links regarding world demand and production of nitrogen. So much of this is relevant to what we discuss here at MOA. For just one example, the 7 billion (US$) Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) natural gas pipeline will provide Iran an economic lifeline at a time when the US and its European allies are trying to weaken it and also create an unbreakable long term political and economic dependence of India and Pakistan on Iran – this, of course, is not to Washington's liking. India is the second largest consumer of nitrogen, with China being the largest. Both countries each far exceed the U.S. in nitrogen use although the U.S. relies on imports the most. Moreover, besides fertilizer production and transportation, energy is required in the processing of foods, packaging, transportation, retailing, and home refrigeration and preparation. “Fossil fuel reliance may prove to be the Achilles heel of the modern food system. Oil supply fluctuations and disruptions could send food prices soaring. Competition and conflict could escalate quickly. Decoupling the food system from the oil industry is key to improving food security.” - Danielle Murray.

The PotashCorp World Agriculture and Fertilizer Markets Map brings you crop and fertilizer data from across the globe. Discover what primary crops are grown in selected countries, as well as the amount of N, P and K products these countries produce, import, export and consume. You can learn more about world livestock, including cattle, poultry, pigs and sheep stock and meat production.
http://www.potashcorp.com/media/flash/world_map/
http://www.potashcorp.com/investor_relations/markets_information/world_markets_map/?link_type=rightNav


Energy agriculture - where’s the nitrogen?
http://www.extension.iastate.edu/AGDM/articles/hof/HofNov07.html


Impact of Rising Natural Gas - Prices on U.S. Ammonia Supply
http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/WRS0702/wrs0702.pdf


Posted by: Rick | Dec 31, 2007 5:17:34 AM | 56

Euro gains on dollar in official reserves

The euro has fast gained ground against the dollar in international official foreign exchange reserves in recent months, according to official statistics highlighting the nine-year-old currency’s growing global importance.

Reflecting its increasing strength on foreign exchange markets, the euro’s share of known foreign exchange holdings rose to 26.4 per cent in the third quarter of this year, the International Monetary Fund reported late on Friday. That was up from 25.5 per cent in the previous three months and from 24.4 per cent in the third quarter of 2006.

Also:

Euro notes cash in to overtake dollar

The US dollar bill’s standing as the world’s favourite form of cash is being usurped by the five-year-old euro.

The value of euro notes in circulation is this month likely to exceed the value of circulating dollar notes, according to calculations by the Financial Times. Converted at Wednesday’s exchange rates, the euro took the lead in October.

In a few hours Cyprus will join the euro ... welcome ...

Posted by: b | Dec 31, 2007 6:47:25 AM | 57

... and don't forget Malta.

Hey things are looking good for European stocks if troubled banks signal an end to the credit crunch.

HAHAHAHAHA

Posted by: Hamburger | Dec 31, 2007 8:19:47 AM | 58

For askod in case he drops by.

A nature video of some rare wild beasts in Sweden. The narratation is in German but like any of these it is easy to understand.

Includes copulation so it may not be worksafe.

Posted by: b | Dec 31, 2007 9:22:22 AM | 59

Am I the only one getting disconnected when I click on b's link?

Posted by: beq | Dec 31, 2007 11:06:41 AM | 60

it just says 'failed link' when i try to connect beq.

Posted by: annie | Dec 31, 2007 12:19:36 PM | 61

Yes, R'giap it's the same murderous farce it's always been, and when the boots on the ground say things like the following, "In the end they'll need to follow our plan, but we've got to make them feel it's their plan" it kinda puts it all into perspective.

Army Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Rohling, commander of the 3d Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, and a Milwaukee native, sat listening to the elders' requests. Careful not to use a threatening tone, he explained to the leaders that meeting their demands for improvements to checkpoints, more men and more pay, would require the contracts for the concerned local citizens groups that guard their neighborhoods to be renegotiated.

"What we're struggling with now is, how do you make it fair for everybody?" Rohling said. And more important, he told the leaders, was figuring out how gradually to move some of the armed volunteer guards into other jobs, such as the national police force.

"Because I think we all agree, we can't pay volunteers for the rest of their lives," Rohling said.

Again, there were nods of agreement along with noncommittal stares.

"A lot of what you get is posturing," Rohling said later of the leaders. He acknowledged that he often has to combine softer diplomacy with military assertiveness to coax and cajole some local leaders to cooperate.

"It's a cultural challenge," the US commander added. "In the end they will need to follow our plan, but we've got to make them feel that it's their plan . . ."



I can't help but severely question, why a U.S. Lieutenant Colonel is allowed to shape the direction of what they inevitably call Iraq's 'democracy' on such an intimate level. It's even more disturbing to read his open admission that the U.S. military intends to follow and violently enforce their own agenda (plan; checkpoints, raids, arrests) no matter what the locals decide or want. Because if a busboy like this knows the plan then it must be really nasty at the top.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Jan 1, 2008 12:27:30 AM | 64

What the everybody implicitly understands is that is their plan already.

Posted by: anna missed | Jan 1, 2008 3:20:53 AM | 65

@60, 61 - sorry, the site seems to be down now.

