Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
May 26, 2008

OT 08-20

Your comments are welcome.

News & views ...

Posted by b on May 26, 2008 at 16:09 UTC | Permalink

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Wolfgang Münchau in the FT:

Inflation and the lessons of the 1970s

Of course, there are still people out there who believe that deflation is a bigger threat than inflation. They say a US recession will automatically take care of the inflation problem. These same commentators predicted that the US economic slowdown would lead to a fall in global demand for oil and other commodities. This is consistent with another view, according to which the financial crisis is an isolated freak event – brought on by bad regulation, for example – and that the best policy response would be to support growth.

I have a very different view of this crisis. I have always believed that the global economic readjustment and the financial crisis are one and the same thing. An extreme degree of monetary expansion for more than a decade fuelled unsustainable consumption in the US, unsustainable rates of investment in emerging economies and a string of asset price bubbles – in property, in credit, in equities and now in commodities. The bursting of these bubbles triggered a financial crisis, to which monetary policy overreacted, thus producing even more inflation, on top of the pressure that was already in the system.

All crises eventually end. But in this one, adjustment will be unnecessarily long and painful. In the end I would expect that our policy response to this crisis will have caused more damage than the crisis itself.

Posted by: b | May 26 2008 16:14 utc | 1

"Architecture of Authority."

For the past several years--and with seemingly limitless access--photographer Richard Ross has been making unsettling and thought-provoking pictures of architectural spaces that exert power over the individuals within them. From a Montessori preschool to churches, mosques and diverse civic spaces including a Swedish courtroom, the Iraqi National Assembly hall and the United Nations, the images in Architecture of Authority build to ever harsher manifestations of power: an interrogation room at Guantanamo, segregation cells at Abu Ghraib, and finally, a capital punishment death chamber.Though visually cool, this work deals with hot-button issues--from the surveillance that increasingly intrudes on post-9/11 life to the abuse of power and the erosion of individual liberty. The connections among the various architectures are striking, as Ross points out: "The Santa Barbara Mission confessional and the LAPD robbery homicide interrogation rooms are the same intimate proportions. Both are made to solicit a confession in exchange for some form of redemption." Essay by Harper's Magazine publisher, John R. MacArthur, also a columnist for the Toronto Globe and Mail.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | May 26 2008 17:20 utc | 2

Deflation, disinflation, come on, you're quibbling over deck chairs!!
Why United States Kleptocracy no longer exists as democratic society,
(using California as microcosm):

Top 5 Products or Services Sold
Armor, Personal $461,495,142
ADP Systems Development Services $213,677,413
Space Transportation and Launch Services $98,557,158
Water Services $94,311,657
Maintenance, Repair and Rebuilding of Equipment -- Space Vehicles $74,480,409

Top 5 Contracting Agencies Purchasing from Contractor(s)
ARMY, Department of the (except Corps of Engineers) $492,774,408
U.S. Customs Service $271,192,029
AIR FORCE, Department of the (Headquarters, USAF) $131,959,617
Defense Logistics Agency $117,707,637
NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION $100,062,881

Top 10 Contractors
CERADYNE INC $463,589,528
THE BOEING COMPANY $342,420,988
DELTA LAUNCH SERVICES INC $98,557,158
AMERICAN STATES WATER COMPANY $94,886,431
FLUOR CORPORATION $68,830,517
MANTECH INTERNATIONAL CORPORATION $26,750,674
SRA INTERNATIONAL, INC. $19,379,098
SRS PARSONS, JOINT VENTURE $10,009,828
AIRBORNE SYSTEMS GROUP LTD $9,231,774
ADVANCED ARM DYNAMICS GROUP INC $8,454,545

--

As above, so below.

Learn to kiss God-Emperor Maximus McCain's ring in November, pleb.

Posted by: Gustave Moynier | May 26 2008 17:55 utc | 3

Dark thoughts on a beautiful day here in the mid-Atlantic....

I have been wondering for some time why we never hear of shoulder-fired missiles being used by the various resistance forces in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, etc. I would have thought a huge market for this particular kind of devastatingly effective defensive weapon would have been in place by now. Any thoughts from those of you who know military issues around here?

Posted by: Maxcrat | May 26 2008 18:07 utc | 4

I would have thought a huge market for this particular kind of devastatingly effective defensive weapon would have been in place by now. Any thoughts from those of you who know military issues around here?

Because no one sells them to the resistance. Man portable anti-air weapons (MANPADS) would be the end of the occupation (google Stinger+Afghanistan). There ain't as many producers as one would think. The U.S., some Europeans, Russia, Israel, China, Iran - no one sells them to the resistance.

(That there are no MANPADS is actually the best argument against assertions that Iran is delivering weapons to the resistance. Why would they withhold only the stuff that matters?)

My personal theory is that the above mentioned countries have an interest to keep the U.S. bleeding in Iraq as long as possible.

Posted by: b | May 26 2008 19:20 utc | 5

I agree that it is in the interest of several countries to keep the USA bleeding as long as feasible. In the seventeenth century Spain was in a state of extreme prostration and Holland France and England could have finished her off in no time but apparently they figured that they could profit from Spanish exploitation of the riches of the New World without having to take the actual measures for exploitation. It was sufficient to have Spain embroiled in wars which she had to pay with the revenues from the Americas.

Posted by: jlcg | May 26 2008 19:31 utc | 6

Texas Fires First Salvo of US Corn War

England had a Corn War too. Interesting...same plan, keep the price of corn high for the wealthy landed estate holders, and their Fed carry-trade ConAgras and Monsantos.

http://www.britainexpress.com/History/victorian/corn-laws.htm

Sound familiar?

"Who suffered? The artificially high corn prices encouraged by the Corn Laws meant that the urban working class had to spend the bulk of their income on corn just to survive. Since they had no income left over for other purchases, they could not afford manufactured goods. So manufacturers suffered, and had to lay off workers. These workers had difficulty finding employment, so the economic spiral worsened
for everyone involved."

Posted by: Robert Peel | May 26 2008 19:53 utc | 7

"There ain't as many producers as one would think. The U.S., some Europeans, Russia, Israel, China, Iran - no one sells them to the resistance."


b, once again correct. But why identify "no one" as being from the nationalities rather than from among the owners/beneficiaries of the contracts and so the owners/beneficiaries of all executives and legislatures of the first 3 (and Brazil,if not doing shoulder units now, it could, market forced)and the last 2 in respect/fear re the others, or of whomever holds their purse-strings and scrota? (One reason of course is to avoid sentences like that.)

And is there any "resistance" above the dying and the it's-to-die-for plus the low finance level, i.e. any "resistance" at seed and fertilizer finance level? Question seems answered by lacks of shoulder units, now and in future.

Where's a market force when we peasants need one? Oh, this is a product we only pay for then consume, no decisions made by any except the risk-takers- except for shoulder-launched risks.

This does not mean I'm for NRA, etc. As posted here before, NRA member lists will produce many candidates for inland fun after the coasts go, top contributors of course excepted, depending.

And while gold will probably be good to own (but nothing's better than food & water except for concealability and portability) any electronic records of purchase last, and paper possibly.

Posted by: plushtown | May 26 2008 20:16 utc | 8

china is already 1st runner up BEFORE those darfur, burma, tibet rackets, [the genocide olympic !!]

the next poll might show china displacing uncle sham as no 1 already.
perhaps the ccp isnt too keen to be caught red handed supplying arms to the "terrarists" to kill murikkans right now.

Posted by: denk | May 27 2008 2:54 utc | 9

This Economist article and this AP report on FARC and its incriminating computers are certainly of interest and have probably been cited here in other threads. Naturally the Venezuelan response merits equal attention, as does the biography of the point man in this "exposé", Ronald Noble, whose career will be worth following. As those with non-impaired memories will recall, there was another much bruited magic laptop which popped up in connection with alleged proof of an Iranian nuclear weapons program. A cynic might be led to conjecture that those wishing for "regime change" in Venezuela realize that an Al Qaeda connection with Chavez is impossible to sell even to the ever credulous American public, and so it is necessary to discover (or manufacture) incriminating links to FARC.

As always, comment from the better informed would be
most welcome.

Posted by: Hannah K. O'Luthon | May 27 2008 5:31 utc | 10

The age of working class art is over
John Schooley in a letter to Joe Bageant

I guess my fear is that the age of working class art is over. That there won't be another Woody Guthrie comin' down the pipe.


John Schooley's blog...

Also, Sydney Pollack has died of cancer, at age 73.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | May 27 2008 5:43 utc | 11

@ Uncle $cam 11
Three Days of the Condor is one of my favorite films. As Faye Dunaway put it in that film "the night is still young".

Posted by: | May 27 2008 5:49 utc | 12

Warning, Irony ahead...

Military Chief Warns Troops About Politics

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs has written an unusual letter to all those in uniform, reminding them to stay out of political debate.

hahahaha.. this is your daily Irony reporter signing off.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | May 27 2008 6:31 utc | 13

Some sane reporting from the ground on Myanmar:

Like most non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working here in Burma, Save the Children and Merlin cannot send foreign aid workers to the affected areas. But from Rangoon they can supply and assist local teams of qualified and experienced doctors and health workers. In my experience, Burmese medics – who have worked with poor equipment and few facilities for 50 years – are the most brilliant field medics in the world.

Contrary to press reports, a good deal of aid is getting through. The big US cargo planes are still being prevented from landing, but the organisations we are working with all have their own channels. Commercial air freight into the country is working normally and a good deal of aid supply is coming through this way.

Most necessities are available here – there is a ready supply of freight from China, India and Thailand – and yet cyclone survivors are being given bottles of mineral water flown in from the UK when local companies are offering excellent products.

Supplies can be sourced here easily and far more cheaply than flying them in. This is mainland south-east Asia – Burma is surrounded by mass-producing, low-cost, tiger economies. This is not “darkest Africa”.

Village people here are mistrustful of foreign medicines and would prefer Burmese traditional medicines. And they find the high-energy biscuits being doled out by the aid agencies unpalatable and demoralising. Traditional staples such as rice and fish paste are both readily available just outside the disaster zone – indeed, last week, at the Thilawa docks, the government was loading ships with rice for export to Bangladesh. There is no shortage of rice.

There is no need to fly food in, just money, which is lighter, to buy simple essentials.

While the military regime may be incompetent to deal with the crisis, we should not under-estimate the resourcefulness of other Burmese institutions. Local firms, associations, clubs and schools have been collecting funds and goods to send to the needy. Their biggest problem is they can not deliver beyond the distance of a day trip, about 90 miles.

Posted by: b | May 27 2008 11:57 utc | 14

U$ @ #13

IOKIYAR (its ok if you are republican)

Posted by: dan of steele | May 27 2008 13:35 utc | 15

Colonisation is not what is was like before for the Brits. What a terrible waste of time.

Posted by: Cloned Poster | May 27 2008 13:47 utc | 16

b, thanks for #14 and other Myanmar sense. Have said enough (w Uncle $cam - spelled out in case any of the great washed out there have the sense to google his public work, one hopes to have them return here, read, grasp, find links, assemble arguments, fire) about possibilities of tippy-top weather control. (OT 08-19 I quote defense secretary cohen 4/28/97 on "an eco-type of terrorism" twice)


Anyway, was watching a Have Gun Will Travel, highly recommend - people were allowed to be smarter pre Kennedy kill. This was "One Came Back", aired 12/26/59, not a Christmas decoration in sight.

Jack Harvey (James Coburn): "I don't start to think until I got all the facts to work on."

Ben Harvey, older brother (George Mathews)"Memory's an unkillable thing."

