Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
September 21, 2008

OT 08-32

Open Thread - Your news & views ...

Posted by b on September 21, 2008 at 5:37 UTC | Permalink


First! (sorry)

Posted by: Sammy Soza | Sep 21 2008 6:06 utc | 1


So much like Simon and Garfunkel, Sounds of Silence, 1965

January 4 - U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson proclaims his
"Great Society" during his State of the Union Address.

February 21 - Malcolm X, American black activist assassinated.

March 7 - Bloody Sunday in Selma, Alabama: Some 200 Alabama
State Troopers clash with 525 civil rights demonstrators.

May 21 - The largest teach-in to date begins at Berkeley,
California, attended by 30,000.

August 11 - The Watts Riots begin in Los Angeles, California.

October 8 - The Indonesian army under General Suharto instigates
the arrest and execution of eventually millions of "communists".

November 2 - 32-year-old Quaker member Norman Morrison sets himself
on fire in front of The Pentagon to protest the Viet Nam War.

November 27 - The Pentagon tells U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson that
the number of American troops in Vietnam will have to be increased
from 120,000 to 400,000.


"Old friends,
Old friends
Sat on their park bench
Like bookends.
A newspaper blown though the grass
Falls on the round toes
Of the high shoes
Of the old friends.

Old friends,
Winter companions,
The old men
Lost in their overcoats,
Waiting for the sunset.
The sounds of the city,
Sifting through trees,
Settle like dust
On the shoulders
Of the old friends.

Can you imagine us
Years from today,
Sharing a park bench quietly?
How terribly strange
To be seventy.
Old friends,
Memory brushes the same years
Silently sharing the same fears"

Posted by: Shah Loam | Sep 21 2008 6:25 utc | 2

I recommend reading this from the Observer. It is usually little noticed in the 'western' press. This development is dangerous:

Jewish 'ultras' defend morals with menace - The Haredi sect has launched an aggressive campaign against the secular lifestyles of women in Jerusalem

In relative terms, Orthodox Jews dominate Jerusalem to a greater extent than in any other city in Israel. More than 30 per cent of its Jewish residents are Haredi while only 22 per cent are secular. Of the remaining 47 per cent, 14 per cent say they are religious and 33 per cent say they are traditional Jews.

According to Menachem Friedman, a sociology professor at Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan, Tel Aviv, the orthodox are imposing their rules more forcefully than before and the lives of the city's women are becoming more circumscribed, and sometimes more dangerous, as a result. Friedman grew up in an ultra-orthodox family and has been studying the Haredi for 49 years. He said the extreme atmosphere is tangible.

Self-appointed moral guardians, dubbed the 'modesty police' by Israel's modern secular media, roam Jerusalem's ultra-religious neighbourhoods enforcing the voluminous and ever growing list of rabbinical laws such as the recent decree banning the sale of MP4 players.
Kreus said that in a few weeks, when religious Jews will dance to celebrate the receiving of the Torah, men and women would rejoice separately, breaking a 50- year tradition of the sexes mingling in this neighbourhood during this event.

He maintained that separation was necessary beyond the boundaries of the neighbourhood. 'Having secular people on the buses is a problem. They go like animals, without clothes. Non-religious girls don't dress properly. They encourage me to sin,' he said.

With the demographics skewed in their favour, government authorities are acquiescing to the growing demands of the ultra-orthodox.
More than a dozen women have filed complaints after being verbally or physically attacked on the buses. 'Sometimes it's an official group but often it's one or two men who start to complain and the other men follow,' said the Israel Religious Action Centre's legal director, Einat Hurvitz. 'The drivers allow them to intimidate the women.' Haredi women also participated in the bullying.
According to Friedman, the growing intolerance is only likely to worsen. 'They've built an imaginary idealistic world where everyone is pious.' Increasingly, Jewish women in Jerusalem are required to conform to that vision.

Posted by: b | Sep 21 2008 8:39 utc | 3

I just got back from 2.5 weeks in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, visiting my partner's family and friends. It was an amazing trip in many different ways. I'll try to be less laconic than usual and relate some of my observations and experiences in Almaty, Bishkek, Chimkent and Turkestan, though I'll have to do it over several posts- I had only 30 minutes online during that time and am only now recovering from internet withdrawal.

Overall, it was like being in a multiple time warp where the future, present and past are occurring simultaneously:

The future: The credit crisis has already hit Kazakhstan hard. Almaty is full of abandoned construction sites, housing prices are plummeting and the drop in oil prices points to an uncertain economic picture for years to come.

The present: High-end SUV Traffic, bolshoi bling, corruption at the very top and the very bottom in Kazakhstan, but populous generally upbeat; 6-hour blackouts (due to lack of hydro-electric power) every other day in Kyrgyzstan, and widespread corruption that would make a Republican blush, not much real economic activity, populous generally ready for a revolution. In both countries religion is mostly private- No more headscarves than you would see in SF or NY.

The past: The basics are taken care of due to the legacy of Soviet constructs, housing, trains, real food and free health care. The bureaucracy is maddening but functions eventually, e.g. visas, post office. Apples! Almaty is the birthplace of apples. Alma-Ata means apple grandfather in Kazakh.

Overall, I've never been among more hospitable people. I didn't want to leave, despite communication problems- very few people speak English and my Russian and Kazakh is very limited.

More to come.... (unless someone objects)...

Posted by: biklett | Sep 21 2008 8:44 utc | 4

biklett. Thanks. No objection from me.

Posted by: gordon | Sep 21 2008 9:39 utc | 5

Thank you biklett!

Posted by: beq | Sep 21 2008 16:23 utc | 6

Politics in KZ- Most people are pro-Nazerbaev in that 'he's fat and taken what he can, someone else would just steal a bunch more.' His smiling face is everywhere, championing the bright Kazakh future. The rebuilding of the Kazakh cultural identity is remarkable and oddly very inclusive. KZ has 142 different nationalities and 45 religions (Stalin moved a lot of them there from the borders during the 40's; Koreans from Siberia, Jews, Germans, Poles, etc. from the west. Ukrainians and others homesteaded in the 1800's. The government is building many very modest houses for Kazakhs who were living in Russia, Mongolia and other countries that are being brought back to bolster the Kazakh population. Up to three years of maternity leave helps as well.

Every Kazakh I spoke with supported Russia vis a vis Georgia despite some worry about the large ethnic Russia population in KZ. Average age of Kazakhs is 25; Russians in KZ, over 45, so time is on their side.

Russia is viewed in generally favorable terms, the Kazakh khans allied themselves with Russia for protection back in the Eighteenth Century and through Czarist and Soviet times have done better than most colonized people in maintaining their identity. Racism in Moscow and elsewhere in Russia against Kazakhs and other southerners was seen as serious but mostly isolated.

Kazakhs are still very proud of their massive contribution in the Second World War, especially in the defense of Moscow. Over 600,000 Kazakhs alone died during the war, way more than the US.

Gorbachev is still universally despised for installing a non-Kazakh as leader in 1986.

Chinese immigration is seen as a big threat but many other people are trying to live and work in KZ- Kyrgyz, Uzbeks, Turks. I didn't have much contact with the business community which is where the West has the most pull (outside of insipid pop music and mangled-English t-shirts).


Posted by: biklett | Sep 21 2008 17:48 utc | 7

Biklett - why not write it up, email to me and I'll frontpage it ...

Posted by: b | Sep 21 2008 18:04 utc | 8

OK, I'll do that. Thanks.

Posted by: biklett | Sep 21 2008 19:07 utc | 9

It's crisis and panic time! It's understandable that Bush is relegated to White House luncheons but where is Mr. CEO Cheney? What other shit is he doing during these distractions?

Posted by: biklett | Sep 21 2008 21:03 utc | 10>Kim Jong Il + Kim Ok = John McCain + Sarah Palin

What the people will buy.

Posted by: anna missed | Sep 22 2008 9:48 utc | 11

FOUKE, Arkansas (AP) -- FBI agents and state police raided an evangelist's headquarters Saturday as part of a child pornography investigation and said they planned to remove several children from the complex, run by a man previously accused of child abuse.

The raid at the Tony Alamo Christian Ministries south of Texarkana started an hour before sunset. Armed guards regularly patrol the ministry headquarters, but there was apparently no resistance as agents moved in.

"I have not heard of any shots fired," State Police spokesman Bill Sadler said.

Alamo was once accused in California of directing the beating of a church member's 11-year-old son. In 1994, he was sentenced to six years in prison on tax evasion charges filed in Memphis, Tennessee.

The judge in the tax case ordered him held pending sentencing after prosecutors argued that the evangelist was a flight risk and a polygamist who preyed on married women and girls in his congregation. U.S. District Judge Jon McCalla said he was concerned over "the very great control Mr. Alamo has over a number of people.">Evangelist's compound raided in child porn case

Posted by: plushtown | Sep 22 2008 14:52 utc | 12

link to the u.n. general assembly's General Debate of the 63rd Session (23 September - 1 October 2008)

it's just getting underway, but the speakers' presentations should become available as the session moves forward. last year there was video of most speeches & either a transcript or a copy of the prepared remarks.

evo morales is scheduled to speak later this afternoon

Posted by: b real | Sep 23 2008 14:58 utc | 13

in this understandably alarmist piece Naomi Wolfurges us to realize that the ten step descent into fascism is almost complete. we're basically just one more false flag attack away from total implementation.

Posted by: Lizard | Sep 23 2008 19:51 utc | 14

thanks b real

will wait eagerly for evo

as i mentioned on another thread - i think each leader should piss on bush - a good piss as a form of exorcism

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Sep 23 2008 20:16 utc | 15

well in any case with the help of allah, ahmadinejad just finished pissing all over bush & his brooks brothers suit

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Sep 23 2008 20:44 utc | 16

With 2 Hours to Spare, Justices Stay Execution

Posted by: YY | Sep 24 2008 5:11 utc | 17

After reading Lizards, #14, I came across this:

Palin's spiritual colleagues describe themselves as part of "the final generation," engaged in "spiritual warfare" to purge the earth of "demonic strongholds." Palin has spent her entire adult life immersed in this apocalyptic hysteria. Ask yourself: Is it a good idea to place the most powerful military on earth at her disposal? Do we actually want our leaders thinking about the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy when it comes time to say to the Iranians, or to the North Koreans, or to the Pakistanis, or to the Russians or to the Chinese: "All options remain on the table"?

Yes, I Can: Refusing to hesitate isn't a primordial truth of wise governance

Sam Harris
I believe Governor Palin's speech was the most effective political communication I have ever witnessed. Here, finally, was a performer who—being maternal, wounded, righteous and sexy—could stride past the frontal cortex of every American and plant a three-inch heel directly on that limbic circuit that ceaselessly intones "God and country." If anyone could make Christian theocracy smell like apple pie, Sarah Palin could.(....)

I was relieved to discover, as many were, that Palin's luster can be much diminished by the absence of a teleprompter. Still, the problem she poses to our political process is now much bigger than she is. Her fans seem inclined to forgive her any indiscretion short of cannibalism.(....)

Palin may be a perfectly wonderful person, a loving mother and a great American success story—but she is a beauty queen/sports reporter who stumbled into small-town politics, and who is now on the verge of stumbling into, or upon, world history.

The problem, as far as our political process is concerned, is that half the electorate revels in Palin's lack of intellectual qualifications.(....)

