Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
June 21, 2008

Midsummer Open Threat

Comment early, comment often ...

News & views ...

Posted by b on June 21, 2008 at 5:46 UTC | Permalink

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во первых!

It's">">It's Summer Solstice in the Gulag, Comrades!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Boris Spasky | Jun 21 2008 5:52 utc | 1

во первых!

It's Summer Solstice in the Gulag, Comrades!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Boris Spasky | Jun 21 2008 5:53 utc | 2

Elbaradei warns he will resign if Iran is attacked. Some of the Iranian web agencies have it that he will resign in case of "serious threats" -- is that their spin on it -- have no idea.

What interests me, is that here in Denmark, it was on the first radio news at 6AM but was dropped in the 7 and 8 AM 'casts -- in favour of a earth shaking news item about pig guts being sent to China to be cleaned then sent back to the Happy Little Kingdom to filled up with the goo they put in sausages...

Posted by: Chuck Cliff | Jun 21 2008 6:29 utc | 3

Obama announces his "National Security Working Group"

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright
Senator David Boren, former Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
Secretary of State Warren Christopher
Greg Craig, former director of the State Department Office of Policy Planning
Secretary of the Navy Richard Danzig
Representative Lee Hamilton, former Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee
Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder
Dr. Tony Lake, former National Security Advisor
Senator Sam Nunn, former Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Secretary of Defense William Perry
Dr. Susan Rice, former Assistant Secretary of State
Representative Tim Roemer, 9/11 Commissioner
Jim Steinberg, former Deputy National Security Advisor

anybody care to comment?

Posted by: charmicarmicat | Jun 21 2008 8:03 utc | 4

never mind :)

Posted by: charmicarmicat | Jun 21 2008 8:10 utc | 5

bothersome thought as of late -- obama is the establishment's choice of a "populist leader" who will eloquently convince the rabble to accept defeat (nonviolently) when mccain wins in november

Posted by: b real | Jun 21 2008 8:18 utc | 6

Talk - Antonia Juhasz Speaking at NW Winter Soldier

Un-fucking-believable...the Free Market cures all ills! KBR's Extortion tactics against the U.S. Army; Privatized National Security...

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Jun 21 2008 9:39 utc | 7

yeah b real, the straw that broke the camel's back for me is when obama decided to back the FISA bill. He has shown his true colors that everyone else it seems already knew. I wanted to believe he was different and had planned to vote for him. No more.

Now I have to decide on which other candidate to support, mccain is out of the question and I am reluctanct to vote for barr. knowing mine will be a protest vote with very little chance of making any difference is of little consolation but I simply cannot condone obama's choice.

what a gloomy future I see.

one thing that completely boggles my mind is the right's embrace of a monarchy. I just can't get my head around the hypocrisy.

Posted by: dan of steele | Jun 21 2008 11:24 utc | 8

Afghanistan is getting far hotter than Iraq for invaders.

An improvised explosive device (IED) killed four U.S.-led coalition soldiers on Saturday in the southern Afghan province of Kandahar, the scene of a large anti-Taliban offensive and an insurgent jail break.

Two coalition soldiers were also wounded in the blast, a U.S. military statement said, without giving further details.

The Taliban have upped pressure on Kandahar in the past two weeks, freeing at least 300 of their comrades in the jail break, then occupying areas outside the town, forcing Afghan and foreign troops to launch a large offensive to clear them out.

Posted by: Cloned Poster | Jun 21 2008 11:43 utc | 9

CP, what puzzles me even more is why the UK continues to increase their footprint in Afghanistan. America has Bush, and that explains our insanity. What's in it for them?

Over the last several years, Britain had maintained about 8,000 troops in Iraq compared to America's 150,000. With the recent increase in Afghanistan, Britain now has 8,000 compared to America's 32,000. Why are they so interested in getting killed in Afghanistan in Bush's war? I can't figure it out.

Posted by: Ensley | Jun 21 2008 13:13 utc | 10


Try Googling this:

afghanistan oil pipeline

Posted by: Hamburger | Jun 21 2008 13:48 utc | 11

I'm in the same place, Dan of Steele. I'm not sure what I'll do in November, but Barr is a definite possibility.

Posted by: Maxcrat | Jun 21 2008 15:04 utc | 12


Seton Hall Law’s Center for Policy and Research has issued a report revealing that Justice Scalia’s dissenting opinion in Boumediene v. Bush, which accords Guantánamo detainees the right to habeas corpus review in federal court, cites inaccurate information that was retracted by its original source, the Department of Defense (DoD).

On June 12, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s dissenting opinion on the ruling stated that “[a]t least 30 of those prisoners hitherto released from Guantánamo Bay have returned to the battlefield.” The statistic was endorsed by a Senate Minority Report issued June 26, 2007, which cites a media outlet, CNN. CNN, in turn, named the DoD as its source. The “30” number, however, was corrected in a DoD press release issued in July 2007, and a DoD document submitted to the House Foreign Relations Committee on May 20, 2008 abandons the claim entirely.

Professor Mark Denbeaux, director of the Seton Hall Law Center for Policy and Research commented, “As lawyers and judges we have an obligation to be careful with our facts. The notion that 30 detainees ‘returned to the battlefield’ was disproved a year ago. It is distressing that Justice Scalia in Boumediene was not more careful in such an important matter, especially since he was relying uncritically on information that originated with a party in the case before him.”

Posted by: b | Jun 21 2008 15:17 utc | 13

Thanks, hamburger. I agree with the pipeline cause. Yet I would say that Iraq has more oil to offer, yet the Brits didn't really inject themselves there as wholeheartedly.

At present, I plan to vote for Bob Barr as a protest, unless Obama unequivocally firms up his antiwar and Constitutional rights positions. Then again, maybe we will end up with neither Obama nor McCain being chosen as their respective parties' candidates. I don't see how the first would happen, but the latter is not etched in stone; McCain is very unpopular with many Conservatives/Libertarians and Republicans in general. Just a couple weeks ago, Ron Paul took nearly 25% of the Republican vote in the Idaho primary, and even Romney, who wasn't running any longer took about 10% from McCain. That McCain, the presumptive nominee, can't do better than that within his own party is not at all promising for the national election. And his age may yet disqualify him (America doesn't disqualify candidates on the basis of them being rabid, foaming-at-the-mouth lunatics, unfortunately).

Posted by: Ensley | Jun 21 2008 15:55 utc | 14

Here's>speculation that "Chinese earthquake could be due to Himalayan glacier-melting". Still no effort anywhere to collect $1000 offer. (google plushtown $1000 for various phrasings and venues.)

On voting, if I experience November, will probably vote either for 11 years more-gone-than-ever Robert Mitchum or Ron Paul, though of course the latter is no more real than Obama, Kucinich or Nader. Still think Gore will be figurehead.

Posted by: plushtown | Jun 21 2008 16:04 utc | 15

Was wondering, apparently idly now, in light of Obama.con's Bilderberg right-flank pincer movement, what Obama could offer as an alternative to the $1T Future Warrior Trilogy takedown of the US economy, then came back to a speech he gave, probably a talking point in some Latter Day unionist enclave in Ohio, about infrastructure. Beating swords into cement mixers.

But we all know what happens with Fed infrastructure funding, you only have to look at Boston's Big Dig, or Texas-Kansas' NAFTA Super-Corridor. Our local boondoggle, an aging elevated freeway which responsible engineers felt could be reinforced and rehabilitated for a meager $80M, came back "Oh no!" BigDig engineering constructors howled! "Oh no!" It'll cost anywhere from $2-$5B, , and we're the engineering experts!! Oh, mayor had a blue-ribbon BigDig panel on his side alright, cleverly concealing aging municipal infrastructure problems of his own, behind a Grand BigDig Chunnel undergrounding of the entire freeway!! Wow!! What a visionary!!

Gradually it came to light the tunnel was just a way for the city to solve it's own problems on the cheap. It had nothing to do with the freeway, except, perhaps, that Vulcan (Allen) wanted newly-minted land on top of the tunnel for a prime waterfront office campus, a real tight little Project for a New Vulcan Century, all paid for by the State, and ultimately, I suppose, by diverting interstate funds, or closing unmaintained rural roads. Some areas of our state are so unmaintained, the bridges won't support trucks, and farmers are forced to detour for hours to get to market.

So rehabilitating old public infrastructure is out. Too corrupt.

What about new infrastructure?! An auspicious local port development authority plan to build a major truck-train transfer center, like they're doing in enlightened EU, moving towards more efficient port services, would have brought thousands of jobs and $Ms of revenues, but with that, raising property values, increasing taxes, and besides the NIMBYs didn't want it! Nevermind it's a public infrastructure project, instead, the plan is abandoned now. NIMBYd and STUDYd to death. Now the State will have to buy the property from the PDA, so we'll pay out taxes in any case, for idle land in perpetuity, for welfare ecology projects to grow swamp mint or buttercups.

Winnie the Pooh would be proud. Another development reverting back to weeds.

But then just as I'd given up on infrastructure, in an instant, our power went out! Not just ours, but the whole town's! On a sunny Saturday, all the radio stations gone silent. All the gas station pumps gone idle. All the refrigerators at Costco, melting. The baker's ovens, growing cold. The tire changers at Sears, tireless. All you could hear were birds chirping in the trees and bees buzzing. The power company phone message said they know, if you have a crisis, call 9/11. The battery powered wall clock slowly ticked around the dial. The TV gone black. The Internet ... gone!!

Just a lazy summer Saturday, and we couldn't even get the garage door open to go enjoy a bike ride! (metaphor!) Our neighbor started playing a guitar on his porch.
People were standing around in the street, laughing. Someone ran to get a frisbee.

Then it hit me like a bolt of ... well, electricity! Enron!! Blackouts!! NY power grid failure!! If Obama really wanted to make a name for himself, he'd embrace an all-encompassing rural electric infrastructure project, not seen since the last Depression. Total rural re-electrification! Federal tax credits to those highly regulated, highly overseen private power companies, to start at one shining sea, and sweep across America to the other shore, creating millions of jobs, insuring that, if nothing else, if our country grinds to a halt over the credit collapse, at least baby's in incubators won't go cold, at least senior's on life support won't die, and at least, on a sunny Saturday, sports fans won't miss their bowl games!

There's nothing that will sober US up faster than a power outage, not even Iran.

National Electrification Rehabilitation Plan for America's 21st Century Salvation

Can you feel me, AIPAC?!

