Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
March 22, 2008

Open Thread 08-13

I'll be on the road for the next two days to celebrate the first Sunday after the first full moon in spring with some relatives. These are the days to worship the Germanic goddess Eostre, or whatever may fit you, and to her honor we'll light up some big fires.

So I'll be likely unable to post in the next 36 hours. (Still missing a MoA laptop - if you haven't yet, you may want to contribute for one.)

Please use this as an open thread for your news, views and opinions.

Posted by b on March 22, 2008 at 7:06 UTC | Permalink

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This is your democracy: E-voting vendor blocks security audit with legal threats

New Jersey election officials have scrapped plans to hire a Princeton University computer science professor for a voting machine security review after receiving legal threats from the the vendor, Sequoia Voting Systems. Sequoia says that unauthorized independent review would violate the county's license agreement and jeopardize Sequoia's intellectu

I.e., company secrets now trump fairness?

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Mar 22 2008 11:46 utc | 1

Bernhard: I wish you the happiest comemoration of the Goddess EOSTRE. I will tell you how I am spending these days. Last Sunday we commemorated Palm Sunday and we greaved with the Passion of Christ. On Tuesday we attended the Chrism mass with people of the whole diocese and it was tremendously uplifting, on Thursday we attended the commemoration of the Institution of the Eucharist and I sang the Pange Lingua in Latin something that always moves me to the very marrow, yesterday we attended the office and in the evening we could not attend the office of Tenebrae because of an enormous snowfall. In front of my kitchen there are 33 cm of snow. I had to blow the snow off my drive way and that was great work for an old man like me. Today we are waiting for one of my sons to arrive from Colorado and we will have an American breakfast, waffles, sausages, bacon, coffee. Afterward we will watch a performance of Tristan und Isolde. In the evening we will participate in the Easter vigil, that will be long and rich in emotion. Tomorrow we will have a leg of lamb brought from California and my children and grand children will be like olive shoots around my table. Some of them are lapsed Catholics but I am sure that when the supreme moment comes they will ask for confession and the viaticum. So we celebrate, that is get together and we rejoyce because Christ has risen indeed He has risen! alleluya! as the Orthodox say. So have a good time.

Posted by: jlcg | Mar 22 2008 12:37 utc | 2

White House: Computer hard drives tossed

WASHINGTON - Older White House computer hard drives have been destroyed, the White House disclosed to a federal court Friday in a controversy over millions of possibly missing e-mails from 2003 to 2005.

The White House revealed new information about how it handles its computers in an effort to persuade a federal magistrate it would be fruitless to undertake an e-mail recovery plan that the court proposed.

"When workstations are at the end of their lifecycle and retired ... the hard drives are generally sent offsite to another government entity for physical destruction," the White House said in a sworn declaration filed with U.S. Magistrate Judge John Facciola.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Mar 22 2008 13:04 utc | 4

@Uncle

So the White House has been in blatant violation of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act for the last 5 years? (Passed in 2002)

Oh, right, those laws are just for the rest of us, not the elite. How silly of me to forget.

Posted by: Chemmett | Mar 22 2008 16:01 utc | 5

Wall Qaeda's Neo-American Halliban Holds All Americans Hostage
Threat: "Pay our engorged housing prices, or we'll IAD your pension funds!!"

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/23729202/

By John W. Doe
Senior Retiree
AARP
updated 4:43 a.m. PT, Fri., March. 21, 2008

Congressman Barney Frank (D-Mass.), head of a House Investigation Committee
delving into recent lending transactions by the Division of Mortgage Financial
Services Security, a Neo-ly created branch of Department of Homeland Security,
spoke at a press conference today, on a Global War of Terror here in the USA.

"Wall Qaeda terrorists are threatening the toilet paper value of American home
security with Individual Auction Devices. We must prevent this threat at all costs.
All costs!. Our committee recommended we negotiate with the Neo-Halliban,
and agree to their ransoms, in exchange for our retirement pension funds back."

[All Congressmen have significant pensions and grossly engorged home valuations.]

"It's a no-brainer," Frank explained to reporters later. "Either Bush.Con will
create another Maktab al-Khadamat in the Department of Homeland Security, as the
Republicans are doing with their Division of Mortgage Financial Services Security,
and watch our future disappear down the IDIQNB rathole of Fed credit window bank
bailouts, throwing $T's of good paper after bad like Alice in Wonderland, and with
it invoking Neo-DHS up-your-ass oversight of every real estate loan, refinance and
luxury item purchase, ... or," Frank paused, "Or, we capitulate now, nationalize
housing, admit America is Socialism for the Elites, and send our mortgage payments
directly to some privatized arm of DMFSS, some Carlyle Mortgage & Trust Services,
so that we can avoid explosive growth of Big Brother into every our every life and
breath, and so that we can hang onto our retirement pension funds, those who have them. Of course, this ends all jibber-jabber of a National Healthcare Program."

He splayed his hands, imitating a bubble of hope bursting. "Poof! ... Any questions?"

Frank gave no answers, as their were none. The Press adjourned in stunned silence,
trying to cipher how to spin a gang rape, into a tiptoe through the spring tulips,
as they digested the full impact of Frank's disclosure.

A young Rolling Stone reporter were heard asking an old Popular Music pundit, "So I get the hostage:ransom thing, but hey .. dude .. What's a pension?!"

Posted by: Stior Noirmin | Mar 22 2008 16:40 utc | 6

Hillary has her own pastorate issues:

At the heart of The Family's American branch is a collection of powerful right-wing politicos, who include, or have included, Sam Brownback, Ed Meese, John Ashcroft, James Inhofe and Rick Santorum. They get to use The Family's spacious estate on the Potomac, The Cedars, which is maintained by young men in Family group homes and where meals are served by The Family's young women's group. And, at The Family's frequent prayer gatherings, they get powerful jolts of spiritual refreshment, tailored to the already powerful.

Clinton fell in with The Family in 1993, when she joined a Bible study group composed of wives of conservative leaders like Jack Kemp and James Baker. When she ascended to the Senate, she was promoted to what Sharlet calls the Family's "most elite cell," the weekly Senate Prayer Breakfast, which included, until his downfall, Virginia's notoriously racist Senator George Allen. This has not been a casual connection for Clinton. She has written of Doug Coe, The Family's publicity-averse leader, that he is "a unique presence in Washington: a genuinely loving spiritual mentor and guide to anyone, regardless of party or faith, who wants to deepen his or her relationship with God."

Furthermore, The Family takes credit for some of Clinton's rightward legislative tendencies, including her support for a law guaranteeing "religious freedom" in the workplace, such as for pharmacists who refuse to fill birth control prescriptions and police officers who refuse to guard abortion clinics.

More background here.

When Clinton first came to Washington in 1993, one of her first steps was to join a Bible study group. For the next eight years, she regularly met with a Christian "cell" whose members included Susan Baker, wife of Bush consigliere James Baker; Joanne Kemp, wife of conservative icon Jack Kemp; Eileen Bakke, wife of Dennis Bakke, a leader in the anti-union Christian management movement; and Grace Nelson, the wife of Senator Bill Nelson, a conservative Florida Democrat.

Clinton's prayer group was part of the Fellowship (or "the Family"), a network of sex-segregated cells of political, business, and military leaders dedicated to "spiritual war" on behalf of Christ, many of them recruited at the Fellowship's only public event, the annual National Prayer Breakfast. (Aside from the breakfast, the group has "made a fetish of being invisible," former Republican Senator William Armstrong has said.) The Fellowship believes that the elite win power by the will of God, who uses them for his purposes. Its mission is to help the powerful understand their role in God's plan.

....

The Fellowship's ideas are essentially a blend of Calvinism and Norman Vincent Peale, the 1960s preacher of positive thinking. It's a cheery faith in the "elect" chosen by a single voter—God—and a devotion to Romans 13:1: "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers....The powers that be are ordained of God." Or, as Coe has put it, "we work with power where we can, build new power where we can't."

....

The Fellowship's long-term goal is "a leadership led by God—leaders of all levels of society who direct projects as they are led by the spirit." According to the Fellowship's archives, the spirit has in the past led its members in Congress to increase U.S. support for the Duvalier regime in Haiti and the Park dictatorship in South Korea. The Fellowship's God-led men have also included General Suharto of Indonesia; Honduran general and death squad organizer Gustavo Alvarez Martinez; a Deutsche Bank official disgraced by financial ties to Hitler; and dictator Siad Barre of Somalia, plus a list of other generals and dictators. Clinton, says Schenck, has become a regular visitor to Coe's Arlington, Virginia, headquarters, a former convent where Coe provides members of Congress with sex-segregated housing and spiritual guidance.

....

The Fellowship isn't out to turn liberals into conservatives; rather, it convinces politicians they can transcend left and right with an ecumenical faith that rises above politics. Only the faith is always evangelical, and the politics always move rightward.

This is in line with the Christian right's long-term strategy. Francis Schaeffer, late guru of the movement, coined the term "cobelligerency" to describe the alliances evangelicals must forge with conservative Catholics. Colson, his most influential disciple, has refined the concept of cobelligerency to deal with less-than-pure politicians. In this application, conservatives sit pretty and wait for liberals looking for common ground to come to them. Clinton, Colson told us, "has a lot of history" to overcome, but he sees her making the right moves.

These days, Clinton has graduated from the political wives' group into what may be Coe's most elite cell, the weekly Senate Prayer Breakfast. Though weighted Republican, the breakfast—regularly attended by about 40 members—is a bipartisan opportunity for politicians to burnish their reputations, giving Clinton the chance to profess her faith with men such as Brownback as well as the twin terrors of Oklahoma, James Inhofe and Tom Coburn, and, until recently, former Senator George Allen (R-Va.).

....

The libertarian Cato Institute recently observed that Clinton is "adding the paternalistic agenda of the religious right to her old-fashioned liberal paternalism."

....

Then, as now, Clinton confounded secularists who recognize public faith only when it comes wrapped in a cornpone accent. Clinton speaks instead the language of nondenominationalism—a sober, eloquent appreciation of "values," the importance of prayer, and "heart" convictions—which liberals, unfamiliar with the history of evangelical coalition building, mistake for a tidy, apolitical accommodation, a personal separation of church and state. Nor do skeptical voters looking for political opportunism recognize that, when Clinton seeks guidance among prayer partners such as Coe and Brownback, she is not so much triangulating—much as that may have become second nature—as honoring her convictions. In her own way, she is a true believer.

