Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
April 21, 2009

Links April 21 09

  • Loved for protecting sadists - Obama gets euphoric CIA welcome - (AFP)
  • Spanish sadism prosecution continues - Proponents of Torture May Yet Face Universal Justice - (IPS)

  • Abusing minorities for propaganda - Israel recruits gay community in PR campaign against Iran - (Haaretz)
  • One trillion may be more accurate - Banks Face $400 Billion More in Losses, JPMorgan Says - (Bloomberg)
  • Shareholder interest? - Pay Rule Led Chrysler to Spurn Loan, Agency Says - (WaPo)
  • Dubious I - Pirates: the $80m Gulf connection - (Independent)
  • Dubious II - Somali Pirates Form Unholy Alliance with Islamists - (Spiegel)
  • Thoughts on Google street view and privacy - Short Cuts - (LRB)

Please share your links, news and views in the comments.

Posted by b on April 21, 2009 at 5:52 UTC | Permalink

Comments

Special Inspector General for TARP report:

PPIP Fraud Vulnerabilities: Aspects of PPIP make it inherently vulnerable to
fraud, waste, and abuse, including significant issues relating to conflicts of interest facing fund managers, collusion between participants, and vulnerabilities to
money laundering.
...
Interaction Between PPIP and TALF: In announcing the details of PPIP,
Treasury has indicated that PPIFs under the Legacy Securities Program could,
in turn, use the leveraged PPIF funds (two-thirds of which will likely be taxpayer money) to purchase legacy MBS through TALF, greatly increasing taxpayer
exposure to losses with no corresponding increase of potential profi ts. Such an
expansion could cause great harm to one of the fundamental taxpayer protections
in the original design of TALF by signifi cantly diluting the private party’s
personal stake, the “skin in the game,” and therefore reduce their incentive to
conduct appropriate due diligence.
...

BTW - why has the Special IG for TARP its website on a *.mil domain?

Posted by: b | Apr 21 2009 7:15 utc | 1

Under "Thoughts on Google" - Department of Defense has awarded a $100M contract to Lockheed Martin for a "fire and forget" small arms version of the Hellfire missile. The tiny munitions, which don't exist yet, would use GPS and Google Street to home in on the living room windows of drug lords, child beaters and generally squirrely dudes.
That must be that $100M that Obama is looking for. Dang! They done already spent it!!

Posted by: Pappy Hendricks | Apr 21 2009 7:23 utc | 2

Need to contain anger... need to contain anger.

Here is a link to the most infuriating 27.5 minutes you'll spend stopped at an internal U.S. checkpoint while boarder patrol agents learn a bit about the Constitution from a guy armed with a video camera, knowledge, and big cajones! If you don't want to spend all 27.5 minutes with the government thug then skip to minute 18.5 and keep watching. Hollywood couldn't have made a better thriller.

If the guy from the video every graces the bar's doorstep... set him up with a glass of Bollinger Blanc de Noir and stick it on my tab :)

American's ability to travel unmolested between states is one of the reasons america is a great place to live. These check points for illegals (along California's boarders they claim the excuse about inspecting for fruit. They have one of these out in the middle of BFE between Oregon and California... surprises the hell out of you. Now days that one is usually staffed by one dude waiting and watching giant x-rays screens, used to be a full circus of uniformed idiots making sure you didn't sweat. It is just another reminder that big brother controls us and not the other way around.

Insert your favorite quote regarding safety vs security right here.

Posted by: DavidS | Apr 21 2009 8:16 utc | 3

I'm either writing too early or too late at night, but I meant the fruit checkpoints along California's boarders with the other states... There are several boarder patrol checkpoints south of San Diego (as well as signs along the freeways showing some graphic designer's idea of a mexican family crossing the road... cute?) I've been pulled into the secondary checkpoint between mexico and california traveling in both directions in a bright yellow vw bus... I guess I just look like that sort ;)

Posted by: DavidS | Apr 21 2009 8:23 utc | 4

I don't know if the proposals in this discussion of how to "save" Citibank are well founded, but the preliminary quote from F. Dyson is delicious, and the information on "complete disclosure" by the FDIC at the start of the discussion is surely of interest.

Posted by: Hannah K. O'Luthon | Apr 21 2009 9:10 utc | 5

While the insomnia rages I might as well add this little tidbit of love from our government:

The FBI were spying on Tea Party protesters nationwide during last week’s demonstrations as part of a covert program conducted without the knowledge of local law enforcement, according to a source named as a current FBI agent.

I figured this was going to happen... anything fox news supports has to be suspect from the start; but how quickly people forget how little regard the government has for them. I guess the fools who love fox news(propaganda) figure the government only spies on those left-leaning commie types. Ha!