Posted by: Charles Schultz | Jun 21 2008 18:09 utc | 16

Some reports about religious extrimists aka terrorists.

Israeli students fire rocket at Palestinians

Israeli security officials said Friday that students from a far-right Jewish theological seminary at a West Bank settlement recently built a crude rocket and fired it at a nearby Palestinian village, although it failed to reach its target.

Jerusalem officials to High Court: Gay parade desecrates holy city

Israel's Messianic Jews: Police indifferent to threats against us

Safety pins and screws are still lodged in 15-year-old Ami Ortiz's body three months after he opened a booby-trapped gift basket sent to his family. The explosion severed two toes, damaged his hearing and harmed a promising basketball career.
The March 20 bombing was the worst incident so far. In October, a mysterious fire damaged a Jerusalem church used by Messianic Jews, and last month ultra-Orthodox Jews torched a stack of Christian holy books distributed by missionaries.

Posted by: b | Jun 21 2008 19:42 utc | 17

"Don’t you wish you could drive the Beltway with the skill of a counterterrorist operative?"

$1200 for 1 day (a fun way to use gas!)

Posted by: Henry | Jun 21 2008 21:08 utc | 18

Nice one, Charlie Brown.

Posted by: jonku | Jun 22 2008 10:24 utc | 19

Midsummer Open THREAT??!!

(from a NGO friend in Africa, regarding international aid theory in general)

Africa is not your local ZOO

RE: The exchange of arguments related to the pro’s and con’s of the OLPC ($100 laptop computer distributed to African village schools) crusade can be compiled to:

” it is better than nothing” whereas i'd argue ”nothing is better than nothing ”

It is in the line with the tradition of abusing a whole continent and the poor population of the world, first we enslaved them, fair enough then is then and now is now, than we occupied their land, stole whatever of any value, raped, abused, infections, religion, alcohol, and disrupted the tribal based society in such way that their is no way back. Like Nobel Prize winner

Mr. Desmond Tutu said ” They came to our country and handed us the bible, asked to close our eyes as to prey together, and when we opened our eyes they had taken our land, and we stood with there with their bible in our hands”

Since 40 / 50 years a wide variety of assistance has been given with practically no result as the NGO’s have been “digested” when it comes to projects sponsored, financed or donated more often than not it is a waste of time and money.Civil unrest, wars, structural corruption and poorly trained administrators, very poor education and on top of that the devastating impact of AIDS.

18 % HIV positiv, 1 million who even don’t know they are HIV positive, average age decined for women to 53 and men 49 which is about 13 years less than 10 - 20- years ago.Last and not least 30 - 35 % unemployment and a new wave of youth to arrive.

Reason enough for digital assistance, no doubt, but not this way, just a few reasons :

- still a huge lack of classrooms, streaming water, toilets, books etc.

- children up and down to school with a $100 laptop is too dangerous and will become a major source of problems and conflicts with possible physical injuries, knives are very common here.

- At home on a good friday or saturday evening that $100 laptop is gone for a bottle of beer before you know it.

- A major part of the problem is the from the day kids are born and at 5 years are physically and mentally already light years behind. 5 years and ask to give red, blue, yellow the name of the color, and when they go to school a large % is not able to pick it up (using a computer) and are sitting in total isolation, leave school at 10 // 12 crime, prostitution, mother at 14 // 15 years.

To do a better job as parents they have to have access or be accessible via internet at home and with the access the little ones can be stimulated to actively use and develop their brains and curiosity and eagerness to know / learn more.

For the schools the laptop is a total waste “mesh” “videocamera” “wireless” for the sake of what ? To benefit from technology adapted tuition material is required and the teacher must have direct access to the screen of the 40 /45 pupils, which most probably the years after is less than half, and each child could at its own speed and interest measured in time learn much more, others don’t have to wait for her / him and the slower ones both the constant pressure of hardly or nothing to

- Without a pre commitment from the government regarding the implementation of the widebank network to support laptop equipment the investment becomes a total waste.
Intel is and has spent and arm and leg in time and money to educate teachers which is a serious investment, less flashy, it is the dirty job, yes indeed someone has to do it and will be bottomline much more effective.

- in sofar one can attach any value to calculations made by the UN, the few who reach a respectable age will cost on a day to day basis quite some money and let it be 200 / 300 USD more or less it makes the 100 Dollar a joke, money from Google, help from a few others, an ex factory price, not by far any close to the 100 Dollar when you add transport, import duties and VAT.

That brings me where it is actually all about, a combination of gifts, philantropy, a contract, a pop concert, artists who have to sort of discuss with the G-8 the debts and are slaughtered by the politicians, it is done with the best intentions but not functional.

Combining straight forward business with aid is not the way to do it as it undermines the normal way of trade, business on one side and where and when needed assistance, food relief, medicines, one day you pay and the other they are for free. The laptop in question should under “normal circustances” cost today let say 250 - 300 usd and perhaps in a year 150 - 250 Dollar

One will never know, as without the crusade of Mr. Negroponti the laptop would not have been the consideration to buy or not to buy in the first place and what is furthermore damaging is the impression people get that something is done to address the digital divide issue and the same sort of impression all of us have had the last 40 / 50 years.

The relation between donor and receiving countries must become much more a business model , not for the sake of business but for the sake of accountability. When the local rulers are not hold accountable the waste of good money and energy will be wasted and ultimately bring the poor not a step further and what is really needed is P2P based help, the knowledge gap is enormous and millions, often quite simple, questions remain unanswered as there is no infrastructure but slowly more and more people will get access to the web and when for whatever reason someone has questions
and could obtain some information or advuse from the rest of the world.


Ahh yes, that pesky "rest of the world," ... that the rest of the world is becoming.

Posted by: Peter Piper | Jun 22 2008 20:45 utc | 20

here is an interesting manifesto extolling endarkenment

i find it appealing and disorienting at the same time.

Posted by: Lizard | Jun 23 2008 1:27 utc | 21

AMERICA IS TYRANNY - George Carlin fitting and final words...

Fuck. I haven't been this upset since Joe Strummer died.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Jun 23 2008 6:15 utc | 22

Goodbye George, I'll miss your love of language

Posted by: jcairo | Jun 23 2008 10:41 utc | 23

Bush&co War Crime Trials: Planning Conference Announced

Law School to Plan Bush War Crimes Prosecution

Press Release: Massachusetts School Of Law

17/06/08 "ICH" -- - A conference to plan the prosecution of President Bush and other high administration officials for war crimes will be held September 13-14 at the Massachusetts School of Law at Andover .

"This is not intended to be a mere discussion of violations of law that have occurred," said convener Lawrence Velvel, dean and cofounder of the school. "It is, rather, intended to be a planning conference at which plans will be laid and necessary organizational structures set up, to pursue the guilty as long as necessary and, if need be, to the ends of the Earth."

"We must try to hold Bush administration leaders accountable in courts of justice," Velvel said. "And we must insist on appropriate punishments, including, if guilt is found, the hangings visited upon top German and Japanese war-criminals in the 1940s."

Word is, this conference may well be seeded with professional saboteurs.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Jun 23 2008 13:05 utc | 24

Also, to our friends down under...

Howard accused of war crimes over Iraq troop deployment

A legal brief has been sent to the International Criminal Court (ICC) alleging former prime minister John Howard committed a war crime by sending troops to Iraq.

A loose alliance of peace activists, lawyers, academics and politicians is behind the brief, organised by the ICC Action group in Melbourne.

Organiser Glen Floyd says Mr Howard should be held accountable for sending troops to a war not sanctioned by the United Nations.

"We have produced a 52-page brief of evidence which states to the chief prosecutor of the criminal court that we allege John Howard's actions are war crimes under article 8 of the Rome Statute," he said.

Democrats Senator Lyn Allison says the legal brief sent to the ICC is justified.

Senator Allison, who is one of several eminent people supporting the move, says accountability is important. ..

A commenter from another board says, "Its chances are slim but worth backing, Labor just might push it if they get desperate. Theres graf on a local wall, "They hang war criminals, don't they John?"."

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Jun 23 2008 13:10 utc | 25

what a complete bummer about carlin - huge loss

Posted by: b real | Jun 23 2008 14:09 utc | 26

spiked online: Disenfranchising the people of Zimbabwe

Morgan Tsvangirai’s decision to pull out of the second round of Zimbabwe’s presidential election is entirely understandable. Having been arrested five times over the past three months – and having watched as supporters of his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) were roughed up, thrown in jail, and prevented from speaking freely or gathering openly – Tsvangirai clearly feels that the election will be unfair, illegitimate and, for him at least, unwinnable. Robert Mugabe and his henchmen, who have attacked and even murdered MDC campaigners, have made it near impossible for a free and fair election to take place.

And yet the effective cancellation of the election, followed by Tsvangirai’s calls for the United Nations, the African Union and South Africa to intervene in order to prevent a ‘genocide’, also shows up the dangers of internationalising local conflicts. The events of the past 24 hours demonstrate that Western governments’ relentless exploitation of the Zimbabwe crisis has helped to disenfranchise the Zimbabwean people. Literally. The logic of Western pressure has made the MDC reliant on the favour and flattery of external forces, rather than on the grit and the votes of its own mass support base.

Commentators argue that external governments have ‘ignored’ Zimbabwe for too long. The problem is precisely the opposite: there has been too much interference. Over the past decade, American and European leaders cynically transformed Mugabe’s Zimbabwe into the West’s whipping boy in Africa, a ‘pariah state’ against which they could pontificate in order to demonstrate their seriousness about combating ‘evil’ in global affairs. Governments and institutions imposed economic sanctions on Zimbabwe, froze international loans, warned off foreign investors, denied Zimbabwean officials the right to travel freely around the world, and seriously discussed taking military action.

The impact of this singling out of Zimbabwe for economic and political punishment has been dire.
The logic of contemporary ‘humanitarian intervention’, which presents the international community as the saviour of beleaguered populations, is that opposition movements in the South often spend more time cultivating big backers in the West than leading, convincing or strengthening their own support base. The withdrawal of the MDC from the election – in order that, as one commentator says, the UN and others might ‘intervene to rescue Zimbabwe’s people’ – is the logical conclusion to this process: people in Zimbabwe can no longer vote for ‘democratic change’, but rather must wait to be saved by outsiders.
Voting for the MDC under Mugabe may have been a very risky endeavour, but millions were prepared to take that risk. Now, instead, they have effectively been turned into the charges of powerful external actors. Between being harassed by Mugabe and rescued by the West – these must not be the only choices for the people of Zimbabwe.

sounds to me like mdc's ramshackle plans, which were born of collaboration w/ the west in the first place, have backfired

Posted by: b real | Jun 23 2008 15:02 utc | 27

RIP">">RIP Carlin, Voting in America

Posted by: | Jun 23 2008 16:57 utc | 28

b real@27,
I'm not up to date on Zimbabwe at all. Is the MDC as much the victim the international press makes it out to be ?