A. E. Carew (Strother Martin) "A Harvey is a Harvey."


And, as in all human discourse, they're all both right and wrong. One never has all the facts, one settles for a bunch, but,yes, wait for the bunch. Everything's killable, including ideas, but memories false and true do rule our brains. A tautology is a tautology, get outside the box (or the sphere in which you're most influenced) for a fruitful perspective.


What this relates to is "Anti-Semitism is Anti-Semitism", voiced by the excellent Jon Ronson (author Them & Men Who Stare at Goats, ist also a Brit documentary, latter to be movie starring G. Clooney)on his forum under a thread on Bohemian Grove, a place he went same time as Alex Jones filmed "Cremation of Care."

As evidenced by Ben Hecht's Perfidy, and his own life and contributions, tippy top is not Jewish, Protestant, Catholic, Confucian - all members are businessmen, servants of long range Mammon metaphorically and, seems likely from 30 years of journalist reports and over 500 of folklore, dynasty contractors with whatever Luciferianism is.

Posted by: plushtown | May 27 2008 14:05 utc | 17

Not October, August.

Posted by: catlady | May 27 2008 17:20 utc | 18

New aftershocks bring terror to quake-hit China

MIANZHU, China (Reuters) - New aftershocks toppled 420,000 houses and injured dozens in southwest China on Tuesday, heaping destruction and fear on a region struggling to recover from the country's worst
earthquake in decades.

The houses collapsed when a 5.4 magnitude aftershock rocked Sichuan province's Qingchuan county on Tuesday afternoon, injuring 63 people, six critically, Xinhua news agency said.
...
The official death toll from the 7.9 magnitude quake that struck Sichuan province on May 12 was raised on Tuesday to 67,183, but it was certain to rise as 20,790 were listed as missing. The quake injured nearly 362,000 people.

I doubt the "420,000 house collapsed" in the after-quake but anyway.

It is a huge catastrophe and the consequences will echo around us.

Why is that? Other big quakes in China didn't bother us much.

Well, two reasons:
1. The rebuilding will increase inflation world wide.
2. Chinese nationalism just increased by a several degrees with the good media management of the quake by the authorities.

Posted by: b | May 27 2008 19:12 utc | 19

Re Catlady's # 18, Cernig at the Newshoggers:

Armitage Source For "Attack Iran" Rumors?

Posted by: Alamet | May 27 2008 21:49 utc | 20

bbc: Peacekeepers 'abusing children'

Children in post-conflict areas are being abused by the very people drafted into such zones to help look after them, says Save the Children.

After research in Ivory Coast, southern Sudan and Haiti, the charity proposed an international watchdog be set up.
...
A 13-year-old girl, "Elizabeth" described to the BBC how 10 UN peacekeepers gang-raped her in a field near her Ivory Coast home.

from the report, no one to turn to, linked from the bbc article,

As Figure 1 (overleaf) shows, focus group participants identified coerced sex as more common than forced sex. Children as young as six are trading sex with aid workers and peacekeepers in exchange for food, money, soap and, in a very few cases, luxury items such as mobile phones. Although forced sex was reported to be the least common, adults and children in all fieldwork locations visited as part of this study emphasised that it was of key concern to them. Many incidences of forced sex perpetrated by individuals and groups were cited. Verbal sexual abuse was identified to be the most common. Cases of sexual touching were cited by more than half the fieldwork participants and kissing by just over one-third.

...

Our fieldwork suggests that already vulnerable children are particularly at risk of sexual abuse and exploitation by peacekeepers and aid workers.These include orphans and children separated from their parents; those from especially poor families; children who are discriminated against; children displaced from their home communities; and children from families who depend on humanitarian assistance.

...

Focus group participants identified children as young as six having been abused.Younger children were said to be more vulnerable to abuse than older children. However, the most common age to be a victim of abuse was thought to be 14 or 15 years old.

...

the breadth of local and international NGOs, UN agencies and other actors implicated by those who took part in the study suggests that this is a problem for a wide range of organisations. Our fieldwork revealed cases of abuse associated with a sum total of 23 humanitarian, peacekeeping and security organisations.These include civil humanitarian agencies such as those delivering food and nutritional assistance, care, education and health services, reconstruction, shelter, training, and livelihood support, as well as military actors providing peace and security services.

Troops associated with the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) were identified as a particular source of abuse in some of our fieldwork locations, particularly in Haiti and Côte d’Ivoire. Indeed, of the 38 groups of people we spoke to, 20 of them identified peacekeepers as the most likely perpetrators, and four identified them as the only perpetrators within their communities.This is likely to be linked with the fact that peacekeepers make up the largest proportion of emergency personnel in some of our research locations. However, even in areas with mixed representation from the international community, peacekeepers were identified as a key source of concern.

Posted by: b real | May 27 2008 22:20 utc | 21

jclg,
keeping Spain weak but not finishing it off was also a good way to postpone the war over the spoils.

Posted by: a swedish kind of death | May 27 2008 23:10 utc | 22

The victorians must have been shocked when they found out that their redcoats misbehaved on their mission to bring christianity and civilization to the darkest corners of the world. Surely it was only a few bad apples, not something wrong with the concept.

Big whopping surprise that foreign soldiers are not the bringers of civilization, even if they have blue helmets and call themselves peace-keepers.

Posted by: a swedish kind of death | May 27 2008 23:16 utc | 23

frida berrigan essay over @ tomdispatch
Entrenched, Embedded, and Here to Stay: The Pentagon's Expansion Will Be Bush's Lasting Legacy

..perhaps his most enduring legacy is now deeply embedded in Washington-area politics -- a Pentagon metastasized almost beyond recognition.

The Pentagon's massive bulk-up these last seven years will not be easily unbuilt, no matter who dons the presidential mantle on January 19, 2009. "The Pentagon" is now so much more than a five-sided building across the Potomac from Washington or even the seat of the Department of Defense. In many ways, it defies description or labeling.
...
Almost six years later, the scale of that institution's expansion has yet to be fully grasped, so let's look at just seven of the major ways in which the Pentagon has experienced mission creep -- and leap -- dwarfing other institutions of government in the process.

1. The Budget-busting Pentagon: ...

2. The Pentagon as Diplomat: ...

3. The Pentagon as Arms Dealer: ...

4. The Pentagon as Intelligence Analyst and Spy: ...

5. The Pentagon as Domestic Disaster Manager: ...

6. The Pentagon as Humanitarian Caregiver Abroad: ...

7. The Pentagon as Global Viceroy and Ruler of the Heavens: ...

Posted by: b real | May 28 2008 2:03 utc | 24

regarding

The Political Consequences of Child Abuse

The Political Consequences of Child Abuse
by Alice Miller

The Journal of Psychohistory 26 (2) Fall 1998


Although centuries of novels and autobiographies have dealt with the subject of child abuse in all its forms, society has been slow in recognizing the frequency with which this assault is committed. Only in the last twenty years has there been any real progress in this respect, and most of it is due to the efforts of a small number of researchers and above all to the media. Still underestimated and sometimes contested are the consequences very early abuse will have for the victims in their adult lives. The issues involved have been largely ignored, and there is correspondingly little mention of them in historical and anthropological studies. Thus sociologist Wolfgang Sovsky is able to write an otherwise impressive work on forms of violence without making one single reference to the childhood dimension. He gives very considerable space to the willful infliction of suffering, calling it "mysterious," although it is readily explicable once we countenance the idea that the bodies of the executioners, torturers and the orchestrators of organized manhunts may have learned their fateful lessons very early and thus very effectively.

Also Goldhagen restricts himself to a phenomenological discussion of the people who volunteered to torture and humiliate others, without giving any consideration to their childhood. He does devote much attention to the emotions of the perpetrators, a subject hitherto largely ignored, but without the background of their early upbringing their behavior still remains mysterious. The reader seeks in vain for an explanation. What made respected members of society suddenly act like monsters? How could a former teacher like Klaus Barbie, and other men described by their daughters as kind, caring fathers, have innocent people tortured or indeed do the torturing themselves? Goldhagen does not address this question. He is obviously convinced that references to traditional anti--Semitism in Germany provide a satisfactory answer. They do not.

much more at the link...

Posted by: Uncle $cam | May 28 2008 2:52 utc | 25

weird. thought i'd take a gander at xinhuanet to see what news they're getting in china that we may be missing & found an instance where they're a bit behind in the fact checking dept

Man leaps between 2 towering ledges in Grand Canyon

BEIJING, May 27 (Xinhuanet) -- An unidentified man was pictured leaping between two towering rocky ledges in the Grand Canyon carrying his camera and tripod under his arm, according to media reports Monday.

An amateur photographer Hans van de Vorst recorded the moment as the man jumped the gap of about 8 feet (less than 3 meter) wearing just a pair of slippers.

the jump indeed looks crazy. but it is from 2006. and it wasn't quite as risky as it looked.

Posted by: b real | May 28 2008 3:21 utc | 26

freedocumentaries.org

from their "about us" webpage:

At freedocumentaries.org we strongly believe that in order to have a true democracy, there has to be a free flow of easily accessible information. Unfortunately, many important perspectives, opinions, and facts never make it to our televisions or cinemas (you can watch movies in our media category if you want to know why).

For this reason we decided to start freedocumentaries.org, a site where anyone with an internet connection can watch a movie to educate themselves or simply explore another perspective whenever they please. These movies aren't just for education but are also for entertainment.

As a secondary objective freedocumentaires.org allows independent filmmakers to have their message heard by viewers that they may not normally reach.

Our goal is to have everyone that watches a film at freedocumentaries.org learn something; whether it be a new perspective on a topic, simply understanding a conflict, or being more accepting of a certain belief system. We are proud to say that the vast majority of people that watch our films are glad they did so. In fact many people become addicted to watching documentaries after seeing a movie on our site.

Posted by: b real | May 28 2008 4:17 utc | 27

@14
While the military regime may be incompetent to deal with the crisis, we should not under-estimate the resourcefulness of other Burmese institutions. Local firms, associations, clubs and schools have been collecting funds and goods to send to the needy. Their biggest problem is they can not deliver beyond the distance of a day trip, about 90 miles.

but the NGO's as well as Western aid programs want us to believe they are the fountain of moral superiorities, even as the locals are helpless, hopeless & perverse. In this case, foreign help might have included more helicopters rather than the biscuits no one is going to eat.

But from Rangoon they can supply and assist local teams of qualified and experienced doctors and health workers. In my experience, Burmese medics – who have worked with poor equipment and few facilities for 50 years – are the most brilliant field medics in the world.

the world is a far different place from 50 years ago. There are brilliant people everywhere now.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | May 28 2008 5:01 utc | 28

b #19 add to e'quake redevelopment, which will just expand on coastal cities and
olympics construction, dubai is entering the next infill stage of massive areal
infrastructure, and russia's newly elected president is rebuilding the country,
but unlike energy and food, construction development is hyper cost-sensitive.
outside of rebar and mortar, 99% of construction will be locally-made materials.

Posted by: Bam Boo | May 28 2008 6:21 utc | 29

With my #13 fully in mind...

Pentagon-Trained Analyst Back On CNN

Also see, The real news:
Will Cheney get his war?

Posted by: Uncle $cam | May 28 2008 7:08 utc | 30

hey chinks,
its your bad karma !!

