Just another Reality-based bubble in the foam of the multiverse.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Land of the Lexus Eaters

Frank Rich notices that HHHillary 2008 is starting off like Gore 2000, but he does it without putting his finger on the hemorrhaging artery:

...The Beltway's narrative has it not only that the Democrats are shoo-ins, but also that the likely standard-bearer, Hillary Clinton, is running what Zagat shorthand might describe as a "flawless campaign" that is "tightly disciplined" and "doesn't make mistakes..."

...the only way Mrs. Clinton could lose her tight hold on the nomination and, presumably, the White House would be if she were bruised in Iowa (where both John Edwards and Senator Obama remain competitive) or derailed by unforeseeable events like a scandal or a domestic terror attack.

If you buy into the Washington logic that a flawless campaign is one that doesn't make gaffes, never goes off-message and never makes news, then this analysis makes sense. The Clinton machine runs as smoothly and efficiently as a Rolls. And like a fine car, it is just as likely to lull its driver into complacent coasting and its passengers to sleep. What I saw on television last Sunday was the incipient second coming of the can't-miss 2000 campaign of Al Gore.

That Mr. Gore, some may recall, was not the firebrand who emerged from defeat, speaking up early against the Iraq war and leading the international charge on global warming. It was instead the cautious Gore whose public persona changed from debate to debate and whose answers were often long-winded and equivocal (even about the Kansas Board of Education's decision to ban the teaching of evolution). Incredibly, he minimized both his environmental passions and his own administration's achievements throughout the campaign.

He, too, had initially been deemed a winner, the potential recipient of a landslide rather than a narrow popular-vote majority. The signs were nearly as good for Democrats then as they are now. The impeachment crusade had backfired on the Republicans in the 1998 midterms; the economy was booming; Mr. Gore's opponent was seen as a lightweight who couldn't match him in articulateness or his mastery of policy, let alone his eight years of Clinton White House experience...

...So far her post-first-lady record suggests a follower rather than a leader. She still can't offer a credible explanation of why she gave President Bush the authority to go to war in Iraq (or why she voted against the Levin amendment that would have put on some diplomatic brakes). That's because her votes had more to do with hedging her political bets than with principle. Nor has she explained why it took her two years of the war going south to start speaking up against it. She was similarly tardy with her new health care plan, waiting to see what heat Mr. Edwards and Senator Obama took with theirs. She has lagged behind the Democratic curve on issues ranging from the profound (calling for an unequivocal ban on torture) to the trivial (formulating a response to the MoveOn.org Petraeus ad)...

The situation is far worse than the complacent mediocrity Rich suggests.

HHHillary's stands on the issue show benevolent instincts. She's pro-choice, pro-affirmative action, and pro-gender rights. That's fine and good.

But she has ever been and remains the choice of the Soros branch of the Carlyle Group, taking positions on the War on Terra that Poppy Bu$h's consigliere could have written. And has written. She regards the Lieberman DINOcrats as elder statesmen in her party, which has been very profitable for her.

But the reality of it is all the DINOcrat lite policy positions, from her support of the Iraq war to the support for getting Iran On to her support of a plan of a troop draw down in Iraq identical to the Poppy/ Baker/ Saudi plan that leaves forces at the new Cheneyburton-controlled "bases" (that is, controlling the oilfields) are not positions that most of America support.

Let's face it. As long as we're spending a billion a day in Iraq, all her liberal posturing will come to nothing even if she does get elected. Paying to keep the troops and an equal number of mercenaries private contractors in Iraqiranistan and pumping oil is breaking the United States government and the United States economy.

You can just kiss health care reform good-bye until Blackwater's out of the oil protection racket and CSC/ DynCorp is out of the total information awareness biz. HHHillary's not going to end that, so there is no way she can make good on her proposed social agendas.

But don't get me wrong. If by some likely and unhappy occurence she does end up with her chauffeur driving the Democratic nomination for preznit next summer, I will vote for her in 2008 over any Rethuglican. With full knowledge that HHHillary is the DINOcratic candidate of the Company's choice, with a snowball's chance in Hell of winning, and an iceberg's chance on the equator of actually changing anything for the better if she does win.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

It's not what we know to be fact...

...it's what insane people believe to be true that controls their actions.

Despite the Cheneyburton propaganda blitz, the UN's IAEA has delayed nukular sanctions against Iran:

NEW YORK (AP) — In a setback for the United States, Iran won a two-month reprieve from new U.N. sanctions over its nuclear program on Friday. The Bush administration and its European allies ceded to Russian and Chinese demands to give Tehran more time to address international concerns.