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Jun 23 2008 17:03 utc | 29

@29 - when Mubarak jailed his competition in the election in Egypt, nobody took note. The UK wants Zimbabwe back - so now everyone takes note.

Posted by: b | Jun 23 2008 18:32 utc | 30

@29 - i haven't been following it too close either, frustrated by the one-sideness of most press coverage. obviously parts of the coverage are an orchestrated propaganda campaign; then others pick up on the sensationalist appeal, the op to exert/claim moral indignation & righteousness in defense of stock tenets of "democracy", and assume to know the story via superficial assumptions. it presents a solid op for studying the role of the media in shaping perceptions, etc, esp in comparison w/ the west's positions in other african presidential elections.

granted, from what an outside observer can tell, it is an ugly situation in zim right now. the numbers i see in rpts are all sourced to the mdc itself, so make of them what you will.

the reason i posted the spiked story is (1) the writer has written cogently on the situation previously and this latest piece (2) highlights a paradox that does not bode well for peaceful resolution.

meanwhile, to the northeast

ips: POLITICS-ETHIOPIA: A Tangled Political Landscape Raises Questions About U.S. Ally

ADDIS ABABA, Jun 21 (IPS) - When it was announced last month that the ruling party of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi had swept local polls in this vast Horn of Africa nation, few expressed surprise.

Zenawi's Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) coalition was declared by the country's national electoral board to have won 559 districts in the kebele and woreda divisions of local government and all but one of 39 parliament seats contested in the by-election. Out of a total of 26 million registered voters, the electoral board claimed that 24.5 million, or 93 percent, voted.

April's ballot was the first chance for the EPRDF to flex the muscles of its electoral machinery since general elections in May 2005. Though early returns that year suggested an electoral triumph for the country's two main opposition parties, the Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD) and the United Ethiopian Democratic Forces (UEDF). Prime Minister Zenawi declared a state of emergency before final results were announced. In the unrest that followed, hundreds of people were arrested and at least 200 killed by Ethiopian security forces. Official results -- not released until September -- gave 59 percent of the total vote to the EPRDF.

Cries of fraud stained the reputation of one of Washington's closest African allies. to whom, according to U.S. defense department figures, the Bush administration sold $6 million worth of weapons to in 2006, more armaments than went to any other African country. The weapons are used in part to aid Ethiopia in its war against Islamic militants based in neighboring Somalia, which Ethiopia invaded in late 2006 and where it remains involved in active combat to this day.

Some observers contend that this year's ballot was even more compromised than the 2005 vote. With an estimated 3.6 million posts up for election, Ethiopia's opposition parties were only able to register some 16,000 candidates due to obstacles placed in their path by the country's electoral council. In response, the UEDF, now the largest opposition party in Ethiopia's parliament, and the Oromo Federalist Democratic Movement (OFDM) -- a political party claiming to represent the interests of the Oromo ethnic group (Ethiopia's largest) -- both boycotted the final round of voting.

Though international observers were not permitted, an electoral law passed in June allowed domestic organizations to formally monitor the ballot. However, local observers such as the Ethiopian Human Rights Council never received responses from the electoral board to their requests to monitor the elections.

One official at a foreign diplomatic mission in the capital, who surveyed polling places on the days of the vote, told IPS that "what we saw in Addis Ababa did not correspond" to 93 percent participation total announced by the electoral council.

"These elections weren't even good enough to be rigged," asserts Bulcha Demeksa, a former United Nations and World Bank official who currently leads the OFDM and serves in Ethiopia's parliament. "A genuine dictatorship has been evolving."
"The complete lack of any semblance of organized opposition in most of the country reflects how difficult it is in Ethiopia for dissenting voices to emerge with out facing a huge level of harassment," says Chris Albin-Lackey, senior researcher with the Africa Division of Human Rights Watch.

Albin-Lackey says that he regards the April ballot as "a stark illustration of just how far Ethiopia's political space has been closed off since the limited opening that preceded that 2005 polls."

Posted by: b real | Jun 23 2008 18:54 utc | 31

Old but very important. Gen. Jammerson was at EUCOM in the 1990s.

AFRICOM: Implications for African Security and U.S.-African Relations

Start: Thursday, September 20, 2007 8:30 AM

End: Thursday, September 20, 2007 2:00 PM

Location: Wohlstetter Conference Center, Twelfth Floor, AEI
1150 Seventeenth Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036
Directions to AEI

American policy toward Africa will soon enter a new era: the establishment of the joint military United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) creates an important instrument and signals a new direction for U.S. security strategy. On September 20, AEI will hold a conference to better understand the role and mission of this new command, both from U.S. and African perspectives.

Though AFRICOM has yet to be formally established, it is already controversial. Some in the United States and in Africa worry about the “militarization of aid.” Other debates have focused on the possible locations of AFRICOM’s headquarters and speculated about the “real” U.S. interests--such as balancing China’s growing presence in Africa or securing the continent’s natural resources--that the new structure is designed to serve. At the same time, relatively little attention has been devoted to understanding Africa’s security dilemmas from an African perspective and articulating how the United States can respond to African priorities with the limited set of security cooperation tools at its disposal. In sum, AFRICOM’s mission, plans, and purpose are poorly understood.

Speakers at this AEI conference will address some of the major questions raised by AFRICOM’s creation: What are U.S. interests in Africa, and what forms of security partnership will protect them most effectively? How does Africa define its own security priorities, and what forms of U.S. engagement does it find most valuable? Does this signal a fundamental shift away from a primarily humanitarian foreign policy toward Africa to a more “normal” policy based on mutual interests and common threats?

Join us on September 20 to answer these and other questions with current and former U.S. and African defense officials and analysts.

8:30 a.m. Registration and Breakfast

9:00 Panel I: What’s New about AFRICOM and What’s Not?

Panelists: Gen. James L. Jamerson, U.S. Air Force (Ret.), Lockheed Martin Corporation
Theresa M. Whelan, U.S. Department of Defense
Paul Wolfowitz, AEI

Moderator: Thomas Donnelly, AEI

10:30 Panel II: African Security Priorities

Panelists: Lt. Gen. Tsadkan Gebretensae, Center for Policy Research and Dialogue, Addis Ababa
James Kimonyo, Embassy of Rwanda
Linda Thomas-Greenfield, U.S. Department of State
Brig. Gen. Robert Winful, Ghana Armed Forces

Moderator: Mauro De Lorenzo, AEI

Noon Luncheon and Panel III: Models of U.S.-African Security Cooperation

Panelists: Lt. Gen. Daniel I. Opande, Kenya Armed Forces (Ret.)
Brownie J. Samukai, Liberian Ministry of Defense
Michael L. Smith, U.S. Department of State

Moderator: Mauro De Lorenzo, AEI

2:00 p.m. Adjournment

More Information

David Peyton
American Enterprise Institute
1150 Seventeenth Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20036
Phone: 202-862-5946

Media Inquiries

Veronique Rodman
American Enterprise Institute
1150 Seventeenth Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20036
Phone: 202-862-4870

AEI Print Index No. 22225

Posted by: | Jun 23 2008 23:56 utc | 32

re #32 - we covered that event at the time in this thread - the full transcript is available here - or audio & video downloads are here

what exactly did you find "very important" about it? at the time my opinion was

three things i took away from the AEI conference:

1.) whelan, in her wrapup, says

I will just make a couple of real quick comments. First, I think it is important for everyone to understand that we do not believe that we have gotten this right. We are firmly convinced that we probably screwed up somehow but we are not quite sure exactly how. And so we are also convinced that what Africa Command looks like on October 1st, 2008 when it stands up fully operational and unified command will be quite different from what it looks like five years down the line.

no further comment necessary.

2.) the african panelists included 3 generals & 1 defense minister from the countries of ethiopia, ghana, rwanda, & liberia. first off, military personnel, esp officers, are generally authoritarians & do not look at AFRICOM the same way civilians would/will see it. this is important, since the u.s. AFRICOM team is talking so much about how this just won't be a military operation. so why didn't AEI include non-military africans then? or military personnel from nations not so closely aligned w/ the u.s.? well, b/c then the moderator de lorenzo wouldn't be able to remark ... "What we have noticed or, at least, what I have noticed from the discussions today - from what American officials have said and from what African officials have said - is that there is a lot less disagreements. There are many more points of contact and points of agreement and overlapping where interests coincide than you will be led to believe from the way it has been portrayed in the media." no kidding, the event was set up that way.

3.) no mention of oil; very little mention of a scramble for resources or china.

overall, not a very useful program/discussion, although there are things to take away that can be used against them.

always interested in others' take on these things.

i'm (slowly) assembling materials for a post that i expect will focus on u.s. military-to-military relations w/ african military, militarized police, and paramilitary organizations as a form of imperial administration w/o the need for territorial occupation - neocolonialism, i guess, via control (external & internal) of armed proxies - and how AFRICOM fits in. large topic though, w/ a big scope if one tries to be inclusive of as many african nations as possible, so it's not clear to me how closely the materializing narrative will match my initial ambitions.

Posted by: b real | Jun 24 2008 2:55 utc | 33

As an American, I know I'm automatically on shakey ground, complaining about Zimbabwe's "crazy leader"; however Mugabe is 85 years old, and is clearly out of his stinking mind. He is quoted to the effect that "how can Zimbabwean's give up their country?-- how can a bic pen [that marks balllots] take power from those who have the guns?" This is megalomania and despotism of a high order, with a possible sidebar of genocide, if things deteriorate further.

If what is coming is some kind of mass murder, won't the international community have to consider doing something?

Awhile back Bernhard even considered that in an extreme case (Pol Pot for instance) the kind of intervention the UN might do ought to be an option (an exception) in such an extreme case. Zimbabwe and its people may be running out of time, with a total nutter in power, who has projected brutal state repression across the country, and smashed an electoral process with trucheons and bullets.