Posted by: lg | Mar 22 2008 16:56 utc | 7

Mortgage Fraud Now a Felony
Washington State Slams Barn Door Shut

[FOR IMMEDIATE PRESS RELEASE]

[LEAD WITH]
Washington State Governor Christine Gregiore has signed a House law making
full disclosure of mortgage terms compulsory, and mortgage fraud, a felony.

Interstate-5 and -90, the main arterials through Washington State, were
crowded this afternoon with bank and mortgage lenders, fleeing the state.
Early spring snows have made their exodus hazardous. Towing services report
up to an hour's wait for fleeing exstatriate's to get hauled out of ditches.

In Washington DC, President George W. Bush refused to return any calls.

Paparazzi were able to photograph Bush through the Oval Office's windows,
ripping stitches from the 45th star on the American Flag, (as an advisor
leaned close in to remind Bush he'd just removed the star for Utah), while
Secretary of State Condi Rice stood by, with a red phone call from Puerto
Rico, eager to take the place of the renegade breakaway Evergreen State.

[photo: Crowds in San Juan carry banners, "America es Muerto! Viva America!!"]

Ironically, blue-bloods in Washington State's San Juan Islands were more
concerned today about a looming end to State subsidies for ferry and bridge
travel from their chi-chi island estates, back to the mainland hoi-paloi,
whose own home values are now surely destined to plunge by -25% to -50%.

[EVENING NEWS ROLLUP TO FOLLOW]

Posted by: Foster Grant | Mar 22 2008 17:26 utc | 8

From last summer, underwater volcanoes like http://preview.tinyurl.com/3xxwsg>acne.


re Uncle $ #3, Bob Denver in his memoir about Maynard,The Professor's Isle and Cafe Life advised that when acting with non-domestic animals it's best to not be remembered by them, i.e. to not be memorable. Artists don't know this lesson. Financiers do.

Posted by: plushtown | Mar 22 2008 20:31 utc | 9

pour Uncle $cam et al in de spiritus sancti de la weekend

i once had a major hand in a sarbox process that was adopted on the first iteration, subsequently undermined by management at every opportunity and roundly dismissed by auditors upon first inspection

it is make-work giving the appearance of compliance with fiscal responsibility, considering that the same corporate deference to authority applies to the company oaficers granting them access and the means to report any numbers they see fit

Posted by: jcairo | Mar 22 2008 23:06 utc | 10

narcosphere: Snooping employee's boss in passport scandal linked to Clinton, Bush

The Washington Times is reporting tonight that one of the contract employees involved in the State Department passport scandal works for a company whose CEO is linked to Sen. Barack Obama’s presidential campaign — as an advisor “on intelligence and foreign policy.”
...
But what the Washington Times fails to mention in their hit piece disguised as serious journalism is that Brennan also has long ties to the Bush administration, as well as former CIA Director George Tenet – originally a Bill Clinton appointee.

Not that any of these connections prove anything on their face, but it’s important to provide the context that the Times fails to include in its spin on the news.

Prior to taking the top post at the intelligence-agency connected Analysis Corp. in late 2005, Brennan headed the National Counterterrorism Center — appointed to the post with the approval of President Bush.

Prior to that, Brennan had a long career with the CIA, even serving as chief of staff to the director of the Central Intelligence Agency – then George Tenet — and later as deputy executive director of the CIA.

And if Brennan has a loyalty, it is to his former boss and Clinton appointee George Tenet, who served as head of the CIA from 1997 to mid-2004 — under both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.
...
So the implication advanced in the out-of-context Washington Times report that Brennan is somehow an Obama loyalist is betrayed by Brennan’s decades-long resume showing that his true loyalties are to the CIA and his former Company boss (a Clinton appointee) George Tenet.

That doesn’t mean Brennan’s advice is bad; in fact, he probably can offer any presidential candidate great insight into the inner-workings of the intelligence world. And the fact that one of Brennan’s employees has been implicated in the passport scandal should not automatically tar Brennan – as the Times story does, in order to also tar Obama.

But there can be no mistake from the copious public record that Brennan is a Company man, and if he owes any loyalty, it is to the people who have enabled his career: George Tenet, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

Posted by: b real | Mar 23 2008 2:53 utc | 11

robert parry: Obama's Passportgate: Historical Echo

Five presidential elections ago, when another George Bush was in the White House and when Bill Clinton was the Democratic nominee, State Department officials conducted an improper search of Clinton’s passport files, an echo of the current case in which Barack Obama’s passport files were penetrated three times this year.
...
In 1992, the evidence revealed that representatives of George H.W. Bush, then fighting for a second term, pulled strings at the State Department and at U.S. embassies in Europe to uncover and disseminate derogatory information about Bill Clinton’s loyalty and his student trips to the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia.

That assault on Clinton’s patriotism moved into high gear on the night of Sept. 30, 1992, when Assistant Secretary of State Elizabeth Tamposi – under pressure from the White House – ordered three aides to pore through Clinton’s passport files in search of a purported letter in which Clinton supposedly sought to renounce his citizenship.
...
The disclosure that three State Department contractors accessed Obama’s passport files on Jan. 9, Feb. 21 and March 14 may not have the high-level political intrigue of the Clinton passport case, but the intrusion does have a troubling precedent.

Posted by: b real | Mar 23 2008 3:06 utc | 12

Uncle$am #3--

That video is silly but fascinating. You can actually see the moment (it is a split second) when the lion decides Gita would be fun to play with--in the same sense that my previous cat liked to play with birds, bats, and mice. It is all very fast: When a cat makes a decision, it's a go--no delay!

Her motions--the martial arts display--definitely make her look interesting (to play with).

If you wish for a cat not to pounce on you, you should not look interesting. Interesting is a mistake. ('Possums taught me that one. They may take damage, but they are never interesting. It's a survival skill.)

The entire team has already had their warning: The lion had just tried to take down another member of the crew. The handler laughs it off; I can't help but think he is a dork: When my cat had the same look as that lion, you knew that small animals were about to suffer. At a hundred-odd pounds, Gita is a small animal.

Notice the left paw goes for her hip--she MUST lose her footing and go down.

No harm intended: The lion is not hungry, and the fact that her belly is not ripped open is the proof that the lion is just having fun. Cats don't rip the flesh apart until they are finished playing, or conversely, when they are finished playing is when they do. But the absence of even small puncture wounds shows he is being very friendly. No hostility at all.

Of course she can't breathe and her torso is uncontrollably tensed: She has just broken three ribs. This is real physical trauma, and her lack of memory should not surprise anyone.

I deem the entire crew, including the martial arts instructor, dangerously clueless. They ALL lucked out. They could easily have won their Darwin awards, like that kid at the San Francisco Zoo.

Posted by: Gaianne | Mar 23 2008 3:07 utc | 13

The Forever War just keeps on keeping on: It's been five years, and the fog of war that settled over our nation has never really lifted. Public opinion has turned against the war without really turning toward peace. We're still wandering around, lost in the fog, while the madness continues.

Posted by: Madison Guy | Mar 23 2008 3:16 utc | 14

Uncle$am #1 & #4--

Speaking of being played with, the US Executive is now rather openly a criminal organization. The game is this: How brazen can they be without people being upset? So far, the answer is PLENTY!

It seems to me we are well past the point of no return. What happens next may not be clear--as there are huge conflicting forces (fascism vs. collapse)--but restoration of national democracy, or even law, seems not to be in the cards.

Posted by: Gaianne | Mar 23 2008 3:19 utc | 15

which headline to believe?

ap: Somalia: Militants Glad to Be on U.S. List

Islamic militants in Somalia welcomed being added to the United States’ list of terrorist organizations, saying they wished only that the designation had come sooner. The State Department announced Tuesday that it added to its list the military wing of the Council of Islamic Courts, called Al Shabab, or the Youth, because it is affiliated with Al Qaeda, according to American officials. “We are happy that the U.S. put us on its list of terrorists, a name given to pure Muslims who are strong and clear in their religious position,” Sheik Muqtar Robow, Al Shabab’s spokesman, said.

that is a rewrite of an earlier version that the associated press put out on the 20th w/ the same headline, only it had some more content and more on one of the sentences that remained in the later versions.

specifically,

"We are happy that the U.S. put us on its list of terrorists, a name given to pure Muslims who are strong and clear in their religious position," Sheik Muqtar Robow, al-Shabab's spokesman, told The Associated Press by phone from an undisclosed location in Somalia.

it also quoted another somali

Earlier in the day [wednesday], Council of Islamic Courts leader Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys denied links between terrorists and al-Shabab and said the militants "are part of the coalition for the reliberation of Somalia."

"The U.S. policy toward Somalia is always wrong and twisted," Aweys said. "They made the wrong decision in 2006 when they backed the Ethiopian invasion, and they are wrong to designate part of the resistance as terrorists."

now let's look at a reuters article from saturday

reuters: Somali Islamists say US terror listing forges unity

MOGADISHU (Reuters) - Islamist insurgents in Somalia say their inclusion on a U.S. terrorism list will help recruiting and has spurred them to strengthen ties with other groups blacklisted by Washington.

"We were not terrorists," rebel commander Mukhtar Ali Robow told Reuters by telephone from an undisclosed location.

"But now we've been designated ... we have been forced to seek out and unite with any Muslims on the list against the United States," he said late on Thursday.
...
"We want to be very, very clear that this is not a designation against opposition groups," Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the United States' number two diplomat for Africa, told Reuters.

"Al Shabaab has tried to conflate the anti-Ethiopian agenda with their terrorism agenda and it's very dangerous," she said.

"There are lots of people in Somalia who have a nationalist agenda ... and I think people are not aware of just how strong the al Shabaab links with al Qaeda are."

When the sharia courts group was in power in Mogadishu, Washington focused on another leader it says has al Qaeda ties.

Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, now in exile in Eritrea, told Reuters the U.S. designation of al Shabaab was wrong.

"The Americans labelled me a terrorist and God knows that was a lie," he said. "I didn't do anything to them ... it's the habit of Americans who found themselves rich and powerful and handed the leadership of their country to crazy people."

curious that both wire services use the same exact phrasing when describing what sheik muqtar robow "told _____ by telephone from an undisclosed location". it looks to me like they are both working off the same copy or template. what are the odds of such a coincidence? several other outlets picked the earlier version of the ap story w/ that sentence intact. one i saw changed it to "undisclosed site" rather than location, but the later is the term the original used.

i'd wager that it a sign of a propaganda op. after all, the articles quote both robow & aweys explicitly stating 'we are not terrorists, that is incorrect' yet the focus of the articles are then that they are "happy" about being labeled terrorists?

islam online has the more correct headline -- Somali Fighters Reject Terror Label

MOGADISHU — Somali resistance fighters have bristled at the US designation of their group as a terrorist organization, vowing not to lay down their arms until the Ethiopian invaders withdraw from their homeland.
...
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.

