Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
October 11, 2008

Open Thread - 08-34

Please add your news and views ...

Posted by b on October 11, 2008 at 18:38 UTC | Permalink

Comments

“'notional value' means absolutely nothing for a few reasons:
1.) most of these positions are netted. If I buy and sell 10 million in of the same credit swap with ten different counterparties, 100 million in total notional value is suddenly outstanding. But nowhere is 100 million at risk. Notional amount outstanding tells us nothing.
2.) the notional value of ALL derivative markets is by definition many times larger than the underlying value at risk. stock options amount to at least 100 times the size of the total number of shares outstanding.
3.)The notional amount of any insurance market is by definition larger than the "at-risk" portion, or no insurance would ever be written at all.
4.) most cds swaps are written on investment grade credits, most have nothing to do with structured finance, and most trade well below 100 bps. You might as well ban trading debt, or trading itself.
Posted by: vaudois | Oct 9, 2008 1:35:42 PM”

This is precisely the level of comment that makes your blog so valuable to the web. You might have to read the foregoing comment three or four times before it finally sinks in but it’s a damn site better than reading through some of the rambling diatribes that sadly sometimes get posted here. So saying, the majority by comparison to blogs cum blogs are near to brilliant at times.

Posted by: Spyware | Oct 11 2008 18:51 utc | 1

why isn't this comment not on the thread in which it pertains?

furthermore, if the purpose of the post is to compliment the quality of the blog, it is noted you used a comment directly challenging the blog owners post, while insulting the blog at the same time.

at the top of the open thread.

WTF?

Posted by: sick of trolls | Oct 11 2008 20:20 utc | 2

why isn't this comment on the thread in which it pertains?

Posted by: sick of trolls | Oct 11 2008 20:22 utc | 3

And now for something completely different. This may be of interest to any passerby who has been unable to separate him/herself from the scripted reality TV drama of the show known as "Prez08" Did you see John McCain put down the shill paid to stand up and say she couldn't trust an arab such as Barack Obama. McCain straightfaced lectured his audience on what a great, patriotic amerikan family man Obama was. I guess his pollsters have pointed out that going negative isn't working so now others say it while McCain confirms the slander with his weak denials. Oh well gotta keep the audience hooked, and let face it even "amerika's top model" has started to pall despite having the added frisson of seeing semi-clothed teenage girls starve themselves for the entertainment of a particularly nasty subset of misogynistic gay men.

Anyway I digress (or ramble according to the self styled 'journalist') I came across a link to a Rolling Stone 'expose' on the nominee from the rethug half of the amerikan empire party. It contains quotes from a fellow amerikan war criminal also incarcerated in North Vietnam for bombing civilians. One who didn't 'crack' and co-operate with his captors as McCain did.

While not oraganised as well as the swift boat campaign, these revelations from a so called 'hero' are most probably the reason McCain changed tack in the last 24 hours. Anything to distract more mainstream media from picking this attack up. A small flavour:

This is the story of the real John McCain, the one who has been hiding in plain sight. It is the story of a man who has consistently put his own advancement above all else, a man willing to say and do anything to achieve his ultimate ambition: to become commander in chief, ascending to the one position that would finally enable him to outrank his four-star father and grandfather.

In its broad strokes, McCain's life story is oddly similar to that of the current occupant of the White House. John Sidney McCain III and George Walker Bush both represent the third generation of American dynasties. Both were born into positions of privilege against which they rebelled into mediocrity. Both developed an uncanny social intelligence that allowed them to skate by with a minimum of mental exertion. Both struggled with booze and loutish behavior. At each step, with the aid of their fathers' powerful friends, both failed upward. And both shed their skins as Episcopalian members of the Washington elite to build political careers as self-styled, ranch-inhabiting Westerners who pray to Jesus in their wives' evangelical churches.

In one vital respect, however, the comparison is deeply unfair to the current president: George W. Bush was a much better pilot.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Oct 11 2008 21:20 utc | 4

Haven't seen or heard anything from Cheney lately. Why is that, I'm wondering.

Posted by: Maxcrat | Oct 12 2008 1:29 utc | 5

maxcrat

not necessarily a good sign

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Oct 12 2008 1:45 utc | 6

i wish it was a case of no news is good news.

Posted by: annie | Oct 12 2008 2:24 utc | 7

Noam Chomsky on Latin America

During the past decade, Latin America has become the most exciting region of the world.

Worth reading

Posted by: estouxim | Oct 12 2008 2:28 utc | 8

Maxcrat, maybe Cheney has decided to hole up in Bin Laden's cave.

Posted by: JohnH | Oct 12 2008 3:11 utc | 9

Cheney's been working on this:

link

Posted by: biklett | Oct 12 2008 4:29 utc | 10

@4, Gosh, I'm getting naive -- it never crossed my mind that the lady was maybe/likely a shill.

What I did notice is that, among all the nice things Mad Cain said in admonition, he did not detract the arab meme she was feeding.

Mad Cain is indeed a straight talker -- with a forked tongue. This is the charade he has been playing all along, letting others make the smear and attack ads then taking a lukewarm disapproval stance while denying direct responsibility.

Posted by: Chuck Cliff | Oct 12 2008 7:36 utc | 11

he did not detract the arab meme she was feeding.

i know, wasn't that bizarre?

“he’s an Arab.”

McCain shook his head and, taking the microphone from her, said “no, ma’am. He’s a decent family man

i was at the cafe w/my mom this morning (she's not political) when she was flipping thru the paper. she said, 'look at this!'

the weird thing is the news, instead of highlighting the racism in his response, seems to frame it as he was defending obama? what a weird weird world we're living in.

what i heard was 'he's not arab, he's decent.'

hellllo

Posted by: annie | Oct 12 2008 7:44 utc | 12

Back to the topic in the top post, from a completely different angle.

That the Paulson plan is hopeless can be understood with a gaming analogy.

If 5 poker players in a game amongst themselves place their bets in a completely rational manner, following a computer algorithm, the game stops. There are no gains to be had, and no live player will play. Poker players only play when they judge that other players will take irrational, risky decisions.

(A variant of this situation exists in real life. Blackjack or 21 is the only casino game in which a human player can ‘beat the bank’ - it is hard, slow, extremely boring work, and the returns are small. Casinos tolerate or ban these players; they are few and far between.)

If there are no naive players around poker stops. Paulson proposed himself as a giant super naive player with unlimited money! So the banks could win - and probably do and did - but against one player only and not from each other! No good. (In poker, the 4 ‘computer’ players fleece the patsy and then the game stops again.)

From a gaming pov, what should have been done was to distribute that unlimited money to countless new players. In fact, this was proposed somewhere (I forget where.) As an example: give 10 000 dollars to every adult / head of household/ ... in the US under the rule that they buy crappy paper! Everyone would play because there is no risk of loss.

The more European approach (the Swedish solution) is completely different in nature. It amounts to closing the casino and changing the rules. Interesting, heh, that the US bent is to keep the game going, whereas the Europeans proceed under the assumption the system must be changed.


Posted by: Tangerine | Oct 12 2008 8:35 utc | 13

From Joe Bageant's blog:By An Anonymous Political Consultant

The rise of religious fundamentalism as a political force is the most important and misunderstood development in our recent history.

The primary motivating factor in the development of the religious right is a defensive response to the challenges posed by the power of popular consumer and entertainment culture and not a backlash against progressive or liberal ideas and social movements.

The conflict between these two forces has come to dominate the discourse of our politics. What drives the intensity of this cultural war is the fact that it is a struggle between the only two revolutionary forces in American society. Popular culture is revolutionary because of the way and the relentless speed in which it challenges and uproots the traditional mores of American culture. Religious fundamentalism is revolutionary because it represents the only movement in American public life openly critical of American culture and society.

If the latter point seems strange to some, I would advise them to listen to an hour's worth of programming from Dr. James Dobson's daily broadcast on Christian radio. He is perhaps the most influential voice of the religious right on the broadcast medium. During that time, you will hear far greater criticism of American society and Americans on subjects such as greed, materialism, alienation caused by rampant individualism and the lack of supportive communities than you will hear on the purportedly liberal airways of Air America's Radio Programs.

When it comes to predicting the outcome of this struggle, there should be no doubt which side will ultimately prevail in this fight.

Religious fundamentalism here and abroad is no match for the powers of popular, consumer and entertainment culture. The reason for that is very simple: popular consumer culture is the most powerful and attractive ideology in human history.

It has three primary features. It demands no sacrifice from its faithful. It demands that you purchase and consume and that you become passively entertained.

The first principle is entirely unique in the annals of human history. All religions and ideologies demand adherence to a core of set principles, sacrifice, study and discipline. Popular consumer culture demands no attendance in mass political rallies, no involvement in one's community, no demand to read and educate yourself, no moral codes or dietary laws to live by, and no demand to read and decipher ancient text.