We have endured eight years of an administration that seemed touched by religious ideology. Bush's claim to Bob Woodward that he consulted a "higher Father" before going to war in Iraq got many of us sitting upright, before our attention wandered again to less ethereal signs of his incompetence. For all my concern about Bush's religious beliefs, and about his merely average grasp of terrestrial reality, I have never once thought that he was an over-the-brink, Rapture-ready extremist. Palin seems as though she might be the real McCoy. With the McCain team leading her around like a pet pony between now and Election Day, she can be expected to conceal her religious extremism until it is too late to do anything about it. Her supporters know that while she cannot afford to "talk the talk" between now and Nov. 4, if elected, she can be trusted to "walk the walk" until the Day of Judgment.

I highly reconmend reading both, if you have not yet done so, however, I suggest you pour youself a stiff one or take your welbutrin cause, together they are a cocktail of nerve shaking intensity.

Or, stop by and get a souvenir , on your way out of the country.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Sep 24 2008 7:33 utc | 18

A question for b real.

Heavy Fighting Kills 13 in Somali Capital

At least 13 civilians have been killed and as many as 40 wounded in fighting between Islamist insurgents and African Union peacekeepers in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu. As Derek Kilner reports from VOA's East Africa bureau in Nairobi, the fighting was sparked when Islamists attacked the peacekeepers' base in the south of the city on Tuesday evening.

Do you know why the peacekeepers get attacked now? As I followed it, they have been mostly neutral and done about nothing. The fighting was mostly against the Ethiopian troops. But maybe I missed something there.

Posted by: b | Sep 24 2008 17:56 utc | 19

Monolycus, or others following All Things Korea, what the heck is going on with the North Korean nuclear facilities? I heard a brief and not very enlightening little "newsish" blurb on NPR saying that N. Korea thought the previously agreed deal was being reneged on, and was taking some sort of action to restart whatever the facilities at Yongbyon are....any thoughts? Insights? I realize there is some deeper backstory and probably a lot of posturing going on.

Posted by: Maxcrat | Sep 25 2008 1:01 utc | 20

@b #19 - i pointed out the start of it around the 14th. the ICU and al shabaab are rapidly regaining complete control over central & southern somalia. momentum is in their favor. mogadishu is the only large city where the ethiopian & govt forces are holding any territory. the AMISOM troops have bases at the airport & the port.

al shabaab issued stmts that w/e declaring they considered the airport shut down come tuesday the 16th & any planes which attempted to take off or land would be considered as aiding the occupiers. i pointed out at the time that the ugandans were getting ready to rotate in fresh troops to replace those who had already been there for an extended stay. burundi is also scheduled to send in replacements for their small force.

that same w/e the AMISOM bases were targeted & at least two ugandan troops were killed. the airport did shut down & essentially has remained so, despite an AMISOM plane which broke the ban & landed, amidst mortar fire, later that week. this has led to even more attacks on their bases.

the AMISOM troops have responded, along w/ the ethiopians & TFG forces, heavily shelling neighborhoods and, yet again, the bakara market.

as the u.n.'s OCHA new service, IRIN, reported on tuesday (Mogadishu rocked by “worst shelling yet”)

NAIROBI, 23 September 2008 (IRIN) - At least 100 people were killed and thousands fled their homes in the “worst fighting” to hit Mogadishu in recent months, locals told IRIN.

The fighting on 22 September pitted Ethiopian troops, African Union peacekeeping troops (AMISOM) and Transitional Federal Government (TFG) forces against insurgents. More than 200 people were reportedly wounded, hospital sources said.

"We are still today [23 September] collecting bodies and body parts from the market and the area around it," Ali Mohamed Siad, chairman of the Bakara market traders, told IRIN. "Blood and body parts are everywhere."

The fighting was concentrated around the large market - which has in the past been the scene of fierce fighting between Ethiopian-backed government forces and insurgents.

"The market and the surrounding neighbourhoods experienced the worst shelling yet," Siad added.

He said the shelling by Ethiopian, AMISOM and TFG forces began when the market was full of shoppers getting ready for the Eid festivities, to mark the end of Ramadan next week.

Up to 82 people have so far been confirmed dead and 157 injured in the market area alone, Siad added. The market was now closed.

Ali Sheikh Yassin, acting chairman of the Mogadishu-based Elman Human Rights Organisation, told IRIN the market had been shelled from three different directions. "It was obvious the market was deliberately targeted," he said.

The shelling began after Islamic insurgents launched simultaneous attacks on the two main AMISOM bases at K4 and the airport, said a local journalist.

AMISOM, as usual, publicly issues stmts claiming they don't target civilians, however, as we have seen since they first arrived in mogadishu in 2007 & helped shell neighborhoods right from the presidential palace, that's simply not true.

previously i've cited different reports on AMISOM troops at the port allegedly involved in 'pirate' activities. and there was the u.n. monitoring group on somalia rpt earlier this year that mentioned AMISOM involvement in arms trade w/ parts of the insurgency. otherwise, their official capacity has been protecting TFG institutions & personnel, some medical facilities, the port & airport, picking up trash, and only a modicum of civilian services, as there is no peace to keep!

so, activities appear to be stepped up against AMISOM right now because

  • the armed resistance has modagishu in its sights, having liberated kismayo & most of central & southern somalia. the AMISOM troops are viewed as part of the occupation since that's who they are protecting, thus legitimate targets

  • of the timing of the pending replinishment by fresh troops

  • of their defense of the airport & their participation in the massacre on the bakara market

  • and in relation to timing of the still-born so-called djibouti agreement talks, which concluded unsuccessfully this past w/e. the "moderate" wing of the ARS walked out of the talks after the TFG started shifting their feet on the pullout of ethiopian forces from the country, arguing that that it was not possible to pull them all out of mogadishu proper (the TFG would immediately collapse, of course). a precursor in the terms of the agreement is that int'l peacekeeping forces must be in place before any ethiopian withdrawal. the armed wing of the resistance, who don't recognize the djibouti talks anyway, may be trying to undermine sheik sharif & his group by forcing the current "peacekeepers" into more unpopular actions. if that is the case, it does appear to be succeeding.

    Posted by: b real | Sep 25 2008 2:27 utc | 21

  • a garowe online article states that

    A relatively unknown group named Harakat Ras Kamboni – and linked to Sheikh Hassan Turki, Islamist commander in the Jubba regions of south Somalia – claimed responsibility for the mortar attack on African Union peacekeepers.

    Heavy weapons were used during the nighttime battle, with AU forces reportedly pounding suspected areas with tank and artillery shells.
    It was the second attack on AU peacekeepers in Mogadishu in a single week.

    On Monday, 32 people were killed in heavy battles that rocked the Somali capital after Islamist insurgents attacked the international airport, which is a major base for AU peacekeepers from Uganda.

    so it's more than just al shabaab involved in the attacks, which fits w/ what i've read of what's going on the rest of the country - it's a mix of the ICU, al shabaab, clan militias, and other armed groups working together to rout the foreign occupiers, warlords, and criminal gangs & other opportunists

    that attack on the airport on monday was b/c a plane from puntland landed at the airport - the only other attempt besides the AMISOM plane last week

    Posted by: b real | Sep 25 2008 2:44 utc | 22

    Hold your nose and check out this DKos thread. Un-fucking-believable! These folks (Repubs) have ALL the power, and they are squeezing the controls so hard that the plastic handles of American 'democracy' are oozing right through their fingers.

    I have never seen a total political melt-down like this in my entire 40.99 years on this planet (but then again, thanks to American media 'nanny-ness' I am not privy to other contries' sideshows).

    Posted by: Dr. Wellington Yueh | Sep 25 2008 3:49 utc | 23

    Posted by: b real | Sep 25 2008 4:35 utc | 24

    @Maxcrat - @20 -

    The deal with North Korea was that after the shutdown of their reactor and handing over some lists of places/equipment, the U.S. would take them from the 'terrorist list'.

    The U.S. did not do that, but came up with new conditions after NoKo had fulfilled all previous ones, so the deal is off again. It was not the North Koreans who broke the deal.

    From the Congressional Research Service dated July 10: North Korea: Terrorism List Removal? (pdf)

    On June 26, 2008, President Bush announced that he was officially notifying
    Congress of his intent to remove North Korea from the list of state sponsors of
    terrorism after the 45 calender-day notification period to Congress as required by
    U.S. law. The White House stated that North Korea would thus be removed on
    August 11, 2008. This announcement was part of the measures the Bush
    Administration took on June 26 to implement a nuclear agreement that it negotiated
    with North Korea in September 2007 and finalized details of in April 2008 at a U.S.-
    North Korean meeting in Singapore. The President also announced that he was
    immediately lifting sanctions on North Korea under the U.S. Trading with the Enemy
    Act. North Korea’s obligations under this nuclear agreement are to allow the
    disabling of its plutonium facility at Yongbyon and present to the United States and
    other government in the six party talks a declaration of its nuclear programs. North
    Korea submitted its declaration on June 26, 2008.

    Posted by: b | Sep 25 2008 4:47 utc | 25

    Granted, North Koreans might be desperate (or maybe not...but who knows?), but why should they accept US demands when they hadn't been shown the money yet? Seems to be a funny delusion of grandeur--that a mere promise of some US action is good enough that US government can tack on additional demands and dealing with a country with no reason whatsoever to trust US.

    It'll happen more and more, with more countries, including those with friendlier relations with US: US government's words are no longer good in a lot of settings. Unless it pays cash in advance, so to speak, getting int'l cooperation will be harder and harder.

    Posted by: kao-hsien-chih | Sep 25 2008 5:33 utc | 26

    Bush Aides Linked to Talks on Interrogations

    Senior White House officials played a central role in deliberations in the spring of 2002 about whether the Central Intelligence Agency could legally use harsh interrogation techniques while questioning an operative of Al Qaeda, Abu Zubaydah, according to newly released documents.

    In meetings during that period, the officials debated specific interrogation methods that the C.I.A. had proposed to use on Qaeda operatives held at secret C.I.A. prisons overseas, the documents show. The meetings were led by Condoleezza Rice, then the national security adviser, and attended by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, Attorney General John Ashcroft and other top administration officials.
    Some of the techniques proposed by the C.I.A. — including waterboarding, which induces a feeling of drowning — came from a program used by the Pentagon to train American pilots to withstand the rigors of captivity.

    “I recall being told that U.S. military personnel were subjected in training to certain physical and psychological interrogation techniques and that these techniques had been deemed not to cause significant physical or psychological harm,” Ms. Rice, now secretary of state, wrote in response to one question.

    Posted by: b | Sep 25 2008 5:40 utc | 27

    On NoKo - after some obfuscation even the NYT gets it right:North Koreans Bar Inspectors at Nuclear Site

    North Korea’s negotiators have strenuously complained that the Bush administration has yet to fulfill its promise to remove North Korea from a list of state sponsors of terrorism, as President Bush announced in June that he was prepared to do, and instead has made new demands.

    Those include requiring North Korea to accept the verification system before the United States would carry out reciprocal steps, a condition that a senior administration official acknowledged was not put in writing.

    Posted by: b | Sep 25 2008 7:18 utc | 28

    I lost count of these - is this the third or fourth prosecutor to quit from the Gitmo trials?

    Guantanamo Prosecutor Quits, Says Evidence Was Withheld

    GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba, Sept. 25 -- A military prosecutor involved in war crimes cases here has quit his position, citing ethical concerns about his office's failure to turn over exculpatory material to attorneys for an Afghan detainee scheduled to go to trial in December.

    Army Lt. Col. Darrel Vandeveld, a reservist, who declined to be interviewed, filed a declaration with a military court here Wednesday, laying out his concerns about the case and procedures in the military prosecutor's office, according to defense attorneys.

    "My ethical qualms about continuing to serve as a prosecutor relate primarily to the procedures for affording defense counsel discovery," wrote Vandeveld in his filing. "I am highly concerned, to the point that I believe I can no longer serve as a prosecutor at the Commissions, about the slipshod, uncertain 'procedure' for affording defense counsel discovery."