Somali experts have said 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.

evidently, robow communicated w/ the bbc too, though it's not disclosed how or from where

..ironically the fact that the US has repeatedly made statements linking al-Shabab with al-Qaeda may have made it more attractive to some of the foreign fighters.

A senior member of the al-Shabab, Sheikh Muktar Robow, told the BBC he welcomed the US decision.

"Al-Shabab feels honoured to be included on the list. We are good Muslims and the Americans are infidels. We are on the right path," he said.

But he rejected the US's accusations that members of the group are linked to al-Qaeda.

"We are fighting a jihad to rid Somalia of the Ethiopians and its allies, the secular Somali stooges," he said.

earlier in the piece, the bbc article, for whatever purpose, misinforms their readers by pretending to point out a "pattern" in the insurgency

In the past few weeks, al-Shabab has attacked a number of strategic towns, including Dinsor in the south-west and Bur Hakaba, near the seat of parliament in Baidoa.

A pattern is emerging whereby the militia briefly occupy the town, often killing a number of people, then withdraw with arms, ammunition and military vehicles seized from Somali government and Ethiopian troops.

attacking a number of "strategic towns" whereby "often killing a number of people" is rather ambiguous. don't they mean that the insurgency is taking out military bases/strongholds and killing (though mostly forcing out) those same soldiers whose ammo & equip they take? there have been assassinations of collaborators w/ the occupation & TFG, but those are not part of the "pattern" the bbc is looking for. since there are firefights in these attacks, civilians are indeed killed in the crossfire, but the way the article presents the "pattern" is a falsehood, most likely deliberate.

Posted by: b real | Mar 23 2008 4:40 utc | 16

@Gaianne

Thanks for http://cluborlov.blogspot.com/>the deeply funny (and scary) Orlov link over at ET

The Emperor Cheney scenario is priceless, but "The Five Stages of Collapse" is realistic enough to be disturbing. I find it very interesting -- and I share his perception -- that the centralised command economy of the FSU, though it was mighty bad at handling normal commerce, was more effective at handling a disaster than the "everyman against his brother and god against everyone" neoconderthal setup in the US. Katrina provides the preview of how a real crash would be handled in the US today -- armed state force for repression, not assistance, of local self-organisation and self-help; internment camps; displacement; property grabs while the locals are displaced; and all the sordid rest. The neolib/capitalist doctrine that got us into this mess is also interferes with our ability to get ourselves out of it again.

Dmitry's scale of "Normal Civilised Life to Ik" is useful in assessing one's own fears. My own paranoia level hovers around Stage 3 I think -- Stages 4 and 5 are almost too scary to contemplate for anyone of the "disposable" age (over 50) -- we either get left out on the ice or eaten. Sounds like an excellent article for an ET poll.

Posted by: DeAnander | Mar 23 2008 5:58 utc | 17

U$,

I must admit that the completely humorless, deep-and-meaningful tone of the naarator added to my rather extreme sense of Schadenfreude at what happened to the Lady and the Lion. I generally do no not laugh at other people's misfortunes unless they are self-inflicted.

Posted by: ralphieboy | Mar 23 2008 7:31 utc | 18

DeA,
great suggestion. Here you go: How bad will the US collapse get? With Poll!

Posted by: a swedish kind of death | Mar 23 2008 13:17 utc | 19

At last. Fisk writes about something he knows about.


So much for the flags in St Patrick's Cathedral.

Posted by: Cloned Poster | Mar 23 2008 13:25 utc | 20

Askod, DeA, et al...

Here is a show I recently listened to, with several podcasts the most recent entitled, 'The Red Queen', that some may find interesting, this particular one has guest Dmitry Orlov one of many interviews, which explores post-collapse, talks of food sustainability, Malthusian correction, consciousness, surviving the converging catastrophes of the Twenty-First Century, post petroleum era among other things.

Good shows, the shows themselves get better and better. Or in our case, the reality is it will get much different, perhaps worse?

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Mar 23 2008 13:52 utc | 21

cockburn on the empire's lies

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Mar 23 2008 15:30 utc | 22

Your link didn't work for me r'giap. Is this">http://www.counterpunch.org/patrick03192008.html">this the one?

Posted by: beq | Mar 23 2008 17:42 utc | 23

phooey

Posted by: beq | Mar 23 2008 17:43 utc | 24

seems the Somali resistance groups perceive that they were being treated as terrorists even before they were designated so. And they're saying big deal, make my day, because it may be that it actually helps them more than it hurts them.

anyways, we have already seen how these labels & designations are generally reserved for others (non-Whites/minorities). But nothing new here at all.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Mar 23 2008 17:59 utc | 25

Welcome to the Jungle: US Military Psychological Operations and You

I'd recommend, becoming familiar with the Smith-Mundt Act, as I have redundantly expressed, (prolly to the annoyance of many here) what they are doing is using computer algorithms and simulations to psychologically profile us individually, in order to, yes, control us. I know it sounds wacky, and beyond imaginable, as well as impossible. Never less, they are attempting it largely unbeknownst to the vast majority of folks; even highly informed folks here at MOA.

Here are a few very short notable podcast's (interviews)of familiar radio host's to ease you into her work:

Note these are direct links to audio mp3's (you can copy and paste the address into your favorite media player)

http://www.heatherwokusch.com//interviews/Heather_Wokusch_on_Thom_Hartmann_Aug_07_48Kbs.mp3
or here's the direct links:

Interview with Thom Hartmann on “Under the Radar” and “Welcome to the Jungle”

http://www.heatherwokusch.com//interviews/Heather_Wokusch_on_CollinsShow_3_2008.mp3
or direct link:

Interview with Peter B Collins on “The US Military’s Human-Testing Program Returns”

And here is her latest presentations via the youtube medium on :

he US Military’s Open air Human-Testing Program.

As she and other note, this info shouldn't frighten you as much as make you aware of what they would do if given the opportunity and will.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Mar 23 2008 20:57 utc | 26

B, I am seriously requesting to see if it is at all possible to tweak typepad's three link restriction policy, as I just spent way to much time trying to post something I spent a great deal of time on, only to have it blocked. It may be in your spam trap, none the less Grrrrrrrrr... sigh...

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Mar 23 2008 21:09 utc | 27

Larisa Alexandrovna reports:

"Moscow(dpa) - The head of the state radio and television in the Russian autonomous Republic of Dagestan was shot dead on Friday in the capital Makhachkala, the Russia state prosecutor Yuri Chaika told the Interfax news agency on Friday.

The death of Gaji Abashilova marks the second murder of a journalist in Russia Friday.

Abashilova, who shot on the street in Makhachkala by assailants who fired from a car, according to the Interfax report, which added that Chaika would personally take over the investigation into the murder.

Earlier Friday, Russia state-television journalist Illyas Shurpayev (a native of Dagestan) was found strangled with a belt and stabbed in his burning apartment by firefighters.

Three days before his death, the news portal Caucasian Knot reported that Shurpayev had complained of being at the top of a blacklist of journalists who were no longer allowed to publish for a Dagestani newspaper."


Two Russian Journalists Killed on the Same Day...Same Place...

Posted by: Copeland | Mar 24 2008 5:41 utc | 28

http://www.antiwar.com/engelhardt/?articleid=12571>Michael Schwartz has a long and comprehensive report on the disintegration of Baghdad and the surge. Several interesting points are made, especially his point that the surge was essentially a continuation of the 2006 "forward together" operation, the tactics of which arguably, could be as responsible for the civil war as the bombing of the shrine. The clearing of neighborhoods of militias had the effect of both destroying the infrastructure, the economy, and actually made these neighborhoods more vulnerable to ethnic cleansing and as a result have cemented Shia predominance throughout Baghdad - hence, the escalation in violence through 2007 was due to these operations. As was the (mostly Sunni) exodus from these neighborhoods. The 2007 surge tactics have simply allowed the militias to return to their ethnically cleansed, walled off, and economically hopeless neighborhoods for pay, as long as they don't shoot the occupier.

Posted by: anna missed | Mar 24 2008 8:08 utc | 29

alot here already read counterpunch, i gather, but this article needs highlighting

The Coming War on Venezuela

Perhaps the most intriguing and frightening revelation in [golinger's book] Bush Versus Chávez surrounds a 2001 NATO exercise carried out in Spain under the title "Plan Balboa." Here we should bear in mind the open support provided by then Popular Party Prime Minister José Maria Aznar for the brief coup against Chávez. And while we might be struck by the irony of naming a NATO operation after the Spanish conquistador who invaded Panama, the name is far more accurate than we might initially believe.

Plan Balboa was, in fact, a mock invasion plan for taking over the oil-rich Zulia State in western Venezuela. In thinly veiled code-names (whose coded nature is undermined by the satellite imagery showing the nations involved), it entailed a "Blue" country (the U.S.) launching an invasion of the "Black" zone (Zulia) of a "Brown" country (Venezuela), from a large base in a "Cyan" country (Howard Air Force Base, in Panama) with the support of an allied "White" country (Colombia) (95-98). The fact that a trial-run invasion was carried out less than 11 months before the 2002 coup against Chávez should further convince us that this was mere contingency planning. [emphasis in original]

But Plan Balboa would be only the beginning...

...

Furthermore, the revelations gleaned from the FARC's magic laptop, which allegedly implicate Chávez himself in funding the FARC (a charge which Colombia, not coincidentally, eventually decided not to pursue), are also drawn straight from the playbook of Plan Balboa, which was premised upon the threat posed by an alliance between the radical sectors of the "Brown" and "White" countries. The U.S. seems to be preparing to put that plan into motion with its recent legal gestures toward declaring Venezuela a supporter of terrorism, and given recent evidence of a massive influx of Colombian paramilitaries into the "Black Zone" of western Venezuela, the danger that Plan Balboa might become a reality should not be underestimated.