Its second principle is endless consumption completely detached from the objective realities of human needs, which also happens to be the basis for a significant percentage of the American economy.

Its third principle is the willingness and desire for passive entertainment, which is truly the devil's handiwork in any program whose purpose is to turn citizens into subjects. It is not entirely a coincidence that the rise of the most notorious totalitarian systems of the 20th century coincided with the advent of the film, radio and television mediums. Essentially any communication format, which can only speak, and never listens and rarely challenges you to think, is the best conditioning for the development of uncritical minds.

Of all the different factions in American society, it is only the most retrograde forces that have clearly understood the destructive effects of consumer popular culture on our society. This is likely because religious fundamentalists by the nature of their beliefs and narrow views of the world are forced to have a coherent set of ideas and framework, on what is important, on how life should be lived, and how individuals should conduct themselves in a society.

When it comes to measuring the actual impact of the religious right on our politics, there are two important items of note. First, it has realigned our political landscape and secondly, that it has not managed to achieve any real power.

The reason for the latter point is the result of the narrowness of its political agenda. During the 30 years of its active involvement in politics, and its development of both a significant political and communication infrastructure, the religious right in the United States has yet to formulate a coherent world view to address aspects of life outside of the narrow window of social issues it is concerned with.

Unlike the Christian Democratic parties in Europe, which effectively married the anti-communism and social conservatism of the Protestant and Catholic Churches with a relatively progressive economic agenda, or the Liberation Theologists of South America who attempted to create a coherent temporal and spiritual world view by bringing together Marxist analysis with the teachings of Christ, the religious right either by design or effect has failed to ask and answer the questions that would broaden the bases for its appeal.

This phenomenon creates unique opportunities to realign the correlation of forces in American politics. The truth is that the distance between religious conservatism and social democracy is far shorter than the difference between it and libertarian economics. Regardless of the fact they will never admit it the fundamentalist criticism of popular consumer culture is in fact a critique of market relationships. You cannot oppose the marketing of denigrating cultural products without conceding to the idea that the market should not be the sole arbiter in regulating all human activities and relationships.

The genius of the economic right and the neo-conservatives has been their ability to ignore this fact and work instead to fill in the blanks in the vast empty spaces within the worldview of the religious right with militarist and pro-corporate ideas.

The tasks of progressives is to tear apart the conservative consensus of the past thirty years by advocating agendas that will consistently split the constituencies of the religious right from its corporate right partners.

If progressives are serious about winning victories that can realign our politics, they must find a way to marry the legitimate criticism of the decadence of popular culture with criticism of the decadence of an economic system that create the savage inequalities we see in America today. Once that is done, the entire project of the right collapses under the weight of its own contradictions.

The mastery of the political right over the past thirty years has been primarily to better understand the irrational factors in politics. Conservatives have always understood that when it comes to politics, people rarely act in their rational self-interest but instead on emotion, fears and the perception of their interests.

The first principle of organizing any successful new political movement is not new ideas but the identification of new enemies.

Posted by: anna missed | Oct 12 2008 9:30 utc | 14

A Primer on Wall Street Meltdown
by Walden Bello

To elaborate on the arch-speculator's insight, what we are seeing is the intensification of one of the central crises or contradictions of global capitalism, which is the crisis of overproduction, also known as over-accumulation or overcapacity.

This is the tendency for capitalism to build up tremendous productive capacity that outruns the population's capacity to consume, owing to social inequalities that limit popular purchasing power. Profitability is thus eroded.
...
The Wall Street meltdown is due not only to greed and the lack of government regulation of a hyperactive sector. It stems ultimately from the crisis of overproduction that has plagued global capitalism since the mid-1970s.

Financialization of investment activity has been one of the escape routes from stagnation, the other two being neoliberal restructuring and globalization. With neoliberal restructuring and globalization providing limited relief, financialization became attractive as a mechanism to shore up profitability. But financialization has proven to be a dangerous road, leading to speculative bubbles that lead to the temporary prosperity of a few but which ultimately end up in corporate collapse and in recession in the real economy.

The key questions now are: How deep and long will this recession be? Does the US economy need another speculative bubble to drag itself out of this recession? And if it does, where will the next bubble form? Some people say the military-industrial complex, or the "disaster capitalism complex" that Naomi Klein writes about, is the next one, but that's another story.

Posted by: b | Oct 12 2008 11:06 utc | 15

...It has three primary features. It demands no sacrifice from its faithful. It demands that you purchase and consume and that you become passively entertained.

No mention at all of military spending and the expansion of its policing function. No doubt they can be worked into the analysis, but the way to do so is not obvious to me.

Posted by: alabama | Oct 12 2008 12:25 utc | 16

The Surge That Failed
Afghanistan under the Bombs

He ran toward the scene. It was only when he shoved his way through the crowd and up to the wreckage that he actually saw it -- his mother's severed head lying amid mangled furniture.

He didn't scream. Instead, the sight induced a sort of catatonia; he picked up the head, cradled it in his arms, and started walking aimlessly. He carried on like this for days, until tribal elders pried the head from his hands and convinced him to deal with his loss more constructively. He decided he would get revenge by becoming a suicide bomber and inflicting a loss on some American family as painful as the one he had just suffered.
...
Approximately 45% of the population is now unable to purchase enough food to guarantee bare minimum health levels, according to the Brookings Institution. This winter, Afghan officials claim that hunger may kill up to 80% of the population in some northern provinces caught in a vicious drought. Reports are emerging of parents selling their children simply to make ends meet. In one district of the southern province of Ghazni last spring things got so bad that villagers started eating grass. Locals say that after a harsh winter and almost no food, they had no choice.
...
Of course, the Taliban won't be capturing Kabul anytime soon; the international forces are much too powerful to topple militarily. But the Americans can't defeat the Taliban either; the guerrillas are too deeply rooted in a country scarred by no jobs, no security, and no hope. The result is a war of attrition, with the Americans planning to pour yet more fuel on the flames by throwing in more soldiers next year.

This is a war to be won by constructing roads, creating jobs, cleaning up the government, and giving Afghans something they've had preciously little of in the last 30 years: hope. However, hope is fading fast here, and that's a fact Washington can ill afford to ignore; for once the Afghans lose all hope, the Americans will have lost this war.

Posted by: b | Oct 12 2008 14:10 utc | 17

b,

the Marxist term for the Great Depressionofthe 1030's was "the overproduction crisis". Overproduction, especially of consumer goods, was never a major problem under Soviet rule.

But we have certainly been overproducing. The lack of government oversight allwed the financial markets to grow so completely skewered that they directed the flow of capital into producing swathes of mansion-sized private homes that nobody can afford to buy or pay off anymore.

For that, there is a shortage of credit to build and maintain roads, schools and other vital parts of the nation's infrastructure.

Posted by: ralphieboy | Oct 12 2008 14:22 utc | 18

The big impediment to banning CDS turns out to be legal.

Gulp.

Posted by: ...---... | Oct 12 2008 14:52 utc | 19

Tangerine (Oct 12, 2008 4:35:32 AM | 13)

In my opinion; re: your poker gaming analogy:

That the Paulson plan is hopeless can be understood with a gaming analogy.

If 5 poker players in a game amongst themselves place their bets in a completely rational manner, following a computer algorithm, the game stops. There are no gains to be had, and no live player will play. Poker players only play when they judge that other players will take irrational, risky decisions.

This gaming analogy to poker, may be relevant in a simple cash game, where blinds are minimal, and optional, depending on your placement to the button, and where time is really to a large extent irrelevant (i.e. you can play tight aggressive poker, for hours, waiting for your nuts hand).

But this is certainly not the case in a poker tournament game; which in my opinion is in this case a closer analogy to the geofinance realities, where multiple geopolitical factors, act like blinds and ante's... continually.

Ex: In a Texas Holdem tournament game (eg WSOP), (i) the players are all committed to remain in the game till the end; (ii) and the blind's and ante's continue to rise incrementally (sucking up each players chips, irrespective of whether s/he plays by tight conservative 'rational' (financial/computer odds); accordingly each player is forced to play 'irrationally' by bluffing, or semi-bluffing, to enable thier chips not to diminish to the point where they no longer have any significant 'all-in' or similar leverage.

Consider just the one factor (and there are many others) of compound interest (usury), and how it increases incrementally (and you get an idea of how it's similar to the blinds and ante's increasing incrementally in a TX Holdem WSOP) game. Although in the Poker analogy, each player is made much more cognisant of this reality as his chips get eaten up, in front of his eyes, by this factor. The poker player has the benefit of 'reality'; his chips are of (within the game's context) intrinsic value ($40,000 chips = $40,000).

In the 'market' context, (stock market) players don't see the immediate effects of the blinds and antes (fiat currency, usury, helium bookkeeping, ponzi derivatives) eating away at their chips...