Posted by: Copeland | Jun 24 2008 3:13 utc | 34

A piece from Swan with lots of background on Zimbabwe and western mangling in it:

Zimbabwe Under Siege

Recommended for some alternative view to the current press campaign.

Posted by: b | Jun 24 2008 3:55 utc | 35

"If what is coming is some kind of mass murder"

i doubt that. from an otherwise ridiculous current bbc article

The outside world, which mostly sympathises with him [tsvangirai], can do nothing whatever to help him.

The suburban street outside the Dutch embassy where he's taken refuge in Harare is empty, except for a few security policemen on the look-out.

Even his choice of embassy has been turned against him by his political enemies. It might well have been better for him politically if he had chosen an African rather than a European country to ask for help.

As it is, MDC supporters are gloomy and resentful. They are also cowed.

The streets of Harare are quiet because there is no longer any need for the groups of violent political activists in Zanu-PF T-shirts who have been roaming them, looking for people to beat up.

There will be no demonstrations in favour of the man inside the Dutch embassy. He seems as cowed as his supporters.

on the u.s. response, keep an eye out for whether these recommendations from mark bellamy & stephen morrison get enacted

Getting Past Mugabe

Change requires that the United States mount an intensive diplomatic campaign, one where the United States is a catalyst of international action. The purpose will be to rally international support for moving Zimbabwe rapidly into the post-Mugabe era. To be successful, this initiative must move forward quickly at a high level, targeting a few key audiences and goals.

A top priority has to be ending South Africa’s patronage of Mugabe through diplomatic pressure that exploits growing regional dissatisfaction with Thabo Mbeki’s leadership. ... Once the South African linchpin is removed, the other external props that sustain Mugabe — Angola, Namibia, Equatorial Guinea, Libya, and China — will cease to matter.
The Bush administration should quickly designate an envoy, a distinguished former official or public figure, to lead its efforts. It should help the envoy assemble a small team of prominent international figures from Africa, Europe, and the Commonwealth to travel to southern Africa for intensive consultations on ending the crisis in Zimbabwe. That team will need to be in the region for an extended period. Lacking internal consensus, neither the United Nations nor the African Union can mount such a mission. From its position in the U.N. Security Council, the U.S. should work in New York and in African capitals to demand more African involvement in solving the crisis in Zimbabwe.

The U.S. effort should be organized around four pillars.

First, it should create a shared consensus that Mugabe must leave office.
Second, it should create a shared determination to contain Mugabe’s chief lieutenants. ... support must be summoned for possible deployment of a modest African Union or U.N.-authorized monitoring force. Meanwhile, the Bush administration should disclose publicly details of the extensive corruption surrounding Mugabe’s inner circle.
Third, it should press for resumed negotiations on constitutional reform, cut short by Mugabe last year, and for an early date for new presidential elections.
Last, if should accelerate international planning and support to rebuild Zimbabwe’s shattered economic and social infrastructure.
The United States has nothing to lose by investing in a bold diplomatic initiative to fix one of the world’s worst man-made humanitarian disasters. What better legacy could George Bush leave in Africa than to close out this terrible chapter of tyranny and restore to a nation its lost freedoms?

what - no mention of land reform, guys? heh.

Posted by: b real | Jun 24 2008 4:25 utc | 36

The crudeness of Mugabe's methods are difficult to spin, with an army of his goons descending like a swarm of locusts on the polling places, along with previous brutalities that happened wherever there were gatherings of the opposition party. The goons come with hardwood poles, that look to be about a meter long. And there was film footage today of a gang of them chasing one individual through a dusty village. There was also a close up shot of the bare back of one of their victims. The man's whole back, it seemed, was gouged with literally hundreds of deep lascerations. There was not much more than the width of a thumb that you could put between the wounds.

This kind of orchestrated brutality is designed to leave the opposition "cowed".

Posted by: Copeland | Jun 24 2008 5:18 utc | 37

we all want to see an end to the chaos & violence in Zimbabwe.

To put things in perspective, what we are looking at here is a highly polarized conflict that originates from the British/USA determination that Mugabe must be removed for standing up to the USA/UK for their duplicity on the issue of land-reform. And so we have a race issue with the USA/UK firmly assuming the cause of White Zim farmers to the total detriment of Black Zims who were enslaved. Because what the Blacks of Zim, South Africa & Namibia endured over a few hundred years is indistinguishable from slavery, And it is heart-breaking that the USA/UK would be so callously biased & one-sided on this issue.

Mugabe is rightly regarded as an African hero by a large number of people, especially those aware of his role in the liberation of Zimbabwe from the brutally racist regime of Ian Smiths Rhodesia. By no means does this grant him license to abuse & oppress his people. On the contrary, he appears to be clear & firm in his mind that he is protecting his people from yet another racist onslaught as he has done all his life. Ad he feels vindicated, Its really not very hard to see why he would feel this way.

And in our concern for Zim, we should not be blinded into betrayal of the people of Ethiopia, Somalia, Egypt, Gaza ... whose plight is kept away from our eyes & ears because their governments are friends of the USA.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Jun 24 2008 6:52 utc | 38

Obviously I have nothing worthwhile to do today.

Another chance to Vote for bush!

Posted by: beq | Jun 24 2008 18:17 utc | 39

Democracy Now: "Meanwhile, in news from Iraq, a local Iraqi council member from the town of Salman Pak shot and killed two US soldiers on Monday. Four others were injured. The shooting occurred outside a municipal council meeting." McClatchy calls it a "bizarre shooting incident".

I'd like to hear your take, b.

Posted by: PeeDee | Jun 25 2008 1:47 utc | 40

interesting tidbit from inner city press rpt today

There are reports that the U.S. plans a second base in Djibouti, closer to Eritrean territory.
after the Council's session, Inner City Press asked U.S. Ambassador Alejandro Wolff if the U.S. intends to build a second base in Djibouti. Video here. [follow link] Not that I know of, Wolff said, while the U.S. Mission's Deputy Spokesman suggested asking the Pentagon, not the State Department.

Posted by: b real | Jun 25 2008 4:42 utc | 41

some interesting news on the u.s. colony in africa

'US gangsters' upset Taylor

Monrovia - The family of former Liberian strongman Charles Taylor is up in arms after Americans allegedly searched his family home this weekend, Sando Johnson, the spokesperson for Taylor's family, told AFP on Tuesday.

The men came to the house in US embassy vehicles on Sunday backed by heavily armed national police officers and took the keys from Taylor's security guards at gunpoint, said Johnson.

According to the family, the Americans brandished a search warrant from the Special Court for Sierra Leone, where the former Liberian president is currently on trial for war crimes, but the court denied any involvement.

"Prosecutor Stephen Rapp told me it was not done by the special court or at the request of the special court," court spokesperson Peter Andersen told AFP by phone from Sierra Leone on Tuesday.

"They pushed the security man out and went in. They were there for 40 minutes while the police officers prevented us from entering to see what they were doing," Johnson told AFP.

During the search a huge crowd gathered in front of the residence, and began to boo the Americans. A lawyer for the family said the men showed him a warrant from the court.

The American embassy in Monrovia and the Liberian minister of justice both refused to comment on Tuesday.

Observers said the search might be linked to the US indictment of Charles Taylor's son Charles McArthur Emmanuel, also known as Chuckie Taylor, on torture charges.

Chuckie Taylor, formerly head of his father's anti-terrorism unit, is awaiting trial in the US on charges that he tortured several people in Liberia between 1999 and 2003.

Charles Taylor's party, the former ruling National Patriotic Party (NPP), reacted with fury to the search on Tuesday.

"I do not understand why the government will allow a bunch of gangsters to do what they feel like in our country," Cyril Alen, chairperson of the NPP, told Star Radio.

or they could be trying to find damning evidence

this story ran on the 13th
Sec. Cohen hints U.S. role in Taylor’s ill-fated revolution

..two questions regarding Taylor’s uprising continue to haunt observers to date, even those who wanted Taylor to topple Doe: “Who sponsored Taylor and how did he get out the U.S. maximum security House of Corrections in Plymouth, Massachusetts where he was held under protective custody?” Those questions were never answered.

But now it seems the TRC sessions currently holding in the U.S. gave an inkling of an answer.

The Analyst Staff Writer has been sifting a press dispatch from TRC hearings in the U.S.Former US under Secretary of State for African Affairs, Herman J. Cohen, says the Bush Administration brokered a deal in 1990 to install Charles Taylor as President after the U.S. secretly evacuated President Samuel Doe and flew him to Togo.
Many at the time, including the U.S. government at least covertly, thought the civilian interim government concept was the better of the two evils of uprooting a civilian, elected government by the force of arms.

Political and diplomatic pundits at the time said to allow the rebels to overrun a sitting civilian government was to condone and reward armed insurrection in a region that was used to and weary of the imposition of military violence over civil rule.

Notwithstanding that generally acclaimed understanding amongst stakeholders and peace brokers, the former maverick Foreign Service official noted that the U.S. moved unilaterally to reach the understanding with the rebels that once Doe left the country, Taylor would move into the capital and install his government.
Observers say while they welcomed the inclination by the U.S. to intervene directly in the conflict to end the spate of cruelty and civilian deaths, they blamed Taylor’s insistence in having his way during dozens of peace talks organized by ECOWAS to end Liberia’s bloodbath on the secret nod he got from Washington to rule Liberia.

“Taylor was in the U.S. maximum security House of Corrections in Plymouth, Massachusetts where he was held under protective custody. His lawyer US Attorney General Ramsey Clark said he would fight his extradition from the safety of that prison since he argued that agents of the Liberian government would kill Taylor.

“Circumstances under which Taylor broke jail from that facility still baffle security minds to date. Who freed him from there and who sponsored his way out of the U.S. into Burkina Faso, Libya, and back to Burkina Faso, to Ivory Coast and eventually to Liberia to begin the killing spree under the guise of a liberation war?” wondered secondary school Civics teacher, Billy J. Toe.

He said at the time the U.S. was negotiating Taylor’s takeover of the Liberian government to replace it with a murderous rebel junta, his legal status was anything but baffling.

“It was clear that Taylor was a fugitive to both the Liberian and U.S. governments. He broke jail in the U.S., which is a crime, and he was wanted for theft of property for siphoning into a New York bank $922,000 of government funds intended for machinery parts.

So how come the U.S. laid a red carpet for its fugitive caught subverting a government that accused him of embezzling more than half a million dollars?” wondered Moses V. Andrews, another observer who said he lost his entire family to rebels in areas ruled by the man the U.S. saw as a savor for Monrovians.