Posted by: b real | Mar 24 2008 18:41 utc | 30

i'm confident of the multiplicities of struggle in latin america - that this time the resistance to the illegal & immoral act of the u s empire - will helpt to break its back

Posted by: r'giap | Mar 24 2008 19:03 utc | 31

I bet the Egyptian public will be quite upset about this:
US Navy confirms Suez Canal shooting

An American cargo ship under contract to the U.S. Navy opened fire on a small Egyptian boat while moving through the Suez Canal, the U.S. military said Tuesday in a statement. Egyptian authorities said at least one man was killed, but the U.S. said it had no reports of casualties.
...
"The boats were hailed and warned by a native Arabic speaker using a bullhorn to warn them to turn away. A warning flare was then fired," said a statement from the U.S. embassy in Cairo. "One small boat continued to approach the ship and received two sets of warning shots 20-30 yards in front of the bow."

The statement added that "All shots were accounted for as they entered the water." It also said that "initial reports indicate that no casualties were sustained on either vessel."

An Egyptian security official at the canal, however, said that after the warning shots, a man was shot dead in the small boat and that the three other men with him were wounded.
...

Yeah - all shots were "accounted for" ...

The ship looked civilian, the men in the boat wanted to sell cigarettes as they do to any non-militray vessel in the canal.

Posted by: b | Mar 25 2008 14:33 utc | 32

Somalia: The man who wants to lead Al-Shabab forever
Nairobi (HAN) March 22, 2008 - Abdiqassim Declares Mission Accomplished: 'The Tide Has Turned In Somalia,' 'We Are Winning'» The Ethiopian forces.....
http://www.geeskaafrika.com/somalia_23mar08.htm

Posted by: mark | Mar 25 2008 17:21 utc | 33

Rebel Blues in the Sahara: A Desert Guitar Primer

The world as we know it today would be quite different without Kel Tamashek, better known to the world at large as the Tuareg. It was they who facilitated the trans-Saharan caravan routes that kept the Arab and Berber traders of Africa's Mediterranean coast in contact with the cities and empires of Sub-Saharan Africa, and this had a huge effect on the distribution of wealth in the world before the age of European dominance. (For many centuries, it also abetted an appalling slave trade.) But for all their centuries of mastering the Sahara in all its harshness and scarcity, today the Kel Tamashek are forced to navigate a post-colonial international system that frowns on nomads. Their homeland is split among Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Libya, and Algeria, and while it could be argued that the borders are simply lines on a map drawn at random by the French (that's essentially the case, after all), those lines are still enforced by militaries and customs outposts.

The political realities of the last 100 years, from the colonialism to the post-colonial carve-up of Africa, have forced changes to Kel Tamashek culture and daily life, sparking a longing amongst the people for a homeland to call their own. Over the past century, theirs has been a history of rebellion, first against French invaders, and later against the governments those invaders left behind. If there is anything that can give a voice to rebellion and the collective longing of a people, it is music, and the past few years have seen profusion of desert guitar bands who together have created that voice through powerful songs and hypnotic rhythms.

Posted by: b real | Mar 25 2008 18:22 utc | 34

Eostre?

Johhny-come-lateley. We called her Ishtar. Must be the Germano-Gaulish accent. Hard enough to cope with the Astarte pronunciation.

"Seest thou not what they do in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead their dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto other gods, that they may provoke me to anger."
—Jeremiah 7:17–18
"... to burn incense unto the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, as we have done, we, and our fathers, our kings, and our princes, in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem ..."
—Jeremiah 44:17


Posted by: Jeremiah Cornelius | Mar 26 2008 0:34 utc | 35

Grounded at the airport? Apparently, you have no rights, because you are commerce, not, according to the court, people.

Posted by: citizen | Mar 26 2008 3:33 utc | 36

b, sent what i could,(sorry it wasn't much)will send more after the 1st when my check comes.i sure hope we come through for you as i would be lost without your fine posts and everyones input on the world as it happens.insight just not found anywhere else in my opinion.after reading the news and other blogs,i always end up here to have it all put in perspective.finding many opinions with or without common ground that seem to always pound out some unavoidable truths in the end, that most of us can agree on eventually.thanks for being here for us.hope your celebration was wonderful.

Posted by: onzaga | Mar 26 2008 7:40 utc | 37

I think this article should be passed along and read.

Euphemism and American Violence

Posted by: ww | Mar 26 2008 8:10 utc | 38

Five Years And Still Drinking The Kool-Aid by Jan Baughman at Swan's.

Posted by: beq | Mar 26 2008 11:40 utc | 39

Condi Rice and John McCain - makes sense when Obama is the other side:

Condi Rice Flirts With VP Possibility -- Speaks to Grover Norquist's Wednesday Group Meeting

As one major Republican operative told me yesterday:

Someone like Condi Rice doesn't go to Grover Norquist's den to talk about the Annapolis Middle East peace process. She's going to secure her future in Republican politics and to position herself as a 'potential' VP candidate on the McCain ticket.

Posted by: b | Mar 26 2008 16:54 utc | 40

n

a truly horrific possibility

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Mar 26 2008 16:56 utc | 41

robert dreyfuss on john mccain the neocon on wednesday's democracynow

A Century in Iraq, Replacing UN with “League of Democracies,” Rogue State Rollback? A Look at John McCain’s Foreign Policy Vision

AMY GOODMAN: It’s good to have you with us. You cite Brookings Institution analyst Ivo Daalder as saying, quote, “If you thought George Bush was bad when it comes to the use of military force, wait ’til you see John McCain.” Can you explain?

ROBERT DREYFUSS: Well, what I did in putting this piece together was look at McCain’s own writing and speeches, his article in Foreign Affairs, and I spoke to a number of his advisers, including Randy Scheunemann, who is his chief foreign policy strategist. I spoke to John Bolton. I spoke to Jim Woolsey. I spoke to a number of people who are neoconservative in thought who have now clustered around the McCain campaign and see his effort to become president as a way for them—that is, for the neoconservatives—to return to the position of power they had in the first Bush administration from 2001 to 2005.

McCain has an instinctive preference for using military power to solve problems overseas. And when you couple that with a kind of hotheaded temperament, with a kind of arrogance and really a tendency to fly off the handle, I think we have a lot to fear...

...

AMY GOODMAN: And the others in the neocon circle, the advisers, like, for example, Bill Kristol, like Max Boot, tell us about their involvement.

ROBERT DREYFUSS: You know, it’s very interesting, Amy. If you look at the list of people who say they’re advising the McCain camp, you find a broad range of people. You find people like Henry Kissinger, Brent Scowcroft, Larry Eagleburger. These are the traditional kind of Nixon-era realists, many of whom certainly wouldn’t be considered liberals, but who certainly are realists. But when you look at McCain’s positions, his views on things, you don’t find any of the influence of people like Eagleburger and Scowcroft.

What you see instead is that the rest of McCain’s advisers, and you named several of them—James Woolsey, the former CIA director, who has been traveling and campaigning with McCain and who I interviewed for this piece; Bill Kristol, who’s very close to McCain for probably a decade and has been kind of an angel sitting on his shoulder and whispering in his ear all that time; people like Scheunemann; people like Max Boot; Ralph Peters; there’s a long list of people who have joined the McCain advisory team—and it’s these people whom McCain listens to when it comes to foreign policy. He certainly hasn’t expressed anything in any foreign policy area that you would identify with the Republican realist camp. He’s much closer to the neocons.

And he seems to be, as I said earlier, the true neocon himself, someone who, after early in his career in the ’80s being kind of suspicious about some foreign interventions that happened at that time, at the end of the Cold War, when the Soviet Union collapsed, McCain seemed to have felt unburdened, like now American power can express itself. And that’s when he attached himself to the neoconservative vision that America, as the sole superpower, could throw its weight around, could remake the world in its own image and that there would be no effective opposition to it.

of what i've read of his over the years, dreyfuss' sources are usually from the realist camp & he helps to advance their messages, however i don't find much to differ w/ on his take on mccain.

another thing he mentioned in today's interview

And if you look at his broad policies that he’s outlined, he has suggested point blank that we’re in a long-term, almost unending struggle with al-Qaeda and various other forms of Islamism. And as a result, he wants to create a whole new set of institutions to deal with those. One of those institutions would be what he calls the League of Democracies, which is basically a way of short-circuiting the UN, where Russia and China, in particular, but also various non-aligned countries often stand up to the United States.

Also, he wants to create a new much more aggressive covert operations team. He says he wants to model it on the old Office of Strategic Services, the World War II era OSS, and to create this out of the CIA but include into it psychological warfare specialists, covert operations people, people who specialize in advertising and propaganda, and a whole bunch of other kind of—a wide range of these kind of covert operators, who would then form a new agency that would be designed to fight the war on terrorism overseas and to deal with rogue states and other troubling actors that we—or McCain decides he happens not to like at that moment.

dreyfuss' article in the nation

Hothead McCain

If McCain intends to be a shoot first, ask questions later President, consider a couple of the new institutions he's outlined, which seem designed to facilitate an unencumbered, interventionist foreign policy.

First is an unnamed "new agency patterned after the...Office of Strategic Services," the rambunctious, often out-of-control World War II-era covert-ops team. "A modern day OSS could draw together specialists in unconventional warfare; covert action operators; and experts in anthropology, advertising, and other relevant disciplines," wrote McCain in Foreign Affairs. "Like the original OSS, this would be a small, nimble, can-do organization" that would "fight terrorist subversion [and] take risks." It's clear that McCain wants to set up an agency to conduct paramilitary operations, covert action and psy-ops.

This idea is McCain's response to a longstanding critique of the CIA by neoconservatives such as Richard Perle, who have accused the agency of being "risk averse." Since 2001 the CIA has engaged in a bitter battle with the White House and the Pentagon on issues that include the Iraq War and Iran's nuclear weapons program. The agency lost a major skirmish with the creation of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which put the White House more directly in charge of the intelligence community. And now McCain wants to put the final nail in the CIA's coffin by creating a gung-ho operations force. Scheunemann, who credits Max Boot of the Council on Foreign Relations with the idea, says the new agency is urgently needed to "meet the threats of the twenty-first century in a time of war, much as the OSS was created in a time of war." And he disparages the CIA as a bunch of has-beens. The new agency would eclipse "an organization created to meet the needs of the cold war and hang out in embassies and try to recruit a major or two or deal with walk-in defectors," Scheunemann told The Nation.

a policy of "rollback" is straight outta the neocon playbook from the reagan years. what next? IRI w/ guns?