    Posted by: b | Sep 25 2008 7:34 utc | 29

    B - thanks for th update on NoKo. I remember reading that Chris Hill, the career diplomat who managed to shepherd the previous deal through, had retired recently. I wonder if the John Bolten faction that never wanted a deal with NoKo have regained the upper hand within the government now...sounds like it.

    Posted by: Maxcrat | Sep 25 2008 7:44 utc | 30

    ips: Morales Cites "Evidence" of U.S. Meddling

    UNITED NATIONS, Sep 24 (IPS) - Bolivian President Evo Morales reiterated the charge Tuesday that the U.S. government was plotting to overthrow his government and that Washington had a hand in the recent episodes of violence in which a number of his supporters were killed and wounded by opposition gangs.

    "We have the evidence," Morales told a news conference on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York Tuesday, regarding U.S. involvement with the groups and individuals in certain provinces who are refusing to recognise the authority of the federal government in La Paz and are trying to assert their economic and political dominance over indigenous populations by violent means.

    The Bolivian president charged that the George W. Bush administration has not only given away a "tremendous amount of money" to the opposition groups through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), but also provided them with ammunition to carry out acts of sabotage and killings of unarmed indigenous people.

    Despite its formal denial of these charges, the U.S. government has not issued any statement condemning the killings, looting and acts of sabotage that have cost millions of dollars in losses.
    At the news conference, Morales thanked the regional alliance of South American countries UNASUR for exerting pressure on extremist groups in Bolivia to stop the killings and violence. "It shows that in Latin America, the U.S. policy has been defeated," he said.

    morales' speech @ the gen assembly sept 23rd

    Posted by: b real | Sep 25 2008 15:11 utc | 31

    The U.S. did not do that, but came up with new conditions after NoKo had fulfilled all previous ones, so the deal is off again. It was not the North Koreans who broke the deal.
    This won't come as a surprise; any native American tribe could tell you it's the standard procedure with the USA.

    Posted by: CluelessJoe | Sep 25 2008 15:45 utc | 32

    From Whitley Strieber yesterday

    Finally, a New Sunspot--Or Is That Good?

    A new sunspot has emerged, suggesting that the latest 11-year solar cycle is finally getting rolling. This is good, in that it means that the sun hasn't gone to sleep, but bad, because it also means that the expected solar max will indeed be upon us in full force in 2011--2012, and that means higher air temperatures at a time when earth's atmosphere is already way too hot.

    The small sunspot emerged September 21st and faded away in under 48 hours.

    connects to>solar wind (+ picture of spotless sun) which connects to
    "The average pressure of the solar wind has dropped more than 20% since the mid-1990s," says Dave McComas of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas. "This is the weakest it's been since we began monitoring solar wind almost 50 years ago."

    McComas is principal investigator for the SWOOPS solar wind sensor onboard the Ulysses spacecraft, which measured the decrease. Ulysses, launched in 1990, circles the sun in a unique orbit that carries it over both the sun's poles and equator, giving Ulysses a global view of solar wind activity:>Solar Wind Loses Power, Hits 50-year Low

    Back to Whitley:

    Army Brigade Being Deployed to US in Case of Unrest

    As of October 1, an active duty US Army brigade will be deployed for use in the continental United States under the control of US Army North. Units have been used ad-hoc in emergencies, such as Katrina, but not a regular army unit. The mission of the 3rd Infantry Division's 1st Brigade in Iraq, where it spent 35 months, is basically crowd control and restoration of services. It has also been given the army's latest nonlethal weapons, and is being deployed for riot control and also possible infrastructure restoration following any massive terror attack. It seems clear that the government fears riots following the collapse of the economy, if that happens, and worries, also, about a terror attack prior to the election. The full story will appear on on Thursday, September 25.

    Posted by: plushtown | Sep 25 2008 15:50 utc | 33

    From Nature(mag) News:>Arctic ice shrinks less this year than last

    these are the comments so far:

    The remarkable aspect of the 2008 minimum Arctic sea ice extent is that it came *very* close to the record loss of 2007, but it did so without the highly unusual weather conditions that contributed to last summer's historic retreat. This means that the ice cover is now so thin that any substantial recovery toward normal ice conditions is highly unlikely, especially as greenhouse gases continue to accumulate in the atmosphere. Dr. Jennifer Francis, Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences, Rutgers University
    o 24 Sep, 2008
    o Posted by: Jennifer Francis

    It seems strange that the amount of Arctic ice is reported in units of area, rather than volume. Is the reversal of global warming related to NASA's report yesterday that our stormy Sun influences planet Earth in many unexpected ways, including solar wind output [See: "Ulysses Reveals Global Solar Wind Plasma Output at 50-Year Low," NASA news, 23 September 2008]? Oliver K. Manuel,
    o 24 Sep, 2008
    o Posted by: Oliver Manuel

    Jennifer I thought the ice melt this year was meant to be larger because of the prevalence of first year ice. It looks to me as if we had a record ice-loss last year caused, as you note, by unusual weather conditions (i.e. not climate related). In 2008, there was a dramatic underlying refreeze which was somewhat offset by the first year ice effect. What does a scientist have to say about this?
    o 25 Sep, 2008
    o Posted by: Bishop Hill

    In response to the question from Bishop: The recent behavior of the Arctic sea ice results from a combination of natural variations in the climate system (for example, wind patterns and ocean currents) and an increase in warming owing to increased greenhouse gases during the past several decades. The warming has gradually thinned the ice cover, leaving it vulnerable to the natural variations, which can now more easily push the ice from one place to another (which happened last year) and melt away the thin ice. If we had seen a shift in the winds this summer similar to last year, I believe the minimum extent in 2008 would have been lower than last year. We cannot yet predict with sufficient accuracy these weather patterns, but we can say with certainty that as the warming continues and the ice remains thin, any natural anomalies that occur will have a large impact on the Arctic ice cover. Jennifer Francis, PhD, Rutgers University
    o 25 Sep, 2008
    o Posted by: Jennifer Francis

    Posted by: plushtown | Sep 25 2008 16:02 utc | 34>correct link for solar wind (+ picture of spotless sun) in #33

    Posted by: plushtown | Sep 25 2008 16:22 utc | 35>EXCERPTS: Charlie Gibson Interviews Sarah Palin (September 11, 2008)


    Posted by: plushtown | Sep 25 2008 19:00 utc | 36

    Posted by: b real | Sep 25 2008 19:59 utc | 37;_ylt=AtrP4V4X7WASnIjmDkFrgRezvtEF>Rain cuts off 20,000 China quake victims, 14 die Water matters, as do earthquakes.

    The rainstorms were separate to a typhoon which plowed into south China on Wednesday, killing at least 13 people, closing schools, cancelling flights, uprooting trees and bringing down billboards in several cities. Many rivers burst their banks.
    {snip} An earthquake measuring 5.7 struck western Nepal on Thursday, the United States Geological Survey said. Xinhua said it also hit Zhongba county in southwest Tibet. There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage.

    Posted by: plushtown | Sep 25 2008 20:43 utc | 38

    @b real, or anyone else who might have some thoughts on this -
    Kotare, a blogger in New Zealand has a curious and interesting series of posts on news coverage of the pirates of Puntland. He has a google maps view of Eyl, plus a link to a shaky video taken walking around the streets of Eyle, and other links showing the landscape. He has lots of links in the stories. If what he says is correct, and it looks correct from the visual evidence, I'm wondering what exactly is going on with these pirate stories, and why.

    Somali pirates and their lair Sept 8,2008 This BBC article reports that Malaysia is deploying naval vessels to the Gulf of Aden to protect Malaysian merchant ships from Somali pirates. Some pirates have their lair at Eyl, on Somalia's Indian Ocean coast:

    "Two Malaysian tankers...were seized last month by Somali pirates....Officials in the semi-autonomous Somali region of Puntland say the ships are being held at the port of Eyl, a lawless outpost controlled by gangs.

    Puntland's minister for mines...told the BBC Somali Service from a hill overlooking the port that he could count eight captured vessels. He said another two were reported to be on their way to Eyl....

    I was intrigued to think that these desperadoes control a port, albeit one that might be rather rundown after decades of lawlessness and civil war. So I checked out Eyl and its 'port' on Google Maps.

    As you can see in the aerial photo (taken some time ago), there's no port; just a ramshackle coastal village, a languid stream which flows into the sand, and a long sandy beach. Fishing boats are drawn up on the beach. A track leads inland to Eyl proper, a dilapidated village three kilometres inland as the crow flies. This jerky video gives you a feel for what the place is like.

    It's possible that the Malaysian crews, and those of other vessels, are being held in or near Eyl. But it's a stretch to think that eight ships are berthed just offshore.

    Pirates in Puntland
    Sept. 13, 2008
    More questionable claims about Somali pirate activity on the Horn of Africa, this time in a Reuters article:

    "An unidentified warship off pirate-ridden Somali waters captured 14 pirates and destroyed their boat, a minister of the northern Puntland region said..."

    This is quite a feat. Oddly, no-one has claimed credit for it, even though a recent United Nation Security Council resolution authorizes foreign forces to use "all necessary means to repress acts of piracy and armed robbery" in Somali waters.

    The article continues...

    "Two French nationals [are being held] in a hill village [called Habo] 750 km (465 miles) east of Bosasso, Puntland's capital, a man who said he was the pirates' servant told Reuters on Sunday..."

    There is no hill village 750 km due east of Bosasso - just the open sea of the Indian Ocean. Some 600 km south of Bosasso there is a place named Habo, but it is well inland, in the midst of a desert, and there is no sign of human habitation.

    Meanwhile, at Eyl...

    "Somali gunmen are holding more than 10 ships for ransom at Eyl, a lawless former fishing outpost now used by gangs behind a sharp rise in sea attacks...[They] are also demanding a ransom of more than $9 million to free two Malaysian tankers, a Japanese-managed bulk carrier and a Nigerian tug boat. The pirates are currently holding over 130 crew members."

    Well, at least Reuters doesn't describe Eyl as a port, unlike this BBC article. But as I wrote earlier, it's a stretch to think that a large number of ships are berthed just off the shore of this ramshackle village.

    For one thing, it would be easy for foreign warships to recapture such ships. For another, it makes more sense for pirates to scuttle the ships, seize the crews, hide them in remote caves or encampments, and negotiate for ransom money.

    The Bullshit Files: Pirates of Puntland
    Sept. 23, 2008
    The tale about Somali pirates at the 'port' of Eyl just keeps getting taller and taller. According to Mary Harper, the BBC's Africa analyst...

    "Whenever word comes out that pirates have taken yet another ship in the Somali region of Puntland, extraordinary things start to happen.

    There is a great rush to the port of Eyl, where most of the hijacked vessels are kept by the well-armed pirate gangs.

    People put on ties and smart clothes. They arrive in land cruisers with their laptops, one saying he is the pirates' accountant, another that he is their chief negotiator."

    I emailed the BBC and asked if Mary Harper has actually visited the 'port' of Eyl. I also asked how her description of this booming port, with its smartly dressed people with laptops and land cruisers, squares with reality - that Eyl looks to be a very remote village. Oh, and that there's no port there, just the mouth of a creek and a small fishing outpost.

    The BBC has yet to respond. Until they do I've got no choice but to chalk this one up to the Bullshit Files.