Posted by: denk | May 28 2008 9:43 utc | 31

Good link Uncle, and there was also this conversation with Gareth Porter on http://therealnews.com/t/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=1566>U.S. and Iran: Is a Grand Bargain Possible? where Porter states that the U.S. was seeking a deal with Iran via the Maliki government "that the Iranians will help us surppress any Shiite opposition to the U.S. occupation. Thats what they wanted and were told by the Maliki government that they could get that deal, and after much debate agreed that they would pursue that deal" He goes on to say that disagreement within the Iranian government over their support/non-support of Sadr made the deal fall apart in early 2008.
Hence, the Maliki decision to begin the operations against Sadr in Basra and Sadr City, apparently to diminish the Mahdi army enough to remove Iran's ambivalence over Sadr and clear the way to the deal between Iran and the U.S. Subsequently of course, Iran has managed to cement their ambivalence through the negotiations they facilitated in Tehran. Sistani has spoken out about any long term arrangements or deals legalizing the occupation, and Nasrallah has spoken directly to the need for continued resistance to occupation. All of which pretty much puts the nix on any immediate deals between the U.S. and Iran, while at the same time indicates that there was one on the table. And that Maliki blew this one big time.

Posted by: anna missed | May 28 2008 9:46 utc | 32

Oh and I forgot to mention the 4th strike against Maliki, that the big reconciliation bonanza of the return of the Accord Front has also fallen through.

Posted by: anna missed | May 28 2008 9:59 utc | 33

latest somalia analysis from michael weinstein is up at garowe online

Somalia's Balance of Power Shifts Towards the Courts

During the second half of May, the balance of power in Somalia shifted decisively, as the armed insurgency against the forces of the Transitional Federal Government (T.F.G.) and the Ethiopian occupation has begun to seize and control territory in every region of the country. As the T.F.G.'s parliamentary speaker, Sheikh Adan Madobe, put it bluntly, "The situation in the country is very dangerous; the anti-government groups are capturing a new district every day."

The gains of the insurgency, which is composed of the radical jihadist Youth Mujahideen Movement (Y.M.M.), more nationalist Islamist forces operating through the Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia (A.R.S.) and anti-T.F.G. clan militias, have revealed the military weakness of the T.F.G., which cannot even pay its forces, and the over-extension of Ethiopia's forces, which have been unable to stem the opposition's rising tide. For the first time since the Ethiopian invasion in December, 2006, which ousted the Islamic Courts Council (I.C.C.) from control over most of Somalia south of the autonomous sub-state of Puntland, central and southern Somalia has become contested territory. The Courts and their allies on the ground are no longer the "remnants" of a defeated movement; they have the military power and popular support to deprive the T.F.G. of even nominal sovereignty.

Posted by: b real | May 28 2008 18:24 utc | 34

I should do a post about this - maybe later.

The BBC writes: Siniora reappointed as Lebanon PM

That is bullshit. Siniora was again nominated as Prime Minister. That doesn't me he will get the job. Indeed it does mean renewed fights in the streets. I doubt that the Lebanon opposition will swallow this nomination. They demanded Siniora to step down back in 2006:

The opposition, however, made its dissatisfaction clear, saying it was against the spirit of the Doha accord.

"His nomination is a recipe for conflict rather than reconciliation," warned Christian opposition leader Michel Aoun.

The Saudis and the U.S. ambassador Feldman again pulled the strings of their puppets (Hariri). They will lose again too.

Posted by: b | May 28 2008 19:47 utc | 35

Re # 35, Al Manar newspiece at the Palestinian Pundit:

US, Saudi Pressure March 14 to Nominate Saniora as PM

Posted by: Alamet | May 28 2008 22:32 utc | 36

Well, at least he tried: Campaigner fails to arrest ex-Bush official over 'war crimes'

That was George Monbiot hoping to arrest John Bolton. His press release here.

Posted by: Alamet | May 28 2008 22:36 utc | 37

Campaigner fails to arrest ex-Bush official over 'war crimes'

time for CAPTAIN IRAQ to the rescue!

Posted by: annie | May 29 2008 1:39 utc | 38

wellll, seems like a slow night around the drinkin' hole so i might as well spread a little cheer.

just got off the phone w/my realtor in seattle. some weird news. banks are challenging the appraisals of realtors w/buyers even after sellers are lowering their prices. it seems banks don't think the seattle markets are plummeting fast enough like the rest of the country. their dropping tho.

i think sellers who aren't desperate are getting out of the market to make way for those who really need to sell. i'm taking my house off the market next week. it doesn't make sense to stay in. i got one very lowball offer from a first time buyer w/no money down! a young couple. pretty balsy, entering the market going for a 3 story colonial. i admire their gumption but not chomping at the bit.

soo.. the banks are pushing the market down in more ways than one. my realtor is freaking out a little. me, i am feeling very lucky. at least i am not forced to sell. the rental market is still strong.

chi ching.. its going to be a long slow downhill ride in seattle. i don't see things settling any time soon. maybe my grandchildren will be raised in that house.

i think i am making the right choice at this junction.

party time. drinks on me, anyone else got any fun stories?

Posted by: annie | May 29 2008 4:59 utc | 39

neocons and zionists: leave our useful idiot and his useful idiot flock of drooling morons alone.

Posted by: ran | May 29 2008 5:01 utc | 40

annie, the banks are pushing down the market because broker insiders are turning
states evidence of widespread fraud and corruption in valuations and loan terms
at every level of the mortgage industry, like widespread fraud and corruption
of 80s S&L Bailout Bonds brokerage, and 90s widespread fraud and corruption of
$Ts dot.con neutron bomb. this sets up huge national class-action tort, with the
exposure of banks and brokers to another wave of write-downs and penalty phases,
and with derivative-leveraging CDO/SIV's from that, perhaps as much as $T poofed.
in other words, this one can't be triangulated off into some tax bailout dustbin.

barring another 9/11 SEC evidence disappearing reset, and even though SCOTUS has
twice now diligently excised 3rd-party malfeasance from liability, those $100Bs
gotta come from somewhere. Fed free-money window at 46% gone can't hold off the
liquidation auctions deriving from that second wave, from that, steep declines
in state and local taxes, plus steep declines in IRS revenues, will pretty well
scotch any attempt to lift mortgage borrowers above the waves. first 2M, then
4M evictions, homeless dragging down infrastructure maintenance, any industrial
tax subsidies disappearing, increasing unemployment discouraging employers, as
subsistence mom-and-pop small retail implodes on itself, even MicroSofts' and
Amazons' freezing up, international alpha momentum chasers fleeing our borders.

national savings, and state & local income & sales tax growth, is below zero.
there is still a huge downside overvaluation hanging ... a reason the market seems
so impossibly wrong, and Bush.Con seems so inconceivably corrupt and vainglorious.
this is what an apocalypse looks like, in slow motion. maybe sell the house, and
buy snohomish or skagit farm land, then go live in a warm yurt. otherwise be eaten
alive by property taxes, utilities fees and maintenance costs, taxing you out of
your house, that's how they gentrified all seattle's pensioners last time!

either that, maybe broadband wifi your house and partition rooms, renting them out
to tele-commuters who want to jelly, but can't afford what bellevue is becoming.
if you cook and clean for them, you'll have the first high-tech tenement house.
then hang a tag'y i-phone sculpture on your frontage, you'll make moolah times n,
maybe bezos will beat a path to sit at your feet, while you sparge the next meme?

but like they say up in the great white north: 'do something, even if it's wrong!'

Posted by: Mumon Kindle | May 29 2008 6:11 utc | 41

Nukes in Iraq!
Nukes in Iran!!
Nukes in Syria!!!

Search Is Urged for Syrian Nuclear Sites

The Bush administration is pressing U.N. inspectors to broaden their search for possible secret nuclear facilities in Syria, hinting that Damascus's nuclear program might be bigger than the single alleged reactor destroyed by Israeli warplanes last year.

At least three sites have been identified by U.S. officials and passed along to the International Atomic Energy Agency, which is negotiating with Syria for permission to conduct inspections in the country, according to U.S. government officials and Western diplomats.

The Syrians will rightly say "fuck off".

Posted by: b | May 29 2008 7:24 utc | 42

The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder

Posted by: Uncle $cam | May 29 2008 8:59 utc | 43

comrades, companeros

sorry i have not been writing lately - not negligence - i've not been so well but i have followed the posts by b & the rest of the crew here with rigour

not a day without being here for some time of that day. & the better for that

Posted by: remembereringgiap | May 29 2008 13:05 utc | 44

Defense seeks to reprogram funds to cover Army shortfalls

The Pentagon on Wednesday asked Congress for approval to transfer nearly $10 billion from the Navy and Air Force budgets to pay soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan before the Army budget runs dry next month.

Defense officials said the emergency action was necessary because Congress thus far has failed to pass the Bush administration's request for $102 billion in supplemental war funding.

Under the reprogramming request, the department would transfer $5.7 billion from the other services' personnel accounts to the Army's, and $4 billion from the other services' operation and maintenance accounts and Defense's working capital fund to Army and Special Operations Command operation and maintenance accounts.

The reprogramming request is only a stopgap measure in Defense's fiscal woes. Without supplemental funding by mid-July, "the department will have exhausted all military personnel and operations funding and will, at a minimum, be unable to make payroll for both military and civilian personnel throughout the department," according to a Pentagon statement.

Posted by: b real | May 29 2008 18:16 utc | 45

Mbeki tells Bush to 'butt out'

Cape Town - President Thabo Mbeki has accused US President George W Bush of interfering in Zimbabwe, telling the US to "butt out, that Africa belongs to him", according to a US official.

Mbeki reportedly sent the four-page letter to Bush in late April, following the Zimbabwean elections, criticising Bush for taking sides against Robert Mugabe's government and disrespecting the views of the Zimbabwean people, according to Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson.
...
A US embassy official in Pretoria confirmed to News24 on Thursday that the White House had received the four-page letter, and that President Bush's office was working on a response to it.

The official said she hadn't seen the letter and could not comment on its contents personally, but said she understood the White House disagreed with certain points, and felt that the US could play an important role in the region and in Zimbabwe.

Repeated attempts to get comment from the Presidency failed, as Mbeki and his spokesperson, Mukoni Ratshitanga, are out of the country, but the Star reported that Ratshitanga said he had no knowledge of the letter.

have to see the letter, but i highly doubt that mbeki said "that Africa belongs to him" & it's probably pretty damning in what it actually does say. other reports have had neighboring african nations complaining about the heavy-handed pressure being put on them by the u.s. to intervene in zim.

Posted by: b real | May 29 2008 18:27 utc | 46

here is an interesting take by a poet named Ron Silliman regarding the tumultuous year 1968

Posted by: Lizard | May 29 2008 18:32 utc | 47

Seeing through Transparency International

The credibility of Transparency International, a global "non-partisan" organisation which "promotes transparency in elections, in public administration, in procurement and in business", is on the line. Their latest report on Venezuela, which was produced after months of research, is factually inaccurate in almost every respect. TI say that they "stand by their report" and stand by the person who compiled the data, an anti-Chávez activist who backed the 2002 military coup against democracy.
(snip)

Kudos to Oil Wars for the fact checking!

Posted by: Alamet | May 29 2008 18:36 utc | 48

online video of the recent channel 4 program "dispatches" on the warlords next door

Dispatches reveals how key politicians at the heart of the vicious fighting in Somalia - described as the world's worst humanitarian crisis - enjoy incredibly close links to Britain. They have British or EU passports, their families live here and they commute between Somalia and homes in English cities. British taxpayers are financing them in the name of democracy - yet in Somalia they are linked to allegations of mass murder, torture, extortion and corruption.

Reporter Aidan Hartley sets off on the trail of four senior figures in Somalia's Western-backed government - an investigation which takes him from Leicester and Birmingham to Mogadishu - a city so dangerous that he and director Jim Foster are the only Western journalists on the ground.

i've only watched the first 18 minutes (it's 48 minutes long in two parts) and it was good. the reporter had to go through an ethiopian general to arrange to meet the TFG! hope that axe character pays attention.