He said even though Cohen’s testimony was scanty, it provided insight into the role the Regan and Bush administrations played in the death of millions of Liberians and the ravaging of Liberia.

“One day the full story will be told and Liberians will demand reparation for the wholesale missteps perpetrated by the U.S. government,” he said. Meanwhile, the TRC hearings, now it their fifth day, continues. They will be concluded on June 14, 2008.

if anyone knows of good links/sources that spell out the larger story, please share. curious on the earlier role in supporting kennedy school of govt graduate/citibank/world bank employee ellen johnson-sirleaf too.

Posted by: b real | Jun 25 2008 15:29 utc | 42

Recommended reading: State-Sponsored Terror: British and American Black Ops in Iraq

Quite a lot of evidence over time that the U.S. and the Brits are running black-ops in Iraq just as the Brits did in Ireland during the 'troubles' ...

Posted by: b | Jun 25 2008 16:54 utc | 43


Hmm - what to say about that. I believe the guy was simply pissed - who knows who of his relatives have been killed wounded or otherwise hurt by the U.S. - if I were Iraqi, I wouldn't need any special reason to attack the occupation.

Posted by: b | Jun 25 2008 16:58 utc | 44

Amusing: Sitting in a backyard garden in Ottensen (30% immigrant population - mostly Turkish) and listening to the various screams from open windows as Germany plays against Turkey in the European Championship.

Posted by: b | Jun 25 2008 19:14 utc | 45

Congratulations to the Turks. You played a great tournament. Sorry that you lost this game after playing so well. There was no bad scene in this one and no bad referee decision so no need for any bad blood.

Next time, it's yours. Promissed.

Posted by: b | Jun 25 2008 20:43 utc | 46

b real @42

The Ruin of Nations by Karamoh Kabba goes into this some, particularly discussing Taylor's escape and why. You have probably read it. It says in part:

The confusion about Taylor's freedom from a jail in the United States is quixotically explained by John-Peter Pharm [Pham] in "Liberia: Portrait of a Failed State." Pharm [Pham] was either ill informed of the truth or his account was in accord with a possible Washington cover up. He is an American who happened to be an international diplomat in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea at the time:

"Taylor was arrested by U.S. marshals in Somerville, Massachusetts, on May 24, 1984, on the authority of the extradition treaty that the U.S. had with Liberia. He then spent 15 months in prison while former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark tried to fight his extradition. When a federal court ruled that sufficient evidence existed to support the Liberian government's request for his return, Taylor escaped from the Plymouth House of Corrections, where he was being held, in September 1985. According to one report, Taylor convinced a guard to bend the rules at the facility to allow him to pass from the north wing, where he was held, to the east wing, telling the guard he wanted to play cards with a friend. Once there, he used a hacksaw blade to cut through an iron window bar and, using bed sheets tied together, he and four other inmates climbed down from the second floor, scaled a fence, and ran into the nearby woods."

This makes it seem as if correction facilities supply hacksaws to prisoners in the United States. It is naive to disseminate information that Taylor simply told his guard he wanted to play cards with a friend in jail only to escape afterward. Tarty Teh's essay, "Still Stupid After All These Years," may help us in making a logical conclusion as to what happened:
"But that was then and this is now. The plan that the ACDL put forth called for recruiting Charles Taylor from prison to execute it. Taylor had a neat dictum for his mission: 'The only good Doe is a dead Doe.' In the end, President Doe and 220,000 other Liberians died.
The race between Prince Johnson and Charles Taylor to kill Doe was hardly seen by average Liberians as a race between Qaddafi and Washington. But it seemed that Washington had lost its man, Taylor, to Libya in secrecy and must do anything to reach Doe before Qaddafi did.

No matter how aristocratic William Tolbert's government was, it was democratically elected by the people. Even though it was not working in the interest of all of the people, it did not warrant foreign interference. Many think that Washington came to support Doe's ouster clandestinely to protect its image in world politics. Thus, Taylor did not know he had Washington's support and could only ponder why he was released from jail in Massachusetts.

It indicated that Taylor was not knowledgeable of Harry Greaves' plan, "The plan that the A.C.D.L. put forth called for recruiting Charles Taylor from prison to execute it." Now one could begin to connect the dots why Charles Taylor did not know not to run to Qaddafi for help.

Tarty Teh has a page up called Dialogue on the Liberian Civil War in which he says "Who started the war: I charge Amos Sawyer and Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf (not Charles Taylor) with planning and starting the war." He has a number of commentaries linked there, but I have not read through them all.

I know the International Republican Institute was instrumental in encouraging and funding Sirleaf's election. She thanked them for it when she received their award in 2006.

Posted by: Xcroc | Jun 25 2008 23:19 utc | 47

excellent. thanks xcroc. i do remember the kabba article now.

Posted by: b real | Jun 26 2008 2:47 utc | 48

Thanks to b, b real and Xcroc for very good links.

I wonder if the dating from this Qatar story is destined to hold up under closer scrutiny. If so, it would be, to my limited knowldege, a great leap backward.

Meanwhile, Steve Aftergood's FAS ">"> Secrecy News blog has, as usual, a couple of worthwhile postings, including some useful links, including this internal Pentagon report on the Europe-based anti-Iranian missile defense project. I have only glanced at the latter document, but it gives me the impression of "crackpot realism", or, perhaps more accurately, "realism in the service of crackpots". It should be emphasized that the subject matter at hand is that of formulating a suitable test procedure for a weapons system whose deployment has already been decided. Having a proven missile defense system would seem to be of lesser import than getting something (expensive and diplomatically disruptive) deployed. This state of affairs will seem paradoxical only to the ingenuous.

Posted by: Hannah K. O'Luthon | Jun 26 2008 6:48 utc | 49

Seven Word Pairs You Can't Say On American Television

and especially

yeah, yeah, definitely:

"Well, Tom, that's the grim financial news tonight!"

"Aww, who cares...."

Posted by: Peris Troika | Jun 26 2008 7:03 utc | 50

Lots of pre-election gun violence in DC among scary black people courtesy of ">"> Justice Antonin Scalia?

J. McC says: thanks, bro'

Posted by: Hamburger | Jun 26 2008 15:15 utc | 51

There was a bug for a while in the "Post a comment" section on this blog. Even if the "Remember personal info?" tag was checked, that info was not stored properly and got lost.

I have cleaned that up and also some display issues under IE.

Please let me know if it now works for you and especially if it does not.


Posted by: b | Jun 26 2008 15:58 utc | 52

i've noticed the 'war on tourism' thread's screen has always displayed one text size larger than the rest of the site

also anyone listening to the torture memo hearing today cannot avoid the conclusion that yoo is truly an idiot & addison is an asshole

Posted by: b real | Jun 26 2008 16:53 utc | 53

bah. synapse problems on this end - of course i meant addington

Posted by: b real | Jun 26 2008 17:44 utc | 54

i've noticed the 'war on tourism' thread's screen has always displayed one text size larger than the rest of the site

I've noticed that too, looked ate page source and found no reason (yet). Will try tomorrow ...

also anyone listening to the torture memo hearing today cannot avoid the conclusion that yoo is truly an idiot & addison is an asshole

Had no time to listen, but wasn't that obvious before the hearing?

Posted by: b | Jun 26 2008 18:49 utc | 55

"wasn't that obvious before the hearing"

from what i'd read, yes, but then i'd never listened to either of them speak/dissemble before. hearing is believing.

Posted by: b real | Jun 26 2008 19:36 utc | 56

have just returned this hour from the hospital which is two rues away from where i live & from which it seems i will be attached for the next two months because of complications of my illness

& what is the first thing i see - those two monster addington & yoo - to watch these two specimens is to mourn for our species

clearly, they both imagine themselves legal scholars of some import but they are on the contrary no different & perhaps far worse than senator mcarthy & his his jurisprudential hood, roy cohn

it is a terrible image - but i would prefer to see them standing as the victims of the terrible nazi judge freisler - without their belts & having to hold up their pants - because the situation in the hearings is the opposite of that with freisler - generally the persons before him were people of dignity who were belittled by their common functions but in this instance - there is not one drop of dignity or of decency in addington/yoo & the other goon - they have humiliated the few honest notions contained in justice & made jurisprudence more junk to inject into journalists arms

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Jun 26 2008 21:26 utc | 57

re the supreme court 'judgement' -

it seems that the only thing that the u s empire is capable of socialising is - murder

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Jun 26 2008 21:58 utc | 58

great to see you posting again, r'giap. those absences can be concerning.

Posted by: b real | Jun 27 2008 4:35 utc | 59

This review of The Mighty Wurlitzer written from a CIA perspective will probably infuriate some here, and, not surprisisngly, breaks no new ground, but it still makes for interesting reading, at the very least as a reminder that "broad bi-partisan consensus" in subterfuge and skulduggery is nothing new.
Hat tip to John Young's ever stimulating Cryptome site.

Posted by: Hannah K. O'Luthon | Jun 27 2008 8:48 utc | 60


Posted by: Uncle $cam | Jun 27 2008 9:31 utc | 61

hkol - i apologize for still not finishing the boston review series yet (hope to get back to it over the w/e) but i see that the econ prof from oxford who penned one of the responses to miguel's essay, collier, is the interviewee in a cfr piece today - Five Steps to Sustainable Governance in Africa

it contains an example of what bugs me about the unstated premises, thinking & quest for magic bullet solutions proposed by these "experts" inculcated in western economics

Your research suggests that for a change to happen, it must come from within a country. So what can be done to cultivate those sorts of reformers—the people who think about institutions rather than individual agendas?

There are severe limits on what we as outsiders can do. These are internal processes. Our role is just to do as much as we can to strengthen the position of the forces for change within these societies. In the case of a country like Nigeria, the dominant issue is: Can they handle natural resource revenues well? What I’ve been trying to promote is the idea of a set of voluntary international guidelines on the key decision points. There are about five key decision points, which, if they’re taken right, you’ll get sustained development.

Can you outline those?

You can think of the economic process underlying it as very simple. It’s taking assets from out of the ground and you want to end up with assets on top of the ground. You can just think of a logical sequence of steps along that way.

Posted by: b real | Jun 27 2008 19:01 utc | 62

@ 62 I'm also amazed at the nonsense that these "experts" mouth with a serious face. Collier is the guy who 'theorized' that the civil wars raging in Africa after the Cold War, i.e. Congo - DRC, was due to "Greed" of .. you guessed it .. the locals. I always wonder how much damage formal education can do to your common sense; especially when it masks itself as a 'science'.