Posted by: b real | Mar 26 2008 16:58 utc | 42

i'm talking too much here at the moment - sometimes the urgency to speak/share does not pass through a filter of moderation

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Mar 26 2008 17:00 utc | 43

re Gaianne #15

What happens next may not be clear--as there are huge conflicting forces (fascism vs. collapse)--but restoration of national democracy, or even law, seems not to be in the cards.

Yes, but fascism will only be "vs collapse" as Gore/Obama are likely to be vs Son-of-Caine/Rice. (Biggest tag team matchup since Atlantis, decided at inland conventions this year.)
All not under water will be under martial law, after a cleansing period of prepared "governmental incompetence."

Posted by: plushtown | Mar 26 2008 17:15 utc | 44

didn't get a chance to follow this story too closely, but the independent provides the sizzle

Revolution! Another coup in the world's most unstable country

According to legend, the Comoros islands have always had an explosive history. Claire Soares reports on the latest eruption

Africa's One-Day War had been coming for weeks. And just in case the renegade colonel digging in his heels on the remote Indian Ocean island was in any doubt, enemy helicopters skimmed the craggy peaks and lush forests on the eve of the assault, dropping leaflets warning of imminent military action. When the invasion was finally launched yesterday, resistance was paltry and within hours the rebel leader was on the run, reportedly disguised as a woman and trying to escape to sea in a small canoe.

It seems no plot is too crazy for the Comoros islands. This is, after all, a country that used to be a pirate haven; a country that has suffered some 20 coups or attempted coups in the past three decades; not to mention an archipelago that became the spiritual home of the mercenary widely believed to have provided the inspiration for Frederick Forsyth's classic tale of guns for hire in Africa, The Dogs of War.
...
This time around, it is the second biggest island, Anjouan, that is at the centre of the Comoros storm. Anjouan has been viewed as a renegade province for almost a year after the regional leaderCol Mohamed Bacar, who decided to forge ahead with a election last June-- even though it had been been officially postponed -- and declare himself the winner.

Ever since then he has been calling the shots, much to the annoyance of the Comoros President Ahmed Sambi, who some say delayed the 2007 poll in revenge for his plane being refused permission to land on the island during the election campaign.

Over the past month, troops from the incongruously titled National Development Army have been massing next door on the archipelago's third island, Moheli, in a bid to smoke Col Bacar out of his hole and force him towards a diplomatic solution. Back-up arrived in the form of 1,300 soldiers from the African Union, which has a traditional aversion to any secessionist moves on a continent where the borders were drawn quite arbitrarily by the old colonial powers.

And still Col Bacar, a French-trained former gendarme and one-time coup leader, remained defiant. But yesterday Mr Sambi's patience ran out.

i did catch comments elsewhere suggesting that the AU (under external influence?) wanted this opportunity to flex its muscles in order to add something positive to counter its weak reputation in the face of somalia, congo, darfur, etc...

and also saw these two items when they came out, but haven't seen any followup in the coverage i've seen yesterday or yet today

reuters: US backs Comoros to end crisis by military force

(March 7) The United States will support any action by the government of Comoros to reunify the Indian Ocean islands, including military force which "now appears necessary", a U.S. envoy said on Friday.

The central government led by President Ahmed Abdallah Mohamed Sambi is preparing an offensive to win back control of Anjouan island whose self-declared leader, Mohamed Bacar, has refused to step down since claiming victory in an illegal election last June.

"Given this implacability, the United States will now support any actions taken by President Sambi, AU (African Union) partners, or the international community to restore Comorian unity," U.S. Ambassador Niels Marquardt said in a statement published by the state-owned weekly newspaper, Al-Watwan.

The envoy, based in Madagascar, said representatives from the AU, Senegal, France, the Arab League and the United States travelled to Comoros last month to present Bacar with a choice: accept free and fair elections or exile.

"Choosing neither option, Colonel Bacar alone must now accept full responsibility for the military conflict that now appears necessary to reunify the Union of the Comoros," Marquardt added.

"His illegitimate hold on power and quest for personal gain will likely and unfortunately lead to bloodshed."

A U.S. embassy official in Madagascar confirmed the comments.

irin: South Africa disappoints Comoros on the eve of military action

JOHANNESBURG, 14 March 2008 (IRIN) - The Comoros government has expressed "disappointment" with South African President Thabo Mbeki's reported opposition to a military solution to end the standoff between the authorities on Anjouan and the other two islands in the Indian Ocean archipelago.

The crisis has been simmering since June 2007, when national elections were held. The Union government and the African Union (AU) postponed the poll on Anjouan, citing irregularities and intimidation in the run-up to voting, but Anjouan strongman Mohamed Bacar printed his own ballot papers, held an election and claimed a landslide victory.
...
Mbeki reportedly told an international news agency on 12 March that Bacar had informed him in a letter he was ready to hold fresh elections as early as May this year.

"I think that this is really the way that we should go. I don't think there is any need to do anything apart or additional to that," Mbeki told the news agency at the end of an official visit to the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius.

In response to Mbeki's remarks, Abdourahime Said Bakar, the Union government spokesman and Minister of Education, told IRIN: "We are a bit disappointed, since the AU has decided that there is no alternative but a military solution and South Africa has now decided to retreat."

Bakar said there was international consensus that Mohamed Bacar was a rebel, so "how can you now say we can sit and talk with him ... A few weeks ago he was offered a way out [during a meeting with international negotiators], and he refused. We will restore the authority of the Union government in Anjouan and then sit and talk after elections."
...
The AU has sanctioned military force to remove Bacar and a pan-african military force of about 2,000 soldiers comprising troops from the Comoros, Tanzania, Sudan and Senegal, with logistical support from Libya, has been gathering on Moheli, the island nearest Anjouan, for the expected sea and airborne assault.

The United States has also offered logistical and intelligence support.

Posted by: b real | Mar 26 2008 19:23 utc | 45

Bush Administration Seeks Libya Waiver

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Bush administration is asking Congress to exempt Libya from a law allowing terrorism victims to seize the U.S. assets of state sponsors of the attacks.

The law was part of a defense policy bill that President Bush signed in January.

The bill's passage had been held up over Bush's objections to the provision letting victims of state-sponsored terrorism sue responsible foreign governments and collect judgments by seizing their assets in the United States. Bush was concerned the provision would be applied to Iraq, so Democrats gave ground by giving the president permission to waive it for that country. He did so immediately upon signing the legislation.

Now, the administration has asked lawmakers to quickly grant Bush waiver authority for Libya.

Gordon Johndroe, Bush's national security spokesman, said the seizing of assets provision in the law could discourage nations like Libya that have renounced the export of terrorism from now helping the United States to fight terrorism. There is potential for billions of dollars in investment by U.S. companies in Libya's oil sector, as well as in other areas, meaning Libyan assets increasingly could wind up on American soil.

Posted by: b real | Mar 26 2008 19:29 utc | 46

followup to #32

reuters: US acknowledges navy warning shot killed Egyptian

CAIRO (Reuters) - The United States said on Wednesday a warning shot fired from a U.S. naval vessel appeared to have killed an Egyptian on Monday, after earlier denying reports of such a death.

"The Global Patriot, a ship on short term charter to the U.S. Navy's Military Sealift Command, fired warning shots at a small boat approaching the ship as it was preparing to transit the Suez Canal Monday evening," a statement from the U.S. embassy in Egypt said.

"It appears that an Egyptian in the boat was killed by one of the warning shots."

A statement by the Navy on Tuesday said it had not recorded any casualties, that the warning shots were 20 to 30 metres in front of the small motorboat's bow, and that all shots were accounted for as they entered the water.

Posted by: b real | Mar 27 2008 2:50 utc | 47

islam online: Somali Courts Seize Strategic Towns

MOGADISHU — Fighters of the ousted Supreme Islamic Courts of Somalia (SICS) captured on Wednesday, March 26, two strategic towns from the West-backed interim government, the latest of several towns seized in recent months.

"We woke up to the sound of gunfire," one eyewitness in the strategic southern town of Jowhar told IslamOnline.net.

"The Islamic Courts fighters then entered our city and the government troops fled to nearby areas."

At least four government soldiers and two civilians were killed in the clashes.

"The fighting lasted for nearly 40 minutes before the government soldiers took to their heels," said resident Abdi Ali Othman.

He added that SICS fighters released all prisoners held in the town's jail and seized government vehicles and offices.

The SICS confirmed earlier Wednesday its fighters have taken control of Jowhar to show the interim government and Ethiopian troops they can strike at anytime.

Jowhar served as a temporary base for the interim government in 2005.
...
A few hours after controlling the city, SICS fighters declared the seizure of the strategic town of Mahadai to the north.

"They took the town without much of a fight," said one eyewitness.

Experts believe the fall of Jowhar and Mahadai reflects a growing public dissatisfaction with the interim government and its unwelcomed Ethiopian allies.

"Residents are being alienated by the actions of the government troops in their towns," Salad Abdulah, a former army colonel, told IOL.

"They accuse government soldiers of looting their homes and properties."

The recent months have seen a strong comeback for the Islamic Courts.

SICS fighters had seized four smaller towns and a military checkpoint near Mogadishu earlier this month.

Posted by: b real | Mar 27 2008 3:59 utc | 48

I highly recommend Ishmael Reed's article in Counterpunch, The Crazy Rev. Wright.

Reed describes what a propaganda lynching looks like in 21st Century America.

Posted by: Copeland | Mar 27 2008 6:12 utc | 49

Big NYT story: Supplier Under Scrutiny on Aging Arms for Afghans

Since 2006, when the insurgency in Afghanistan sharply intensified, the Afghan government has been dependent on American logistics and military support in the war against Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

But to arm the Afghan forces that it hopes will lead this fight, the American military has relied since early last year on a fledgling company led by a 22-year-old man whose vice president was a licensed masseur.

With the award last January of a federal contract worth as much as nearly $300 million, the company, AEY Inc., which operates out of an unmarked office in Miami Beach, became the main supplier of munitions to Afghanistan’s army and police forces.

Since then, the company has provided ammunition that is more than 40 years old and in decomposing packaging, according to an examination of the munitions by The New York Times and interviews with American and Afghan officials
...
Public records show that AEY’s contracts since 2004 have potentially been worth more than a third of a billion dollars. Mr. Diveroli set the value higher: he claimed to do $200 million in business each year.