Posted by: b | Jan 1, 2008 5:02:18 AM | 66

Not sure if anyone has seen this.
"bbc-censored-benazir-bhuttos-reports"

This is f-ing pathethic. I saw the original clip before the "censorship". Just the one sentence is deleted, so no excuses are valid. Which also means a whole chain of shit-kickers at the BBC are involved.

Posted by: DM | Jan 3, 2008 10:56:52 AM | 67

I don't know if these links have been noted here at Moon. They seem interesting to me. One might conjecture that the two levels of western spookery unearthed here (those slyly countenancing the A.Q. Kahn proliferation network in order to use it to sabotage "rogue state" nuclear programs, and those dutifully trying to impede trafficking in the technology for nuclear weapons) were at some point incorporated in a third, even more cynically realistic polity: creation of a mediatic frenzy about such "rogue state" programs in order to "sell" wars of aggression whose geo-strategic justifications were unmarketable. This approach certainly worked in creating the war against Iraq, and was obviously about to be applied again against Iran until countervailing forces produced the NIE.

Posted by: Hannah K. O'Luthon | Jan 4, 2008 1:29:21 AM | 68

This may be old news to some.
Special forces on standby over nuclear threat

Posted by: DM | Jan 4, 2008 2:04:14 AM | 69

On Iran Jim Lobe notes that neocon darling Petraeus has turned around is now issueing peaceful statements (in the Washington Times!).

The article quotes Petraeus’ spokesman, Col. Steven Boylan, as praising Tehran’s recent performance in words that must upset Iran hawk Michael Ledeen, in particular: “We are ready to confirm the excellence of the senior Iranian leadership in the pledge to stop the funding, training, equipment and resourcing of the militia special groups,” Boylan is quoting as telling the Times. “We have seen a downward trend in the signature-type attacks using weapons provided by Iran.” He said that the decline began in October, although he went on to say that his command remains in a “wait and see mode,” as well.
Ledeen must be crying ... (and plotting something new)

Posted by: b | Jan 4, 2008 3:04:38 AM | 70

Another PSA from your Uncle...

Don't know about anyone else, but I recently bought a moderately priced headphone set from Sears, I wish I had know the following before hand.

Sears Wants To Hack Your Computer

Online communities to become more 'all-encompassing.' If you join the SHC community on Sears.com, all web traffic to and from your computer thereafter will be copied and sent to a third party marketing research firm - including, for example, your secure sessions with your bank! The Sears.com proxy will send your logins and passwords along with a cleartext copy of all the supposedly secure data. But wait, it gets better: you can only view the true TOS once the proxy has already been installed.

This isn't even opt in, apparently Sears has opened up it's entire database of all your purchases going back to '89 with so little security that anyone can pull up details on anyone else (apparently with just knowing a name and address)


As one of the comments there said, I hope some hacker finds and releases the 'cell number, SSN, home address, and boat landing of every suit on top of the food chain at Sears, the sniveling crop of MBAs that greenlighted this project, and the assholes who agreed to code and host it. Also: David Cross'.

Posted by: PSA FROM Uncle $cam | Jan 4, 2008 3:33:46 AM | 71

Addendum: for those that don't know, or are not aware, that now includes K-mart. Because Sears bought K-mart a few years ago.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Jan 4, 2008 3:35:12 AM | 72

no murder charges for the goons that did the Haditha mass murder

try to read this horseshit without becoming physically ill:

Initially called a massacre by Iraqi residents of Haditha and later characterized as coldblooded murder by a U.S. congressman, the case has turned not on an alleged rampage but on a far more complex analysis of how U.S. troops fight an insurgency in the midst of a population they seek to protect.

...

Military law experts said the manslaughter charges reflect the military's reluctance to pursue murder charges because they are hard to win in court -- especially as military juries tend to give combat troops the benefit of the doubt. Investigating officers in the cases have recommended lesser charges because they have found that the Marines determined the houses were hostile and believed they could kill everyone inside, more likely a case of recklessness than intent to commit a crime.

"I think it's still going to be hard to get convictions in these types of cases when you're in a battlefield environment," said David P. Sheldon, a military law expert in Washington.

Mark Zaid, one of Wuterich's defense attorneys, said the charges show there was no "massacre" and that the case highlights how difficult it is for U.S. troops to make tough battlefield decisions. He said Wuterich and the other Marines were following their rules of engagement when they shot and killed their targets in Haditha, with unfortunate -- but not illegal -- consequences.

"Every Marine, period, is trained with the intent to kill," Zaid said. "What everyone will realize at the end of the day is that the characterization of the events was nothing like reality, that the training the troops on the ground received was primarily responsible for what happened, and that the fog of war sometimes ends up with terrible results."

bottom line: stern slaps on the wrists for war crimes. despicable.


Posted by: ran | Jan 4, 2008 9:32:44 AM | 73

British military base in Basra attacked

BASRA, Jan 4 (KUNA) -- Basra Airport, used as a military base by the British forces stationed in southern Iraq, came under missile attack by unknown militants late Thursday.

In a statement on Friday , a spokesman for the British forces in the area said unknown militants attacked the military base at the airport late last night, but no human or material losses were sustained.
This is the first attack against British troops in Iraq since the beginning of this year. (end) smj.ema KUNA 041310 Jan 08NNNN

General pBetraeus has been one lucky sob, but for how much longer?

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Jan 4, 2008 12:14:04 PM | 74

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