Finally, in any poker tournament; the 'bank' is an impartial arbiter, and receives a small percentage, for it's impartial arbitting... whereas in the Slavery Exchange 'Stock' Markets, the banks are anything but impartial arbiters...

My two cents...

Posted by: HUMINT 'Market' Art | Oct 12 2008 15:18 utc | 20

@ralphieboy - overproduction is just the counterpart of under-consumption. If the majority of the working people is not paid enough to consume, production is senseless. The U.S. has tried to pamper over this by cheap credit. But that only works so long.

Wages have to go way up to sustain productions at current levels.

Posted by: b | Oct 12 2008 17:01 utc | 21

U.S. Military Plans Polls and Focus Groups in Iraq

The U.S. military is planning a large polling and focus-group operation in Iraq over the next three years to help "build robust and positive relations with the people of Iraq and to assist the Iraqi people in forming a new government," according to a proposal seeking private contractors for the program.

The $15 million-a-year initiative will supplement the military's $100 million-a-year strategic communications operation, which aims to produce content for Iraqi media that will "engage and inspire" the population. The proposed polling contract, which has yet to be awarded, would centralize activities currently conducted by four different commands within Multi-National Force-Iraq and the Psychological Operations and Information Operations task forces.
...

Posted by: b | Oct 12 2008 17:18 utc | 22

well, i just read about another bombing in pakistan, killing 35 people. 12 of which are estimated to be 'potential suicide bombers'. please. sorry, too lazy to link. yesterday was another. for the last 3 or 4 days there seems to be another one. wtf.

i guess w/the elections coming up we can just ignore this daily bombing campaign?

Posted by: annie | Oct 12 2008 19:23 utc | 23

i didn't mean 'we' as in MOA.

Posted by: annie | Oct 12 2008 19:23 utc | 24

Just a short note before I get down to something else, has anyone else noticed how the G-8 summit which met in July to an a rather subdued cacophony has now become, permanently it seems, the G-7?

I thought that Russia's wrist slap was only temporary, after all it is only two years since Vlad the retailer held the presidency of the G-8 whose summit was in Leningrad St Petersburg in 2006.

A meeting to solve the world's financial crisis that Russia isn't invited to? My, it seems as though amerika is planning to go out in one last doomed and failed attempt for the brass ring of world domination.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Oct 12 2008 19:29 utc | 25

Knowing what happens in the world is so goddamn depressing.

Posted by: Cloud | Oct 12 2008 22:00 utc | 26

The despair of all those European writers of the early to mid 20th century has been entirely vindicated.

Posted by: Cloud | Oct 12 2008 22:13 utc | 27

What kind of change is this?

Barack Obama would offer John McCain a job is he wins the US election - Telegraph

Barack Obama would like to offer John McCain a job if he becomes president, in what his allies says is an attempt to end the bitter partisan rancour that engulfed the White House race last week.

Both presidential rivals are working behind the scenes to calm the increasingly incendiary atmosphere on the campaign trail, which erupted with lurid claims about Mr Obama's links with the former terrorist Bill Ayres and a lynch mob atmosphere at McCain rallies.

Two Democratic sources with knowledge of the thinking in the Obama camp say that forming a partnership with Mr McCain would prove that Mr Obama will reach across the aisle and also help rehabilitate Mr McCain, who many Democrats believe has been pushed by hardline advisers into making increasingly desperate attacks on his rival.

By his own admission, the Republican candidate "took the gloves off" last week , unleashing adverts and soundbites attacking Mr Obama's character and judgment as polls showed him on course for a landslide election victory.

Posted by: Fran | Oct 12 2008 22:41 utc | 28

aana 14 - the predominent element of entertainment culture over all other human cultures is that it's always on, a 24x7x365x1000 UberOberAmerReich.

Sadly, as pensioners wait in St. Christopher's Square for smoke from the chimney, Cardinal Paulson has announced to the world that increasing trade barriers is not the solution to the global credit problem caused by the UberOberAmerReichians.

Those who understand code signals will begin drifting towards the exits, and the Rushkies launched a Roman candle of their own, pre-emptively controlling the mob.

Posted by: Kulev Varnoc | Oct 12 2008 22:55 utc | 29

Interesting story. I wonder why it is exposed in this manner.

Arrested Iranian businessman was German agent

An Iranian businessman arrested a week ago in Germany on suspicion of illegal exports to Iran was a valued agent of the German foreign intelligence service BND, the news magazine Der Spiegel reported on Saturday.


Prosecutors had advised the BND before the arrest they had no choice but to detain the man, 61, who had the code name Sindbad, because of suspicions that he was supplying equipment needed to make Iran's Shabah missiles, Spiegel said.

In a story to hit the streets in its Monday issue, Spiegel said Sindbad's intelligence deliveries to Germany included photographs of tunnel-drilling machinery, details of secret warehouses and up-to-date reports on Iranian missile development work.
(snip)

Posted by: Alamet | Oct 12 2008 23:39 utc | 30

interesting development (if true) on the SOFA

The last session of the negotiation between the two sides was crucial, an agreement was reached on the disputed points…..Washington will have the legal jurisdiction over U.S. soldiers during the military operations authorized by the Iraqi government only, otherwise, any American soldier commits a crime outside the framework of this agreement, will be subjected to the Iraqi law.

IOW, if the US plans a little air attack or assassination w/out authorization of maliki&co, the iraqi government would be the decider in terms of if it was legal warfare or murder and prosecute the perpetrators however they saw fit?

hmm.

Posted by: annie | Oct 12 2008 23:42 utc | 31

re 31, in no way do i think the US would ever agree to this.

that should go without saying. i was copying the text as it read. there is more at the link.

also from RTI kurdish militias behind massacres of christians in mosel

Posted by: annie | Oct 12 2008 23:48 utc | 32

Thanks to anna missed for the link to Bageant, which is very interesting, although alabama's comment is highly pertinent. I doubt that such a rational project of political reclamation will come to pass, if indeed, it is really possible for contingent historical reasons.

On another topic, Victor Bout, still fighting extradition from Thailand, has given a rather
extensive interview to Kommersant. For those following the on-going controversy between the U.S. government and the "Bout camp" it is interesting material.

Posted by: Hannah K. O'Luthon | Oct 13 2008 6:17 utc | 33

Following annie @ 31, there's quite a good interview with Maliki in the Times today, which sets out his position clearly.

According to M., the US has agreed to complete withdrawal by 2011. He says the issue of immunity, as in #31, is the main sticking point unresolved.

Is the biggest obstacle America's demand for immunity for its forces when they are not on duty?

Yes, yes definitely.

I was quite interested to see that he repeats his personal position that he did not choose to be PM, and he would not put himself up again voluntarily.

Posted by: Alex | Oct 13 2008 6:55 utc | 34

I think alabama's question is addressed in passing in the following:

"The genius of the economic right and the neo-conservatives has been their ability to ignore this fact (the disconnect between fundamentalist theology and its market critique) and work instead to fill in the blanks in the vast empty spaces within the worldview of the religious right with militarist and pro-corporate ideas.

Which is of course, the so called "genius" of Rove's 1% idea. And the re-defining of American exceptionalism away from an intrinsic judicial, cultural, and meritocratic idealism that circumvents the necessity of socialism in the production of an egalitarian society - and into instead, a narcissistic self aggrandizing militant solipsism masquerading as theology, or the American ideal. It's interesting that "populist" Sarah Palin has mention American exceptionalism several times now as the highest American value. I wonder what she truly means when she says such things, is she really into the soft socialism of Alaskan corporatism, is she really supportive of hubbies unionizing, was she really serious about the successionist talk, or is she just another cynical Rovian looking for latest neologism to hook the fundies into voting against there interests again. We'll probably never know, because no one will ever ask her. But, the author above makes the essential point, that as long as the left fails to address this and his points about the pervasive consumer culture that suffocates everything - the republicans will continue play the religious right and stay one step ahead of the democrats every time, until they get a clue and start to identify the new enemies. Particularly, those enemies we have "in common".

Posted by: anna missed | Oct 13 2008 8:09 utc | 35

Re Iraq, so the biggest obstacle is the issue of immunity, and the Iraqi puppets are putting up an oh-so-spirited defense... Meanwhile, things are rolling along just fine, apparently, where it matters most:

Iraqi government fuels 'war for oil' theories by putting reserves up for biggest ever sale

The biggest ever sale of oil assets will take place today, when the Iraqi government puts 40bn barrels of recoverable reserves up for offer in London.

BP, Shell and ExxonMobil are all expected to attend a meeting at the Park Lane Hotel in Mayfair with the Iraqi oil minister, Hussein al-Shahristani.