Their is a ting of cowardly subservience in these so-called 'experts'- one can not actually believe Collier is unaware of the role of MNC and proxy invading forces linked to his own beloved England in fomenting and producing the crisis and misery that he is keen on mending.

The poverty of mainstream, I dare say it is 'Western', economics is its pretensions at producing 'objective' 'value free science' and its theorization from the premises of the status quo. The idea of structural 'change' is a rare concept in this world view - rather it is about maintaining 'order' and 'stability' and only allowing change within the confines of what is permissable.

Reading Colliers work on 'development' or 'civil war' one is lead into a world outside of global politics and history. The abstraction is soo total that even his case studies read like a Zombie story.

The extent to which politics enters his analysis is to fix the blame on the 'greedy' peasants', 'youth bulge', 'corrupt leaders,' ...etc. The cure is 'inside' the Nation and the analysis locates the problems that produce the diseases 'inside' the Nation. One would think a liberal imperialist would be sensitive to the notion that borders are relative for 'free' trade AND for violent impoverishing trade.

Collier is much like Jeffrey Sachs, a neoliberal turned 'humanitarian', who in his The End of Poverty gives us a few pointers on how to end 'poverty' - that is how to get the majority of the world from $1/day to $2-3/day. All this is without changing the structural conditions that produced this poverty on an ever wider scale. The worst enemy is the one that poses as a 'friend'.

Posted by: BenIAM | Jun 27 2008 20:32 utc | 63

BenIAM - exactly. part of it can also be explained by the sources of their funding, i'd imagine

their research is often so abstracted from reality that in any other circles, they'd be either laughed or chased off the stage. but yet their role for the certain interested parties allows them influential access/exposure time & time again

here's sachs, for example,evangelizing at the u.n. one week ago

inner city press: At UN, Sachs Defends Monsanto and Terminator Seeds, Praises Pharmaceutical Industry and Patents

UNITED NATIONS, June 23 -- Monsanto, the subject of protests throughout India and much of the developing world for its use of so-called death or single-use seeds, has a defender it emerges in the UN system, Jeffrey Sachs. Following a June 20 talk extolling the virtual of genetically modified food, Sachs was asked by Inner City Press about a counter-example, that of Monsanto and its death seeds, which are sterile so that farmers have to continue buying from Monsanto for each and every crop. "That never happened," Sachs said. "That's a story from a long long time ago, but it showed the reputational challenges. It became a massive issue at the time."
Sachs seems to have bought Monsanto's logic. Three times he cited "drought-tolerant crops" as justifying bio-agriculture. But as quoted in the Daily Mail on June 20, Professor Ossama El-Tayeb of Cairo University, condemns "big business" for claiming that "GM crops will alleviate poverty soon, while currently available ones mostly contribute negatively to poverty alleviation and food security, and positively to the stock market."

Then again, Sachs also praised the pharmaceutical industry, with which he has worked for a decade he said and "has now in general made its life saving medicines available at cost in the poorest countries." Sachs seems to have inordinate faith in powerful corporations. "Let me say clearly," he responded about Monsanto's use of terminator or death seeds, "no company would have that intention right now because the backlash would be very serious." But Monsanto is in fact using the technology. And Jeffrey Sachs, from a UN platform, is among those trying to dampen the backlash.

Posted by: b real | Jun 27 2008 20:57 utc | 64

b, since you will most likely be glued to the teevee for the next two hours, I would like to wish you and the German team the best of luck.

Posted by: dan of steele | Jun 29 2008 18:21 utc | 65

@Dan - thanks - its halftime now and so far the Spainards are better ... I try to look at the better game players, not the nationality of the better team.

Posted by: b | Jun 29 2008 19:51 utc | 66

heard the latest from the raid on maliki's sister's guardhouse?


Ali Abdulhussein al Maliki was killed at his guard post outside the villa belonging to Maliki's sister, said the guard's brother, Ahmed Abdulhussein al Maliki.

The brother — ...Abdulhussein, who was not present during the raid, said his brother and three other bodyguards were at the home of Maliki's sister, their cousin, in a guard station attached to the main, two-story villa. Before dawn Friday, Abdulhussein said, the guards heard U.S. helicopters in the area. Abdulhussein said about 50 American ground troops in camouflage then stormed into Janaja. He said he still has no idea why they came to the Maliki home.

"(The troops) raided this room, the guard room, and detained the guards, including Ali, who'd memorized a few English words and tried to tell them, 'I'm police. I'm a Maliki guard,'" Abdulhussein said. "They tied the hands of the three guards and took Ali to the room. Ten minutes later, they heard gunfire. The American forces killed Ali."

i guess thats one way to get the sofa signed.

Posted by: annie | Jun 30 2008 3:59 utc | 67

U.S. Advised Iraqi Ministry on Oil Deals

A group of American advisers led by a small State Department team played an integral part in drawing up contracts between the Iraqi government and five major Western oil companies to develop some of the largest fields in Iraq, American officials say.
At a time of spiraling oil prices, the no-bid contracts, in a country with some of the world’s largest untapped fields and potential for vast profits, are a rare prize to the industry. The contracts are expected to be awarded Monday to Exxon Mobil, Shell, BP, Total and Chevron, as well as to several smaller oil companies.

Posted by: b | Jun 30 2008 5:23 utc | 68

wapo: U.S. Backs U.N. Official in Darfur Indicted in Rwanda Deaths

The State Department has urged the United Nations to retain a Rwandan general as the second-highest-ranking U.N. peacekeeper in the Darfur region of Sudan, even though he has been indicted for allegedly committing war crimes in Rwanda during the mid-1990s, according to U.S. and U.N. officials.

Rwandan Maj. Gen. Emmanuel Karake Karenzi, the U.N. deputy force commander in Darfur, was charged by a Spanish magistrate in February with responsibility in the killings of thousands of ethnic Hutus during the mid-1990s. The Rwandan government says the charges are baseless and has asked the United Nations to renew his contract for another year when it expires in October.

Rwanda's insistence that Karenzi remain in the mission poses a dilemma for the United States as it seeks to ensure support for a faltering U.N. effort to prevent atrocities in Darfur. Rwanda contributes 3,000 troops to the mission in Darfur -- roughly one-third of the current force -- and its withdrawal would erode the peacekeepers' ability to function.

In a meeting last week, Jendayi Frazer, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for Africa, urged U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the world body's top peacekeeping official, Jean-Marie Guéhenno, to renew Karenzi's contract, according to American and U.N. officials. Frazer argued that the United Nations cannot afford to alienate the Rwandans when they are needed in Darfur and may play a role in a future U.N. mission in Somalia. She signaled that Karenzi "has to stay," a U.N. official said.

But others in the administration believe Karenzi should go. "There are many in the U.S. government who think we should dump the guy," said one American official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly. "But Assistant Secretary Jendayi Frazer has the final call."

Posted by: b real | Jun 30 2008 15:13 utc | 69

b 68

Consultants said the advice was necessary because the Oil Ministry, like other sectors of the Iraqi government, has experienced an exodus of qualified employees and lacks lawyers schooled in drawing up contracts.

cough. y'know, those iraqis are challenged when it comes to drawing up contracts. we were just offering a helping hand.

The American government lawyers provided specific advice, the State Department official said, like: “These are the clauses you may want. You will need a clause on arbitration. You will need this clause to make this work.”

arbitration is so groovy, prevents punitive damages down the road. wouldn't want those oil companies ending up in an iraqi court.

Posted by: annie | Jun 30 2008 18:56 utc | 70

@ 64 I'm not surprised by Sach's defense of Monsanto. Sach's position as Special Advisor to the former UN-Secretary was part of a drive to establish public-private partnership's to develop the poorer folks of this world. What I'm surprised about is that scrutiny of the UN's role in legitimizing and promoting corporate extension into 3rd world societies remains on the fringe. There may come a day when the UN agencies will be perceived as "enemies" and beyond the pale much like it was/is in Iraq due to the UN's role in the sanctions and now invasion.

As part of Sach's global village project - M Development Goals - their is an attempt to introduce 'scientific' agriculture that includes chemical fertilizers and genetically modified seeds into African agrarian systems. A vivid case is his work in Ethiopia, Kenya and Nigeria which brought him very close to the autocratic leader of the former.
Africa's Village of Dreams

In fact Sach's awarded - on behalf of Yara a fertilizer company - a prize of appox. $200,000 to Meles for his contribution to improved food security and human nutrition in environmental friendly ways.

Africa's Green Revolution?

Smedly Butler said war is a racket - this game sounds just as good to me.

Posted by: B | Jun 30 2008 20:10 utc | 71

the sach's link was to point out how far removed from reality these characters are - "that never happened" he says. pshaw!

thanks for the two links, esp the yara prize link - interesting now in light of the current food situation in ethiopia. i posted a healthy number of links/resources re the push for a "new" green revolution in africa in an earlier thread, starting here. there've been related items since, but it only takes a few to see what's really going on (again).

Posted by: b real | Jun 30 2008 22:06 utc | 72

Press TV: How can it just be one person among so many hundreds of Congressmen who wants the impeachment of George W. Bush in these circumstances?

Gore Vidal: Well it's because we no longer have a country. We don't have a republic any more. During the last 7 or 8 years of the Bush regime, they've got rid of the Bill of Rights, they've got rid of habeas corpus. They have got rid of one of the nicest gifts that England ever left us when they went away and we ceased to be colonies - the Magna Carta - from the 12th century. All of our law and due process of law is based on that. And the Bush people got rid of it. The president and little Mr. Gonzales who for a few minutes was his Attorney General. They managed to get rid of all of the constitutional links that made us literally a republic.

Press TV: You have often written about the US's superpower status in terms of the history of previous superpowers. Do you think we're witnessing the end of US power as some suggest. Will the White House be seen like Persepolis?