Posted by: b real | May 29 2008 18:38 utc | 49

Kenneth Deffeyes, one of the leading names of the Peak Oil camp did some back of the envelope calculations:

Oil Production, Oil Price

(snip)
How big is the problem? Multiplying production (barrels per year) times the oil price (dollars per barrel) gives a total cost in dollars per year. It's an enormous number; tens of trillions of dollars per year. To put a scale on it, the three thin curves on the graph show the oil cost in contrast to the total world domestic product; the annual value the goods and services added up for all the world's countries. The three curves show the oil cost at one percent, two and a half percent, and five percent of the total world economic output. At $130 this morning, we are at six and a half percent.

Oil production obviously cannot consume 100 percent of the world's income. My intuitive, uninformed guess is that it cannot go above 15 percent. If we see oil at $300 per barrel, we will be looking out over the smoldering ruins of the world's economy.
(snip)


I personally don't think oil is going anywhere near $ 300 in the short term, but it is good to have a figure, however sketchy, for discussions.

Posted by: Alamet | May 29 2008 18:48 utc | 50

Interview of Ethiopia's PM by an Eritrean Opposition website had some interesting things on a range of issues. Awate Interview of PM Meles

Coming to the crusade part, your opponents accuse you of executing American agenda in the region. Considering the anti-American sentiments in the region, are you not positioning yourself in an antagonistic position? Are you worried that your regional policies would be perceived as similar to the imperial Ethiopian policy and your being positioned as such?


... in the case of Somalia, for example, I remember the commander of the joint task force that they have in Djibouti going to Nairobi and speaking to the press -- just before we intervened -- and telling the press (and I am quoting here) “we are sitting this one out.” Meaning, the United States is not going to be involved in Somalia. They didn’t expect that we would remove the Islamic Courts from Mogadishu in two weeks. They thought that [it] was going to be a very difficult experiment. And so they didn’t back it up initially. After the initial success, the Americans have given us diplomatic support and back up. That is for the Americans but the African Union has also given full backing up.

The puppet is singing his own tune - sure.


Posted by: BenIAM | May 30 2008 14:19 utc | 51

the u.s. recently opened a huge new embassy in rwanda, reportedly at the cost of $80m. now there's this item from the peacock report

Rising fuel prices and truck-based shipping expenses are spelling trouble for U.S. policymakers, who now are exploring ways to strengthen, as an alternative, new highways, commercial railways and ports. Specifically, the federal government is taking action through an endeavor known as... the Sub-Saharan Africa Trade Corridor Transportation Initiative.

Yes, you read correctly. The Washington, D.C.-sponsored Sub-Saharan Africa initiative.

Conflict stemming from elections in Kenya -- and the increased time its takes to transport goods in and out of neighboring countries -- purportedly has caused the governments of nearby Uganda and Rwanda to begin rationing fuel, according to a federal planning document that The Peacock Report has located. Consequently, for [Kenyan, Rwandan, and Ugandan] national security reasons, the U.S. must take action.

"[T]he cost of shipping to the Port of Mombasa has increased 25% since the political stalemate," according to the original solicitation document. "Costs are expected to continue to rise until the power sharing accord has been reached. The cost implications for Uganda and Rwanda are tremendous and will constrain these fragile economies even more [emphasis added]. Therefore, alternative transport corridors are a necessary investment for the region."

In order to alleviate these fuel shortages while addressing the concomitant impact on the [Sub Saharan African] economy, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) recently awarded a $94,000 contract to a private firm to assess the situation -- and to report back to USAID on whether U.S. taxpayers should bear the brunt of more significant "investments" into that region.

Interdisciplinary Research Consultants (IdRC), an international consulting firm with offices in Jordan and the U.S., will develop a preliminary plan to help modernize, among other possibilities, the East African Central Corridor. The original plan for the corridor, which links Tanzania and Rwanda, was to facilitate the transport of gold and nickel from inland mining operations to main ports. The corridor still may be expanded to Burundi, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the document says.

this is a plan for:
(a) facilitating the movement of resources (including those stolen from the DRC and oil wells being developed in uganda) out of central africa to the port at mombassa
(b) creating the infrastructure necessary for supporting a regional AFRICOM command in kigali
(c) rewarding loyal autocratic leaders for promoting & protecting u.s. interests in the region
(d) competing w/ the chinese for contracts to develop roads and similar infrastructure in nearby DRC
(e) all of the above

Posted by: b real | May 30 2008 16:03 utc | 52

the image on the cover of robert mcchesney's new book, The Political Economy of Media: enduring issues, emerging dilemmas, looks sorta familiar but i'm not sure i can place the face ;-)

Posted by: b real | May 30 2008 17:09 utc | 53

hkol- here's some more background on eritrea's isaias afewerki (brought up in the previous OT). dan connell's 2006 review of the wrong book i cited earlier provides a good sketch of his rise to power - He Didn’t Do It for Them

Posted by: b real | May 30 2008 18:28 utc | 54

notes from the new scramble, or how jeffrey gettlemen pitches the next big investment deal

nyt: Djibouti Journal: Location Gives Tiny State Prime Access to Big Riches

DJIBOUTI — For centuries, nomads have dropped down from the rocky hills around here to carve bricks of salt from an ancient lake and haul them away on the backs of camels.

But a new salt miner is giving it a try, and he may be a harbinger of what's happening here.

“As a salt person, my first impression was why was all this salt just sitting here,“ said Daniel R. Sutton, an American salt miner who is overseeing a new $70 million operation to industrialize the collection of Djibouti’s plentiful salt. “There’s 50 square miles of salt. It runs 20 to 30 feet deep. This could be huge.“

Djibouti is becoming the little country of big dreams. Hundreds of millions of dollars of overseas investment is pouring in, promising to turn this sleepy, sweltering mini-state, which right now does not even have a stoplight, into something of an African trade center.

There are gold miners from India, geothermal experts from Iceland, Turkish hotel managers, Saudi oil engineers, French bankers and American military contractors. Tycoons from Dubai are pumping in a billion dollars just on their own, largely for the country’s port, a gateway to the region. There is even a project on paper to build a multibillion-dollar, 18-mile bridge across the Red Sea, captained by Tarek bin Laden, the half brother of Osama bin Laden.

...

..if there was ever an example of location, location, location, it is here. Djibouti sits at the mouth of the Red Sea, where Africa and Asia nearly touch. It overlooks some of the busiest shipping lanes in the world, especially for oil heading from the Persian Gulf to Europe and the United States. And because of its strategic position, both France and the United States have military bases here.

Shipping is already big business in this country — and it’s getting even bigger, with investors from Dubai hoping to expand the Port of Djibouti to 3 million containers a year from its current capacity of 300,000. Dubai World, a large holding company, has also bought a controlling share in a local airline and built an industrial park, new roads and a $200 million, five-star hotel, with gurgling fountains and possibly the greenest lawn in the Horn of Africa.

“Djibouti is perfectly positioned to become a services and logistics hub,“ explained Jerome Martins Oliveira, the chief executive officer of the port, which is operated by a subsidiary of Dubai World.

He said Djibouti could become the central link between the raw materials of Africa and the oil wealth of Arabia, with Dubai as its main partner.

Dubai is actually the country’s model for development, said Djibouti’s foreign minister, Mahmoud Ali Youssouf. “We’re a small country with a big port,” he said “And we’re even better located than Dubai.”

...

..Djibouti’s smallness — it basically has one city, known as Djibouti town — is a virtue, business people say.

“If you need something, the government responds very fast,” said Nikhil Bhuta, the chief financial officer for the JB Group, an Indian mining company. Mr. Bhuta said he had set up mines across Africa but never had he experienced such generous terms of business, like the deal he struck with the Djiboutian government to split gold profits 80 percent for his company, 20 percent for the government.

“In Africa, you never even get 50 percent,” he said.

bargains! we got bargains! come on down to crazy omar's ... everything must go! no reasonable offer will be refused!

“If you want to participate in the development of this region, Djibouti is the only place to be,” said Ould Amar Yahya, the director of a commercial bank that opened a branch in Djibouti a year ago. “Ethiopia has too many regulations. Sudan has the embargo. Eritrea has serious problems, and Somalia is too violent.”

...

Local customs can ... be a bit of a minefield. The population here is predominantly Muslim, divided between Somalis and Afars, a nomadic group that plies the desert and sticks to its traditions.

Mr. Sutton said that shortly after he arrived to begin the salt mining operation, an Afar chief threatened to kill him.

“He was about 4-foot-tall with a 6-foot stick,” Mr. Sutton said.

The chief was apparently angry that Mr. Sutton had not paid his respects. The chief’s people live around the salt flats.

Mr. Sutton said that he had agreed to hire as many Afars as possible and that he and the chief are now friends.

and of course having 2000 troops ...erm, excuse me... 2000 missionaries stationed at the CJTF-HOA, w/ all the accompanying show of force, helps in any biz negotiation w/ local rulers, as well as helping to calm investor fears.

Posted by: b real | May 30 2008 18:58 utc | 55

jim lobe has an article up at IPS friday - POLITICS-AFRICA: U.S., China Should Coordinate Policies

WASHINGTON, May 30 (IPS) - Amid growing concerns over big-power competition for access to Africa's immense energy and mineral resources, the U.S. and Chinese governments are being urged to better coordinate their policies toward the continent.

The two powers should focus on cooperation on several fronts, including enhancing the effectiveness of their economic aid and investment, furthering political stability, and ensuring the success of peacekeeping operations in the region, according to a new report by two U.S. experts released here this week.

Such collaboration should also be carried out, where possible, in consultation with other powers that have major interests in Africa. These include the European Union, Japan, and Canada, as well as still others, notably India, South Korea, and Brazil, whose links to the region are poised to grow sharply in the coming years, according to the 14-page report, "Responding to China in Africa," which will be expanded later this year into a book.

"It is (also) essential that Africans are part of any U.S.-China dialogue aimed at suggesting collaborative policies towards Africa," according to the report co-authored by ret. Amb. David Shinn and Joshua Eisenmann of the American Foreign Policy Council (AFPC).

that report, which is really the key findings and recommendations for their study, is available here.

i have not read that doc yet, but i do see where lobe's article contains a misleading stmt. whether the error falls on him or the copy editor, i have no idea.

the article states (emphasis added):

On security and military issues, the report calls for cooperation in maritime operations to reduce smuggling, piracy and drug trafficking off Africa's coasts. It notes that the U.S. and Chinese militaries have already collaborated in Liberia to improve that country's armed forces as part of the U.N.'s peacekeeping effort there and suggests that that model could be replicated elsewhere in Africa. China currently has nearly 1,500 troops in Africa, more than any other permanent member of the U.N. Security Council.

that last bit isn't very clear. what the team's rpt says is this (emphasis added):

China is an active participant in UN peacekeeping operations in Africa with large personnel commitments to the missions in Liberia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Sudan. It contributes more troops (almost 1,500) to UN peacekeeping missions in Africa than any other permanent member of the Security Council. China currently has military forces, police or observers in seven of eight UN peacekeeping operations in Africa. Africans and non-Africans have praised this contribution.

i point out the difference b/c the IPS article could leave the reader w/ the impression that china has more troops on the continent than any other foreign power & that is not true. the u.s. and france both have at least one official active base there, both in djibouti. the u.s. base "is currently home to about 2,000 American troops," according to a recent VOA article. i'm not too familiar w/ french activities in africa, but a global security entry on facilities in djibouti, which may not be current, reads:

Djibouti is France's largest foreign military base. Djibouti is host to several thousand French military personnel, including the 13e Démi-Brigade de la Légion Étrangère (13e DBLE - 13th Half-Brigade of the Foreign Legion).

i do not have any figures on how many additional u.s. troops are on the continent at the moment in different locations, involved in training, logistics, maritime security, covert ops, etc, but china's africa policy is pretty much centered on economics & development, while the u.s. policy is focused on military-to-military relations.