Access is being given to eight fields, representing about 40% of the Middle Eastern nation's reserves, at a time when the country remains under occupation by US and British forces.
(snip)

There is no precedent for proven oil reserves of this magnitude being offered up for sale, said Muttitt. "The nearest thing would be the post-Soviet sale of the Kashagan field [in the Caspian Sea], which had 7bn or 8bn barrels."
(snip)

Posted by: Alamet | Oct 13 2008 13:32 utc | 36

chomsky
Anti-democratic nature of US capitalism is being exposed

The Financial Crisis of 2008 (Interviewed by Simone Bruno)

Posted by: b real | Oct 13 2008 14:24 utc | 37

You do understand, Alamet @ 36, don't you, that Maliki and the Bush administration/Western MSM media speak completely different languages? It is very rare for what one says to be confirmed by the other. I doubt that the Iraqis think they are selling what you just reported. As I don't think that Bush would confirm that all US troops will be out of Iraq by the end of 2011, as Maliki has just said (I believe they may be, as Maliki is not budging, but that is another matter).

Posted by: Alex | Oct 13 2008 14:26 utc | 38

@ HUMINT, I understand.

.. it all depends on what level of analogy / metaphor one wants to go for. That can be very low, simple, or somewhat higher, more complex. Which is useful, or properly illustrative, I don’t know. It depends on the audience, for one. Then all the other considerations... Bridge player myself.

Posted by: Tangerine | Oct 13 2008 17:07 utc | 39

from alamet's link

Al-Shahristani is expected to reveal some kind of "risk service agreements" that could run for up to 20 years, with formal offers to be submitted by next spring and agreements signed in the summer.

Gregg Muttitt, from the UK-based social and ecological justice group Platform, says he is alarmed that the government is pushing ahead with its plans without the support of many in Iraq.

"Most of the terms of what is being offered have not been disclosed. There are security, political and reputational risks here for oil companies but none of them will want to see one of their competitors gain an advantage," he said.

not sure what is meant by "risk service agreements" but does this mean these deals being made today won't be finalized til next year?

alex

As I don't think that Bush would confirm that all US troops will be out of Iraq by the end of 2011, as Maliki has just said ....According to M., the US has agreed to complete withdrawal by 2011.

RTI reports..

While Al-Malaf Press report gives very different information:

Well-informed sources told the news site that the security agreement with the United States may continue after the U.S. presidential elections in next November, despite the concessions offered by the American side announced by Al-Maliki during his visit to Sistani last Friday.

From the same above link the “source” gives us a very good update on the development of the disputed points:

About the final date for the U.S. forces withdrawal, the American-side agreed on the 30 Dec 2011 adding this line to the draft agreement:

If the Iraqi government did not asks to extend [the presence].

Maliki demanded the removal of this line, to prevent any delay or complexity to the full withdrawal deadline.

Another article concerning the withdrawal of U.S. forces from cities to their military bases by June next year, in which the text also says:

If their presence [the U.S. forces] unneeded.

This line is also rejected Al-Maliki, according to sources.

The reason to believe the Al-Malaf Press link is that after his visit to Sistani, Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Watan reported the following:

According to unconfirmed sources, Sistani is unenthusiastic about the deal [SOFA], which makes the Maliki’s position very critical, especially the Supreme Council’s objections.

Maliki’s troubles with his allies and foes are not finished yet, and he do not want to risk his future and his party;s future with signing the security agreement before the U.S. election and he bargains on the next U.S. administration to get a better deal.

it is not clear if those 2 little sentences Maliki demanded removed have been resolved but this implies the current US sofa draft leaves open the possibility the US would not be breaking their terms of the sofa simply by having a future iraq administration ask for an extension. ie: (If the Iraqi government did not asks to extend)

an extension being much easier than a requirement of any future arrangement. same w/the removal of US troops from cities by june. it sounds like the US wants that june cities withdrawl optional ie "If their presence [the U.S. forces] unneeded.". so while the dates appear to, be agreed apon, the draft at present sounds conditional and it isn't clear to me these conditions are agreed by both sides.

Posted by: annie | Oct 13 2008 17:16 utc | 40

annie @40

If the Iraqi government did not asks to extend [the presence].

Sounds like an end is planned for Maliki.

Otherwise the al-Malaf report is as expected. The two sides are still speaking different languages, and a signature is not close. With the exception of the last, which is only a journalist's conclusion: he bargains on the next U.S. administration to get a better deal. Unless M. has done a secret deal with Obama, which I doubt, it is not a question of M. seeking a better deal. He has gone as far as he can, and the US accepts, or deposes him.

Posted by: Alex | Oct 13 2008 18:40 utc | 41

Atlanta Police using Tank

You know, to "protect and serve"...

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Oct 13 2008 21:21 utc | 42

Alex @ 38, do you mean the final agreements may not end up to be as rapacious as the oil co.s would like? That would be good. But I think what matters here is not how favorable the terms are and how big a percentage of the oil Iraq can secure. The life or death question is who gets to control production rates. The best percentage in the world won't help Iraq much if they are forced to fill the gap as the new swing supplier and their oil runs dry fifteen years from now.

Posted by: Alamet | Oct 13 2008 23:45 utc | 43

from the jim bamford interview on tuesday's democracy now

AMY GOODMAN: Jim Bamford, can you talk about how the NSA picked up the very first clues about the 9/11 attacks well before the 9/11 attacks?

JAMES BAMFORD: Well, the very first clue to the 9/11 attack occurred in late December 1999, when the NSA picked up a message from a house in Yemen. The house was being used by bin Laden as his operations center. He didn’t have much capability to operate out of Afghanistan, so all the phone calls, all the messages, email and all that would go to this house in the city of Sanaa, the capital of Yemen. NSA had been eavesdropping on that house for a number of years, and in late December 1999, it picked up a particular intercept, picked up a particular phone conversation.

And the phone conversation said that—send Khalid and Nawaf to Kuala Lumpur for a meeting. So, NSA picked that up, and they—first of all, they figured that Nawaf and Khalid had to be very important potential terrorists, because they were being assigned by bin Laden out in Afghanistan to go to a meeting in Kuala Lumpur. That seemed like a terrorist summit meeting. NSA gave that information to the other intelligence agencies, and the CIA set up a surveillance in Kuala Lumpur, and then they lost them in Kuala Lumpur.

After they lost them, Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi went to California. They got in without any problem. NSA, even though they had the last name of Nawaf al-Hazmi in their computers, they never bothered to check, so they both got in without any problem into the United States. They went down, and they lived in San Diego. And they began calling back and forth to that house in Yemen, the house that NSA was eavesdropping on. So NSA is picking up their conversations to the house in Yemen, translating them and then sending out the conversations to—or summaries of the conversations to the CIA without ever telling anybody that they were in the United States. And they were in the United States for almost two years. Al-Hazmi was there from January 2000 to September 2001. And again, they’re communicating back and forth; NSA is picking up but not telling anybody that they’re in the US.

...

AMY GOODMAN: You say that they set up their final base of operations almost next door to the NSA headquarters in Laurel, Maryland?

JAMES BAMFORD: Well, that’s the ultimate irony, was they eventually travel across country from San Diego, and they set up their final base of operations—these are the—this is the crew that was about to attack the Pentagon—about a month before, they set up their base of operations in Laurel, Maryland, of all places, that happens to be the same city that NSA is headquartered. So they set up their base of operations in this Valencia Motel, and almost across the Baltimore-Washington Parkway is NSA headquarters. The director’s office is on the eighth floor, and, except for some trees, he could almost see the motel where they’re staying. So, NSA is over there trying to find terrorists, and here is the 9/11 terrorists sitting right opposite the NSA on the other side of the parkway making their final plans.

Mohamed Atta flew there for summit meetings. And they had to take three hotels at one point to put all the people there. So, as NSA is looking for them, they’re having their final summit meetings there, and they’re walking around the Safeway, they’re exercising in Gold’s Gym, they’re eating in the restaurants there, they’re mingling with NSA employees. That’s NSA’s company town. It’s just the ultimate irony that here you have the terrorists and the eavesdroppers living side by side in the month before the final attack.

AMY GOODMAN: You then say, after the attacks, the White House expanded massively surveillance, turning it inward on Americans right here. Can you talk about how they did it?

JAMES BAMFORD: Well, first of all, looking back on the pre-attack, it was clear right after the attack that General Hayden, the Director of NSA, realized the big mistake he had made, that these guys not only were in the US, and he never told anybody they were communicating from the other side of the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, and he never let anybody know. So, obviously, he was very chagrined at the fact that, you know, his actions were contributing factors to the whole 9/11 attack by not being more aggressive in going after their communications and telling people where they were.