Gore Vidal: Well it won't make such good ruins, no. It'll be more like the tomb of Cyrus nearby. They managed to destroy the United States - why? Because they're oil and gas people and they're essentially criminals. I repeat that this is a criminal group that's seized control of the country through what looked like an ordinary election. But there's some very nice films and documentaries about what happened in the year 2000 when Albert Gore won the election for president and they saw to it that he couldn't serve. They got the Supreme Court - which is the Holy of Holies ordinarily in our system - to investigate and then accuse the thieves of being absolutely correct and the winners - Mr. Gore and the Democrats - of being the cheaters. It's the first law of Machiavelli, whatever your opponent's faults are, you pick his virtues and you deny he has them. That's what they did when Senator Kerry ran a few years ago for president. He's a famous hero from the Vietnam War. They said he was a coward and not a hero. That's how it's done. When you have a bunch of liars in charge of your government you can't expect to get much history out of that. But later on we'll dig and dig… and we will dig up Persepolis.

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Jun 30 2008 22:15 utc | 73

fyi Queen of Hawaii demands independence from 'US occupiers'

The United States is an illegal occupying force that should hand the 132 islands of Hawaii back to the monarchy overthrown more than a century ago, according to members of a Native Hawaiian sovereignty movement.

Posted by: annie | Jun 30 2008 22:37 utc | 74

oh my Iraq fails to ink deals with global oil majors

raq said on Monday that it had failed to sign technical support deals with global oil majors hoping to cash in on boosting the war-torn country's extensive but underexploited oilfields.

Iraq is still negotiating with Shell, BP, ExxonMobil, Chevron and Total, and a consortium of other smaller oil companies, to develop six oil blocks and two gas fields, Oil Minister Hussein al-Shahristani told a press briefing.

"We did not finalise any agreement with them because they refused to offer consultancy based on fees as they wanted a share of the oil," he said.

seems their alledged lack of schooled lawyers hasn't prevented them from thinking.

Posted by: annie | Jul 1 2008 2:21 utc | 75

B - @71 - There may come a day when the UN agencies will be perceived as "enemies" and beyond the pale much like it was/is in Iraq due to the UN's role in the sanctions and now invasion.

U.N. Personnel Increasingly Under Attack, Study Finds

United Nations personnel around the world are increasingly likely to be targets for attack because the organization is perceived by some as a tool of powerful members, rather than an unbiased advocate for all nations, Lakhdar Brahimi, a veteran diplomat who headed a global study on the security of United Nations staff members, said Monday.

The study, conducted by a seven-member panel that was organized after 17 United Nations workers were killed in a bombing in Algiers last December, concluded that neither individual staff members nor the organization had fully grasped the change in perceptions, Mr. Brahimi said.

Posted by: b | Jul 1 2008 6:32 utc | 76

Pincus: Counternarcotics Effort In West Africa Widens Pentagon's Purview

The Pentagon is stepping up its counternarcotics programs in West Africa, in what can be considered the Defense Department's continuing expansion into the traditional territory of a civilian agency.
The Defense Department already has a full menu of support for African governments, including training for top younger military officers, military assistance and foreign military sales support, and more recently, a new range of counterterrorism, troop-training and construction programs.

The Armed Services report on the fiscal 2009 defense authorization bill raised questions about the Pentagon's new Africa command having plans to take on such nontraditional missions as "medical HIV/AIDS assistance, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief."

But more and more, State Department officials and Congress recognize that it is easier to fund such programs through the larger Defense Department budget.
With the State Department's blessing, Section 1206 this year is covering coalition partners in Iraq, including Algeria, Chad, the Dominican Republic, Indonesia, Lebanon, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, Senegal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Yemen, and Sao Tome and Principe. Also being added are a number of African, East Asian and Central European countries.

Posted by: b | Jul 1 2008 6:52 utc | 77

there are genuine problems w/ drug trafficking etc in west african nations (e.g., guinea-bissau), however, when you look at the DoD's so-called "war on drugs" interventionism that replaced the threat of the red menace in latin america following the official end of the cold war, caution/skepticism in the u.s. military taking it on is indeed warranted. take colombia & bolivia, for example. the "war on drugs" has done little to seriously take on its namesake, instead providing the cover for counterinsurgency training & operations against new classifications of internal enemies that threaten(ed) the status quo order. in bolivia, this new enemy were the peasants of the chapare and elsewhere in opposition to the govt's draconian neo-lib policies. in colombia, the influx of funding, arms, training & intel were aimed at countering FARC and other mvmts that threatened the govt & the pipelines it contracted to occidental. they've gone from being 'communist subversives' to 'narcoguerillas' to 'terrorists' over the past two decades, but the objective of the state's military apparatus remains the same - squash any threat to the ruling power.

the u.s. employs all these so-called wars -- cold war, war on drugs, and now the WOT -- to expand & control hegemony thru military allies in regions that serve its perceived national interests. DoD may be able to offer some assistance to west african govts facing problems w/ the illicit drug trade - equipment, intel, training, $$ - but at what price? the track record of this type of "assistance" in latin america speaks for itself.

Posted by: b real | Jul 1 2008 15:06 utc | 78

gallup trying to put lipstick on a pig for someone

Among Africans Surveyed, Few Have Heard of Africom

WASHINGTON, DC -- Africom, the U.S. military command dedicated solely to Africa, is slated to become operational in October. Yet, Gallup Polls reveal that most Africans surveyed have never heard of Africom.

"most Africans surveyed"

i don't see the actual survey materials available, but the brief article states

Results are based on face-to-face interviews with at least 1,000 adults, aged 15 and older, in Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Chad (excludes the eastern region), Democratic Republic of the Congo (urban areas only), Ethiopia, Mauritania, Namibia, Niger, South Africa, and Sudan (excludes Darfur and parts of the south around Juba and Nimule) in June-December 2007.

well that's rather vague - "at least 1,000" people 15 or older. why can they not give an accurate number? (and does gallup normally qualify 15 year olds as adults?)

and the survey only took place in (parts of) ten african nations, which is less than 20% of the total number of unique countries on the continent.

so what did they find?

Gallup asked respondents in 10 African countries whether they have ever heard of Africom: a median score of 17% say they have. Awareness of the United States' newest strategic command ranges from roughly 3 in 10 respondents in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (33%), Mauritania (33%), and the Central African Republic (29%) to 2% in Ethiopia and 4% in Niger, when taking into account a margin of error of ±5 percentage points.

but then gallup admits

These low numbers may be partially attributable to Gallup conducting the polls a few months after the announcement of the command's creation and that the news may not have reached many people yet.

no mention of how language factored in the questioning

When asked whether it would be OK if the United States wanted to set up a military base in their countries, a median of 20% surveyed say yes.

which means that 80% either do not support the idea or won't answer. would more people have responded affirmatively if the question was posed as to whether they were against the idea of a u.s. military base being located in their area? polling itself reflects the biases of the pollster & their sponsors.

again, more data would be helpful. but then, what's the point of this survey anyway? there are close to one billion people now in africa - what's a survey of 1000 or so people, conducted as long as 13 months ago, really going to tell anyone?

Bottom Line

The Gallup Poll findings reveal that few Africans surveyed are aware of Africom. While Africans generally approve of U.S. leadership, such approval does not translate into support for the creation of U.S. military bases in their countries. Further, the vagueness of the announcement as to the command's role on the continent ignited enough controversy that public diplomacy efforts [emphasis added] are needed to better communicate the command's mission to not only African governments and elites but to the African people as well.

"public diplomacy" is a euphemism for propaganda

Posted by: b real | Jul 1 2008 16:00 utc | 79

secrecy news: Court Invalidates Detainee’s "Enemy Combatant" Status

A federal appeals panel found that the designation of a Chinese detainee held in U.S. custody as an "enemy combatant" was "not valid" because the classified evidence offered by the government was not sufficient to sustain the charge.
Military prosecutors argued that he qualified as an enemy combatant because he was "affiliated" with military forces that were "associated" with al Qaida and the Taleban.

In a straightforward but nevertheless thrilling exercise of judicial authority, judges said that the classified evidentiary basis for that argument could not be independently validated and was therefore inadequate.

"We must be able to assess the reliability of that evidence ourselves," the judges wrote.

"The government suggests that several of the assertions in the intelligence documents are reliable because they are made in at least three different documents. We are not persuaded," the court said.

Adding a literary flourish, the judges wrote that "the fact that the government has ’said it thrice’ does not make an allegation true. See LEWIS CARROLL, THE HUNTING OF THE SNARK 3 (1876) (’I have said it thrice: What I tell you three times is true.’)."

Likewise, they wrote, "the government insists that the statements made in the [classified evidentiary] documents are reliable because the State and Defense Departments would not have put them in intelligence documents were that not the case. This comes perilously close to suggesting that whatever the government says must be treated as true, thus rendering superfluous both the role of the Tribunal and the role that Congress assigned to this court."

In a court of law, the prosecution must prove its case and not simply assert it, the judges explained.

"We [...] reject the government’s contention that it can prevail by submitting documents that read as if they were indictments or civil complaints, and that simply assert as facts the elements required to prove that a detainee falls within the definition of enemy combatant. To do otherwise would require the courts to rubber-stamp the government’s charges," the ruling stated.

Posted by: b real | Jul 1 2008 16:33 utc | 80

I claimed: The Deep State is Back.

Now this: Senior Turkish figures detained in Ergenekon probe

Turkish police detained two retired generals, a leading businessman and a senior journalist on Tuesday, hours ahead of the first hearing in a case against the ruling AK Party, state news agency Anatolian reported.

Turkish broadcasters said the swoop could be linked to a probe into a shadowy ultra-nationalist, hardline secularist group, known as Ergenekon, which has been accused of seeking to engineer a coup against the government.

Dozens of people had previously been detained for suspected links to the group, including retired army officers. The military has denied any links to the group.

Posted by: b | Jul 1 2008 17:15 utc | 81

Bush's top general quashed torture dissent

In late 2002, documents show, officials from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps all complained that harsh interrogation tactics under consideration for use at the prison in Guantánamo Bay might be against the law. Those military officials called for further legal scrutiny of the tactics. The chief of the Army's international law division, for example, said in a memo that some of the tactics, such as stress positions and sensory deprivation, "cross the line of 'humane treatment'" and "may violate the torture statute."

Myers, however, agreed to scuttle a plan for further legal review of the tactics, in response to pressure from a top Pentagon attorney helping to set up the interrogation program for then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

Posted by: annie | Jul 1 2008 22:21 utc | 82

now this is mighty convenient

reuters: Qaeda targets US oil interests in N.Africa - NYT

NEW YORK, July 1 (Reuters) - Al Qaeda's growing north Africa network plans to attack U.S. interests seeking control of the region's energy riches, its Algerian-based leader said in remarks published on Tuesday.