    Posted by: xcroc | Sep 25 2008 23:31 utc | 39

    xcroc -

    thanks for the links. i've been very skeptical of the press on most of the coverage of the hijacking/kidnapping along the coasts there - not that these aren't taking place, but in how they're embellished & often exaggerated for political ends

    hard to tell from just those visuals just how busy eyl has been of late. it sure doesn't look like any conventional port there, in the sense of shelter from the sea or a transport hub, but ships can easily be anchored most anywhere along the coast there. lots of small fishing villages dot that long border & many have been forced into earning a living through illicit means since the nation collapsed in the late 1980s as it was no longer useful to world powers w/ the end of the cold war.

    andrew mwangura, of the seafarers' assistance program out of mombassa, has been on top of activities along that entire eastern seaboard for years now & i find him the most honest of the maritime bureaus reporting on these issues. he deals directly w/ some of the groups & states that most of the ransom moneys, some quite large by any standard, go to the networks commanding these operations, which make their homes in europe. the locals involved reportedly get very little money for their roles. that could certainly explain why, despite whatever sensationalistic reporting in the bbc or most western rags, there little visible evidence of profiteering in places like eyl.

    documentation that i've linked to previously ties the resurgence of piracy w/ the installation of the transitional govt in somalia. they're former (or maybe not even that) warlords or opportunists, some who have been living abroad in london or elsewhere, who have taken on the role of gatekeeper polticians, only since there is no national income to speak of -- there's no formal national institutions or economy -- they rely on other means of amassing & controlling wealth & power - promises to foreign donors, contracts for resource exploration/development in order to gain rents, counterfeiting, looting, extortion, taking over the seaport at mogadishu from a private businessman in order to control whatever import & export activities there are, and then there's the lucrative act of piracy.

    now not all of the piracy along somalia can be attributed to the TFG, obviously -- there are other reasons too, including taking on illegal fishing boats or foreigners trying to transport & dump waste from other continents onto somali beaches -- but puntland figures largely in these type of operations & puntland is still essentially ruled by yusuf, who, prior to becoming selected as the transitional president of greater somalia, was the first president there. you may recall stories recently in the french press of yusuf's clan members being involved in some of the kidnappings. i haven't seen any solid reporting on how much the TFG takes in from piracy, but it is happening.

    on the eyl evidence, i did see the stmts from the mayor of eyl & others when those specific stories broke in the press. garowe online reported essentially the same attribution to the eyl area. i don't have enough info to know what to make of it all, other than to remain skeptical of the propaganda that often accompanies such stories & serves mostly to provide a reason for more active western military involvement in the region.

    Posted by: b real | Sep 26 2008 3:36 utc | 40

    More on why North Korea stepped backed from the nuclear deal. Short take - the U.S. (Cheney) demanded complete capitulation.

    Far-Reaching U.S. Plan Impaired N. Korea Deal

    The unraveling of the landmark deal to end North Korea's nuclear weapons programs began just weeks after its high point -- the televised destruction of the cooling tower at the Yongbyon nuclear reactor in late June -- when U.S. negotiators presented Pyongyang with a sweeping plan for verifying its claims about its nuclear programs.

    Under the proposal, heavily influenced by the State Department's arms control experts, the U.S. requested "full access to all materials" at sites that might have had a nuclear purpose in the past. It sought "full access to any site, facility or location" deemed relevant to the nuclear program, including military facilities, according to the four-page document, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post. Investigators would be able to take photographs and make videos, remain on site as long as necessary, make repeated visits and collect and remove samples.
    The verification plan, details of which have not been revealed before, has deeply split the Bush administration, officials said. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher R. Hill, the chief U.S. negotiator, and his aides were opposed to making such an opening bid, but they were overruled at higher levels.
    But there was no written document linking North Korea's performance on verification to its removal from the terror list, sources said. So when Bush let the 45 days pass without any action, North Korea denounced what it called "obviously a violation of the principle of 'action for action' essential for realizing denuclearization."
    Albright, a former weapons inspector in Iraq who reviewed the U.S. proposal for The Post, said it would be "completely unacceptable to any country's sovereignty" and amounted to "a verification wish list" and "a license to spy on any military site they have." He said Iraq agreed to such provisions in the 1990s only after it was bombed.

    Posted by: b | Sep 26 2008 8:16 utc | 41

    Air Force Instructor Details Harsh Interrogations

    Col. Steven Kleinman, an Air Force instructor, said he was shocked in 2003 to see the same harsh methods used haphazardly on Iraqis in a U.S. prison camp.

    "It had morphed into a form of punishment for those who wouldn't cooperate," said Kleinman, a career intelligence officer and survival-school instructor.

    In dramatic testimony before a Senate panel yesterday, he gave a rare account of how the Pentagon adapted an Air Force training program to squeeze information from captured Iraqis.

    What Kleinman witnessed in Baghdad in September 2003 prompted him to order a stop to three interrogations, and to warn his superiors that the military's interrogation practices were abusive and, in his opinion, illegal.
    Many of the interrogations took place in a former ammunition bunker, which he described as "underground, cold and dark."

    In one instance, he said, a detainee was forced to kneel under a spotlight, flanked by guards toting iron bars, while interrogators shouted questions at him. Each answer automatically elicited a hard slap across the face -- a pattern that was repeated without pause for 30 minutes. When Kleinman intervened to stop the questioning, the interrogators appeared baffled. "They didn't seem to think it was a problem," he said.

    A second detainee interrogated in Kleinman's presence was subjected to sleep deprivation and painful stress positions. A third had all his clothes physically torn from his body and was ordered to stand continuously for 12 hours, "or until he passed out," Kleinman said.
    Kleinman said the Air Force's training program was distorted into an offensive program. He noted that the harsh techniques were adapted from torture methods used by Chinese communists, and were never regarded as useful in eliciting intelligence. Instead, they break a prisoner psychologically and make him eager to say anything to stop the pain.

    "That model's primary objective was to compel a prisoner to generate propaganda, not intelligence," he said.

    Posted by: b | Sep 26 2008 8:34 utc | 42

    missed this one from a couple weeks back

    the national security archive: New Kissinger ‘Telcons’ Reveal Chile Plotting At Highest Levels Of U.S. Government

    Washington D.C., September 10, 2008 - On the eve of the thirty-fifth anniversary of the military coup in Chile, the National Security Archive today published for the first time formerly secret transcripts of Henry Kissinger’s telephone conversations that set in motion a massive U.S. effort to overthrow the newly-elected socialist government of Salvador Allende. “We will not let Chile go down the drain,” Kissinger told CIA director Richard Helms in one phone call. “I am with you,” the September 12, 1970 transcript records Helms responding.

    The telephone call transcripts—known as ‘telcons’—include previously-unreported conversations between Kissinger and President Richard Nixon and Secretary of State William Rogers. Just eight days after Allende's election, Kissinger informed the president that the State Department had recommended an approach to “see what we can work out [with Allende].” Nixon responded by instructing Kissinger: “Don’t let them do it.”

    After Nixon spoke directly to Rogers, Kissinger recorded a conversation in which the Secretary of State agreed that “we ought, as you say, to cold-bloodedly decide what to do and then do it,” but warned it should be done “discreetly so that it doesn’t backfire.” Secretary Rogers predicted that “after all we have said about elections, if the first time a Communist wins the U.S. tries to prevent the constitutional process from coming into play we will look very bad.”

    The telcons also reveal that just nine weeks before the Chilean military, led by Gen. Augusto Pinochet and supported by the CIA, overthrew the Allende government on September 11, 1973, Nixon called Kissinger on July 4 to say “I think that Chilean guy might have some problems.” “Yes, I think he’s definitely in difficulties,” Kissinger responded. Nixon then blamed CIA director Helms and former U.S. Ambassador Edward Korry for failing to block Allende’s inauguration three years earlier. “They screwed it up,” the President declared.

    Although Kissinger never intended the public to know about these conversations, observed Peter Kornbluh, who directs the National Security Archive’s Chile Documentation Project, he “bestowed on history a gift that keeps on giving by secretly taping and transcribing his phone calls.” The transcripts, Kornbluh noted, provide historians with the ability to “eavesdrop on the most candid conversations of the highest and most powerful U.S. officials as they plotted covert intervention against a democratically-elected government.”

    Posted by: b real | Sep 26 2008 14:46 utc | 43

    How little things changed since Chile ...

    Secretary Rogers predicted that “after all we have said about elections, if the first time a Communist wins the U.S. tries to prevent the constitutional process from coming into play we will look very bad.”

    “after all we have said about elections, if the first time an Islamist (Hamas) wins the U.S. tries to prevent the constitutional process from coming into play we will look very bad.”

    Posted by: b | Sep 26 2008 15:18 utc | 44

    speaking of pirates

    ap: Russia sends ship to Somali coast to fight piracy

    MOSCOW (AP) — Russia's navy said Friday it had sent a warship to Somalia's coast a day after pirates seized a Ukrainian vessel loaded with 33 tanks, ammunition and some Russian crew members.

    The navy commander ordered a patrol ship from Russia's Baltic Sea fleet to the area, navy spokesman Capt. Igor Dygalo said in a statement.

    Ukrainian officials and an anti-piracy watchdog said pirates seized a Ukrainian cargo vessel with 21 people aboard off eastern Somalia on Thursday. Ukraine's Foreign Ministry said three Russians were among those on board.

    Ukrainian officials said Friday the ship seized was carrying 33 Russian T-72 tanks and a substantial quantity of ammunition and spare parts. It was unclear where the tanks were being shipped to, though the ITAR-Tass news agency said they had been sold to Kenya. The officials said the tanks were sold in accordance with international law.

    "on thursday", as in thursday september 25th

    stock photo of FAINA IMO: 7419377 is here

    reuters: Russia navy to combat piracy off African coast

    MOSCOW, Sept 26 (Reuters) - Russia's navy has sent a warship to Somalia's coast to combat pirates and will mount regular anti-piracy patrols in the area, a navy spokesman told Russian state television on Friday.

    The announcement underlined the ambition of Russia's navy, which some observers say is being used by the Kremlin to project its renewed power. Russian ships are also sailing to Venezuela for the first major manoeuvres in the area since the Cold War.

    "In the future, the Russian navy will send its ships on a regular basis to zones where there is a danger from maritime piracy," navy spokesman Igor Dygalo told the Vesti-24 television station.

    "This is being done to defend the lives of Russian citizens, should such a danger appear, and to ensure the safety of shipping."

    He said the Russian frigate "Neustrashimy" -- or "Fearless" -- left its base on the Baltic Sea on Sept. 24 heading for the area off Somalia's coast to tackle pirates operating there.

    coincidental timing?

    what's also interesting is kenya buying 33 tanks, parts, and assorted ammo from the russians, if that is indeed correct

    and that same reuters article ends w/ this bit of genius ;-)

    Some analysts though have linked the increase in military activity to Russia's assertive foreign policy.

    and the beeb's coverage manages to fit in a couple more references to eyl

    bbc: Somalia's pirates seize 33 tanks

    Somali pirates are currently holding more than a dozen hijacked ships in the base in Eyl, a town in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland.

    It was not immediately clear where the Ukrainian ship had been taken.
    In Eyl, where ships are held for ransom, a flourishing local industry has developed.

    Insurgents in Somalia, not known to have links to the pirates, are currently battling a combination of government troops, their Ethiopian allies and African Union peacekeepers in Mogadishu and other parts of southern Somalia.

    at least they're not trying to be alarmist by linking the hijacked tanks to the fighters

    Posted by: b real | Sep 26 2008 15:24 utc | 45


    you mentioned the other day - a state of emergency - & given the resonance of your chile link & the current state of affairs in america -a state of emergency is no so far - from the possibilities that are surely on the table

    thankfully comrades like yourself send me books here & i have just read 'angler' on the fascists cheney/addington & a state of emergency would be the kind of alchemy they seek to transform their absolute failures into absolute power

    the scale of their failire & the madness - the psychotic reactions of mccain - seem to point to emergencies rather than elections

    Posted by: remembereringgiap | Sep 26 2008 16:26 utc | 46

    still trying to figure out wassup w/ that story on the hijacked tanks off the coast of somalia

    nairobi's east african standard reports Pirates seize arms destined for Kenya

    Pirates in Somalia have hijacked a ship carrying military equipment for the Kenya Army.