So, after 9/11, to some degree to make up for it, he decided to not protest when the Bush administration, particularly Dick Cheney, began putting pressure on him to begin doing warrantless domestic eavesdropping or warrantless eavesdropping of Americans. And that was a big mistake. It would have been much better if he stood up like Jim Comey at the Justice Department did. He stood up, as well as the director of the FBI. And even Attorney General John Ashcroft stood up and threatened to resign over parts of this warrantless eavesdropping. But General Hayden decided to go along with it, and as a result, the NSA began this very intrusive program of warrantless eavesdropping on US citizens, both intrusive and largely useless.

smells like alot more than just some 'ultimate irony', imo. but what do i know..

Posted by: b real | Oct 14 2008 17:24 utc | 44

degrees of hank paulson

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Oct 14 2008 17:30 utc | 45

jeez b real, that's quite a link

Posted by: annie | Oct 14 2008 17:46 utc | 46

Alamet @ 43

do you mean the final agreements may not end up to be as rapacious as the oil co.s would like?.

Yes. It has since been reported by annie that Shahristani is planning to retain 51% of ownership. And I should think there will be other conditions. The Iraqis are well aware of the dangers of giving away their oil wealth. Very conscious. They didn't pass the oil law that the US wanted, so in the same way they are not likely to give away control now.

Posted by: Alex | Oct 14 2008 19:50 utc | 47

haven't read thru any of the study yet, buy by the press release it looks to contain some useful information

Energy Independence and the Real Cost of Oil: A new report shows U.S. spends billions to defend access to global energy reserves

Northampton, MA – October 14, 2008 – According to a new report from National Priorities Project (NPP), the United States is spending between $97 and $215 billion dollars annually on military action to defend access to oil and natural gas reserves around the globe. The Military Cost of Securing Energy provides a critical analysis of the military cost of defending U.S. energy concerns overseas. The report estimates that the military spends up to 30 percent of its annual budget to secure access to energy resources internationally.

The report is authored by Dr. Anita Dancs, Asst. Professor of Economics at Western New England College, with Suzanne Smith, Research Director at NPP, and Mary Orisich, Research Associate at NPP. They have spent the past several months analyzing – using two different processes – the global pursuit of energy by the federal government and the U.S. military to estimate the amount of money being spent. “The military budget isn't broken down by mission or region of the world, so it isn't obvious at all how many resources are devoted to securing access to and the transport of energy,” says Dr. Dancs. “Because of this, we developed different sets of assumptions and created two methodologies to answer the question.” Dancs adds that after looking carefully at the numbers, it became clear that even without considering the Iraq war, approximately $100 billion of the Department of Defense budget will be used to secure energy resources in 2009. “We hope that by publishing these preliminary results, we can start a national discussion,” she says. “Not only about how to calculate these numbers more precisely, but about the implications of this spending when the federal government only spends a few billion on renewable energy and conservation.”
...
Energy expert and author Michael Klare (who is also a member of NPP's board of directors), says this research shows the clear connection between the U.S. military, national security, and U.S. access to global energy supplies. “One of the main reasons that our troops are deployed around the globe is to secure access to energy resources,” Klare says. “This paper shows that, without a doubt, energy security is tied in with national security and military action. The question that follows then is, is this a sustainable strategy – both in terms of the threat of foreign wars and the inevitable cost of human life, and also in terms of the rapid depletion of resources and concurrent destruction of the environment and changing climate – and if not, what do we need to do to change it?” Klare praised the authors for “their original and probing methodology that illuminates the ties between U.S. dependence on foreign oil and U.S. military policy more thoroughly than ever before.”

Along with the report, NPP has released corollary fact sheets on energy consumption and renewable alternatives (nationally and by state) and published a web-based quiz to help translate and disseminate these complex findings.

Posted by: b real | Oct 15 2008 3:11 utc | 48

CIA Tactics Endorsed In Secret Memos - Waterboarding Got White House Nod

The Bush administration issued a pair of secret memos to the CIA in 2003 and 2004 that explicitly endorsed the agency's use of interrogation techniques such as waterboarding against al-Qaeda suspects -- documents prompted by worries among intelligence officials about a possible backlash if details of the program became public.
...
In interviews, the officials recounted a series of private briefings about the program with members of the administration's security team, including Rice and Cheney, followed by more formal meetings before a larger group including then-Attorney General John D. Ashcroft, then-White House counsel Alberto R. Gonzales and then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. None of the officials recalled President Bush being present at any of the discussions.
...

Posted by: b | Oct 15 2008 5:50 utc | 49

Troop pull-out leaves government on brink - Ethiopian withdrawal marks end of disastrous intervention that sparked new violence and suffering

SOMALIA'S FRAGILE government appears to be on the brink of collapse. Islamist insurgents now controls large parts of southern and central Somalia - and are continuing to launch attacks inside the capital, Mogadishu.

Ethiopia, which launched a US-backed military intervention in Somalia in December 2006 in an effort to drive out an Islamist authority in Mogadishu, is now pulling out its troops.

Diplomats and analysts in neighbouring Nairobi believe the government will fall once Ethiopia completes its withdrawal, and secret plans have been made to evacuate government ministers to neighbouring Kenya.

That may happen sooner rather than later. A shipment of Ethiopian weapons, including tanks, left Mogadishu port last month as part of the withdrawal. Bringing the equipment back to Ethiopia by land would have been impossible - analysts believe Ethiopian troops and their Somali government allies control just three small areas in Mogadishu and a few streets in Baidoa, the seat of parliament. There are now estimated to be just 2500 Ethiopian soldiers left inside Somalia, down from 15,000-18,000 at the height of the war.
...
The government's fall would mark the end of a disastrous US-backed intervention. For six months in 2006, Somalia was relatively calm. A semblance of peace and security had returned to Mogadishu. The reason was the rise of the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), a loose coalition of Islamist leaders who had driven out Mogadishu's warlords.

Hardline elements within the UIC vowed to launch a jihad against Somalia's traditional enemy, Ethiopia. The US viewed the UIC has an "al-Qaeda cell" - a belief not shared by the majority of analysts and diplomats.

Posted by: b | Oct 15 2008 6:21 utc | 50

possible upcoming death alert (wishful thinking, i know i'm terrible god will strike me down)

raw story reports

Cheney experienced an abnormal heart rhythm, and that he would have to "visit George Washington University Hospital for an outpatient procedure to restore his normal rhythm."

"Cheney's press secretary Megan Mitchell said that during a visit with doctors Wednesday morning, it was discovered that the vice president was having a recurrence of atrial fibrillation - an abnormal rhythm involving the upper chambers of his heart," the AP reported.

Posted by: annie | Oct 15 2008 18:29 utc | 51

Debates:

I wonder if anyone here was listening to the KPFA pacifica after debate discussions? I am really hoping I can hunt down the commentary afterward's as they let third party contenders speak. Because, Ralph Nader --Eris love him--, just unloaded on what they, both Obomba and Mcpalin didn't broach. It was good, and then got better and then my jaw dropped. In the short 10/15 minutes he spoke I was blown away by his command of issues and articulation and subjects I was cheering him. If I can hunt it down it is very worth posting. And I will. Needless to say he had more substance in his short rant than all four debates combined. Which isn't saying much as they, (the debates) all four seemed to center and the same three four, perhaps five issues. But man, the issues that Nader brought up, I hadn't even had on the front burner of my mind until he jarred me out of tonights debate trance.

It was like going from underfunded inner city 8th grade jr. high readers digest class room to an interesting 500/Graduate level university symposium on a topic you enjoy. One w/meat and gravy, and biscuit. lol.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Oct 16 2008 4:59 utc | 52

For those interested in Austria and seeking their daily (over)dose of hard-core conspiracy theory, scroll down this link to read all about the Haider "accident".

Posted by: Hannah K. O'Luthon | Oct 16 2008 5:54 utc | 53

annie @ 51 et al...

perhaps it has something to do with this post from mefi entitled: Torturing Democracy,is a new is a new documentary which details how the government set aside the rule of law in its pursuit of harsh interrogations of suspected terrorists. You can watch it online or on some PBS affiliates, but PBS won't run it nationally until January 21, 2009. Scott Horton suspects that may be because PBS is afraid of political retaliation.
Be sure to check out the mefi link above, for the embedded links due to MOA link restictions that I couldn't post.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Oct 16 2008 9:19 utc | 54

time for a laugh

turn up your sound, move the cursor around and click - gets better and better.

probably not office-safe.

Posted by: Hamburger | Oct 16 2008 13:51 utc | 55

IVAW crashes the party, i.e., the debates... Blood was spilled.

IVAW members arrested while attempting to present questions to Obama and McCain

One hour before the final presidential debate of the 2008 campaign, fourteen members of IVAW marched in formation to Hofstra University to present questions for the candidates. IVAW had requested permission from debate moderator Bob Schieffer to ask their questions during the debate but got no response.