The network of militants from Mauritania to Libya sees U.S. interests as legitimate targets because Washington backed the region's "criminal" governments and stole Algerian oil, the New York Times quoted Abdelmalek Droukdel as saying.

"We found America building military bases in the south of our country and conducting military exercises, and plundering our oil and planning to get our gas," Droukdel, also known as Abou Mossab Abdelouadoud, was quoted as saying.

"Therefore, it became our right and our duty to ... declare clearly the American interests are legitimate targets."
Asked whether his group planned attacks on U.S. soil, Droukdel replied, referring to the U.S. administration: "Everyone must know that we will not hesitate in targeting it whenever we can and wherever it is on this planet."

He said Algeria's banking of its energy export receipts in U.S. and European financial institutions showed that the Algiers government served western interests. He added that French, Spanish and "Jewish" interests were also targets.

The newspaper said Droukdel, believed to based in mountains east of Algiers, had given recorded audio replies to a list of questions submitted by the Times.

His voice had been verified as genuine by a private voice expert who works for federal agencies, the newspaper said.
An explosives expert, Droukdel was appointed leader of an Islamist rebel group called the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat [GSPC] in 2004, six years after it was founded with the aim of toppling the government and establishing purist Islamic state.

In October 2003, the group offered its support to the al Qaeda network and in January 2007 the group changed its name to Al Qaeda Organisation in the Islamic Maghreb.

reportedly, there were more algerians recruited for the 1980's mujahideen training camps in afghanistan than from any other country. after they had returned, many of those fighters joined up w/ local militant mvmts to overthrow the algerian govt following the cancellation of the 1992 elections which saw a victory for islamic rule. the primary militant org that came out of that period was the GIA (armed islamic group) which later split into other groups, some repulsed by the more extreme violent actions of the GIA, which violated salafist doctrine, others in search of more personal wealth extracted from kidnappings, extortion, & protection rackets. one of those offshoots in the former category was the GSPC, which was led by hassan hattab until he either voluntarily disappeared or was forced out, in the summer of 2003 after which the org supposedly renewed ties w/ the global mujahideen mvmt, soon adopting the branding of al qa'idah in the maghreb. some analysts view the GSPC as still little more than a local milita, small in number, limited in influence, using the AQIM label to draw global attention/legitimacy to their cause. others affiliate the group w/ UBL & al-zawahari as a true AQ franchise, intent on installing a new caliphate & destroying the infidel west. the group has reportedly taken credit for recent bombings in algeria, including the attack on the u.n. bldg earlier this year.

Posted by: b real | Jul 2 2008 4:12 utc | 83

Over on Counterpunch, Mike Whitney interviews the economist, Michael Hudson. It's worth a read.

MW: Is the dollar doomed, or can the US lower its dual-deficits (fiscal and trade deficits) and continue to attract foreign capital in the future? And if the recession takes hold, business slows and unemployment rises, would that strengthen the dollar?

Michael Hudson: I assume that by doom you mean that the dollar will continue to sink against foreign currencies, while price inflation eats away at what wages will buy. The idea that a worse economy will be self-curing is IMF anti-labor ideology and Chicago School propaganda. This is indeed what Nobel Economic Prizes are given for, I grant you. But it's Junk Economics. A falling dollar threatens to become self-reinforcing. For starters, dollar-denominated stocks, bonds and real estate are worth less and less in terms of euros, sterling or other harder and foreign currencies. This doesn't provide much incentive for foreigners to invest here. And if we go into a recession (not to speak of depression), there will be even fewer profitable opportunities to invest.

Meanwhile, U.S. import dependency will continue to rise as the economy de-industrializes ­ that is, as it is further financialized. U.S. overseas military spending will throw yet more dollars onto the world's foreign exchange markets. So a weak economy here does NOT mean that the dollar will strengthen; it means we have a bad investment climate! Austerity will make us more dependent on foreign countries. For a foretaste, just look at what has happened when the IMF has imposed austerity plans on Third World debtors. And remember, last time when Robert Rubin was given a free hand, in reforming Russia under Clinton, the result was industrial collapse and bankruptcy.

Posted by: Copeland | Jul 2 2008 4:43 utc | 84

Whoa... Groovy.

Posted by: beq | Jul 2 2008 16:36 utc | 85

McCain does Summerstock, frees hostages.

Posted by: biklett | Jul 2 2008 20:20 utc | 86

something that will get lost in the release of ingrid betancourt - was the global organiser of the free ingrid betancourt committees - sd that in fat it was not a military operation but in fact a surrender by two leaders of farc with the hostages

& i would be very surprised indeed - if it was a military operation - because - every one, every single one - in the past has been met by either complete failure or worse - death

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Jul 2 2008 20:33 utc | 87

certainly, the story as it is being released is completely fabulist - with heavily infiltrated farc by heroic colombian operatives - all written somewhere in hollywood

i'm thankful for the release of the hostages but i am convinced uribe had no part, whatsoever

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Jul 2 2008 20:54 utc | 88

R'giap, this move ia a budget line item in Sarkozy's eu presidential budget, he reminds me of Reagan (Iran hostage etc etc), who probably did ok without Viagra.

Posted by: Cloned Poster | Jul 2 2008 21:11 utc | 89

Christopher Hitchens gets>waterboarded.And lasts a few seconds. Hope this at least kills the myth that waterboarding is "simulated drowning", as opposed to actual drowning. One can only imagine the effect of this not being simply a "demonstration" but being carried out by those with hostile intent.

Posted by: anna missed | Jul 3 2008 10:08 utc | 90

ttired of these stupid motherfuckers

military operations my ass

it would seem to me that the most likely scenario is that of a split within farc or even a decision of the political leadership of farc to surrender the hostages

murder operations - the colombians & their bosses at the us state dept - & their anti latin american strategy - operation colombia - excell in murder & massacre but intelligence operations - & an intelligence operation that depended on 'infiltration' appears to me so far from any empiric reality as to be not credible

i am glad of the release of the hostages - but the american military contractors ought to follow their own logic - you do the crime - you do the time

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Jul 3 2008 18:16 utc | 91

Journalist Charges Censorship by U.S. Military in Fallujah

U.S. journalist Zoriah Miller says he was censored by the U.S. military in the Iraqi city of Fallujah after photographing Marines who died in a suicide bombing.


Miller ran with the Marines he was with to the scene of the attack. "As I ran I saw human pieces...a skull cap with hair, bone shards," he told IPS during a telephone interview from the so-called Green Zone in Baghdad. "When we arrived at the building it was chaotic. There were Iraqis, police and civilians running around screaming. Bodies were being pulled out of the building."


photos of the attack

very powerful images. censored.

Posted by: annie | Jul 4 2008 4:12 utc | 92

check this out, from the same blog..


The above image is of a confiscated weapons cache housed inside of a US/Iraqi army base in Sadr City. Notice that there are no magazines in these weapons. As I was taking these photos, U.S. soldiers filled their pockets with loaded magazines, intending to distribute them to local militias.

I am lying in my cot in a dank, concrete room in Joint Security Station Sadr City when one of the Army commanders who bunks next to me walks though the door, obviously frustrated an annoyed. He is stationed upstairs in the Tactical Operations Center, which is basically a command center for all the troops in the area and a relay point between them and other commands around the area.

"What's wrong man? You look pissed," I say, as he throws his bag down on his bunk.

"Everyone upstairs is all fucking pissed off because the fucking New York Times just broke a story about how the U.S. is arming and funding all of these neighborhood militias and gangs all around Iraq," he says.

I mention to him that I happen to know for a fact that this is true because not more than two days ago I saw it with my own eyes.

He responds, "Yeah, I know its true too, we are taking guns out of one guys hand and putting them into the hands of another guy. I'm not pissed about the article, I just have to work with a bunch of idiots who are pissed about the article. That is what makes my life miserable."

includes photos: Zoriah Miller

Posted by: annie | Jul 4 2008 4:30 utc | 93

obviously making the MoA rounds tonight thought i might preemptively pen a few celebratory lines in recognition of benevolent amerika's b-day:

sap the clever nudges of curious tongues
take joy in stupid fuses and dumb effects
delight is a combustible Chinese bouquet
blooming in proud opposition to the stars

Posted by: Lizard | Jul 4 2008 7:14 utc | 94

thanks annie, some great photos.

Posted by: anna missed | Jul 4 2008 7:43 utc | 95

Ingrid Betancourt's liberation was staged.

The story is all over french and swiss media outlets. Seems they paid some 20$ million dollars to free her and help Uribe's numbers.

It was just too perfect, wasn't it.

More here, in french also.

Posted by: L'Akratique | Jul 4 2008 13:36 utc | 96

@L'Akratique - thanks - that's what I suspected.

Posted by: b | Jul 4 2008 13:48 utc | 97

Secret report: biofuel caused food crisis

Internal World Bank study delivers blow to plant energy drive

Biofuels have forced global food prices up by 75% - far more than previously estimated - according to a confidential World Bank report obtained by the Guardian.

The damning unpublished assessment is based on the most detailed analysis of the crisis so far, carried out by an internationally-respected economist at global financial body.

The figure emphatically contradicts the US government's claims that plant-derived fuels contribute less than 3% to food-price rises. It will add to pressure on governments in Washington and across Europe, which have turned to plant-derived fuels to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and reduce their dependence on imported oil.

Posted by: b | Jul 4 2008 15:02 utc | 98

b, your link goes to moon's homepage, is that what you meant to link to. i am very curious about your french link L'Akratique. can someone translate?

Posted by: annie | Jul 4 2008 16:58 utc | 99


Allegations of payment

On July 4, 2008, Radio Suisse Romande reported that unnamed "reliable sources" had told it the rescue took place after a payment of USD 20 million by the United States.[13] According to Le Monde, the French Foreign Ministry denied the payment of any ransom by France.[14]

Frederich Blassel, the author of the Radio Suisse Romande story, told Colombia's W Radio that, according to his source, the release wasn't negotiated directly with FARC but with alias César, one of the two guerrillas captured during the operation, who would have received the payment of USD 20 million. According to Blassel, the two rebels could be given new identities by Spain, France and Switzerland. [15][16]

According to Colombia's El Tiempo, General Fredy Padilla de León., Commander of the Colombian Armed Forces, denied the existence of any payment by the Colombian government. General Padilla argued that if any payment had been made, it would have been better to make it publicly known, to use it as an incentive and to cause confusion within FARC's ranks.

Posted by: annie | Jul 4 2008 17:10 utc | 100

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