    The Government Spokesman Alfred Mutua said on Friday the ship was seized off the Gulf of Aden on Thursday afternoon. He said the cargo included tanks and assorted equipment.

    In a statement posted on his official website, Mutua said the Government was in contact with international maritime agencies and other security partners to secure the ship and cargo.
    The co-ordinator of the East Africa Seafarers Assistance Programme Andrew Mwangura was quoted by the Xinhua news agency, as saying: "The vessel was hijacked on Thursday by gunmen off the Somali coast while heading for Mombasa. The ship was carrying 38 tanks for South Sudan with 21 crew members."

    from a bloomberg article, Somali Pirates Seize Ukrainian Ship Carrying Tanks

    "We have different reports, some say it was carrying 38 tanks while others say 30, but what we have is that it is 30 type T-72," Mwangura said by telephone. "We are still investigating if there are other armored materials or military hardware" on board, he said.
    The Faina carried 33 T-72 tanks and armaments said Ukrainian Defense Minister Yuriy Yekhanurov, cited by Interfax. The tanks and the armaments were exported by Ukrainian state-run military exporter Ukrspetseksport, the news service quoted Yekhanurov as saying.

    here are some pictures of the T-72

    considering that picture of the faina i linked to in #45 (or there are others elsewhere, such as at vesseltracker), i wonder if it's even possible there's enough room to fit 30-38 of those tanks on that ship. it just doesn't look that big to fit that many 6.9 meter long tanks, though not being familiar w/ shipping such cargo i'm only going on a visual interpretation


    Posted by: b real | Sep 27 2008 5:13 utc | 47


    and it's odd that the kenyan govt is saying the cargo is being delivered for the kenyan army, while SAP's mwangura says it was going to sudan after being unloaded at mombasa, especially when you consider this article i pointed out back in mid-february

    Kenya seizes weapons to South Sudan army – report

    February 14, 2008 (KHARTOUM) — Kenya has seized weapons to the southern Sudan army routed through the port of Mombasa saying that it constitutes a clear violation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), a press report said.

    The Kenyan government on Thursday has seized at the port of Mombasa 50 tanks for the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) saying it is a member of the CPA Assessment and Evaluation Commission and one of the sponsors of the Sudan’s peace deal.

    According to the Khartoum based Al-Ray Al-Aam, Nairobi had said that SPLA military capabilities build-up is contrary to the signed peace agreement.
    The seized containers are the first batch of weapons contracted by the SPLA from former Soviet Union states, rocket launchers, artillery and aircraft had not yet arrived, the Kenyan sources disclosed.

    The independent daily pointed out that there were a number of containers of spare parts for military vehicles and weapons in Mombasa port.

    The United States have started a military training for the SPLA troops in order to transform the former rebel army to a professional army.

    Washington denied that contracts with a specialized firm, DynCorp, included any arms deal with southern Sudan’s government, which donors say has funnelled the biggest chunk of its budget — some 40 percent — into defence.

    what's changed since feb wrt the CPA?

    need to keep digging for more info on this

    Posted by: b real | Sep 27 2008 5:23 utc | 48

    Interesting about the tanks.

    I would guess at some tricky weapons trade where the pirates are simply the transporters from the white to the black market, and it might very well be the case that the hi-jacking was part of the deal. The purpose could then be to avoid some weapons embargo. 30 T-72 tanks are a pretty large group in African terms, so I guess they will pop up somewhere. That is if it is not all some form of insurance scam.

    I agree with the general sentiment that there are fishy things going on with the Somali pirates in general. A danish ship on anti-pirate patrol must have missed some memo cause they actually seized a ship and arrested the crew. I guess important people got the right calls because the crew were realesed wihtin hours. Official explanation was some legal technicalities. The danish ship is still there though.

    Posted by: a swedish kind of death | Sep 27 2008 5:47 utc | 49

    from a lloyd's list article on friday

    Experts believe that the hijack was random, with the pirates unaware of the sensitive nature of the cargo. They also point out that it will be impossible to offload the tanks at any of the small ports available locally.

    The two most likely scenarios now are either military intervention by the west, or a huge ransom payment to secure release of the military hardware.
    The military consignment was bound for the Kenyan port of Mombasa, from where it was due to be transported by road to southern Sudan.

    Although the consignee has not been confirmed, the tanks were most likely intended for the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, a former rebel group that signed a peace agreement with the Sudanese government in 2005 after 22 years of civil war.

    It now rules southern Sudan as a semi-autonomous territory, and is legally entitled to purchase such weaponry.

    One shipping source who has negotiated with Somali pirates on behalf of shipowners pointed out: “They can’t get the tanks off and do anything with them without people seeing, and if they did that, it would betray who is supporting them and working with them shoreside.”

    also from friday, in an ap article

    U.S. Defense Department spokesman Bryan Whitman said the United States was worried about the ship`s cargo.

    "A ship carrying cargo of that nature being hijacked off the coast of Somalia is something that should concern us, and it does concern us. And we are monitoring the situation and taking a look at what the options might be," Whitman said.

    in the 90's (at a minimum) the u.s. armed the SPLA/M via ethiopia, eritirea & uganda in an effort to topple the regime in khartoum.

    nowadays they are working through other groups. for instance, on the 15th i pointed out the following story outta kenya

    The Bush Administration pledged to provide Darfur’s JEM (Justice and Equality Movement) rebels led by Mr Khalil Ibrahim with military assistance as a part of Washington’s plan to deal with situations in Sudan in general and Darfur issue in particular.

    According to Information gained by the Sudan Media Centre in London, a meeting was held between JEM leaders, namely Jibril Ibrahim, the movement’s leader’s brother, Altahir Alfakki and Haroun Abdulhameed and Mr Bejy Tchenny, allegedly a Pentagon official in a central London hotel.

    The JEM leaders demanded that the Pentagon provide them with military assistance and training.

    The US official lauded the movement’s commitment to the goal of removing the Khartoum regime due to its failure to commit to its agreements and pledges.

    Mr Tcheny promised future cooperation with JEM, confirming his keenness to convey the issues discussed in the meeting to the US department, namely the Pentagon, to consider the possibilities of providing JEM movement with military and logistic support.

    b/c of its location & strategic importance, not to mention subordination, to the united states, kenya plays an important role in u.s. policy towards sudan. recall that they served as lead proxy for the u.s. in facilitating some of the peace talks between sudan's govt & opposition groups.

    not likely though that rebel groups could get around for very long in russian tanks w/o observers catching on. maybe they were simply intended for the SPLM. but then, why would the kenyan govt state that they were for kenyan army?

    Posted by: b real | Sep 27 2008 7:08 utc | 50

    [pasted the wrong link for "lead proxy" ref in #50 above - the correct one is here]

    cnn: Pirates lower ransom demand to $5M

    Pirates who seized a Ukrainian vessel loaded with tanks and weapons off the African coast have lowered their ransom demand to $5 million.

    The pirates initially demanded $35 million and no military action, said Andrew Mwangura of the Kenya Seafarers Association. They later decreased their demands for several reasons, Mwangura said.

    Those reasons include that the crew is from eastern Europe and not the United States; the weapons the ship carries are secondhand; and there is no way to unload the tanks without coming onto land, he said.

    an earlier rpt quoted a spokesman for the pirates stating that

    "We warn the French and the Americans…anything that happens is their responsibility."

    The ship's crew "fought against us," Januna said, adding that the pirates eventually succeeded after using "tactical maneuvers" to overpower the Faina.

    He justified the attack, saying: "I do not think we are in the wrong. Our country [Somalia] is destroyed by foreigners…who dump toxic waste at our shores."

    sounds like the 'pirates' in this case are part of either the somali 'national volunteer coast guard' (NVCG) or the 'somali coast guard' (SCG), which are based along the southern coastline

    Posted by: b real | Sep 27 2008 18:32 utc | 51

    Posted by: b real | Sep 27 2008 18:52 utc | 52

    I'm going to ask everyone at MoA for advice here. I'm what you'd call a "player". I've pitched MLM's since way back in the 1970's, and sold real estate since the 2000 selloff, right through the peak. I know what an upline and a downline is, and I know how to spin a cherry-picked market appraisal up with easy loan terms into a higher commission on a zero down. I'm not stupid. Like I said, I'm a player.

    But lately I'm getting scared. My commissions have plummeted nearly 1/3. There's just nothing out there on the wire. And then Congress with the bailout, but nothing to protect the banker-broker players! Sure, cover the SIV/CDO/CDSs spreads, but what about protecting all the agent-broker commissions!!! We pay taxes too!!!

    And now Congress with the Federal spending budget! There's 60% going to Defense! How can last year's one-time surge budget be increased another 8%, when they're calling for redeployment out of Iraq? There's no chance of sending any troops to Afghanistan! Why, when they have UAV's, heli-gunships and Afghan National troops.
    So where's another $38 billion going!?

    How can Homeland Security's Katrina-setting budget be increased over 10% this year, when the Ike damage was minimal, other than in Galveston, and hey, believe me, it's insured! They had a whole buncha years after Katrina of fat budgets, plus that $60 billion Congressional set-aside that they never spent rebuilding New Orleans. What do they need another $12 billion for?! TSA? They're a joke, too many of them as it is, standing around in corners like Politburo Party Members, snickering into their walkie talkies, while we peel off our socks and have some machine sniff our pits.

    Where is all the extra $50 billion going? A +10% Defense budget increase, when Fed tax revenues are off by more than 10%! It's not going to the agents and brokers, that's for sure! I got a family to feed and kids to put through college!! Where's all the Defense contracts, where's the 10% commissions? How do I get in on this Defense feeding frenzy?! What, you gotta be a WASP or a Jew to play?

    I figured you MoA's would know, that's your thing, right?

    Posted by: Larry Donitelli | Sep 27 2008 21:34 utc | 53

    , but what about protecting all the agent-broker commissions!!!

    i'm feelin it for ya dude. i'd say the big money is in no bid contracts. maybe you should go into the highclass hooker bus and troll dc for some congress critters, or perhaps some airport bathroom stalls.

    Posted by: annie | Sep 27 2008 21:46 utc | 54

    kenya's daily nation is saying that the hijacking was indeed probably by the SCG
    Showdown at sea over hijacked ship

    It was believed as many as 100 pirates from the self-styled Somalia Youth Coastguard were in control of the Faina.

    a lengthy article in scotland's sunday herald -- Pirates call all the shots actually manages to provide some context behind some of those 'pirates' organizations, like the SCG, which is more than most other coverage ever does

    Justifying the attack, Jama said: "I do not think we are in the wrong. Our country is destroyed by foreigners who dump toxic waste at our shores."

    Huge waves that battered Puntland after the Asian tsunami on Boxing Day 2004 killed 300 people, destroying thousands of homes and stirring up tonnes of nuclear and toxic wastes illegally dumped offshore in the 1990s.

    The United Nations Environment Programme said the tsunami waves washed up rusting containers of toxic waste on the Puntland shoreline which broke up and scattered nuclear, chemical and medical waste inland. UNEP reported many unusual illnesses in the region following the tsunami. It said European companies were involved in the dumping trade, but because of the high levels of insecurity onshore and off the Somali coast, there was never any accurate assessment of the extent of the problem.