Posted by: b | Mar 27 2008 6:50 utc | 50

Military Crisis in South America: Results of Plan Colombia


The military operative executed by Colombian soldiers on Ecuadorian soil to kill the FARC commander Raul Reyes is part of the strategy of the United States to alter the military balance in the region. In the crosshairs is Venezuelan and Ecuadorian oil; however it also serves as a check on Brazil as an emerging regional power.

In official declarations, the objective of the operative is the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), or rather narco-terrorism. But in reality, the Colombian-American military operative that violated the sovereignty of Ecuador is directed specifically at Hugo Chavez. What we are witnessing could be the first phase of a vast offensive to destabilize the "Bolivarian Revolution" and to alter the relationship between the powers in South America. This strategy has been implemented in stages. First there was Plan Colombia, intended to strengthen the military capacity of the Colombian state and place it among the most powerful on the continent. Next came the "spilling over" of the internal war into neighboring countries. The third stage seems to be "pre-emptive war," which has become the Pentagon's most widely used military strategy since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

This is the first time in a long time that Washington has taken the offensive in the region, and it is capable of putting a significant portion of Latin American countries behind its strategy. It is also a show of force during moments in which Chavez is encountering serious internal difficulties and is unable to receive support for this strategy of responding to tension with more tension.


Posted by: Uncle $cam | Mar 27 2008 8:25 utc | 51

To B @ 50: Where is Victor Bout when you really need him (and why does he
seem so relaxed, almost smiling, in the photos taken after his arrest in Thailand)? Maybe it has to do with the Thai legal system:

Gen. Adisorn said Mr. Bout could face up to 10 years in prison or a maximum fine of Bt200,000 (US$6,250) in Thailand if he was found guilty on charges of procuring weapons for terrorists.

Yet, extradition to the U.S. is said to be possible after the Thai trial. Moreover, the fact that the sting (if indeed there was such an operation) is attributed to the DEA is also striking, in view of the often prickly relations between DEA and intelligence services. Furthermore, the nominal involvement of FARC at a moment when the latter group is at the center of obscure maneuvers by the U.S. government seems providential.

All in all, the story of the incompetent arms trafficker and Bout's arrest both seem to be stories where one has the sensation that some major pieces of the puzzle are missing.

Posted by: Hannah K. O'Luthon | Mar 27 2008 11:26 utc | 52

it seems don siegleman is being released from an alabama prison tommorrow

hope yr tummy is feeling well, mr rove

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Mar 27 2008 22:41 utc | 53

sudan tribune: Bush informs Congress of immunity for US forces in Darfur

March 27, 2008 (WASHINGTON) — US President George W. Bush submitted a certification to congress today on the immunity of US forces serving as part of the United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) from prosecution.

Bush asked the Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in a memorandum issued today to transmit the certification to the US Congress and publish it in the Federal Register.

This is the first time the US administration spoke publicly about the existence of US army members working as part of the UNAMID.

UN Security Council adopted resolution 1769 on July 31st which authorized a hybrid UN-AU force (UNAMID) consisting of 26,000 troops and police but so far it only has only 9,000 personnel.

The Sudanese government has insisted that all forces come from Africa and its president Omar Hassan Al-Bashir said he will not accept any “westerners” as part of UNAMID. Norway and Sweden were forced to withdraw their offer for an engineering unit as a result of stiff resistance from Khartoum.

The immunity of US armed forces in the memorandum is derived from resolution 1593 referring the situation in Darfur to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in March 2005.

The US administration at the time fiercely resisted the referral of Darfur war crimes to ICC and threatened to veto any resolution pushing for that. Washington instead proposed a special tribunal but members of the European bloc turned down the proposal.

After intense negotiations members of the UN Security Council convinced Washington to drop its objection in return for incorporating a clause in the resolution protecting US nationals from the jurisdiction of the ICC.

The Bush administration Monday renounced its obligations as a signatory to the Rome Statute which forms the basis to the ICC in May 2002 on the grounds that it can be used for politically motivated prosecutions of U.S. troops stationed overseas.

from the wh memorandum

Consistent with section 2005 of the American Servicemembers' Protection Act (Public Law 107-206; 22 U.S.C. 7421 et seq.), concerning the participation of members of the Armed Forces of the United States in certain United Nations peacekeeping and peace enforcement operations, I hereby certify that members of the U.S. Armed Forces participating in the United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) are without risk of criminal prosecution or other assertion of jurisdiction by the International Criminal Court (ICC) because the United Nations Security Council has permanently exempted members of the U.S. Armed Forces participating in UNAMID from criminal prosecution or other assertion of jurisdiction by the ICC for actions undertaken by them in connection with UNAMID by deciding, in Resolution 1593 (2005), that "personnel from a contributing state outside Sudan which is not a party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court shall be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of that contributing State for all alleged acts or omissions arising out of or related to operations in Sudan established or authorized by the Council or the African Union, unless such exclusive jurisdiction has been expressly waived by that contributing State."

Posted by: b real | Mar 28 2008 4:45 utc | 54

Can B or anyone else offer illumination or an update on this "bulletin" from Laura Rozen? It seems "very strange" to me.

Posted by: Hannah K. O'Luthon | Mar 28 2008 8:05 utc | 55

Hi Hannah - wrote to Laura about that Amir Farshad Ebrahimi a few minutes ago.

First issue:
The guy isn't German, hasn't a German passport. The passport number given is not a German passport number (9 digits, all numerical). All German sources refer to him as Iranian.

Second issue:
Check his wiki entry

He got a bachelor of Fine Arts in 1997 with a cinema major. He was the media attaché of the Iranian embassy in Beirut, Lebanon from 1997 to 1998. After coming back from Lebanon, he went to the law school and got his Master Degree in International Law from Tehran University in 2002. He is currently a Doctoral student in the Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey majoring in human rights.

A disgruntelt member of the Iranian elite, pepped up by "exiles". The Turks seem to have reason to connect him to the FBI. If the Turks think he has done something wrong they are right to extradite him to Iran.

Don't know where that "bulletin" comes from - some "exiles"? MEK?

Posted by: b | Mar 28 2008 8:23 utc | 56

Fever named after Blackwater

"Many have died within the past two weeks in my town," Mahmood Nassir, a schoolteacher from Saqlawiya, north of Fallujah, told IPS. "We know it is a deadly disease, but what can we do about it? We have no government to refer to, and everyone in the Green Zone (the government district of Baghdad) is too busy preparing to escape with their share of the money they stole from us."

Posted by: beq | Mar 28 2008 11:16 utc | 57

Somalia


The takeover of Jowhar, about 55 miles north of Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, was the most recent in a series of advances by a radical Islamist faction of a broader insurgency against the transitional government and the Ethiopian military that installed it more than a year ago.
...
Somalia's national army, which began last year with about 20,000 troops, has dwindled to about 2,000, many of whom spend much of their time looting the homes and businesses of ordinary Somalis.

Soldiers who have not been paid in months are deserting, weapons in hand, and returning to their clans or joining the insurgency.
...
Pentagon and State Department officials are debating whether to shift U.S. support from the transitional government to the relatively stable region of Somaliland, which declared independence from Somalia in 1991 but has yet to receive international recognition.

In recent weeks, the State Department dispatched a team of contractors to Somaliland to explore the idea of establishing a military presence at an old airstrip there, according to members of the team interviewed in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa. Somaliland's government, eager for recognition, welcomed the possibility.

"If the U.S. wishes to have a military presence in Somaliland territory, we will welcome them and accept them," said Somaliland President Dahir Rayale Kahin. "There are discussions, and we agreed to work together toward mutual ends. But things have not materialized so far."
...
A peace activist who shares a name with the Somali president, Abdullahi Yusuf, said international support for the transitional government -- and, by extension, the Ethiopian troops backing it -- is making the situation worse.

"The occupation is coming not only from Ethiopia but from the international superpowers, and that is making everything difficult," he said from Mogadishu. "The solutions are difficult, and the problems are increasing day by day. Everything is getting worse."


Posted by: b | Mar 28 2008 13:44 utc | 58

Breaking: Siegelman released from jail, pending appeal video coverage report, excellent coverage in this youtube vid.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Mar 28 2008 13:58 utc | 59

@48 - that wapo article states

The United States this month conducted its fourth airstrike inside Somalia aimed at al-Qaeda associates whom U.S. intelligence officials blame for the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.

The strikes have failed to hit any of their intended targets, however, and have increased resentment toward the United States among Somalia's moderate Muslims.

should have stated "suspected al-Qaeda asssociates" and those strikes, even though they may "have failed to hit any of their intended targets", resulted in death & destruction. the paper should have pointed that out to be fair about it.

from today's news

afp: US drone crashes south of Mogadishu

MOGADISHU (AFP) - A US military drone crashed in a Somali coastal area south of Mogadishu Friday, a local government official and witnesses told AFP.

"It's a small unmanned American plane. It's small and can be carried by three people," said Mohamed Mohamoud Helmi, the government official in charge of security in the town of Merka.

"The object, a small plane, is now in the hands of the police forces. It fell near the coastal area of Agaren," said Osman Hassan Hussein, Merka's police chief.

The cause of the crash was not immediately clear.
...
"It was flying from the direction of the ocean and it crashed in an area where children were playing football," said Helmi.

"It doesn't appear to be damaged and we are ready to hand it back to anyone who claims ownership," he added.

Several witnesses told AFP the drone was found early Friday.

"I saw the small plane, it's about one metre and a half (five feet)," local president Mohamed Saddam said. "It has cameras on it and things like computer components."

shabelle's coverage didn't mention anything about wanting to hand it back to whomever claimed it

US plane crashes in Somalia

A suspected American Infiltrator hydroplane has crashed in Lower Shabelle region south of Somalia on Friday-witnesses said.

The plane has fallen into the earth in Agaran area 3km north of Marka town the provincial capital of lower Shabelle region.

Its unknown whether the plane was shot down or it had Human faults that caused it to crash into the region.

The plane was measured as height 1.72Cm with camera plus military data line phones.

Some eye witnesses confirmed Shabelle that no Human was aboard that plane nevertheless this aircrafts was one of US warplanes has been flying over an areas of Lower Shabelle region for the last weeks.

Hundreds of people have suddenly stormed at the site the plane crashed also some the region’s officials have reached there to investigate the incident.

the picture shabelle ran in that article is obviously not correct

Posted by: b real | Mar 28 2008 18:57 utc | 60

hannah, there is an update, check your 55 link, he is supposedly back in berlin now.