The contingent of veterans in dress uniforms and combat uniforms attempted to enter the building where the debate was to be held in order to ask their questions but were turned back by police. The IVAW members at the front of the formation were immediately arrested, and others were pushed back into the crowd by police on horseback. Several members were injured, including former Army Sergeant Nick Morgan who suffered a broken cheekbone when he was trampled by police horses before being arrested.


Posted by: Uncle $cam | Oct 16 2008 14:03 utc | 56

Just put below at Feral Scholar, comment on an excellent DeAnander post http://www.feralscholar.org/blog/index.php/2007/10/02/treated-like-meat/#comment-270890>Treated Like Meat on the (apparent) stupidity and evident cruelty of forbidding farmers to do their own butchering. Put this summary of articles (mentioned here before separately) together with the financial "bust out":

We are meat to the elite, our owners, our creditors. We are warned that we are too many ("useless eaters" is the term quoted for 30 years from Ted Turner, Kissinger, others), have been thus indoctrinated for 40 years plus (Ehrlich's Population Bomb is 1968). Factory farms test our kindness and intelligence, and foreshadow our culling and future cultures. Note that Ted Turner has sold his media holdings (less profitable if consumers consumed), buys inland acres en masse.

We've been told that we are warming the earth, and indeed the powerful have made decisions for us the last 100 years to make this plausible. (LA and other city transit systems bought and dismantled, oil and coal chosen over Tesla electricity from atmosphere wirelessly transmitted possibilities, once J.P. Morgan had his people look over the plans.)

The paid boobs who deny anthropogenic global warming are actually right, even those who say we're likely entering an overall cooling period, but they don't stress the significance of localized warming from below, nor visibly anticipate obvious inevitable events, but only say carbon credits are a scam, true enough.


Like the deniers, big environmental groups are controlled, for they also don't stress obvious things. For example: when titanic glaciers melt or slide from land to sea, the earth flexes from the weight now dispersed. Earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions result. This has happened several times for very long periods, and is standard geology.

For prehistory repeating itself, search: "Greenland's Ice Sheet Is Slip-Sliding Away " (LA Times 6/25/06). Note seismic activity at end and idea of Greenland possibly being 3 islands under the 2 miles thick ice , so the center area is 1000′ below sea level (from other source). No discussion of the sea water thus running under and up into the glaciers and the potential for unseen draining via the reported drill-like holes beneath the "unblemished surface".

A week later appeared
"Climate Change Could Cause Earthquakes and Volcanic Eruptions, Scientists Say" (Ottawa Citizen 7/3/06). ("Could" as in "Gravity could cause unsupported objects to fall."

Neither article has any discussion of possible effects of earthquakes on glaciers sliding, both ignore the inevitable sequence: less weight triggers earthquake, quake causes slide, repeat until arctics are cap-less.

"Greenland's Ice Cap Is Melting at a Frighteningly Fast Rate" (S.F. Chronicle 8/11/06) says said ice is 3 miles thick, and also that it's melting thrice as fast as 5 years gone (LA Times 6/25 said twice)

Also see "Glaciers Are Flowing Faster" Nature 9/23/04,
"A Bit of Icy Antarctica Is Sliding Toward the Sea" Science 9/24/04, "Dramatic Change in West Antarctic Sea Ice Could Produce 16ft Rise in Sea Levels" Independent/UK 2/2/05. (By the way, this explains the Dubai ports deal in Spring '06, contracts bought from the former owners of the Penninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company. Isn't that a wonderful Victorian name? Well, it had wonderful Victorian owners, and note the advisers to the deal at 20% above assessed 2005 value.

NY Times 11/30/05: Dubai to Buy P&O, British Shipping Line, for $5.7 Billion:
"P&O headquarters will remain in London, and P&O's chief executive, Robert Woods, will stay on in that role. P&O board members are recommending the offer, and it is expected to close in the first quarter of 2006. P&O was advised by Citigroup and Rothschild.")

Yet Greenpeace remains headquartered in Amsterdam and stresses loss of sea ice and endangered polar bears, walruses, seals, only mentions land ice tangentially.

UK Observer 9/8/07 ran
"Melting ice cap triggering earthquakes" about NW Greenland in summer '07 getting first earthquakes on record, only 1-3 Richter so far, acknowledged as due to ice lightening, implications ignored, as though historical and geological events were like dice rolls, each independent.

UK Independent 10/3/07 ran "Record 22C [71.6f] temperatures in Arctic heatwave" about the previous July, recorded Julys in that part of Greenland usually being about 5C. Article mentions rain at the North Pole, a great hook for newspapers and late night comedians, yet stressed by no one. "Wet Santa" would be great for circulation and yucks, yet subject is ignored.

UK Independent 10/3/07 also ran "From the air, the evidence of climate change is striking", mentions moulins (melt-holes) big enough to fly a helicopter into but is written like a travel article, all about light and beauty.

MSNBC 12/13/07 reported "Magma may be melting Greenland ice", about magma close to surface of NE Greenland and NY Times 1/21/08 said "Scientists Find Active Volcano in Antarctica" about magma close to surface of West Antarctica. (Which is nice, because they didn't report the hurricane in the South Atlantic 3/27-28/04, an unprecedented event. I confirmed the non-reportage with the Assistant Public Editor.)

UK Independent 9/23/08 ran the horrid title and better subtitle "Exclusive: The methane time bomb:
Arctic scientists discover new global warming threat as melting permafrost releases millions of tons of a gas 20 times more damaging than carbon dioxide".

This at least is getting a little play on environmental blogs, but so far not as much as deserved, and I haven't seen it in US newspapers.

Has anyone seen any of the above stressed by the supposed doomsayer Gore, by Greenpeace, Sierra Club, the everybody be calm naysayers, any group?


cartoon on the subject:

http://bp2.blogger.com/_pLWV4iq9kCU/SGNwYVDEBoI/AAAAAAAAAAs/Bx11e1bkutQ/s1600-h/Gore+7:7:07+Live+Earth60.jpg

(from http://furrylogick.blogspot.com/)


Above should have included this, cause of massive amounts of CO2 released by warming ocean:

Thousand[sic] of new volcanoes revealed beneath the waves

* 10:04 09 July 2007
* NewScientist.com news service

http://environment.newscientist.com/article/dn12218

“The team estimates that in total there could be about 3 million submarine volcanoes [over 100 meters high], 39,000 of which rise more than 1000 metres over the sea bed.” 16 October 2008, 9:44 am

Posted by: plushtown | Oct 16 2008 15:08 utc | 57

Well, it's been nice to know you all ...


'Net filters "required" for all Australians, no opt-out
By Jacqui Cheng | Published: October 16, 2008 - 11:14AM CT

Australians may not be able to opt out of the government's Internet filtering initiative like they were originally led to believe. Details have begun to come out about Australia's Cyber-Safety Plan, which aims to block "illegal" content from being accessed within the country, as well as pornographic material inappropriate for children. Right now, the system is in the testing stages, but network engineers are now saying that there's no way to opt out entirely from content filtering.

The Australian government first revealed its filtering initiative in 2007, which it expected to cost AUS$189 million to implement. That money would go toward imposing filtering requirements on ISPs, who would have to use the Australian Communications and Media Authority's official blacklist, which is in turn based on the country's National Classification Scheme

Australia moved forward with its plans despite widespread public outcry and began testing the system in Tasmania in February of this year. At the time, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) said that the filters would be enabled by default and that consumers would have to request unfiltered connectivity if they wished to opt-out of the program.

Well, it turns out now that those promises were only partially true. Internode network engineer Mark Newton told Computerworld that users are able to opt out of the "additional material" blacklist—which targets content inappropriate for children—but not the main blacklist that filters what the Australian government determines is illegal content.

"That is the way the testing was formulated, the way the upcoming live trials will run, and the way the policy is framed; to believe otherwise is to believe that a government department would go to the lengths of declaring that some kind of Internet content is illegal, then allow an opt-out," Newton said. "Illegal is illegal and if there is infrastructure in place to block it, then it will be required to be blocked—end of story."

A spokesperson for the Australian Communications Minister seemed to confirm this revelation by saying that the filters would be required for all Australian citizens.
Assuming this is in fact the way the scheme is implemented in practice, it raises plenty of troubling questions. "Illegal" is a broad definition, leaving users wondering exactly what kinds of content will end up falling prey to the government's apparently mandatory filtering restrictions. Will Big Content be ringing up the Aussie government soon to have tracker sites added to the blacklist? What about sites that discuss topics like at-home bomb making, or something a little less explosive, like DVD decryption tools? And how about those sites that advise users on how to get around the filters? Will various Wikipedia pages be blocked?

Australia continues to ignore its own government-funded studies from 2006 that show ISP-level filtering to be ineffective and costly. The Australian government's disregard for those prior studies suggests that the driving force behind the current plan is more political than technical.