    Abdullah Elmi Mohamed, a Somali academic studying in Sweden, said European companies charged "approximately $8 per tonne for dumping off Somalia, while in Europe the cost for the disposal and treatment of toxic waste material could go up to $1000 per tonne".

    given that, there's something odd about this story in today's south africa sunday times - is it another case of propaganda being spun around a small kernel of truth?

    Pirates die strangely after taking Iranian ship

    A tense standoff has developed in waters off Somalia over an Iranian merchant ship laden with a mysterious cargo that was hijacked by pirates.

    Somali pirates suffered skin burns, lost hair and fell gravely ill “within days” of boarding the MV Iran Deyanat. Some of them died.

    Andrew Mwangura, the director of the East African Seafarers’ Assistance Programme, told the Sunday Times: “We don’t know exactly how many, but the information that I am getting is that some of them had died. There is something very wrong about that ship.”

    The vessel’s declared cargo consists of “minerals” and “industrial products”. But officials involved in negotiations over the ship are convinced that it was sailing for Eritrea to deliver small arms and chemical weapons to Somalia’s Islamist rebels.
    The Iran Deyanat was sailing in those waters on August 21, past the Horn of Africa and about 80 nautical miles southeast of Yemen, when it was boarded by about 40 pirates armed with AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades. They were alleged members of a crime syndicate said to be based at Eyl, a small fishing village in northern Somalia.

    The ship is owned and operated by the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines, or IRISL, a state-owned company run by the Iranian military.
    At Eyl, the ship was secured by more pirates — about 50 on board, and another 50 on shore.

    But within days those who had boarded the ship developed mysterious health trouble.

    This was also confirmed by Hassan Allore Osman, minister of minerals and oil in Puntland, an autonomous region of Somalia.

    He headed a delegation sent to Eyl when news of the toxic cargo and illnesses surfaced.

    He told one news publication, The Long War Journal, that during the six days he had negotiated with the pirates, a number of them had become sick and died.

    “That ship is unusual,” he was quoted as saying. “It is not carrying a normal shipment.”

    The pirates did reveal that they had tried to inspect the ship’s cargo containers when some of them fell sick — but the containers were locked.
    And Mwangura has added: “Our sources say it contains chemicals, dangerous chemicals.”

    But IRISL has denied that — and threatened legal action against Mwangura. The company has reportedly paid the pirates 200000 — the first of several “ransom instalments”, but that, too, has been denied.

    not enough time to delve into that one

    but back to the faina w/ the russian tanks - the daily nation article at the first link leads off w/

    All branches of the Kenyan Armed Forces were on full alert on Sunday night and heading for a showdown with the pirates who seized a cargo ship carrying battle tanks for the army.

    The Navy put to sea and was racing to take up position in a joint operation to recover the hijacked Ukrainian cargo vessel, which was also carrying arms and ammunition.

    “All branches of the military are working with partners to solve the problem,” said a senior government official, who did not wish to be quoted discussing an ongoing, security operation.

    yet the official stmt from the govt is that, since the hijacking took place outside kenyan waters, the responsibility for the cargo still lies w/ the seller & shipper. this is the only mention i've seen of the kenyan navy 'racing' to the scene. wonder how much of it is just show-boating?

    The Kenya Navy was ordered into action by Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka, who acts as commander in chief in the absence of President Kibaki, who is currently in New York.

    In Nairobi, Mr Musyoka described as “disastrous” and “unimaginable” the extent of damage that could be caused by the seized arsenal should it fall into terrorist hands.

    what - like the TFG or ethiopians? ;-)

    actually, the article does throw in the expected booga-booga line from a somali official

    A Somalia Ministry of Foreign Affairs official Faysal Ahmed told the Sunday Nation that he suspected that the hijackers were working in concert with Al Shabaab, a terrorist group that has been linked with Al Qaeda.

    “I have heard a spokesman for the hijackers on BBC Somalia service say that if they don’t get the $35 million ransom they are demanding, they will release the tanks and the retain the guns and ammunition,” Mr Ahmed said.

    “If they get the weapons, they will be very dangerous not only for Somalia but for the whole East African region.”

    release the tanks? where? how? as a couple of the earlier articles i linked to point out, as does the sunday herald above

    The pirates are unlikely to be unable to unload the tanks because of a lack of specialist heavy-lifting gear in the tiny ports and innumerable coves of Puntland, a barren land three times the area of Scotland which historically depended on fishing and camel and goat-herding.

    and if they did, are we supposed to be afraid that all of a sudden there would be AQ-affiliated islamists storming the TFG's presidential palace in commie tanks on their way to peoria?

    funny that there is no hint in the rest of the article of why kenya would have purchased the tanks & ammo, nor any mention of the numerous reports that the final destination was in southern sudan. that's way more interesting -- and reality-based -- than that AQ-pirates are looting T-72s for a country that barely has any gas stations.

    the u.s., however, does have a navy destroyer, the USS howard, on the scene "watching it to ensure the pirates who seized it do not try to remove any cargo or crew," according to an AP article titled, logically, "US destroyer watching hijacked ship off Somalia."

    it goes on to say that

    A Russian Web site posted what it said was an audio recording of a telephone conversation with the Ukrainian ship's first mate. He said the hijackers are seeking a ransom and have anchored close to the Somali shore.

    There was no way to immediately confirm the authenticity of the report on Web site Calls to the phone number listed on the site went to an answering machine at the publisher of two established tabloids that have reportedly reliably on news in the past — one of them also called Life.

    On the recording, a man who identified himself as first mate Viktor Nikolsky said the hijackers were asking for a ransom but he did not know how much. showed images of what it said were the Russian passports for both Nikolsky and the ship's captain, Vladimir Kolobkov.
    Nikolsky said the ship was anchored near the Somali town of Hobyo and that two other apparently hijacked ships were nearby. Hobyo is in the central region of Mudug, south of Puntland. It is a natural port and does not have any facilities.

    hobya is spelled "obbia" on the google map & lies approximately 150 miles south of eyl. on the map, again, it looks like there's hardly anything there, which is why i remain ambiguous on the stories of eyl's bustling pirate business community. according to wikipedia,

    Hobyo literally means "here, water", and the plentiful fresh water to be had from the wells in and around Hobyo (a rarity in that part of the world) has been the driving force behind Hobyo's ancient status as a favorite port-of-call for sailors.
    Hobyo was captured by the Islamic Court Union (ICU) on August 16, 2006, after several days negotiation with leading figures in the town. ICU armed pickup trucks ("technicals") surrounded the town several days before, and sent in delegates to negotiate Hobyo's surrender. The city was apparently taken without firing a shot, as the unnamed warlord of Hobyo had fled days earlier upon hearing of the ICU's approach.

    The ICU had taken the town in order to fulfill its promise to end piracy on the Benadir Coast, and Hobyo was the last remaining major port south of Puntland (which, being a coherent state, had a handle on piracy on their coast).

    Hobyo chose to join the newly formed Galmudug State as an alternative to annexation by the ICU, creating a buffer between the ICU and Puntland, but with the rise in conflict between Galmudug and the ICU, ICU forces took the city again on November 1st.

    Hobyo's present status is somewhat unclear, as the clans controlling Hobyo broke away from the ICU just before the Ethiopian offensive to the coast.

    will continue to follow this story

    Posted by: b real | Sep 28 2008 6:04 utc | 55

    Department Of The Exterior Opens U.S. National Park In Norway

    WASHINGTON—The U.S. Department of the Exterior announced Monday the grand opening of a new national park that covers nearly 150,000 square miles across the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, making it the largest American park in northern Europe.

    Posted by: annie | Sep 28 2008 13:12 utc | 56

    Department Of The Exterior Opens U.S. National Park In Norway

    WASHINGTON—The U.S. Department of the Exterior announced Monday the grand opening of a new national park that covers nearly 150,000 square miles across the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, making it the largest American park in northern Europe.

    Posted by: annie | Sep 28 2008 13:14 utc | 57

    there are some excellent videos @ the link also, i recommend ' How We Can Make The War In Iraq More Eco-Friendly"

    Posted by: annie | Sep 28 2008 13:18 utc | 58

    sarah">">sarah the knife, killer song. for background and more photos from yesterday's rally in anchorage check mudflats.

    Posted by: annie | Sep 28 2008 13:54 utc | 59

    Tina Fey does Palin again

    The McCain administration will replace all those foreigners at the UN with americans!

    Posted by: dan of steele | Sep 28 2008 14:11 utc | 60

    looks like my earlier line of inquiry was headed in the right direction

    sudan tribune: Military, maritime officials say hijacked Ukrainian arms destined to South Sudan

    September 28, 2008 (KHARTOUM) — A Sudanese military source said today that the weapons carried by the seized Ukrainian ship were destined for South Sudan and not Kenya. These allegations were confirmed by a Kenyan maritime official.
    The Sudanese official asserted that the cargo was destined to southern Sudan army adding that it was the second cargo to Juba during this year. He further dismissed reports that these weapons are for Kenya saying all its military equipments are from the US and western countries.

    In Nairobi, the government spokesperson, Alfred Mutua said Faina cargo ship was carrying an authorized Ukrainian government arms shipment for the Kenyan army

    South Sudan government led by the former rebel SPLM, which signed a peace agreement in 2005 with the Khartoum government ending 21 years of war, is not allowed to buy weapons.

    Andrew Mwangura, head of the East Africa Seafarers Assistance Program from the Kenyan capital, said the Somali pirates claim they captured confidential documents showing that the arms shipment destined to southern Sudan. They threat to divulgate [sic] it if they are not paid.

    "The pirates are saying that if they are not going to be paid the ransom, they will spill the beans. Maybe they are going to say what is happening in this region because we understand South Sudan is under a United Nations arms embargo and why Kenya allowing the military equipment to pass through Kenyan waters is not known," Mwangura said.

    The Kenyan maritime official further said that the hijacked ship was ferrying the fourth such consignment from Ukrainian to southern Sudan. "One of the cargo arrived at the port of Mombasa in October last year, two in February this year." He said.

    Posted by: b real | Sep 29 2008 6:03 utc | 61


    Posted by: Uncle $cam | Sep 29 2008 19:56 utc | 62

    nairobi's KTN news (video) coverage from sunday claims kenyan military sources dispute the official stmts that the tanks were purchased by kenya. segment shows footage of tanks being shipped by train from the port of mombasa back in february, which may the same shipment mentioned in my #48 above

    mulitple shipments - 50 tanks in feb (where they actually delivered, in contradiction to the sudan tribune story in feb?), 33 in sept. something's up.

    Posted by: b real | Sep 30 2008 3:03 utc | 63

    east african standard: Diplomatic row looms over hijacked ship

    A diplomatic row appeared imminent last night [monday] as Kenya and the US bickered over the destination of military hardware hijacked by pirates off the Somalia coast.

    The Kenyan military came out for the first time to claim the equipment belongs to them even as American navy spokesman alleged the shipment was headed to Sudan.

    "Let none purport to speak for us. The weapons belong to the Kenyan military and even the Ukranian government have documents to show that," military spokesman Bogita Ongeri said.

    Ongeri called The Standard to refute reports attributed to a US Navy spokesman who had said the cargo was headed to Sudan, not Kenya. Ongeri said the Department of Defence (DOD) has documents to show the cargo belongs to them.

    Several high-level security meetings were held yesterday to discuss the issue. Lieutenant Nathan Christensen, a deputy spokesman for the US 5th Fleet in Bahrain said although the cargo was headed for Mombasa "additional reports state the cargo was intended for Sudan."

    The navy officer said in Bahrain the shipment was headed to Sudan, but proclaimed "its buyers are not known."