Posted by: annie | Mar 28 2008 20:19 utc | 61

wm. arkin's column friday
Fighting the War on Terror in the Caribbean and Central America

Here's an odd news story that puts meat on the bones of the phrase "global war on terror": The United States is fighting that war in the Caribbean and Central America.

My assumption was that "Operation Enduring Freedom -- Caribbean and Central America," a formal military operation I'd never heard of before yesterday, is oriented toward Cuba and Venezuela. But it is not. The U.S. military is indeed engaged in a global war, and the terrorist threat, at least in the eyes of the counter-terror warriors, extends to our backyard.

I don't know whether the actual threat necessitates such an "operation," but its bureaucratic existence says a lot about our overreliance on the military and the belief of many in government that the GWOT is a real war, equivalent to the Cold War, and is one that the United States should and will be fighting for decades.

The Rhode Island media this week was filled with the news that a unit of the state's National Guard, an organization called Special Operations Detachment -- Global (SOD-G), is deploying this week in support of something called Operation Enduring Freedom -- Caribbean and Central America.

Working for U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM), SOD-G is moving to an airbase in Homestead, Fla., where it will take up contingency counter-terrorism planning responsibilities for the region, seeking to characterize how al Qaeda and other terrorists might exploit drug trafficking routes and patterns or other gaps in American defense to infiltrate into the United States.
...
The 36-man detachment, according to a senior military officer, who asked for anonymity based upon the sensitive nature of special operations, is deploying to help prepare the plan for Southern Command to fight al Qaeda, Hezbollah and other international organizations that are thought to be present in small numbers.
...
Is this for real? Or is this just a bureaucratic invention to extend the GWOT to every nook and cranny of the globe?

the latter, definitely, w/ a side order of cheney's one-percent doctrine smothered in paranoic hysteria mandate

Posted by: b real | Mar 29 2008 4:56 utc | 62

Okay, not much really shakes me to the core anymore, not in the way the following does.

Foreclosures slam doors on pets, too

They're arriving by the thousands every month, homeless, hapless victims of foreclosure. Family pets, their lives upended by the ravaged finances of their owners, are landing in animal shelters in large numbers in some parts of the country.

This is one American cultural neurosis, that makes me fighting mad. In part due to watching students in our small college town here abandon animals like they were yesterday's trash. If your ass can drive a hummer to campus you damn well ought to sell the motherfucker and take care of your pet if times get rough. Nothing, I mean nothing, burns my ass more than watching people treat animals as if they were disposable trinkets to be discarded when not cool anymore. I suppose it doesn't help that I just put my dog of 15 years down this past month. Sigh...

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Mar 29 2008 5:31 utc | 63

Posted by: b real | Mar 29 2008 6:43 utc | 64

Uncle (63). So so sorry. I know.

Posted by: beq | Mar 29 2008 15:01 utc | 65

Interesting, if true.

Russian Intelligence see US military buildup on Iranian Border

Posted by: ww | Mar 29 2008 17:23 utc | 66

"look, "counter-terrorism" is still terrorism."

exactly b real. considering themselves judge, jury, and executioner in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Palestine, Syria, and anywhere else they feel like it, for my money far and away the most murderous and lawless terrorist outfit operating in the world is the US military, CIA, and IDF.

Posted by: ran | Mar 29 2008 18:08 utc | 67

ww

b would know better than i but novosti is relatively conservative news outlet - a russian reuters - so i son't think it would be that far-fetched

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Mar 29 2008 19:20 utc | 68

A number of the people running the Somali Government are Somali exiles returned from Canada and a few from Italy. How old is this tactic? Same as in Liberia with Harvard-schooled Ellen-Johnson Sirleaf and Samuel Doe, who recieved US military training. Even Charles Taylor got his degree in Massacussets. You get Somali nationals trained in Western schools of thought who go back to their homeland and they quickly form a political elite. The typical countryman does not identify with these people in culture or values and in a country with so many cross-cutting factional divides, you have a volatile mix. The Ethiopian Army and the AU are the only things that has prevented Mogadishu from getting any worse than it already is, and the Rwandan Army can only train the Somali National Army so fast. The current government has not balanced being popular with the Somali population while simultaneously remaining on friendly terms with Ethiopia'a Government. I believe the US is about ready to cut its losses, promote autonomy for Somaliland, and work on stabilizing relations in the north ie Somaliland and Puntland. Somaliland is primarily comprised of Issak clan while the Dir occupy the westernmost tip. Puntland is comprised of Darod, the clan of President Yusuf.

Posted by: DB | Mar 29 2008 19:32 utc | 69

novosti is relatively conservative news outlet - a russian reuters - so i son't think it would be that far-fetched

I've seen them distributing unreliable news just as much as the quite biased Associated Press. They have an agenda as most national news agencies have. (AP-US, Reuters-UK, AFP-French, DPA-German, XINHUA-Chinese, Novosti-Russian, ...) You have to read more than one to get reliable information ...

Posted by: b | Mar 29 2008 19:45 utc | 70

earth hour tonight.

Posted by: beq | Mar 29 2008 19:48 utc | 71

the volunteer army ?

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Mar 29 2008 22:15 utc | 72

Colombian Troops Kill Farmers, Pass Off Bodies as Rebels'

Funded in part by the Bush administration, a six-year military offensive has helped the government here wrest back territory once controlled by guerrillas and kill hundreds of rebels in recent months, including two top commanders of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.

But under intense pressure from Colombian military commanders to register combat kills, the army has in recent years also increasingly been killing poor farmers and passing them off as rebels slain in combat, government officials and human rights groups say.
...
There are varying accounts on the number of registered extrajudicial killings, as the civilian deaths are called. But a report by a coalition of 187 human rights groups said there are allegations that between mid-2002 and mid-2007, 955 civilians were killed and classified as guerrillas fallen in combat -- a 65 percent increase over the previous five years, when 577 civilians were reported killed by troops.

"We used to see this as isolated, as a military patrol that lost control," said Bayron Gongora of the Judicial Freedom Corp., a Medellin lawyers group representing the families of 110 people killed in murky circumstances. "But what we're now seeing is systematic."

The victims are the marginalized in Colombia's highly stratified society. Most, like Robeiro Valencia, are subsistence farmers. Others are poor Colombians kidnapped off the streets of bustling Medellin, the capital of this state, Antioquia, which has registered the most killings.
...
Human rights groups see a disturbing trend, saying the tactics used by some army units are similar to those that death squads used to terrorize civilians. A top U.N. investigator said some army units went as far as to carry "kits," which included grenades and pistols that could be planted next to bodies.

"The method of killing people perceived as guerrilla collaborators is still seen as legitimate by too many members of the army," said Lisa Haugaard, director of Latin America Working Group, a Washington-based coalition of humanitarian groups.
...
Guzman, now a government witness against Mejía, said soldiers participated because they knew the army gave incentives -- from extra pay to days off -- for amassing kills in combat. "This is because the army gives prizes for kills, not for control of territory," he said.

Posted by: b | Mar 30 2008 8:11 utc | 73

condolences Uncle $cam

Posted by: jcairo | Mar 31 2008 7:44 utc | 74

Remeber the Kidnapper NGO?

Chad pardons 6 French in kidnapping case

President Idriss Deby on Monday pardoned six French aid workers convicted of trying to smuggle 103 children out of Chad, state-owned radio said.

The six workers from the Zoe's Ark charity were convicted on kidnapping charges for attempting to fly the children to France in October, claiming they were acting out of humanitarian concern for war orphans from neighboring Sudan's Darfur region. But investigations showed the children were Chadian, and that most had at least one parent or close adult relative.
...
Chad's president had said he wanted the children's families to receive a total of $12 million in compensation, though his pardon would not be conditional on receiving money. He also said that if France would not pay compensation, then his government would.

. Don't worry - France will pay - with more soldiers to prop up the Chad regime and to extend its rule to resource rich Darfur ...

Posted by: b | Mar 31 2008 20:18 utc | 75

the pardoning of these petite french hoodlums is a scandal - so it's o k maintenant to barter with little black babies - for the rich crackers of europe & the unityed states. they should have served their time in a chadian prison

as the anarchists say - police everywhere, justice nowhere

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Mar 31 2008 20:43 utc | 76

michael weinstein of (the late?) PINR has a new analysis up of the situation in somalia

Washington's Disastrous Approach to Somalia

From the moment that Washington gave its blessings to and assisted the Ethiopian invasion and occupation of Somalia in the name of anti-terrorism, it both excluded itself from being a partner in nation building and insured that it would create the very "terrorist" movement that it was pledged to prevent. That judgment is not made from hindsight, but was expressed by a host of political leaders, journalists, analysts and Somali intellectuals from the outset, including the present writer. It was obvious that using an occupation force from a rival state to prop up a weak and divided transitional government that lacked legitimacy would cause Somalia to fragment politically and would spawn a liberation movement with an Islamic revolutionary component - just as happened in Iraq after the United States invaded and occupied that country.

By backing Addis Ababa, Washington could not play the role of honest broker and has since then simply dithered, allowing a catastrophe to unfold under the watchful eyes of the surveillance aircraft that it constantly flies over Somalia, one of which crashed at the end of March, documenting the practice conclusively. (The plane went down in the Lower Shabelle region, where Ethiopian forces were conducting search operations for "terrorist bases" - they failed to find any.

A brief sketch of Washington's reported actions during March shows a scenario,
which - were it not so grim - could pass for a comedy of blunders.

weinstein gives the united states entirely too much benefit of the doubt at times

All of the events of March betoken ineptitude and confusion. Far from isolating the "terrorists," Washington succeeded in increasing their prestige...

but his article will likely help to force more pressure on the u.s. & ethiopia from other actors.

today's norway post announces
Norway reviews engagement in Somalia

Norway will no longer sponsor African nations who want to send troops to Somalia. At the same time Norway also withdraws from the International Contact Group on Somalia.

Norway has together with the US been co-chair of the Contact Group, which was established in 2006. Members are Italy, Sweden, Great Britain, Tanzania, the US, EU and Norway.

Norway has called a meeting of the Group at the end of April, and will there announce that it is turning the chair over to the UN Special Envoy to Somalia.