Posted by: b real | May 31 2008 3:53 utc | 56

anyone happen to know the story on the third pix down here?

Posted by: b real | May 31 2008 5:41 utc | 57

Revenge of the Mutt People

... as all non-whites the world round understand, white people can be mean. Especially if they feel threatened -- and they feel threatened about everything these days. But when you provide certain species of white mutt people with the right incentives, such as free pork or approval from god and government, you get things like lynchings, Fallujah, the Birmingham bombers and Abu Ghraib.(....)

We the mutt faced sons and daughters of the republic. Born to kick your chicken breast meat to death for you in the darkest, most dismal corners of our great land, born to kill and be killed in stock car races, drunken domestic rows, and of course in the desert dusty back streets at the edges of the empire. Middle class urban liberals may never claim us as brothers, much less willing servants, but as they say in prison, we are your meat. We do your bidding. Your refusal to admit that we do your dirty work for you, not to mention the international smackdowns and muggings for the republic -- from which you benefit more materially than we ever will -- makes it no less true....

Posted by: Uncle $cam | May 31 2008 18:54 utc | 58

@57 anyone happen to know the story on the third pix down here?

Could be photoshopped but if it is its done quite well. I only find one hint for photoshopping when magnifying it.

@58 - as all non-whites the world round understand, white people can be mean

Wrong!

This is true:

As all people the world round understand, people can be mean.

It is not a question of race. To suggest that "meaness" is a "race" dependent attitute is in itself racism.

Wrong, wrong wrong!

Posted by: b | May 31 2008 19:32 utc | 59

If I may voice my humble opinion, the article should have noted that many of the Chinese personnel in the UN missions are medical or engineering that are employed under the military sector of the UN vs the civilian sector. This is especially true in the Congo, at least in the relatively recent past, as I can attest from personal experience. Those that are involved in other military activities are often involved in military intelligence, not peacekeeping patrols. The "mid-level power" states often fill that role (Pakistan, India, Morocco, Nigeria, etc.) The MILOBS are unarmed and very limited in their mandate. They primarily provide a form of HUMINT for the peacekeeping mission's military sector.

I believe the article means to (or perhaps should have) say that the Chinese have more troops (ie people employed in the military sector) in the UN Missions than any of the other Permanent UN Security Council members (US, Russia, China, France, Britain). The French also have a longstanding military base in the Central African Republic (300 soldiers), and there are troops deployed in EUFOR's Chad/CAR Mission. Other current French bases are located in Dakar, Senegal, Libreville, Gabon, N'Djamena, Chad (1,200 soldiers), and Abdijan, Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast), where 3,000 soldiers are monitoring the North-South buffer zone between the former New Forces-controlled territory and the Government. 1,500 French troops are in Djibouti as of earlier this year. A Council on Foreign Relations paper dated February 8, 2008, entitled, "The French Military in Africa," breaks these figures down well. You can clearly see that the author unfortunately missed the mark on the math, because France, even in terms of UN mandates via the Ivory Coast mission, exceeds his estimate of Chinese soldiers present on the continent (1,500). As breal noted, the 2,000 US personnel in Djibouti also outnumbers that total, though they are obvously not UN mandated like the Chinese personnel referred to in the article.

I think perhaps the question you are asking is: Was this an honest mistake by the author that was precipitated by poorly defining the parameters of the troops being considered for comparison and perhaps did not conduct enough research into troop deployments of the 5 Permanent Security Council members, or was it a deliberate attempt to make the Chinese appear imperialistic in a strategic contrast to Amb. Shinn and Mr. Eisenmann's African-inclusive tone that promotes the use of soft power and parrots the sentiments articulated in the statements of many AFRICOM officials in regards to US Foreign Policy in Africa? Sorry for the long-winded question by the way.

Posted by: David Barouski | May 31 2008 20:38 utc | 60

thanks, david. always appreciate your insightful contributions. my guess is that lobe was just spitting out a quick piece of journalism there. he's generally a reporter worth reading, though his main beat isn't u.s. african affairs & i'd wager that his part was probably not a deliberate effort to help u.s. imperialists. lobe watchdogs those crazy cats pretty closely, normally. i haven't figured out IPS yet. they do provide some decent coverage on africa (& latin america - the only two regions i follow there), but then there's also so many stories & angles that they avoid or do not go in-depth enough on, imo.

this is not the first mention i've seen in the past week of chinese troops in africa, so it could be a bug in someone's ear that results in it being taken as a given that the chinese are militarizing the continent - esp after the stories about the vessel trying to deliver arms to zanu-pf. and there's been recent speculation on whether china will have to put boots on the ground to protect its investments in extractables after attacks on chinese workers in sudan and being caught in the crossfire in the ogaden last year.

and thanks for filling in the details on the french basing & the link to the cfr backgrounder. i had forgotten about the one in the CAR and didn't do my homework before commenting, not being versed on the old francophone relations.

any insight on the proposed "sub-saharan africa trade corridor transportation initiative"?

Posted by: b real | Jun 1 2008 4:06 utc | 61

re chinese u.n. peacekeepers, in general, here's a quote from ian taylor in an article up at the jamestown foundation's china brief.

Since 1990, China has contributed about 7,500 peacekeepers to United Nations peacekeeping operations (UNPKOs), according to the Peacekeeping Affairs Office of the Ministry of Defense in Beijing (China Daily, July 24, 2007). In early 2008, 1,963 Chinese peacekeepers were serving on UN missions in countries including the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia, Lebanon and Sudan. The number of Chinese peacekeepers worldwide, however, is much smaller than the number that Pakistan supplies the United Nations—currently 10,594—or Bangladesh, which has 9,853 participating in many of the UN’s 22 missions worldwide.

China currently contributes the most personnel to UNPKOs of the UN Security Council’s Permanent Members. As of January 2008, China is committing 1,963 military and police individuals in UN operations, France is committing 1,803; the United Kingdom 366; the United States 320; and Russia 291. Wang Guangya, China’s ambassador to the UN, stated, "The major powers are withdrawing from the peacekeeping role … That role is being played more by small countries. China felt it is the right time for us to fill this vacuum. We want to play our role" (Washington Post, November 26, 2006). The other Permanent Members do pay much more of the UN peacekeeping budget—Beijing currently only contributes 2.67 percent of the general UN and PKO budget—although this represents a 168 percent increase in Chinese contributions since 2000—but the other countries refrain from committing much of their own troops on the ground in these missions, largely because of a general distrust of the UN’s command structures within UNPKO frameworks.
...
One way in which China is projecting itself as a "responsible great power" (fuzeren de daguo) and playing a positive role to international peace hinges on Beijing’s increasing involvement and contribution to UN peace operations. Beijing was highly skeptical of the United Nations’ peacekeeping efforts at first, primarily because the Chinese leadership saw how the UN was utilized for the Korean War to legitimize and sanction what was seen by China as an aggressive military intervention. In addition, being outside of the UN for many years and thus incapable of having any influence, China’s position on peace operations was understandably suspicious. After all, for a country that was subjected to repeated interference and invasion by the Great Powers throughout the 19th century, intervention in any form is viewed with deep distrust. Consequently, even after Beijing took up its UN seat, the position on peace operations remained guarded and China refused to contribute to peacekeeping budgets for many years. However, in recent years, there has been a real sea change in China’s attitude to peace operations and Beijing has emerged as a significant contributor. Since the first dispatch of five military observers in 1990 to the United Nations' Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) in the Middle East, Beijing has contributed—as noted above—about 7,500 peacekeepers to 22 UNPKOs, which is more than the other five permanent members combined.

taylor does not offer any description of the different capacities in these roles, only grouping chinese contributions into the generic label "peacekeepers".

Posted by: b real | Jun 1 2008 5:30 utc | 62

I am not a regular follower of IPS myself, but I have seen some interesting commentaries from Mr. Lobe in the past and though I am admittedly speculating, I suspect breal is right in that it is a piece of journalism that was put out perhaps to meet a deadline or something of that nature.

It is an unfortunate pitfall of journalism, especially corporate journalism: not having or allowing enough time to do background homework, especially when studies show typical readers generally don't care about background anyway, only the most recent developments, which discourages editors from doing the research.

In my opinion, the western media certainly seems to have put out more founded and unfounded "anti-China" stories (Olympics, Darfur, Tibet, etc.) than usual in the press recently, though I personally think it has toned down a little bit since the tragic earthquake.

The Central Africa USAID program is still in its development phase, though the contract has been awarded as noted by Mr. Peacock. There are numerous mutual gains for the US and the respective states that the project will affect. On the US side, many of the points breal made are possibilities. It certainly will help not only provide easier fuel and supply delivery to the African countries, but also better access to extract things out of those countries as noted earlier. Certainly, Rwanda's exports are an important piece of the puzzle, but it is not only the ores that come from their neighbor, it is also to improve and expand Rwanda's markets. Rwanda's economic prosperity is in the current national interests of the United States. Consider that President Kagame is currently touring Asia. I expect that his administration will aim to ship more goods to Malaysia, while importing more goods from Vietnam and South Korea. Vietnam is expected to help with the food crisis by shipping rice and grains to the region. The landlocked states are at particularly high risk because of the increased over-land shipping costs. Uganda and Rwanda are already rationing fuel. This affects tourism and business in other ways because taxi prices have soared. Meanwhile, Great Britain has continued in interests in Uganda via oil companies and old colonial ties.

The Kenya-Uganda-Rwanda-Burundi pipeline situation is a bit more up in the proverbial air, as Tamoil, which was contracted to build and maintain the pipeline, was, until recently, controlled (by majority shareholding) by Colony Capital, a US firm run by a former Reagan cabinet member, Mr. Thomas Barack. They very recently had to back out of their buyout deal with Tamoil. However, the runner-up bid was by the Carlyle Group, so the situation may resolve itself for the US if they step in. However, Russia has made very serious inroads with Libya, and China is present there as well and the competition between these eastern allies and the west is going to seriously heat up. France is trying to make inroads there by selling them arms and cooperating with their immigration services because they want the oil and gas as well. Since 2006, China owns about 28% of the exploration acreage in China. On April 28th, China announced they were starting exploration. In 2006, Uganda signed an agreement with China for oil concessions (yet to be publicly announced) in exchange for 2 despirately needed hydroelectric dams. 40 firms were recently approved to bid for the remaining concessions.

In short, as these examples illustrate, the competition is becoming extremely fierce and it is getting to the point where it is becoming (if it isn't already) a frenetic race for the US to secure concessions and resources in Africa (particularly oil) before China, Russia, or India gets them first. This USAID project will undoubtedly help the US gain easier access to the resources of the region while allowing the states of the region to reduce their costs at the same time, a multiple-sum game with favorable relative gains that utilizes soft power and an initiative that can easily be used for PR as a humanitarian infrastructure project and can be pitched to the African people as a cooperative development program, which, as breal noted, is not unlike what China currently pitches to their potential economic and development partners. In a proverbial nutshell: resources for infrastructure, which, of course, the builders use for their own benefit as well.