    Ongeri dismissed the statement as "baseless and false."

    But Middle East diplomats in Nairobi who spoke to The Standard on condition of anonymity said there was no truth in Kenyan claims that the weapons had been imported for and by the local military.
    Diplomats fear illegal sale of weapons in these parts has fuelled conflict and strengthened rebels in Darfur.

    Reports that Kenya may have facilitated arms shipments to South Sudan emerged on Sunday from claims by an official representing a seafarers’ association. Mr Andrew Mwangura of the Association of Seafarers of East Africa, which monitors maritime activities on the East African seaboard, claimed to have seen documents showing the hijacked armaments were headed for South Sudan and sensationally claimed it was the fourth such cargo through Mombasa since October last year.

    Mwangura claimed that MV Radomyshl, a ship registered in Cambodia, docked at the port on October 29 last year with T-28 tanks destined for South Sudan.

    He also reported additional weapons dockings on February 11 and February 12, this year.

    looks like the SCG has stumbled upon a pretty big scandal. is the u.s. behind the weapons, similar to the way they helped ethiopia purchase weapons from north korea for the 2006 invasion/occupation of somalia?

    Posted by: b real | Sep 30 2008 3:31 utc | 64

    daily nation: Hijacked arms: The mystery deepens

    Mystery deepened on Monday over the real ownership of the tanks and other arms hijacked by three boatloads of Somali pirates.

    The Government insisted the battle tanks — 33 T-72s — rocket propelled grenades and 23 anti-aircraft guns plus ammunition, were destined for Kenya’s military. But a US Navy spokesman stated categorically that the arms were heading to an unknown buyer in Sudan.

    The spokesman, named as Lt Nathan Christensen, of the US Navy’s 5th Fleet in Bahrain was quoted by the Associated Press as saying: “We are aware that the actual cargo was destined for Sudan not Kenya.”

    However, Kenya’s defence spokesman Bogita Ongeri dismissed the claim, saying, “It is the property of the Government of Kenya and we have documentation to that effect.”
    And in a further puzzling twist, a piracy expert in Mombasa was gagged by the Coast PC.

    Mr Andrew Mwangura, coordinator of the Seafarers Assistance Programme, said on Monday that he was called by Coast PC Ernest Munyi and ordered not to give any information on the vessel to the media.

    The pirates on Saturday claimed they had damning evidence to show that Kenya was not the end user of the military hardware aboard the hijacked ship and was, therefore, in breach of a United Nations arms embargo.
    Military sources, privy to the Kenyan defence policy and priority, however, insisted that the country has not sent any military personnel to Ukraine or Russia to be trained on operating the tanks or the ZU-23 anti-aircraft guns.

    Sources within the military also cast doubt on the possibility of the cargo being Kenya’s, arguing that the DoD procedures for acquiring military hardware had not been followed.

    “Normally a sample accompanied by the seller is brought in for testing and a Kenyan military team is later sent to the producer country for training on maintenance before any decision is made. There has been no such arrangement between the Department of Defence and the Ukrainian government,” the source said.

    Sources added most DoD personnel only got the information about the military hardware supposedly intended for them when the story broke on Friday.

    On Monday, Mr Mwangura claimed he was told the hijacking was a Government issue and the fact that he was not the official spokesman disqualified him from speaking to the Press.

    Mr Mwangura had the previous day claimed the Ukrainian vessel cargo was destined for Southern Sudan, despite a UN arms embargo.

    He said the shipment to the country through Kenya was not the first one but the fourth since last year.
    Mr Mwangura had also asked why the Kenyan government was silent about a vessel carrying 17,000 tonnes of salt to Mombasa that was also allegedly hijacked on the same day as the Ukranian vessel.

    “The vessel was suspicious because Kenya does not import salt,” Mr Mwangura said.

    looking for more details on the stories of u.s. military assistance to sudan's darfur rebel group the justice and equality mvmt (JEM). another mention of it in this article -- "Africa rallies behind besieged Sudan president" -- from the the east african, but nothing substantial in it

    Somaya Abdel Sadig, the press counsellor at the Sudanese Embassy in Nairobi, told The EastAfrican that other African countries have realised that for there to be justice in the world, they cannot afford to support double standards by the West, and that any of them could in future find themselves in the same situation as the Sudanese president.

    Apparently, Khartoum grabbed the opportunity offered by recent revelations that the US administration was considering offering military assistance to a Darfuri rebel group, to argue its case among African leaders.

    Washington is said to be ready to assist the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM). Khartoum has interpreted this as evidence that US geopolitical interests are unfriendly to Sudan and the region, having earlier accused Western powers of supporting JEM — led by Khalil Ibrahim — to oust the Khartoum regime when the rebels attacked Omdurman.

    hardly likely though that rebels could escape notice by substituting tanks for their 'technicals'

    Posted by: b real | Sep 30 2008 3:54 utc | 65

    Hearty thanks to b real @ 63, 64 & 65 for dogged persistence in bringing these stories to MOA's forum. Arms trafficking in East Africa has a long and sordid history, and exposing it to public attention can sometimes be fatal - google Ilaria Alpi and Miran Hrovatin, for example.

    Posted by: Hannah K. O'Luthon | Sep 30 2008 7:28 utc | 66

    Speaking of dogged persistence, the campaign to keep Syria's alleged
    nuclear program
    on the front burner continues unabated, and in the link given seems to serve as justification for a series of programmed assassinations.

    Posted by: Hannah K. O'Luthon | Sep 30 2008 13:02 utc | 67

    Chicago tavern hangs nude Palin portrait

    Posted by: gus | Sep 30 2008 15:17 utc | 68

    outside of the local dayton ohio press no msm has picked up the hate crime of gasing children at a local mosque during ramadan prayer services the day after the distribution of the anti islam dvd arrived via mass distribution in 145,000 papers across targeted swing states last week. some church in town had hosted a viewing of the movie. raw story picked this up today, bless them. the msm is ignoring this story although we all know had it taken place at either a church or synagogue it would make front page news across the country.

    Did anti-Muslim documentary spur Ohio mosque gassing?

    During Friday prayers at the Islamic Society of Greater Dayton, many of the 300 celebrants were suddenly overcome with fits of coughing and difficulty in breathing. Babies and children who were in a separate room were the most strongly affected, and according to the Dayton Daily News, one child told fire investigators of having seen two men spray something through the window of that room from a white can.


    Although there has been no direct link established between Obsession and the events in Ohio, the documentary is clearly having an effect. The founder of the Interfaith Youth Core received a call from a Lutheran pastor, who told him that "his congregation has been involved in several interfaith projects, including allowing a group of Muslims to use the church for worship on Friday evenings while their new mosque was being built. ... But recently, this pastor has fielded several angry phone calls from congregants condemning the decision to allow 'dangerous people' to use church space. Why these calls now ... Last week, his community received the film 'Obsession' in the Sunday newspaper."


    Rodda notes, in her role with the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, "The presidential campaign edition of the Obsession DVD, currently being distributed by the Clarion Fund, carries the endorsement of the chair of the counter-terrorism department of the U.S. Naval War College, using the name and authority of an official U.S. military institution not only to validate an attack the religion of Islam, but to influence a political campaign. For these reasons, this endorsement has been included in MRFF's second lawsuit against the Department of Defense, which was filed on September 25 in the Federal District Court in Kansas."

    And she adds as a more personal comment, "John McCain has a moral obligation to publicly censure the Clarion Fund, the organization that produced Obsession and is distributing the DVDs; to denounce the inflammatory, anti-Muslim message of Obsession; and to do everything in his power to stop any further campaign activities by his supporters that have the potential to incite violence."

    Posted by: annie | Sep 30 2008 15:30 utc | 69

    gus 68, your link Sorry, the page you requested could not be found.

    Posted by: annie | Sep 30 2008 15:30 utc | 70

    @ annie

    simply drop the final / from the link when you have it in your address bar. that should do the trick

    Posted by: dan of steel | Sep 30 2008 16:01 utc | 71

    thanks gus! i entered the poll at the site.

    Posted by: annie | Sep 30 2008 17:28 utc | 73

    re: "Jewish 'ultras' defend morals with menace"

    For more on this issue and other issues of religion and state in Israel, visit:

    Religion and State in Israel

    This site is the only weekly review of media coverage on issues of religion and state in Israel.

    Religion and State in Israel is not affiliated with any organization or movement.

    Posted by: Joel Katz | Oct 1 2008 7:28 utc | 74

    Interesting development: Iran ties enrichment halt to fuel import guarantee

    Iran would consider stopping sensitive uranium enrichment if guaranteed a supply of nuclear fuel from abroad, an Iranian official suggested on Thursday.
    Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran's ambassador to the U.N. nuclear watchdog, said the reason why the Islamic Republic was enriching uranium was the lack of an legally binding international accord on security of fuel supply.

    Asked if with such a deal Iran would shelve enrichment, he said that arrangement would be a first step but it would have to be implemented, and Iran would need to retain some enrichment as a contingency in case supplies were cut.

    "This is a first step ..., then the next step is to see it really implemented," he told reporters at a Brussels conference.

    If this were carried out, "then Iran would be able to reconsider the position that we have now. The situation would be different, we would have to see," Soltanieh said.

    "Plus every country has to be cautious to have as a contingency plan a fuel reserve in case of interruption."

    I have no idea how such a international guarantee could look. The question is who would sign up for it and back it with what? The U.S. say-so will certainly not be enough.

    Posted by: b | Oct 2 2008 17:29 utc | 75

    Undersea methane bubbling up:>UK Independent 9/23/08

    Orjan Gustafsson of Stockholm University in Sweden, one of the leaders of the expedition, described the scale of the methane emissions in an email exchange sent from the Russian research ship Jacob Smirnitskyi.

    "We had a hectic finishing of the sampling programme yesterday and this past night," said Dr Gustafsson. "An extensive area of intense methane release was found. At earlier sites we had found elevated levels of dissolved methane. Yesterday, for the first time, we documented a field where the release was so intense that the methane did not have time to dissolve into the seawater but was rising as methane bubbles to the sea surface. These 'methane chimneys' were documented on echo sounder and with seismic [instruments]."

    At some locations, methane concentrations reached 100 times background levels. These anomalies have been seen in the East Siberian Sea and the Laptev Sea, covering several tens of thousands of square kilometres, amounting to millions of tons of methane, said Dr Gustafsson. "This may be of the same magnitude as presently estimated from the global ocean," he said. "Nobody knows how many more such areas exist on the extensive East Siberian continental shelves.

    "The conventional thought has been that the permafrost 'lid' on the sub-sea sediments on the Siberian shelf should cap and hold the massive reservoirs of shallow methane deposits in place. The growing evidence for release of methane in this inaccessible region may suggest that the permafrost lid is starting to get perforated and thus leak methane... The permafrost now has small holes. We have found elevated levels of methane above the water surface and even more in the water just below. It is obvious that the source is the seabed."

    The preliminary findings of the International Siberian Shelf Study 2008, being prepared for publication by the American Geophysical Union, are being overseen by Igor Semiletov of the Far-Eastern branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Since 1994, he has led about 10 expeditions in the Laptev Sea but during the 1990s he did not detect any elevated levels of methane. However, since 2003 he reported a rising number of methane "hotspots", which have now been confirmed using more sensitive instruments on board the Jacob Smirnitskyi.

    Ruled from above, warming from below.

    Posted by: plushtown | Oct 2 2008 19:34 utc | 76

    The methane is cooking.

    Crap, there goes the planet.