If there is any lesson to be learned from our history it's that the government does what government wants, regardless of what is best for the citizens. Regardless of even the rule of law. Remember that if government makes a "mistake" it's the citizens stuck with the bill.

Did LBJ do any time for bogging america down in Viet Nam and killing thousands? Nixon? Bush I? Clinton? Bush II? NO, NO, NO, NO and NO! You don't do time if you're making the rules for the fools.

Mankind is a swarm of blind, ignorant meatsacks that are as base and uncouth as the filthiest animals... following the hormonal highway to hell we engage in acts that surely can't be moral or productive. Yet there is Mozart, Greig, Bach and orchestras full of musicians playing their music... there is the Taj Mahal, the pyramids and many other examples of groups of humans making something rather than destroying.

Why must we allow ourselves to wallow like swine in life's filthy mudbath when we're supposed to be more evolved? Why do we fight rather than run? Which reminds me of a bumper sticker that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy when I see it, "What if the generals decided to have a war and nobody came?" Now there's a thought!

Posted by: DavidS | Apr 21 2009 9:18 utc | 6

b (or anyone else here at MofA),

Please let me know what your take is on this very, very gruesome video made available through "Islamabad Observer" entitled "Taliban slaughtering accused like animals":

http://islamabadobserver.com/2009/04/20/taliban-slaughtering-accused-like-animals/

Posted by: Cynthia | Apr 21 2009 13:10 utc | 7

Just recvd this:

Had an interesting experience today while waiting to leave Hilton Head, SC. Was chatting with another (Vietnam era I think) pilot who said he had recently attended a "Tea Party" rally where he was asked for his email address - which he gave. Later he was contacted by the Dept of Homeland Security and told that he was being put on a "watch list" because of (1) being a part of a "radical" protest group and (2) having had prior military duty. He indicated he had flown fighters for the USAF. He was a true gentleman who had served his country well and and exercised his free speech rights in a totally peaceful protest. Now he is seriously put off/hurt by being identified as one who might be a risk to the country because of it. Amazing! I was told that our previous AZ governor (Ms. Politano), who now heads the Dept of Homeland Security, is focusing on ex military folks because of their training. It's bad when being a part of peaceful protest or former member of the military identifies you as a possible subversive. Pretty sad.

Where were they when DHS had watch-lists for the Amish?

Posted by: IntelVet | Apr 21 2009 13:10 utc | 8

IntelVet, does DHS tell people (1) when they put them on watch lists and (2) by email?

Posted by: rjj | Apr 21 2009 13:45 utc | 9

@Cynthia - beheadings made at an unknown time at an unknown place shown within some propaganda video of unknown origin. So one can't really say something about it.

Yes - beheading happen. Gruesome - very - but compared to what? GBU-52s? Predator drones? Here at least the 'collateral damage' is zero.

@IntelVet - why would Homeland Security contact anyone to tell them that they are put on a watch list. I believe that's bogus.

Posted by: b | Apr 21 2009 13:50 utc | 10

b,

Thanks for confirming my suspicions that this video from islamabadobserver.com has propaganda written all over it.

Posted by: Cynthia | Apr 21 2009 15:39 utc | 11

Maybe I'm way off base here, but it seems to me that India is becoming the Israel of South East Asia. Even though India doesn't have a powerful lobby in Washington as Israel does, India seems to be patterning itself after Israel by manipulating the US into fighting its wars, without having to drain itself of blood and treasure.

Posted by: Cynthia | Apr 21 2009 16:38 utc | 12

@8 I am clapping with my fingertips at that very clever ratfuck: channel eight years of surveillance-state paranoia to mobilize the teabaggers, now, against Obama. Hope it works. But Clear Channel victims never react well when you ask them, 'What made you think you'd get the Constitution back?'

Posted by: ...---.... | Apr 21 2009 18:48 utc | 13

This is another AIPAC owned member of congress.

EXCLUSIVE: Senator's husband's firm cashes in on crisis

Posted by: Anthony | Apr 21 2009 19:20 utc | 14

I wonder what is she trying to hide:


http://www.pubrecord.org/torture/846.html?task=view

Posted by: Anthony | Apr 21 2009 19:23 utc | 15

anthony, did you read the article? i don't think she's tryimg to hide, just not close any doors.think progress makes it simple

Feinstein to Obama: Torture prosecutions should still be on the table.