Undersecretary of State, Raymond Johansen says that Norway believes that the UN will be better able to achieve peace in Somalia, both because it has the means, and also because the Special Envoy has stronger ties to those involved in the conflict.

from what i've read, the contact group was created by the u.s. expressly to add the cloak of int'l legitimacy for the 2006 invasion & occupation of somalia.

the situation in somalia, from a humanitarian perspective, is increasingly getting bleaker as thousands are still fleeing every month from the capital mogadishu. last saturday, during the day, ethiopian & TFG forces shelled the bakara market killing & injuring unknown numbers of civilians after claiming to have taken fire from insurgents in the area. the biz owners in the market had just recently began employing their own security service to protect their businesses from looting by occupying forces. recall that it was also the biz owners who initially supported the islamic courts union in early 2006 to end the rule of the cia-backed warlords/terrorists.

ngo's & human rights organizations are starting to put more pressure for something to be done

yesterday refugees international released a bulletin -- Somalia: Proceed with Caution -- which recommends, among others, that

The US Administration must condemn human rights violations committed by the Ethiopian forces. The US Congress should investigate the conditions under which military support was provided to Ethiopia, ensuring it adheres to the principles outlined under US law.

HRW, for instance, points out that

Since intervening in Somalia in support of the TFG in 2006, Ethiopian troops have violated fundamental provisions of international humanitarian law by failing to distinguish between civilians and military objectives. For example, Ethiopian troops repeatedly used “area bombardment” in populated urban areas in response to insurgent attacks. These indiscriminate attacks killed and wounded hundreds of civilians. Hospitals were deliberately targeted in some of the early offensives in March-April 2007. Ethiopian forces have also carried out targeted attacks on civilians, including killings of civilians by snipers and summary executions of individuals in their custody. Since late 2007, when new Ethiopian troops were rotated into Mogadishu, reports of unlawful killings by Ethiopian and TFG troops in the context of house-to-house searches increased significantly. Several reports describe Ethiopian troops slitting the throats of victims, including, in one case reported to Human Rights Watch, that of a two-year-old child. Amnesty International has also collected many reports of killings conducted in this manner, which eyewitnesses described as “slaughtering like goats.” Looting of civilian property has also been reported in the context of these searches, which generally follow insurgent attacks in the neighborhood.

will the u.s. congress do anything about this? there are several that are in the pocket of meles zenawi's lobbyists. congressman payne can only do so much. the state dept policy in the HOA is very clear about their protection of meles.

from march 14th,
U.S. Praises Ethiopia 's Peacekeeping Role on Continent

The United States on Thursday lauded Ethiopia's role in peacekeeping efforts under the Afican Union and UN missions in Africa.

Briefing local press at his office here in Addis Ababa, US Ambassador spoke of Ethiopia's contribution in peace efforts in Burundi, Liberia and Somalia and described troops there as the "most desciplined" troops in the continent.
...
[Ambassador] Yamamoto stressed that Ethiopia must continue to support the international community by contributing to peacekeeping missions despite heavy human and material costs, which the world must repay, in return.
...
The ambassador accused the international media of reducing US role in Africa as counter terrorism. He said about 90% of his governments' activities were focusing on development issues including health, education and trade accros the continent.

The Ambassador pointed out that behind all US interventions in the country were the interest of the people and government of Ethiopia .

Ethiopia is a key US ally in the Horn of Africa region in the fight against terrorism.

Posted by: b real | Apr 1 2008 15:46 utc | 77

wondering again if typepad's spam filter scrutinizes on ip address or additional criteria in addition to simply preventing more than x number of hyperlinks. i noticed that one comment in the recent music video thread contained 6 hyperlinks. i just submitted a comment w/ 5 and it was trapped by typepad. sure would be interesting to know what algorithm or filtering they actually do apply. it really hinders (beyond nuisance) to not be able to post a researched comment w/ more than 4 links in it.

Posted by: b real | Apr 1 2008 15:57 utc | 78

Disgusting
What really creeps me out whenever I even start to look at the last few decades of weapons developments, is that we seem to be having our lives run by people who read all the nastiest parts of the Book of Revelations, and then decided to dedicate their lives to making those nightmares real.

Today's nightmare is from the 9th chapter of the Book of Revelations

1And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit.

2And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit.

3And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power.

4And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads.

5And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man.

6And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them.

7And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle; and on their heads were as it were crowns like gold, and their faces were as the faces of men.

8And they had hair as the hair of women, and their teeth were as the teeth of lions.

9And they had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle.

10And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails: and their power was to hurt men five months.

Who are these men who read passages like this and think it is the stuff of dreams?

Posted by: citizen | Apr 1 2008 16:52 utc | 79

@ b real - I assume it was my comment with the 6 links. I got caught in the filter too. So I submitted a comment with one link and it came through. It was b who removed my 2nd comment and posted the first. Patience.

Posted by: beq | Apr 1 2008 17:00 utc | 80

@b real
it really hinders (beyond nuisance) to not be able to post a researched comment w/ more than 4 links in it.

I agree, have mentioned it to b, only to be ignored, so I gave up....

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Apr 1 2008 17:12 utc | 81

thanks beq, i thought of that possibility too after i had posted. (enjoyed your selections too, btw!) maybe it is just a cutoff at 4 links then. if so, it's an arbitrarily low threshold for this medium & works against its very purpose, not to mention creating more work for our gracious host.

Posted by: b real | Apr 1 2008 17:15 utc | 82

Ever wonder where all the money went that used to stop prion and shit-filled meat before it got into our mouths? The NYT knows:

The classified budget of the Defense Department, concealed from the public in all but outline, has nearly doubled in the Bush years, to $32 billion. That is more than the combined budgets of the Food and Drug Administration, the National Science Foundation and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

But wait, that extra $16 billion per year is much better used than before, and we can prove it! How? The secret programs have waaaaaaaaaaay cooler shoulder patches. I shit you not.

Posted by: citizen | Apr 1 2008 17:24 utc | 83

citizen - I don't know whether to laugh or cry. "Cyborg Ethics".

Heh. Don't forget to pull the shades.

Posted by: beq | Apr 1 2008 17:25 utc | 84

wait, wait beq - one too early!

It's The War on Tophats that made me laugh and cry. And I imagine Arthur Silber did too.

Posted by: citizen | Apr 1 2008 17:33 utc | 85

Stop! Stop! Oh! Oh! I'm laughing to death. The torture...

Posted by: beq | Apr 1 2008 17:41 utc | 86

At the risque of great harm to our beloved beq, I have some very good news in text-as-sole-grounds-for-reality dadaism:

fafblog is back!

Posted by: citizen | Apr 1 2008 18:16 utc | 87

I agree, have mentioned it to b, only to be ignored, so I gave up...

Sorry Uncle - I didn't ignore you. It is just like I said before - I can't change the way the filter works or inable it.

Just released b real comment from the spam trap - read it here.

Posted by: b | Apr 1 2008 18:16 utc | 88

A little risque never harmed anyone. wink.

Posted by: | Apr 1 2008 19:27 utc | 89

sez beq (above)

Posted by: beq | Apr 1 2008 19:28 utc | 90

As this is April's fool day, I thought I should share these "real" foolish comments from the Interwebs, in the spirit of it being the "silly day".


The Battle for Basra: Britain Should Launch a Troop Surge in Iraq

Iraqi PM claims Basra 'success'

April Fool is the codename for the spy and double agent who allegedly played a key role in the downfall of the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.


Posted by: Cloned Poster | Apr 1 2008 19:57 utc | 91

Good article, r'giap.

Some in DC might not be entirely disappointed with the course of recent events. Might have hoped for the destruction of the Mahdi Army, but maybe this will at least stop talk of reducing US forces - http://www.mcclatchydc.com/iraq/story/32337.html>as McClatchy headline suggests.

That the Iraqi forces couldn't defeat rogue fighters in Basra has some in Washington saying they can no longer predict when it might be possible to reduce the number of troops in Iraq to pre-surge levels.

... Britain announced Tuesday that it's freezing plans to withdraw 1,500 of its 4,000 remaining troops from southern Iraq ...

McClatchy suggests the direction that some are looking for explanations.

Questions remain about how much Bush and his top aides knew in advance about the offensive and whether they encouraged Maliki to confront radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al Sadr.


One senior U.S. military commander in Iraq said the Iraqi government originally told the United States about a longer-term plan to rid Basra of rogue elements. But Maliki changed the timing, and the nature of the Iraqi operation changed, he said.

Maliki certainly did not make changes on his own.
There's no evidence, however, that the U.S. tried to dissuade Maliki from executing either plan.

In the larger sense, "this is a reminder that nothing has changed," said a senior State Department official...
Will the hand be strengthened of those pushing for a diplomatic resolution with Iran and other neighbors?

Certainly Iran has registered the message that they can turn up and turn down the levels of violence quickly. And, as McClatchey goes on to mention, levels of violence in Iraq have risen already in areas (both Sunni and Shia) where US forces have recently been reduced. U.S. has used up forces and cannot continue at surge levels much longer.

cui bono?

Posted by: small coke | Apr 2 2008 0:13 utc | 92

Oops! Should be at peace maker thread.

Posted by: small coke | Apr 2 2008 0:15 utc | 93

cool video

Howard Zinn's A People's History of American Empire. Empire or Humanity?

has anyone been following the green zone exodus?

Posted by: annie | Apr 2 2008 8:35 utc | 94

whoops , here's zinn's video

Posted by: annie | Apr 2 2008 9:01 utc | 95

mugabe is an old revolutionary transformed into a fool but Tsvangirai is yet another criminal in the service of the empire & its minions

the campaign of disinformation by the west & tsvangirai's appropriation of the strategies of the latin american right is a sight to behold

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Apr 2 2008 13:06 utc | 96

& the taliban have named theior spring campaign - not 'shock & awe' but a more telling & chilling,'the lesson'

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Apr 2 2008 13:15 utc | 97

professor john you white house psychopath

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Apr 2 2008 14:43 utc | 98

@r'giap @96

Have been wondering about that. Thanks.

Can anyone point at a good discussion of Tsvangirai?

Maybe Mugabe is old and out of touch with conditions in his country, but his recent rhetoric on imperialist tactics and ambitions have been sharp.

My mother is about Mugabe's age. She can show astute, penetrating understanding of wider things, and yet have trouble being persuaded of matters directly in front of her.

Posted by: small coke | Apr 2 2008 16:11 utc | 99

small coke tsvangirai is in the model of mobote & bokassa - he is a puppet. he is the kind of man that both fela & fema kuti have sung about over & over again - these corrupt kings welcome in the corridors of washington london & paris. loathsome

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Apr 2 2008 21:05 utc | 100

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