    Posted by: a swedish kind of death | Oct 2 2008 22:48 utc | 77

    skod #77, well it is more consequential than the fake election. The interesting thing is that Greenpeace/Gore et al join the energy corpses in publicly ignoring obvious climate warnings.

    Posted by: plushtown | Oct 2 2008 23:13 utc | 78

    We should not confuse failure to push a message through the media with silence. Quick google search found this:

    Other gases | Greenpeace International

    Gasses with natural and significant human sources:
    Methane (CH4)
    Methane is the second biggest contributing greenhouse gas, and is responsible for 20 percent of the enhanced (human caused) greenhouse effect.  It is about 23 times more powerful a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, and has an atmospheric lifetime of roughly 12 years.

    And the news you linked was also linked at Greenpeace New Zeeland.

    But I agree that the part of the global warming warnings that are heard are generally the toned down, more upbeat versions. Wheter this is due to media (il)logic of 'fair and balanced' or toned down messages, I find hard to say.

    Posted by: a swedish kind of death | Oct 2 2008 23:48 utc | 79

    No one has accused Gore and the carbon credit crooks of being upbeat, yet Inconvenient truth movie and book don't mention that when glaciers lighten earth quakes, causing remaining ice to slide, enabling more quakes, more slides, Gulf Stream big changes, new coasts, power to the prescient, etc., so best to avoid. (Nor of course do they stress that what I'm talking about is unavoidable, for methane and other reasons.)

    Things are not suppressed (or, rather, I don't know what's suppressed) just>not stressed.

    And some things are deliberately ignored by papers of record, though available if one>looks elsewhere.

    Reason is that the sheep's interests only coincide with the shepherd's and the>butcher's for short periods.

    Posted by: plushtown | Oct 3 2008 0:26 utc | 80

    U.S. to Fund Pro-American Publicity in Iraqi Media

    The Defense Department will pay private U.S. contractors in Iraq up to $300 million over the next three years to produce news stories, entertainment programs and public service advertisements for the Iraqi media in an effort to "engage and inspire" the local population to support U.S. objectives and the Iraqi government.

    The new contracts -- awarded last week to four companies -- will expand and consolidate what the U.S. military calls "information/psychological operations" in Iraq far into the future, even as violence appears to be abating and U.S. troops have begun drawing down.
    One official described how part of the program works: "There's a video piece produced by a contractor . . . showing a family being attacked by a group of bad guys, and their daughter being taken off. The message is: You've got to stand up against the enemy." The professionally produced vignette, he said, "is offered for airing on various [television] stations in Iraq. . . . They don't know that the originator of the content is the U.S. government. If they did, they would never run anything."

    "If you asked most Iraqis," he said, "they would say, 'It came from the government, our own government.' "

    The Pentagon's solicitation for bids on the contracts noted that media items produced "may or may not be non-attributable to coalition forces." "If they thought we were doing it, it would not be as effective," another official said of the Iraqis. "In the Middle East, they are so afraid they're going to be Westernized . . . that you have to be careful when you're trying to provide information to the population."
    "We definitely believe this is a growth area in the DOD," said Julian Setian, SOSi's chief operating officer. "We are seeing more and more requests for professional assistance in media-related strategic communications efforts, specifically in gauging of perceptions in foreign media with regard to U.S. operations."

    The four companies that will share in the new contract are SOSi, the Washington-based Lincoln Group, Alexandria-based MPRI and Leonie Industries, a Los Angeles contractor. All specialize in strategic communications and have done previous defense work.
    On Aug. 21, the day before bids on the new contract were closed, the solicitation was reissued to replace repeated references to information and psychological operations with the term "media services."
    But a lengthy list of "deliverables" under the new contract proposal includes "print columns, press statements, press releases, response-to-query, speeches and . . . opinion editorials"; radio broadcasts "in excess of 300 news stories" monthly and 150 each on sports and economic themes; and 30- and 60-minute broadcast documentary and entertainment series.

    Posted by: b | Oct 3 2008 4:49 utc | 81

    Here's some Pro-American Publicity for ya...(Spoken in wasilla, "Palinese")'You betcha'...

    Blackwater Machine Gun Found in Raid on Iraqi Insurgents

    Incident Was Kept Secret and Raises More Questions About the Firm's Iraq Operations

    An M4 machine gun sent to Iraq by the Blackwater private security firm somehow disappeared from the company's storage facility in Baghdad and was later discovered during a US military operation, apparently against suspected insurgents, people familiar with the situation have told ABC News.

    The incident, in 2006, has been kept secret until now but it raised more questions about Blackwater's operations in Iraq.

    Allegations that Blackwater shipped weapons and silencers to Iraq without proper licensing are already under investigation by a federal grand jury in North Carolina, according to people familiar with the case.

    Posted by: Uncle $cam | Oct 3 2008 10:37 utc | 82

    uncle, reminds me of the 'suicide' of Westhusing.

    He received an anonymous letter claiming USIS was cheating the military at every opportunity, that several hundred weapons assigned to the counterterrorism training program had disappeared,

    Posted by: annie | Oct 3 2008 15:02 utc | 83

    blast in Georgia's breakaway region of South Ossetia killed seven Russian soldiers

    South Ossetian leader Eduard Kokoity went further, describing it as "a deliberate terrorist act prepared by the Georgian Security Ministry", Russia's Itar-Tass news agency said.

    Georgian Interior Ministry spokesman Shota Utiashvili rejected the allegation.

    "I think this is a provocation with the aim of keeping Russian forces in Georgia," he told the AFP new agency.

    i would have to say i agree w/the georgian Interior Ministry spokesman. it makes perfect sense if the russians want to remain in SO, for them (or their 'friends')to blow themselves up to secure their future in the region.

    Posted by: annie | Oct 3 2008 17:17 utc | 84

    Damn... someone is trying to start a fight once again.
    This time, the Russians might not be as nice.

    Posted by: CluelessJoe | Oct 3 2008 17:21 utc | 85

    Time for a new open thread? In the meantime, here's a song for b:


    Still working on the Kazakh travelogue, work is getting in the way...

    Posted by: biklett | Oct 4 2008 8:27 utc | 86

    Non-profit offers $100k reward for info tying Rove to election rigging

    A non-profit organization has offered a $100,000 reward to anyone who can supply information tying Republican strategist Karl Rove and computer expert Michael Connell to illegally manipulated elections


    Connell was subpoenaed September 22 to testify under oath in a federal lawsuit in Ohio regarding election rigging and vote manipulation in past elections as well as the upcoming presidential race, according to Raw Story.

    He has refused to testify and tried to quash his subpoena.

    Connell ran the Florida Government computer network during the presidential election of 2000 and the Ohio Secretary of State election computers during the presidential election of 2004.

    (he's also been hired by the mcCain campaign...

    more on Connell (worth the read)

    The IT cyberstructures created by Connell remain in place for the 2008 election. On February 22, 2008, the Akron Beacon Journal reported Connell’s team helped develop the John McCain for President website, just as it helped create the website for the last two Bush presidential campaigns.

    While the Republicans tell us to pay no attention to the man behind the congressional firewall, that he’s just another government contractor, Connell is thinking long-term. When asked by Campaign and Elections magazine in June 2004 what he wished to be doing in ten years, he replied that his goal was to be in a “senior position” in the campaign to elect Rick Santorum president of the United States. He also cited among his political heroes, Saint Paul because he “. . . leveraged Roman citizenship to fuel the expansion of the early church” and he cited George W. Bush because he had “the courage to publicly share his faith.”

    Posted by: annie | Oct 4 2008 16:17 utc | 87

    ZK: War on Taliban cannot be won, says army chief

    Britain's most senior military commander in Afghanistan has warned that the war against the Taliban cannot be won. Brigadier Mark Carleton-Smith said the British public should not expect a “decisive military victory” but should be prepared for a possible deal with the Taliban.

    His assessment followed the leaking of a memo from a French diplomat who claimed that Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, the British ambassador in Kabul, had told him the current strategy was “doomed to fail”.

    Posted by: b | Oct 5 2008 14:53 utc | 88

    More on our closing society...

    Interview - Naomi Wolf - Give Me Liberty

    Interview with Naomi Wolf author of "Give Me Liberty: A Handbook for American Revolutionaries" given October 4, 2008 on Mind Over Matters, KEXP 90.3 FM Seattle.

    wolf is sounding alarmed.. she is scared. Should we be also?

    Posted by: Uncle $cam | Oct 5 2008 18:43 utc | 89

    Gaza's useful mercenaries

    According to Hamas sources, groups supposedly affiliated to Al-Qaeda in Gaza are but paid and protected pro-Fatah criminal cells

    Posted by: Alamet | Oct 5 2008 22:23 utc | 90

    With a hat-tip to John Young's Crytptome site, this link to Craig Murray's site contains some interesting censored material on Tony Blair's early
    years as PM. Since the matter at issue involves arms trafficking between Britain and Sierra Leone in the 1990's, it may be of interest to b real, although it does pertain to West Africa rather than the Horn.

    If what Murray says can be taken at face value (and the bid to censor
    this passage from his new book certainly renders it plausible), this offers a rare view into the way honest and diligent intermediate level government officials see their work defeated by "higher interests". Of course, full details of the "grease" involved are lacking, but easily imagined. There is also a reference to the Berulusoni-Mills case: John Mills is currently under trial in Italy in connection with the sort of bribery Murray mentions (or at least involved in rather complex legal skirmishing), but his co-defendant Silvio Berlusconi is exempted from prosecution as a result of a recently passed law granting the top 4 government officials immunity as long as they hold such offices. Berlusconi seems to be more popular than ever, at least if one can believe his (many) TV outlets, or the largely subservient Italian national networks.

    One other question for b real a talking head on Iran's Press TV
    mentioned the existence of a substantial U.S. military base near the
    common border point of Libya, Chad, and Niger. Do you have any data?
    Maybe our visitors from Africom could shed some light?

    Posted by: Hannah K. O'Luthon | Oct 6 2008 5:56 utc | 91

    the existence of a substantial U.S. military base near the
    common border point of Libya, Chad, and Niger

    This quite extensive airfield in the middle of nowhere in Lybia, some 30 miles north of Chad and Niger, would be a good candidate for a U.S. base.

    Not much to see there except a 2 miles long runway and lots of parking space for planes, but the photo may be several years old.

    Posted by: b | Oct 6 2008 8:37 utc | 92

    After many months of reduced violence, still,,0,3145944.story>more Iraqis are leaving the country than those returning.

    Posted by: anna missed | Oct 6 2008 8:39 utc | 93

    there have been fairly constant reports from morocco & the region over a number of months that the u.s. military is erecting new structures on its property near tan-tan. evidently, the u.s. govt has had some property there for some time now & it is referenced in some AFRICOM-related documents. i have posted little bits of it in comments previously. the west coast is definitely the area that they would prefer to situate most of their presence. there's already the base in djibouti & the troops in ethiopia, kenya, etc. but the oil is mostly in nigeria & algeria and that's where the real focus is. the int'l oil companies & investors want some security guarantees in those areas. morocco may be a little far north. my take is that the africa partnership station flotilla is an early version of a base on the west coast modeled after CJTF-HOA.

    there are also some rumors of development on the canary islands too, if i recall correctly the concerns revolved around a large prison structure & some groups were protesting that this could be AFRICOM's guantanamo.

    libya has been outspoken against AFRICOM and has pushed for not allowing any additional u.s. bases or hubs on the continent, so i wouldn't expect gadhafi to reverse his earlier position to the point where he'd allow a permanent u.s. military presence there, though libya is one of the top oil producers on the continent & gazprom has recently made some inroads there.

    i will have to look through my notes at a later time & post more

    Posted by: b real | Oct 6 2008 14:24 utc | 94

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