Posted by: David Barouski | Jun 1 2008 5:50 utc | 63

All I know is between Clean-Air Cash-Out LNGs of a "little known stock about to break out" and Ajman Off-Plan Purchase-Builds of a "little known development subscription about to break out", I'll soon own some of them mutt people on my estate, or at least an option on their first-born child ... and while we're at it, marvell and electronic arts, nintendo and apple are doing some "breaking out of their own", between them transforming an entire generation of out-going out-doors semi-intelligent kids into goth, febrile, curtains-drawn, vampire-hours refusniks, whose only remaining skills are they can play Crysis with one hand, and text faster than you can type with the other, although doesn't seem to be much of a "path" between sod rolling and grad teaching assistant for them, once it's time to move out of the house or murder their infidel parents, which at the end of the day, is what OBL was trying to achieve all along, in a world made stank as either a belgioso gorgonzola, or aged sweat socks.

Posted by: Locus Fugit | Jun 1 2008 6:41 utc | 64

@56
the U.S. and Chinese governments are being urged to better coordinate their policies toward the continent.

of course the intent here would be to do so at the expense of Africans. But its a pipe dream thats never going to happen because China's approach to Africa is entirely different from the Wests.

the Western approach over the last five hundred years, and till today, has been to extend their home-grown feudalisms into Africa, meanwhile selling the policy at home & abroad on the basis of moral-superiorities.

China on the other hand has from day one sold itself to African nations as an equal partner. Not to have illusions about Chinese motives but at the very least their approach is very different from the Wests. Particularly, on the issue of feudalisms. there is no common ground between todays China and todays West, politically, culturally or economically.

the Russians & East Europeans do not share the Wests feudalistic approach to Africa either.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Jun 1 2008 10:16 utc | 65

#39 annie, unfortunately your grandchildren will not be raised in that house if it stays in Seattle. No one here or elsewhere on web (I've made the $1000 offer about 10 times now) has contradicted the standard geology of earthquakes occurring as part of bedrock rebound after glaciers lighten, or, more to the point, stated that such won't happen because we don't want it to.

#58 Uncle, excellent Bageant essay. Thanks.
#59 b, Bageant's line is an observably correct subset of yours, and the essay is mostly about culture(s) and of blood on hands and brains more than of that in veins.

To all I recommend, along with more Bageant, http://www.badattitudes.com/Constantine.html>K.C. Constantine novels. Link has link to a ist chapter, a very fast 31 pages, illustrating in dialogue how racialism entraps we peasants and functionaries.

Posted by: plushtown | Jun 1 2008 14:43 utc | 66

This is bad news:

FREE WORLD OF CENSORSHIP ~~ PURGE AT HaARETZ NEWS

(snip)
A new German owner has purchased Haaretz and a "Putsch is being carried out among reporting staff," in the most important and liberal Zionist paper in Israel. According to inside sources, the new owner has carried out a rough, sittingroom survey that revealed that "the occupation doesn't sell newspapers" and they are therefore concentrating on the business world (ie. The Marker). Twilight Zone, Gideon Levy's regular Friday column, has been scrapped, Amira Hass has been degraded to freelance on half salary, Meron Rapaport has been fired and Akiva Eldar has lost at least one half page a week.
(snip)

Posted by: Alamet | Jun 1 2008 16:54 utc | 67

Copied in full from the Arab Monitor:

Israeli government on the offensive in Europe

Tel Aviv, 31 May - The Israeli Foreign Ministry announced it has earmarked a special budget for a campaign to be organized by the Israeli embassy in Italy and carried out using Italian Jewish organizations as a fifth column. The campaign will be aimed at inciting the Italian government against Iranian President Ahmadi Nejad's visit to the upcoming summit of the Rome-based United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.

The initiative aimed at inciting the Italian government against Iran comes as German sources report about broader Israeli projects to establish a recognized, official influence on European Union politics. According to the news magazine Der Spiegel, the Israeli government submitted a confidential paper to the European Union requesting an institutionalized presence in practically all European Union Ministerial Councils, from the Finance Ministries and the Justice Minstries' meetings to the regular meetings of diplomats and foreign ministries responsible for drafting the European Security Policy. Moreover, Israel requests to be included in all European Union meetings drafting resolutions pertaining to Mideast policy.

Posted by: Alamet | Jun 1 2008 18:03 utc | 68

more on that story about the u.n. monitoring group on somalia's recent charges

the east african: US, EA gunrunners violating UN’s Somalia arms ban

The United States government as well as individual Ugandans and Kenyans are violating the United Nations ban on arms trading with Somalia, a UN monitoring group charges.

Shockingly, the violations involve officers of the Uganda People’s Defence Forces peacekeeping contingent inside Somalia who are apparently selling arms back to the very same groups that are fighting them in the continuing insurgency in that war-torn country. Worse still, the UPDF top brass, despite having been informed of the allegations, appears to have done nothing about them. Nor does the African Union, under whose aegis the Ugandan troops have been deployed, appear bothered to investigate the UN group’s charges.
...
US violations are said to include a missile attack on a target inside Somalia along with “intensive and comprehensive military training” conducted inside Ethiopia for officers from the breakaway Somalia region known as Somaliland.
...
The panel further cites Ethiopia, Eritrea and Yemen as major violators of the embargo imposed by the UN Security Council in 1992.

The monitors say they regard the presence of Ethiopian troops inside Somalia as a violation of the arms embargo.

we've been pointing out that this is an illegal invasion/occupation at the behest of the u.s. all along, but the western press just doesn't think that's important, since their official sources don't like to talk about it. and there weren't many stories in the last week about the charges in this u.n. monitoring group report.

the east african brings up the kenyan connection too

Also worrying is the report that arms have been smuggled into Kenya to supply an unnamed “militia group.” ... “According to arms traders,” the report states, “the biggest suppliers of ammunition to the markets are Ethiopian and Transitional Federal Government commanders. The Mogadishu arms markets are doing a booming business and, according to precise information received by the Monitoring Group, their clients include parties in Kenya.”

The report details arms deals involving Kenyans that took place in February and March.
In the first, weapons were allegedly ordered from Somalia by Kenyan-Somali cattle traders on behalf of clients that the report does not name. The arms were transferred in two separate shipments hidden in a truck carrying foodstuffs and taken across the Kenya-Somalia border en route to Isiolo, the report says.

Isiolo was also the final destination of AK-47s and other weapons from Somalia that entered Kenya in March, according to the UN report. The buyer this time was “a militia group in Kenya” that the monitors do not identify.

The Kenyan government contributed $2 million to the Transitional Federal Government, according to the UN report. This money could have been wrongfully used, the monitors suggest, noting that “no safeguards exist against the diversion of such funds towards the financing of arms-embargo violations.”

earlier this year, during the aftermath of the auto-coup in nairobi, there were rumours that the PNU was arming the mungiki again, though i don't recall reports of guns being involved in any related violence. there were a couple training camps that were raided, but even there the coverage mentioned that the youth were being trained w/ sticks & pangas in lieu of firearms. so, if the kenyan govt was involved, i'm not sure where any arms would have ended up going unless there was a need to supply UPDF troops inside kenya w/ smuggled weapons.

Ugandan officers stationed in Somalia have been selling stockpiles of weapons and ammunition from seized Shabaab arms caches, the report states. Some of the lighter arms, such as AK-47 assault rifles, make their way back to Shabaab fighters, who may use them in attacks on the Ugandan troops. Heavy weapons sold by the Ugandans, such as Zu-23 anti-aircraft guns, end up in the hands of authorities in Somaliland and the separatist region of Puntland, the report adds.

Members of the UN panel presented these findings to Ugandan government officials last December. Gen Aronda Nyakairima, chief of defence of the Uganda People’s Defence Forces, promised to conduct an immediate investigation and to communicate its results to the UN prior to January 1. But as of early April, when the monitors completed their newly released report, the Ugandan government had not responded to several UN follow-up requests for the promised information.

The African Union also has not replied to a November 14, 2007, UN letter requesting a meeting to discuss the monitoring group’s charges concerning the Ugandan members of the Somalia peacekeeping force.

“Several Somaliland army officers have undergone combat training in Ethiopia, delivered by instructors from the Ethiopian National Defence Force and the United States Army,” it adds.
It notes that the 1992 UN arms embargo resolution was extended in 2002 to include “training related to military activities.”

These sessions involving training for special operations and counter-terrorism are said to last six months and to be conducted at three military bases around Addis Ababa.

Somaliland officers receive “a significant financial incentive and new uniforms to participate in the training, which is very intensive,” the report says. “Upon their return to Somaliland, trained officers are generally put in command of a brigade, while continuing to receive a salary from the Ethiopian military. The training is part of wider assistance given to the Somaliland army, which allegedly includes arms and field material.”

i have been unable to find a copy of this latest UNMG report online as of yet

Posted by: b real | Jun 2 2008 3:38 utc | 69

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/jun/02/usa.humanrights>Mobile prisons on the high seas.

It also says that up to 80,000 prisoners in the GWOT have been through the U.S. system of rendition. Thats 80,000.

Posted by: anna missed | Jun 2 2008 3:45 utc | 70

Embraer seems to have bent some Brazilian rules about selling arms for use in existing conflicts when they slid a military fighter plane to Blackwater for $4.5 million last February.

Of course, this might all be on the up and up. Perhaps Blackwater really will not use this plane in any currently existing conflict... you can make new conflicts any day of the week, I suppose. At any rate, they are a private company, so you could make the argument that they just like collecting military hardware for private enjoyment. It isn't like anyone raises any eyebrows when private parties collect military ordinance, nicht wahr?

Posted by: Monolycus | Jun 2 2008 4:01 utc | 71

From anna-missed's link @70:

Ships that are understood to have held prisoners include the USS Bataan and USS Peleliu. A further 15 ships are suspected of having operated around the British territory of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, which has been used as a military base by the UK and the Americans.

Reprieve will raise particular concerns over the activities of the USS Ashland and the time it spent off Somalia in early 2007 conducting maritime security operations in an effort to capture al-Qaida terrorists.

At this time many people were abducted by Somali, Kenyan and Ethiopian forces in a systematic operation involving regular interrogations by individuals believed to be members of the FBI and CIA. Ultimately more than 100 individuals were "disappeared" to prisons in locations including Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Guantánamo Bay.

Reprieve believes prisoners may have also been held for interrogation on the USS Ashland and other ships in the Gulf of Aden during this time.

Posted by: b | Jun 2 2008 6:04 utc | 72

UN Monitoring Group Report is found here.

Posted by: David Barouski | Jun 2 2008 6:39 utc | 73

Out going http://www.app.com.pk/en_/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=40042&Itemid=39>ISAF head Dan McNiell says they need 400,000 troops in Afghanistan . But only have 47,000. Thats not even close enough for a cigar.

Posted by: anna missed | Jun 2 2008 7:10 utc | 74

the link @73 did not work for me, but the doc is accessible through the reports index for the monitoring group. thanks! now to separate the bs from the facts...

Posted by: b real | Jun 2 2008 14:46 utc | 75

My apologies and thank you for the correction. I unsuccessfully tried to direct link to the actual PDF file. The first report (S/2008/274) on b real's link is the one.

Posted by: David Barouski | Jun 2 2008 15:01 utc | 76

The occupation will be corporatized:

New Contracts Reflect Continued Presence in Iraq

The contracts call for new spending, from supplying mentors to officials with Iraq's Defense and Interior ministries to establishing a U.S.-marshal-type system to protect Iraqi courts. Contractors would provide more than 100 linguists with secret clearances and deliver food to Iraqi detainees at a new, U.S.-run prison.