In recent days, President Obama has reiterated his pledge to oppose prosecutions of individuals responsible for torture under the Bush administration. However, Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) yesterday wrote to the President and asked him to keep the door open to prosecutions

Posted by: annie | Apr 21 2009 19:56 utc | 16

Woops, my mistake. :)

Posted by: Anthony | Apr 21 2009 20:32 utc | 17

Harman Scandal: All about War on Iran

Posted by: Anthony | Apr 21 2009 21:03 utc | 18

Paul Krugman and Dean Baker both point out that over the past several decades or so there's been a lot of phoniness in our nation's productivity numbers, mainly due to all the phoniness in the financials. If this is true, then it can be safely (and sadly) said that we've been spinning our wheels big time while keeping our noses firmly to the grindstone.

http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/04/16/reconsidering-a-miracle/

Posted by: Cynthia | Apr 21 2009 21:09 utc | 19

AP: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090421/ap_on_go_ot/us_sci_shrinking_rivers;_ylt=AkESHyJYvnAO0tRnHzUesaDZn414>Rivers shrinking: Flow of many rivers in decline

There was considerable year-to-year variation in the flow of many rivers, but the overall trend over the period showed annual freshwater discharge into the Pacific Ocean fell by about 6 percent, or 526 cubic kilometers of water. That's close to the 552-cubic kilometer average annual flow of the Mississippi, the researchers reported.

The annual flow into the Indian Ocean dropped by about 3 percent, or 140 cubic kilometers. In contrast, annual river discharge into the Arctic Ocean rose about 10 percent, or 460 cubic kilometers. There was little change in inflow to the Atlantic Ocean, where increases in the Mississippi and Parana rivers were balanced out by decreases in the Amazon River.

A cubic kilometer is a cube one kilometer on each side. A kilometer is about six-tenths of a mile.

Discharge of river water into the oceans deposits sediment near the river mouth and also affects worldwide ocean circulation patterns, which are driven by variations in water temperature and salinity.

In the United States, the flow of the Mississippi River increased by 22 percent over the period because of increased precipitation across the Midwest. On the other hand, the Columbia River's flow declined by about 14 percent, mainly because of reduced precipitation and higher water usage.

Major rivers showing declines in flow included the Amazon, Congo, Changjiang (Yangtze), Mekong, Ganges, Irrawaddy, Amur, Mackenzie, Xijiang, Columbia and Niger.

Posted by: plushtown | Apr 22 2009 1:45 utc | 20

something odd. i heard about this in an email and googled the title, the only reference open to a different page. the text, nothing. finally i googled the writers name and then i found the story. google is not liking this article. i am posting the entire story just in case it disappears.

photo of billboard (pdf)

Billboards Target Arms Aid to Israel albuquerque journal (requires rego). GO new mexico!


Thursday, April 16, 2009

By Olivier Uyttebrouck
Journal Staff Writer
A New Mexico activist group is using billboards to urge people to contact congressional leaders and express opposition to U.S. military aid to Israel.
Ten billboards, which went up last week in Albuquerque,
were purchased by the Coalition to Stop $30 Billion to Israel at a cost of between $2,000 and $3,000, coalition member Rich Forer said Monday.
They feature photos of a Palestinian girl and an Israeli tank with the text, "Tell Congress: Stop Killing Children; No More Military Aid to Israel."
The group wants to suspend a 2007 agreement that provides Israel with $30 billion in military aid over 10 years.

"We're not a group that is anti-Israel," Forer said. "We are pro-human rights. We don't think you can establish peace if you treat (Palestinians) as second-class citizens."
Shahar Azani, consul for culture, media and public diplomacy at Israel's consulate in Los Angeles, said Israel and the U.S. share partnerships in many fields, including the military, science, health and education.
"This partnership benefits thousands of lives every day and is based on common values shared by the U.S. and the only democracy in the Middle East," Azani responded in a written statement. "Moreover, this aid is mostly re-streamed back into American industries, maintaining American jobs and in addition, helping to safeguard American interests abroad."
The coalition formed in January in response to a three-week Israeli military operation in Gaza, Forer said.
Israel used unprecedented force during the three-week operation against Hamas rulers last December to halt eight years of rocket attacks on Israeli border towns. An estimated 1,400 Palestinians were killed, including more than 900 civilians, according to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, which published a list of names of the dead. Israel has said the toll was lower, and that most of the dead were militants, The Associated Press reported.

here is a link to the group Stop 30 Billion to Israel

Posted by: annie | Apr 22 2009 2:07 utc | 21

Buffalo News: http://www.buffalonews.com/258/story/645513.html?imw=Y>Man gets six months for St. Pat's Day rape while dressed as leprechaun


Michalski said Comerford had brought "unspeakable horror and tragedy" to his victim and "brought shame and disgrace" onto his own politically-connected family.

Last Nov. 14, a jury found Comerford guilty of third-degree rape for the sex attack in a back room of Club W at 199 Delaware Ave. about 8 p.m. He has remained free on bail since the trial.

The drunken Comerford was dressed in a leprechaun outfit and was promoting events for a Buffalo radio company which fired him after his arrest.

Today, after telling the judge he will seek a higher-court stay of the sentence, defense attorney Edward C. Cosgrove said Comerford now works for a local taco restaurant.