Posted by: DM | Oct 17 2008 10:47 utc | 58

Nir Rosen in Rolling Stone: How We Lost the War We Won - A journey into Taliban-controlled Afghanistan

"From now on, it's all Taliban territory," Ibrahim tells me. "The Americans and police don't come here at night."

Shafiq laughs. "The Russians were stronger than the Americans," he says. "More fierce. We will put the Americans in their graves."
...
But those closest to the chaos in Afghanistan say that throwing more soldiers into combat won't help. "More troops are not the answer," a senior United Nations official in Kabul tells me. "You will not make more babies by having many guys screw the same woman."
...
"CIA analysts are extremely gloomy and worried. You have an extremely weak president in Afghanistan, a corrupt and ineffective ministry of the interior, an army with no command or control, and a dysfunctional international alliance."
...
Despite their extremely conservative views on religion, most Taliban are fundamentally nationalist and Afghan-centric. They accept the support of Al Qaeda, but that doesn't mean they approve of its tactics. "Suicide attacks are not good because they kill Muslims," Shafiq says.
...
Yusuf became a commander last year, when the Americans killed his superior officer. He sleeps in a different house every night to avoid detection. Only 30 years old, he has big ears and an almost elfin air; the ringtone on his cellphone is a bells-and-cymbals version of The Sorcerer's Apprentice theme.
...
"The police will raid foreign companies and just steal everything — iPods, money, weapons, radios," says an intelligence officer. "People might hate the Taliban, but they hate the government just as much. At least the Taliban have rules. This government, they're just parasites fucking with you."
...
As the Taliban have attempted to counter the Americans by adopting the tactics of Iraqi insurgents, they have become far more brutal than they were when they ruled Afghanistan. To sow insecurity, they routinely enter villages and bypass traditional tribal mechanisms, waging a harsh campaign of social terror.
...
God willing, he adds, it will take no more than 30 years to rid Afghanistan of foreigners.
...
All of a sudden we see IEDs on the main road in Parwan and attacks on police checkpoints," the intelligence officer says. "It's the last remaining key arterial route connecting Kabul to the rest of the country."
...
"You Westerners have your watches," the leader observed. "But we Taliban have time."


Posted by: b | Oct 17 2008 19:43 utc | 59

spaeking od australia, dm, they were ven the bum's rush at the security council - with less votes than swaziland or lithuania - one vote in fact - much laughter amongs the delegates - the pretentions of power of succesive australian governments earns them only ridicules - deputy sherrif, indeed

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Oct 17 2008 21:30 utc | 60

muzzlewatch brings us Smearcasters: How Islamophobes spread fear, bigotry and misinformation' a recent report just released by Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR).

It is filled with a familiar right-wing cast of characters like self-styled “terrorism expert” Steve Emerson, inveterate Muslim-basher Daniel Pipes, David Horowitz “the Islamophobia movement’s premier promoter”, and Fox talking heads Sean Hannity and BIll O’Reilly.

So what’s wrong with the report? While FAIR documents numerous examples of false reporting, hyperbole, McCarthyite innuendo and pure hate promulgated by these people, they seem to self-censor and deliberately avoid the obvious: the central role played by US-based Likudnik groups in funding and promoting much of this anti-Muslim hysteria.

i recommend the report. check out the circular hate graphic

Posted by: annie | Oct 17 2008 21:43 utc | 61

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sLEyKsK770I>requiem for nothing

An anthem for a pointless political ferment.

Posted by: slothrop | Oct 18 2008 3:56 utc | 62

@DM

Hm, I have serious doubts re the technical credibility of the article, and the competence of the quoted 'Engineer' (Internode network engineer Mark Newton) re 'Illegal is Illegal', no opt-out ... even with an impossibly perfect 'implementation' ... where there is a will there is a way ...

The following is drawn from comments, and if, as I suspect, correct, means the whole exercise is probably expensive political pandering and a sop to minority interests ... frankly a 'white elephant' stunt:


Durga
quote:
Originally posted by JPan:
I see a business for https proxies outside of this country.


Most of the filtering mechanisms that were tested 'work' against HTTPS as well. In these mechanisms, all HTTPS data is transparently proxied and presented with a fake root certificate. The user is required to dismiss the 'THIS CERTIFICATE IS A FRAUD' warning that their browser will present them. The traffic is then run through whatever content analysis engine the filter uses.

If anyone thinks that the banks, the online shopping sites (I hear you can buy stuff on the Internet now), or anything else that requires a vague degree of security is going to do anything except freak out when they hear this they are very deluded. Honestly, thats why I'm not too worried about this. The filtering just plain doesn't work - the current song and dance is just appeasement for the Family First party so that Labor can turn around and say "We tried guys, we really tried."

Consider also that the best of the filters had at best a 2% false positive rate (and this was in a very forgiving lab setup). For a serious ISP carrying tens of thousands of simultaneous HTTP and HTTPS sessions that is catastrophically bad. This stuff doesn't work - we just have to wait for the pantomime to finish.
October 16, 2008 @ 06:02PM

There are numerous ways in and out of the 'Great Firewall of China', even though there is virtually unlimited, dedicated, committed resources and State power enforcing it ... highly doubt, even if this Aussie effort, worst case, could get-up and become remotely comparable, it would succeed any better ...

In short, I don't think you'll have to say au revoir any time soon, DM ;)

Peace, Salaam, Shalom

Posted by: Outraged | Oct 18 2008 7:08 utc | 63

The money quote:


"You Westerners have your watches," the leader observed. "But we Taliban have time."

Posted by: anna missed | Oct 18 2008 9:36 utc | 64

for beq

Posted by: annie | Oct 18 2008 20:07 utc | 65

b or ASKOD will know more about this than I but I understand the EU has successfully resisted some of the most insidious of the ACTA measures (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement). The only evidence I have that Europe escaped is a link to a very obscure document here. Maybe ASKOD can clarify.
I am willing to bet large that slimy Rudd's way of implementing this insidious shit in Oz is under the guise of 'Family First' or somesuch.
Hence the pretense that censorship of the net is about protecting families not advancing amerikan commercial interests. One of the major blues Howard made was signing a one sided Oz-amerika free trade agreement, and Oz is prolly obliged to implement ACTA under the terms of that agreement.
He(Rudd) still wants to maintain the lie of not being an amerikan asset so he he uses the family subterfuge to get what he wants.

Things are no better here. I am told that from some unannounced date in October NZ isp's will be obliged to terminate the account of anyone downloading material deemed illegal. That is copyright material, but no one really knows since the enabling legislation was passed under urgency with no publicity. I guess we will find out soon eh! We're having an election and it wouldn't do for the peeps to have any substantive issues to discuss.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Oct 18 2008 21:24 utc | 66

UAE plans Hormuz bypass canal in event of war

In response to Iranian threats to close the Strait of Hormuz in the event of a military attack, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is planing to build an inland canal to bring Persian Gulf oil to world markets. "Our oil revenues will be jeopardized if we don't find an alternative to using the Hormuz Strait for exporting oil," Dubai Chief of Police Lt.-Gen. Dahi Khalfan Tamim told the Emirati daily Gulf News. The canal, passing through the northern emirate of Ras Al-Kheima, wold be big enough to accommodate super-tankers.
(snip)

Supertankers?.. I wonder what kind of a timeframe they have in mind.

(Here is a map.)

Posted by: Alamet | Oct 19 2008 0:43 utc | 67

annie!

Posted by: beq | Oct 19 2008 2:30 utc | 68

Found via The Automatic Earth, this is really intriguing:

The mystery of the missing opium

It's a mystery that has got British law enforcement officials and others across the planet scratching their heads. Put bluntly, enough heroin to supply the world's demand for years has simply disappeared.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) describes the situation as "a time bomb for public health and global security".

This week's Map of the Week comes courtesy of the UNODC. It shows their latest estimate of opium production in Afghanistan - another bumper year.

A crop of 7,700 tonnes will produce around 1,100 tonnes of heroin - it basically works on a 7:1 ratio.The mystery is that the global demand for heroin is less than half that. In other words, Afghanistan only needs to produce 3,500 tonnes to satisfy every known heroin user on the planet.

Look at the graph, though.

For the past three years, production has been running at almost twice the level of global demand.The numbers just don't add up.
(snip)


Graphs and more at the link.

Posted by: Alamet | Oct 19 2008 20:50 utc | 69

Heads up for b real, et al...

Clip from Docu film: THE RECKONING

Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo of the International Criminal Court (ICC) issues arrest warrants for the rebel leaders of the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda, puts 4 Congolese warlords on trial in The Hague, charges the President of Sudan with genocide and war crimes in Darfur, challenges the UN Security Council to have him arrested, and shakes up the Colombian criminal justice system. Will this tiny upstart court in The Hague tame the Wild West of international conflict zones and end the culture of impunity?