The proposals reflect multiyear commitments. The mentor contract notes that the U.S. military "desires for both Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Defense to become mostly self-sufficient within two years," a time outside some proposals for U.S. combat troop withdrawal. The mentors sought would "advise, train [and] assist . . . particular Iraqi officials" who work in the Ministry of Defense, which runs the Iraqi army, or the Ministry of Interior, which runs the police and other security units.
...

Posted by: b | Jun 2 2008 15:52 utc | 77

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/05/31/AR2008053102193_pf.html>General William Odom passed away today of an apparent heart attack.

Posted by: anna missed | Jun 2 2008 18:20 utc | 78

Re my # 67, the news about a purge at Haaretz was apparently wrong. Retraction here.

Posted by: Alamet | Jun 2 2008 23:49 utc | 79

The hypocrisy involved here leaves me speechless:

Mugabe and Ahmadinejad left out of U.N. summit dinner

The Italian and U.N. hosts of a U.N. crisis summit on rising food prices on Monday left the presidents of Zimbabwe and Iran off the guest list of a ceremonial dinner for the leaders attending the meeting.
(snip)

Hoping it will also turn out to be wrong... This isn't the sort of thing you could do even in the heat of war!

Posted by: Alamet | Jun 2 2008 23:59 utc | 80

Washington Planning to "Checkmate" Chavez

Good article, to be read with,

BOLIVIA: Two More Steps Towards Provincial Autonomy

Bolivia’s leftist government responded cautiously to the approval of two new regional autonomy statutes, this time in the northern provinces of Beni and Pando, while the rightwing opposition celebrated their victory.

Posted by: Alamet | Jun 3 2008 0:02 utc | 81

Sibel Edmonds Case: Dennis Hastert to receive payoffs

So, former FBI translator Sibel Edmonds is again proved right. For more than a year Sibel has been predicting that Dennis Hastert will join a lobbying firm involved with Turkey, and now we learn that Hastert is joining Dickstein Shapiro. In the "Representative Engagements" section of Dickstein's website, we learn that they represented "the government of Turkey in connection with the development and financing by private sponsors of the Baku-Ceyhan oil pipeline and TransCaspian gas pipeline spanning from the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean."

Dennis Hastert, who is listed in Sibel's "Rogues Gallery," was caught on FBI wiretaps accepting bribes from Turkish criminal elements associated with the Turkish government, as documented in Vanity Fair in 2005 and elsewhere.

The following clip from Kill The Messenger, a documentary about Sibel's case, discusses some of Hastert's involvement as mentioned in Vanity Fair.

In researching the Vanity Fair article, journalist David Rose interviewed various congressional staffers and counter-intelligence officials who are familiar with the case. He reported that there were three separate types of bribes paid to Hastert:
1) "(T)ens of thousands of dollars to be paid to Hastert’s campaign funds in small checks."
2) "(T)ens of thousands of dollars in surreptitious payments in exchange for political favors and information."
3) "(A)t least $500,000"

Hastert was lucky that there was literally zero follow-up in the mainstream media to these most serious charges. Hastert did not sue Vanity Fair for libel, instead, Hastert got his spokesman to send Vanity Fair a bizarre Letter to the Editor in response, 6 months later. BradBlog has the letter here, along with Sibel's effective debunking of Hastert's response.

The only action taken in response to the startling revelations in Vanity Fair was by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) which filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) asking them to investigate the "(T)ens of thousands of dollars to be paid to Hastert’s campaign funds in small checks." According to the Vanity Fair article, these bribes were funneled into Hastert's campaign in amounts less than $200, which would mean that the contributions were below the threshold for reporting. The Federal Election Commission dropped the investigation in early 2006 without answering the specific charge.

The bribes identified in Vanity Fair are probably just the tip of the iceberg, merely down-payments on what was promised to him when he left office, and could 'earn' a multi-million dollar salary as a lobbyist.

More at the link...

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Jun 3 2008 1:58 utc | 82

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sgzn7VyoqEw&feature=related>Bo Diddley dead at 79. I was lucky enough to see him in this period and it was like http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lOOSHrr7q8c&feature=related>this.
Only better.

Posted by: anna missed | Jun 3 2008 2:49 utc | 83

iss: Call by US Presidential Candidates no Threat to Khartoum

On 28 May the three candidates still in the running for the US presidential elections later this year took the unusual step of subscribing to an advertisement in which they expressed their common position on the Darfur situation and Sudan’s Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). They described the Darfur campaign of the Sudanese government and its proxies in Darfur as genocide, unacceptable to the American people and the world community; deplored Khartoum’s obstruction of the deployment of a robust UN mission to Darfur and noted its continued refusal to adhere to the terms of the CPA. They sought to disabuse the Sudanese government of any notion that the US government - that must inevitably replace that of President Bush early next year - would ignore the issue of peace and security for the people of Sudan.

The Save Darfur Coalition could scarcely disguise their jubilation at this public pronouncement, though more sober consideration may persuade them that they have perhaps lost more than they have gained by it. Essentially, the candidates, senators John McCain, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, have said that whatever else they disagree on in terms of foreign and domestic policy, they are united in their overall view of Sudan’s crisis. But far from guaranteeing that America’s Sudan policy will feature large in the presidential campaign, this statement actually removes it from consideration.
...
On Sudan, the current US administration has pursued an ambiguous strategy: one that pays lip service to a public campaign on Darfur that increasingly resembles the anti-apartheid movement in terms of its scope and popularity, but also recognizes Khartoum’s usefulness in regional matters. Washington may have supported the South in the Sudanese civil war, but it does not desire the collapse of the Sudanese state, which would have dire consequences for its Middle East policy not least because of the Egyptian reaction. Nor does it like the idea of the Justice and Equality Movement launching a successful putsch from Darfur. The US administration far prefers stable military governments in nominal democracies to ideologically Islamic ones. Whether a new administration in Washington will feel free to escape the constraints of this schizophrenic policy remains to be seen. Khartoum is aware of this, and will take no fright from the advertisement of the three candidates. On the contrary, they have as good as told the Sudanese government that US policy in that region is not a campaign issue. Now, away from the posturing of the hustings, it is up to the diplomats to continue their difficult work of saving the CPA, without which nothing can be done to save Darfur.

Posted by: b real | Jun 3 2008 3:29 utc | 84

perfect example of why the u.s. supports brutal autocrats & worth clipping, as it's bound to show up in plenty of analyses of u.s. foreign policy

Ethiopia’s political stability crucial for regional peace - US envoy

June2, 2008 (ADDIS ABABA) — U.S Ambassador to Ethiopia said that the successive economic growth being registered in Ethiopia as well as the stable political system are of paramount importance for the peace and stability in the Horn of Africa.

Ambassador Donald Yamamoto told the pro Ethiopian government news service WIC recently that the presence of stable political, economic and social conditions in Ethiopia help the country play crucial role towards ensuring peace and order in the region as well as in the fight against terrorism.

The contribution of peacekeeping troops in various African nations is also a visible manifestation of the country’s commitment for the prevalence of peace in the continent, the Ambassador indicated.

The deployment of peacekeepers to the Sudan, Darfur and the assistance the country has been extending to the transitional government of Somalia show the significant role the country has been playing to restore peace in the region, Yamamoto further noted.

Ethiopia has recorded a high economic growth among the sub-Saharan countries and this also contributes for the prevalence of peace in the region.

unreal. and it's not the first time yamamoto has made this kind of stmt, too. let's see... war crimes in the ogaden & somalia, the genocide in gambella, the deliberate starvation of specific groups throughout his own country, the just-concluded sham elections, jailing the political opposition for more that a year w/o judicial accountability, the slaughter of 200 or more unarmed demonstrators after the election fraud in 2005, still no free press in the country, the refusal to adhere to its promises under the u.n. arbitration re settling the border war w/ eritrea, and on & on. crazy stuff.

and jendayi frazer recently gave a little talk & fielded some questions the other day before an understandably hostile audience in seattle. here are links to two accounts

Frazer labeled Meles and Isayas as twin “stubborn leaders”

endayi Frazer, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs delivered a lecture on “The Future of Africa and U.S. Foreign Policy” at the Seattle based University of Washington Campus.
...
There were about 200 attendees of the lecture comprising students and staff members of the campus. However, the majority of the audience was the Diaspora community from Africa, specifically from Horn of Africa. Ambassador Frazer was bombarded with emotional pleas and questions from Ethiopians, Somalis, Eritreans, Sudanese, and from the self proclaimed Independent Somali Landers. The long time friend and old classmate of Dr. Jendayi, Dr. Sanjeev Khagram moderated the Q&A session with huge difficulty and in a protective way of his guest. Two days before the event, Ethiomedia requested to have an interview with the Assistant Secretary. Our request was pushed away and communicated to us through the same Dr. Sanjeev. The following are some of the highlights of the Q&A period.

When asked about the U.S. role in the Horn of Africa crisis engulfing Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia, the Ambassador explained the region as a “very, very, very hot region for current and future U.S. administrations”. The majority of the audience was from the Horn of Africa region and undoubtedly, brought burning questions. Shakespear Feyissa, an Ethiopian-American Lawyer confronted Frazer on why the U.S. has done little or nothing about the mass killings and arrests of innocent civilians, imprisonment of elected opposition officials and civic society leaders following the 2005 controversial Ethiopian election. The lawyer specifically asked why the Assistant Secretary herself and her administration ignored the dictatorial actions of Prime Minister Meles of Ethiopia. As soon as Shakespear finished his high-toned question, the room was erupted with an overwhelming noise of support. The moderator seemed to panic and ordered the house not ask questions about Ethiopia.
...

Dr. Jendayi Frazer Fails to Camouflage the Bankruptcy of US Foreign Policy in the Horn of Africa!

In spite of the moderator´s unprofessional warning that he was not going to entertain questions or comments related to the Horn of Africa issues, perhaps not surprisingly, the overwhelming questions and/or comments were related to the volatile Horn of Africa region in general and Eritrea in particular. Some of the subjects that were covered were:

1) "US/Eritrea" relationship in general and the Ethio/Eritrea "Border" issue and US´ biased and unprincipled stand against Eritrea in particular

2) The illegal Ethiopian invasion/occupation of Somalia and US support of it and the issue of "Islamic Court Union" and "Al Shabaab" insurgents

3) The rigged Ethiopian election and its aftermath in which hundreds of innocent children were mowed down by the Weyane regime

4) The plight of the "Oromo", "Ogadeni" and other oppressed nationalities of Ethiopia were all addressed to a various degree of intensity.

Posted by: b real | Jun 3 2008 4:25 utc | 85

HAARP CBC Broadcast Weather control part 1

HAARP CBC Broadcast Weather control part 2

I post, you decide...

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Jun 3 2008 5:23 utc | 86

Speaking of nefarious high technology...

Pentagon gives away real target of pain gun?

Notice that they use faux "peace protesters" as their targets. Denver, anyone?

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Jun 3 2008 6:54 utc | 87

Would Israel sacrifice our troops? ...hahaha, you bet cha...

As things look, Israel may well attack Iran soon

As things look, Israel may well attack Iran soon
By Joschka Fischer
Commentary by
Friday, May 30, 2008

As a result of misguided American policy, the threat of another military confrontation hangs like a dark cloud over the Middle East. The United States' enemies have been strengthened, and Iran - despite being branded as a member of the so-called "axis of evil" - has been catapulted into regional hegemony. Iran could never have achieved this on its own, certainly not in such a short time.