Wonder if he's working for the very successful local chain that once did a billboard of the Mona Lisa labeled "Shirley Maclaine for Mighty Taco".

Posted by: plushtown | Apr 22 2009 2:15 utc | 22

On Newsnight last night, Jeremy Paxman challenged UK Ambassador Peter Gooderham and obtained the information that the walkout had been agreed upon by EU states before the session, ie before they heard a word Ahmadinejad had said. They did not have a text in advance.

This stunt was a combination of the pompous and the immature that had Miliband written all over it.

hhttp://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2009/04/that_ahmadineja.html

Posted by: Anthony | Apr 22 2009 2:33 utc | 23


Senate report: Bush admin. solicited torture ‘wish list,’ ordered ‘communist’ tactics

A report by the Senate Armed Services Committee released Tuesday night says that torture techniques used at Abu Ghraib prison and approved by officials in the George W. Bush administration were applied only after soliciting a “wish list” from interrogators.

President George W. Bush made a written determination that Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, which would have afforded minimum standards for humane treatment, did not apply to al Qaeda or Taliban detainees. This act, the committee found, cleared the way for a new interrogation program to be developed in-part based on “Chinese communist” tactics used against Americans during the Korean War, mainly to elicit false confessions for propaganda purposes.

The committee’s report was made available in Dec. 2008, but was delayed by the Pentagon’s declassification program. Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) concluded that the findings were enough to warrant serious consideration by the Department of Justice.

..

“The Committee’s investigation revealed that, following Secretary Rumsfeld’s authorization, senior staff at GTMO drafted a standard operating procedure (SOP) for the use of SERE techniques, including stress positions, forcibly stripping detainees, slapping, and ‘walling’ them,” the committee found. “That SOP stated that ‘The premise behind this is that the interrogation tactics used at U.S. military SERE schools are appropriate for use in real-world interrogations.’ Weeks later, in January 2003, trainers from the Navy SERE school traveled to GTMO and provided training to interrogators on the use of SERE techniques on detainees.”

.....

“In mid-August 2003, an email from staff at Combined Joint Task Force 7 (CJTF-7) headquarters in Iraq requested that subordinate units provide input for a ‘wish list’ of interrogation techniques [to be used at Abu Ghraib], stated that ‘the gloves are coming off,’ and said ‘we want these detainees broken,’” the report found.


Posted by: annie | Apr 22 2009 4:24 utc | 24

fucking unreal

they did not know that the military training program, called SERE, for Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape, had been created decades earlier to give American pilots and soldiers a sample of the torture methods used by Communists in the Korean War, methods that had wrung false confessions from Americans.

Even George J. Tenet, the C.I.A. director who insisted that the agency had thoroughly researched its proposal and pressed it on other officials, did not examine the history of the most shocking method, the near-drowning technique known as waterboarding.

The top officials he briefed did not learn that waterboarding had been prosecuted by the United States in war-crimes trials after World War II and was a well-documented favorite of despotic governments since the Spanish Inquisition; one waterboard used under Pol Pot was even on display at the genocide museum in Cambodia.

They did not know that some veteran trainers from the SERE program itself had warned in internal memorandums that, morality aside, the methods were ineffective. Nor were most of the officials aware that the former military psychologist who played a central role in persuading C.I.A. officials to use the harsh methods had never conducted a real interrogation, or that the Justice Department lawyer most responsible for declaring the methods legal had idiosyncratic ideas that even the Bush Justice Department would later renounce.

The process was “a perfect storm of ignorance and enthusiasm,” a former C.I.A. official said.

...

Philip D. Zelikow, who worked on interrogation issues as counselor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in 2005 and 2006, said the flawed decision-making badly served Mr. Bush and the country.

i'm shocked!

...

But it was the C.I.A. that was proposing the methods, and John Yoo, the Justice Department official who was the principal author of a secret August 2002 memorandum that authorized the interrogation program, was mostly interested in making a case that the president’s wartime powers allowed for the harsh tactics.

bwwwahhhhhhh. fall guys abound in this article, like the psychologist, tenet, ..ashcroft! everybody but...

Ms. Rice insisted that Mr. Ashcroft not just pass along the conclusions of his Office of Legal Counsel, where Mr. Yoo worked, but give his personal assurance that the methods were legal under domestic and international law. He did.

this is a must read. note they don't mention harmon. the timing? impeccable.

Posted by: annie | Apr 22 2009 4:49 utc | 25

Obama open to Hill probe of harsh interrogations

"With respect to those who formulated those legal decisions, I would say that that is going to be more of a decision for the Attorney General within the parameters of various laws and I don’t want to prejudge that."

Posted by: annie | Apr 22 2009 5:04 utc | 26

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