To be released in January 2009.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Oct 20 2008 5:37 utc | 70

Five-Star Generals

I was wavering on this election but now that Obama's received the coveted lying scumbag war criminal endorsement, I'm on board.
-ran

Doh!

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Oct 20 2008 6:18 utc | 71

thanks uncle (#70) - that's the docu that inner city press called propaganda for ocampo & the icc, at least for the version screened at the u.n. back in july of which i linked to here

A film promoting the International Criminal Court, a work in progress, was screened Thursday at the UN, with ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo prominently in attendance, slumped down in the front row. The movie, the working title of which is "The Reckoning," ... does not mention, however, that the Lubango prosecution has been put on hold because Ocampo neglected to show information to the defense lawyers, as is required. And while the version screened on Thursday ends with Ocampo's press conference earlier in the week announcing his request for an arrest warrant against Sudan's Omar Al-Bashir, the movie does not include any of the critique or questioning of Ocampo's move, which is widespread in the Africa Union, the Arab League and even anti-Bashir non-governmental organizations.

Inner City Press asked the film's producers if they intend to include critical voices, for example those pointing out that since the five permanent members of the Security Council have vetoes, their acts could never be referred to the ICC for investigation, much less prosecution. On the question of including this perspective, produce Pam Yates answered, "Probably not." She said the film is to impart "basic knowledge to a general audience." But if it includes none of the critical or questioning voices, is it credible? Is it more than propaganda?

One of Ms. Yates' two co-producers, Paco de Onis ... responded to Inner City Press' question about all of the ICC's prosecutions being in Africa by saying that since African presidents were part of the request, the actions were "not initiated by the ICC." But earlier in the day, Ocampo admitted that he selected Northern Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and then asked the presidents of those countries to refer the cases to him.

Posted by: b real | Oct 20 2008 14:17 utc | 72

@Alamet - @67 - Why build a canal when they can build pipelines to a harbor on their east coast?

Nonsense ...

Posted by: b | Oct 20 2008 17:30 utc | 73

New "TriPolar" Currency For Asia,U.S., Europe On P

October 20th, 2008

Via: Bloomberg:

European Central Bank council member Ewald Nowotny said a “tri-polar” global currency system is developing between Asia, Europe and the U.S. and that he’s skeptical the U.S. dollar’s centrality can be revived.

“What I see is a system where we have more centers of gravity” Nowotny said today in an interview with Austrian state broadcaster ORF-TV. “I see for the future a tri-polar development, and I don’t think that there will be fixed exchange rates between these poles.”

The leaders of the U.S., France and the European Commission will ask other world leaders to join in a series of summits on the global financial crisis beginning in the U.S. soon after the Nov. 4 presidential election, President George W. Bush, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and European Commission President Jose Barroso said in a joint statement yesterday.

Nowotny said he was “skeptical” when asked whether the Bretton Woods System of monetary policy, set up after World War II and revised in 1971, could be revived to aid global currency stability. The U.S. meeting should aim to strengthen financial regulation, define bank capital ratios and review the role of debt-rating agencies.

European leaders have pressed to convene an emergency meeting of the world’s richest nations, known as the Group of Eight, joined by others such as India and China, to overhaul the world’s financial regulatory systems. The meetings are to include developed economies as well as developing nations.

One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all, And in the darkness bind them.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Oct 20 2008 17:32 utc | 74

@alamet - @69 - interesting - the big unknown is consumption in China. There may be hording for other times but who finances that? We are talking double digit millions at least.

Is someone setting up for a new opium war?

Posted by: b | Oct 20 2008 18:03 utc | 75

whnever bernanke, bush or paulson speak - they seem very vary troubled, indeed. nothing calming in their speeches to one & all. bernanke in particular - you feel he is scared shitless & is in the middle of a nerovous breakdon, you have the stuttering paulson who seems to find it difficult to stand up straight & it would seem that they drag bush out of a catatonic clinic - when he's standing next to the feral sarkozy it only highlight the nocatumbulist nightmare we are living

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Oct 20 2008 18:07 utc | 76

Everything that I have read in economic history leads me to believe that we are entering a nightmare transition era. michael hudson

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Oct 20 2008 18:40 utc | 77

it is so like iraq

torn between their apparent & unbelievable incompetence or a subtle concentration of power & wealth

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Oct 20 2008 21:12 utc | 78

So, Joe Biden is guaranteeing Obama will face an international crisis in the first six months of his presidency? hmmm...

Posted by: Lizard | Oct 20 2008 22:37 utc | 79

Dahr Jamail - "We Have to Share This Pain"

PORTLAND, Oregon, Oct 20 (IPS) - Veterans from the U.S. occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, along with Iraqis, Afghanis, Vietnam veterans, and family members of U.S. military personnel converged in this west coast city over the weekend to share stories of atrocities being committed daily in Iraq, in a continuation of the "Winter Soldier" hearings held in Silver Spring, Maryland in March.

At the Unitarian Church downtown, some 300 people gathered to hear the testimonies, which left many in tears. The five-hour event was comprised of three panels; Voices of Veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan, The Human Costs of War, and Building Resistance to War.
(snip)

Posted by: Alamet | Oct 20 2008 23:14 utc | 80

Solid analysis by Reidar Visser: SOFA Issues

Also, he tears partition specialist Galbraith's new book to pieces: Reidar Visser: Review of Peter Galbraith’s Unintended Consequences: How War in Iraq Strengthened America’s Enemies

Posted by: Alamet | Oct 21 2008 0:16 utc | 81

We interrupt normal programming to advise that a documentary screened in Britain October 15 2008 should not be missed by any MoA habitue.

Entitled High Anxieties: the Mathematics of Chaos this BBC production examines how it is that the world's technocrats, economists in particular, have led us in an unrealistic direction from planning using outmoded thinking based on equilibrium models of situations.

I won't go any further because a I'm a far from competent mathematician and have a great deal of difficulty wrapping my own head around this stuff let alone aiding someone wrap theirs.

I have found a link to the doco here but it is only meant to be available to englanders and their subjects, unless we have an english proxy server which worked for me with BBC cricket coverage and may work with this.

There is a summary/review of the doco here but it like most mainstream media criticism that attempts to draw conclusions for the reader, rather than entrusting that to each of us.

PssT!The excellent "Movies, Series, Docs, etc." blog has rapidshare and gigasize links to the documentary.

I rarely try to persuade others to watch what I watch, the only other doco I recall was the first televisual examination of epigenetics.
This is primarily because I don't often bother to take up others' suggestions on such things myself.

Too egocentric, I usually prefer to discover things myself.

I have in this instance, not because it reveals some great truth, causing immediate epiphanies in all who watch, but because it explains a particularly complex issue comprehensibly without the distortion and oversimplification that ruins most TV.

It is a way of considering much of what we have been discussing lately, from a different point of view.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Oct 21 2008 2:31 utc | 82

We interrupt normal programming to advise that a documentary screened in Britain October 15 2008 should not be missed by any MoA habitue.

Entitled High Anxieties: the Mathematics of Chaos this BBC production examines how it is that the world's technocrats, economists in particular, have led us in an unrealistic direction from planning using outmoded thinking based on equilibrium models of situations.

I won't go any further because a I'm a far from competent mathematician and have a great deal of difficulty wrapping my own head around this stuff let alone aiding someone wrap theirs.

I have found a link to the doco here but it is only meant to be available to englanders and their subjects, unless we have an english proxy server which worked for me with BBC cricket coverage and may work with this.

There is a summary/review of the doco on The Independent site. I haven't included the link so as to get through the spam filter. It is like most mainstream media criticism that attempts to draw conclusions for the reader, rather than entrusting that to each of us.

PssT!The excellent "Movies, Series, Docs, etc." blog has rapidshare and gigasize links to the documentary.
Grab one of those if you can. Just a little patience will have the doc in yer hot little paws for free.

I rarely try to persuade others to watch what I watch, the only other doco I recall was the first televisual examination of epigenetics.
This is primarily because I don't often bother to take up others' suggestions on such things myself.

Too egocentric, I usually prefer to discover things myself.

I have in this instance, not because it reveals some great truth, causing immediate epiphanies in all who watch, but because it explains a particularly complex issue comprehensibly but without the distortion or oversimplification that ruins most TV.

It is a way of considering much of what we have been discussing lately, from a different point of view.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Oct 21 2008 2:37 utc | 83

Humble apologies to all on the massive dupe post. None of the posts have actually appeared in the version of the thread I open, just in the front page but Murphy dictates that few others will cop that on their machines.

However weird that is and whatever you may think of the incompetence displayed by moi, please do yerself a favour and consider the issue.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Oct 21 2008 2:50 utc | 84

Wait! have we banned, Debs is dead?

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Oct 21 2008 5:04 utc | 85

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Posted by: EvepReevirius | Dec 16 2008 9:15 utc | 86

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