A hitherto latent rivalry between Iran and Israel thus has been transformed into an open struggle for dominance in the Middle East. The result has been the emergence of some surprising, if not bizarre, alliances: Iran, Syria, Hizbullah, Hamas and the American-backed, Shiite-dominated Iraq are facing Israel, Saudi Arabia, and most of the other Sunni Arab states, all of which feel existentially threatened by Iran's ascendance.

The danger of a major confrontation has been heightened further by a series of factors: persistently high oil prices, which have created new financial and political opportunities for Iran; the possible defeat of the West and its regional allies in proxy wars in Gaza and Lebanon; and the United Nations Security Council's failure to induce Iran to accept even a temporary freeze of its nuclear program.

Of course Israel would sacrifice American troops on the ground in Iraq, because, you know they want us even that much more entrenched in the Middle East as a buffer. You know damn well, if Israel attacks Iran, that the whole of Iraq will explode along with Iran and they will rise up in full force and devastate our troops there, and Cheneyco, will use that as an excuse to full on escalate the ME war.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Jun 3 2008 7:11 utc | 88

Must see, More Scott McClellan

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Jun 3 2008 8:14 utc | 89

That is the big question Uncle, will the Maliki/Badr government turn on the U.S. if it (or Israel) attacks Iran? Certainly, no way any SOFA agreements would be signed under such circumstances, so in all likelihood any attack on Iran would mean the U.S. is out of Iraq one way or another. I don't think they'd piss that away just when they think they're winning, unless of course deep within the secret undisclosed location they know they're not winning. In which case they'll wait until the elections are over.

Posted by: anna missed | Jun 3 2008 8:23 utc | 90

Yeah, and the More Scott McClellan was the perfect nightcap - for dreams of escape. Or a dog and pony show from hell. Or asphyxiation through over exposure to banality.

Posted by: anna missed | Jun 3 2008 8:48 utc | 91

George Monbiot: War criminals must fear punishment. That's why I went for John Bolton

---

Gary Indiana on Hobsbawm’s ‘On Empire’

While a case has frequently been made for military interventions by great powers on behalf of human rights, Hobsbawm avers that militarily strong states like the U.S. may indeed intervene in ways that coincide with the wishes of human rights advocates, and certainly recognize the propaganda value in doing so, but whatever human rights advances happen to occur as a result are always incidental—intervention is, io ipso, an assertion of the right to intervene.

The case for intervention rests on flawed assumptions—for instance, that intolerable conditions like massacre or ethnic cleansing demand it, that no other methods exist to deal with such calamities and that the benefits far exceed the costs. This may sometimes be true, as in two instances Hobsbawm identifies: Vietnam’s invasion of Cambodia to end the Khmer Rouge regime in 1978 and Tanzania’s removal of Idi Amin from power in Uganda in 1979. (Tellingly, both the United States and China supported Pol Pot throughout the Vietnamese intervention.) Quite as often, intervention may only make matters worse.
...
What Hobsbawm properly calls the imperialism of human rights presumes that barbaric regimes can’t be changed by internal forces, a concept left over from the Cold War effort against “totalitarianism” that should have been abandoned when the USSR collapsed—a collapse that was itself brought about by internal instability, rather than outside intervention. Moreover, there have been many examples of democratization generated by indigenous forces within previously authoritarian countries in Asia and South America.

Intervention has also been justified by a delusional belief that major cultural changes can be effected by force when conditions don’t already exist that make such changes acceptable and where local populations can readily adapt to them. Democratic values and human rights, Hobsbawm points out, aren’t comparable to technological imports of immediate usefulness; you can bring technologies to places that don’t have them, but democratic political values aren’t the same things as cell phones or factory robotics.

Posted by: b | Jun 3 2008 9:38 utc | 92

test

Posted by: | Jun 3 2008 11:35 utc | 93

typepad is at it again...

Posted by: | Jun 3 2008 11:35 utc | 94

thanks uncle HAARP/Tesla links #86 & ray machine vs.anti-weapons-business terrorists #87:

"Hymes demonstrated the weapon by staging what CBS somewhat oddly called "a scenario soldiers might encounter in Iraq" -- a handful of military volunteers, dressed as civilian protesters, who carried signs saying "peace not war" and threw objects at a small group of soldiers. A series of raygun blasts from half a mile away disrupted their chants and finally sent them running.

Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisiton Sue Payton calls the Active Denial System a "huge game-changer" which "would save huge numbers of lives." She told CBS, "It could be used to read someone's mind, in effect. ... If they continue to come at you, then you're fairly sure ... they're probably a terrorist or an adversary who wants to do you harm." "

Yep, terrorists with peace signs. Comes from a weapons business definition of "an adversary who wants to do you harm".

Posted by: plushtown | Jun 3 2008 13:12 utc | 95

speaking of military interventions, here's a story from catholic world news

The Facts Behind the Massacres

The refugees all seem to agree: The real war in Rwanda--which wasnot a civil war, they emphasize--did not begin with the assassination of the president, as has been almost univerally reported in the West. The conflict actually began four years earlier, when 3,000 Rwandan Tutsi troops from the Ugandan army invaded their ancestral homeland under the banner of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF). The story of Rwanda from 1990 to 1994 is one of a bloody battle for power between the RPF--backed by the US and Britain--and the country's Hutu government, led by Habyarimana and backed by France and Belgium. Although both sides were responsible for bloodshed, Rwandan refugees in the US say the massacres of 1994 would never have erupted were it not for the RPF's invasion in 1990, which was carried out under the false pretense of bringing democracy to the country.
...
This invasion, carefully planned and organized, was followed by a four-year war which ended with the military victory of the RPF in July 1994. At the time when the RPF took power, the Western view of Rwanda was completely dominated by the recent mass killings, and little attention was paid to the plans of the rebel leadership. Subsequently, some facts have emerged about the RPF strategy, but these facts have been largely ignored in the Western media.

(h/t to david barouski's world news journal)

Posted by: b real | Jun 3 2008 14:15 utc | 96

should have noted, ray machine 's official name is Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. No, sorry, wrong paste, it's the "Active Denial System". These guys are a riot re riot control.

Posted by: plushtown | Jun 3 2008 14:57 utc | 97

and on the u.s. push (cough! cough!) for human rights, matthew russell lee, who blogs the u.n. beat at inner city press and has been traveling w/ the security council entourage on their ten-day trip to africa, starting in djibouti for the u.s.-backed push for dialogue b/w the TFG and part of the ARS (specifically attempting to alienate the ARS's militant wing), writes

At the Council's close-out press conference in Djibouti, Inner City Press asked UK Ambassador John Sawers if the Security Council is going to act on the civil society request that the Council "establish a commission of inquiry to investigate violations of human rights." Amb. Sawers said that will be up to the Somali parties. This is not the approach the Security Council has taken toward Sudan, to which the Council members were headed, on their special UN plane.

obviously, violations only matter when they're done by those not on your side.

the u.s. is trying hard to wean what they see as the moderates (so-called tolerable muslims) away from the hardliners (so-called bad muslims) in an effort to divide the opposition.

as lee writes

UK Ambassador John Sawers was seen meeting Monday night with some of the A.R.S. delegation, after a liquor-less reception thrown by the Saudi Arabians. Earlier he had encouraged the traveling UN press corps not to freeze the A.R.S. into a hard-line position about the withdrawal of the Ethiopian, which apparently would be accomplished by quoting what they actually said.

from an earlier dispatch this week

"Anytime you eliminate an Al-Qaeda target it's a positive contribution," said Alejandro Wolff, the U.S. Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN told the press while flying to the Somalia talks in Djibouti. He had been asked if the U.S. airstrikes in Somalia were a positive contribution to reconciation. He was asked for the U.S. position on meeting with individuals on terrorism watchlists. "Let me know if there are" any, he said. ... Amb. Sawers spoke of Islamist groups which are not and should not, he said, be part of the political process. Asked about the al-Shabab group, which is actively fighting both the Transitional Federal Government and the Ethiopian troops which brought them to the capital, Amb. Sawers said drily that he did not think they have a coherent political platform.

this stmt was either a manipulation of the press or proof of the ambassador's ignorance. the weinstein analysis on the islamist's leverage on these negotiations & the attention given to a reported split in the ARS which i linked to in #34 is highly recommended. when the ARS was created, it was organized into two separate organizations - one political, which is what the u.s. is trying to get to sit at the table w/ the TFG, and a militant wing, which was tasked w/ driving the ethiopians from somalia & the TFG from power. for sawers to say that the militants don't have a "political platform" entirely misses the point. i'm betting it's intentional. they cannot be that stupid.

makes you wonder too about this:

As UN Security Council members waited to meet Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf of the Transitional Federal Government, they received briefings in a luxury hotel about the identities and backgrounds of those meeting with the TFG, and the security situation in Puntland, Somaliland and the South and Central portions of the country. The press was allowed to listen, but not to attribute quotes to any participant. Questions arose about whether the armed opponents on the ground, who are said to already control Jowar and to be massing around Baidoa, are sufficiently represented in these talks. In response, it was pointed out that some of the non-attendees are subject to UN sanctions, but live in and travel through countries serving on the Security Council, some on a permanent basis.

The UN's advice, it seems, is to participate in the peace process and then maybe, just maybe, they will be taken off the list. These same incentives are being deployed on opposition figures now leaving Eritrea for Djibouti, Yemen and, they hope, Kenya. To help them with asylum, the UN expects them to sign something.

no direct quotes b/c the info is probably questionable or downright misinformation & they don't want to have to be held accountable for it under closer scrutiny?

and more carrots for dividing the opposition

finally, lee also pointed out that

Djibouti is crawling with U.S. military presence; there's talk of beer in the Sheraton Hotel and even a red light district.

the security council team is now moving on to sudan

Posted by: b real | Jun 3 2008 15:20 utc | 98

seattle/winter soldiers

Dozens of veterans from the U.S. occupation of Iraq converged in this west coast city over the weekend to share stories of atrocities being committed daily in Iraq

"We were told we'd be deploying to Iraq and that we needed to get ready to have little kids and women shoot at us," Sergio Kochergin, a former Marine who served two deployments in Iraq, told the audience. "It was an attempt to portray Iraqis as animals. We were supposed to do humanitarian work, but all we did was harass people, drive like crazy on the streets, pretending it was our city and we could do whatever we wanted to do."

As the other veterans on the panel nodded in agreement, Kochergin continued, "We were constantly told everybody there wants to kill you, everybody wants to get you. In the military, we had racism within every rank and it was ridiculous. It seemed like a joke, but that joke turned into destroying peoples' lives in Iraq."

"I was in Husaiba with a sniper platoon right on the Syrian border and we would basically go out on the town and search for people to shoot," Kochergin said. "The rules of engagement (ROE) got more lenient the longer we were there. So if anyone had a bag and a shovel, we were to shoot them. We were allowed to take our shots at anything that looked suspicious. And at that point in time, everything looked suspicious."

Kochergin added, "Later on, we had no ROE at all. If you see something that doesn't seem right, take them out." He concluded by saying, "Enough is enough, it's time to get out of there."

Doug Connor was a first lieutenant in the army and worked as a surgical nurse in Iraq. While there he worked as part of a combat support unit, and said most of the patients he treated were Iraqi civilians.

"There were so many people that needed treatment we couldn't take all of them," he said. "When a bombing happened and 45 patients were brought to us, it was always Americans treated first, then Kurds, then the Arabs."

Connor added quietly, "It got to the point where we started calling the Iraqi patients 'range balls' because, just like on the driving range (in golf), you don't care about losing them."

Posted by: annie | Jun 3 2008 16:02 utc | 99

More related to my #86/87

declassified military microwave pdf

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Jun 3 2008 18:09 utc | 100

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