An agreement reached in talks here between six key nations and supported by the European Union gives Iran until November to make progress in answering questions about the program that the United States and others alleged is a cover for nuclear weapons development.

The decision marks another blow for Washington in its diplomatic struggle to toughen existing U.N. sanctions on Iran, whose leader this week declared to the U.N. General Assembly that the nuclear issue was "closed" and vowed to defy attempts to add new penalties...

This may lead to another excuse, of course, that being the resolution Lieberman-Kyl pushed through the $enate with the backing of HHHillary, $chumer, and the best DINOcrats the state of Michigan has.

On the other hand, given our chickenhawk-in-chief's worship of the Old One, it may be the pause before the plunge to war has a Faith-based connection.

Astrology-based strategery?

...From Dec. 15 through Dec. 29, Mars will blaze at magnitude -1.6, a bit brighter than Sirius, but just slightly inferior to Jupiter. Mars will still be positioned between Taurus and Gemini, at a rather high declination of about +27-degrees.

So almost as if to compensate for its relatively small apparent size, Mars will literally soar in the night sky of late-December.

When it reaches its highest point in the sky at around midnight local time, its altitude will be 70-degrees at Seattle, 76-degrees for New York, and an exceptional 83-degrees at Los Angeles. Meanwhile, amateur and professional astronomers stationed in southern Texas and central Florida will see Mars pass directly, or very nearly overhead!

Look for Dear Leader to git his Iran On in mid-December, once he hammerlocks the UN into issuing some kinda condemnation. Remember, they own both Britain and France in the Security Council too.

DINOcrat voting to extend the Glorious Fight on Terra

Shane-O has the list here.

Watch the video.

HHHillary's laughter makes it clear she is sure she will be the last to be eaten.

And both Levin and Stabenow voted for it. With DINOcrats like that, Cthulhu will be waking soon.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

A problem for the Queen designate of the Company

Bernhard at Moon of Alabama notes the DINOcrat's Bu$h agenda. Which reads more like Poppy's Carlyle agenda, because Li'l Bu$hie's agenda more often resembles the Addington-Cheneyburton excellent adventure.

Of course, they're different.

The Soros branch of the Carlyle Group has a much higher class of assassins flying its black helicopters than Blackwater.

Finesse. Nuance. Wine and cheese. Really covert activities instead of clumsily blundering, bloodthirsty violence.

Money invested wisely in satisfying the working massess instead of bloating the masters.

There is a difference…

Still, Hubert Horatio Hillary, the annointed DINOcrat designate will lose big time despite being the annointed of the war machine.

Why? She's a woman, silly. No Republicans are going to vote for her, and if she keeps it up, very few Democrats will either.

There just aren't that many Lieberman DINOcrats.

Meanwhile, a request for blogsphere Solidarity:

No money to the Democrat Partei Organs (and I would include DNC - where is Dean every day using his megaphone?), or any of the leadership (or, I would add, any of the MoveOn traitors, House and Senate) until all of the following conditions are met:

1) No more funding for Iraq until unconditional timelines for withdrawal are set.

2) Habeus restored.

3) FISA vote not renewed.

Nothing else will work - demonstrations are ignored and pointless (to the Dems, otherwise they would be out there arm in arm), there’s not going to be a strike, phonecalls and petitions and letters to the editor are quaint.

I get fundraising letters every week. I will use their return envelope and write this on the card.

Nothing else stands a chance of working. Hit 'em where it hurts, in the wallet.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Childe Betrayus to the Dark Tower Came

Lots of interesting facts in one place today from the Project for an Old American Century.

A declaration of War with Iran has been passed.

By a vote 76-22, the Senate passed the Lieberman-Kyl amendment, which threatens to “combat, contain and [stop]” Iran via “military instruments.”

Of course, HHHillary was right on for it. Obama was courageously out of the room at vote time. So was the Maverick McCain. I knew they both reminded me of something.

Despite all that indignation at the suggestion of misdirection, the General Who Would Be Preznit seems to have gotten a few things mistaken.

Petraeus's casualty numbers were higher than the Pentagon's for the months preceding the surge and lower in the months following.

"Apparent contradictions are relatively easy to find in the flood of bar charts and trend lines the military produces. Civilian casualty numbers in the Pentagon's latest quarterly report on Iraq last week, for example, differ significantly from those presented by the top commander in Iraq, Gen. David H. Petraeus, in his recent congressional testimony. Petraeus's chart was limited to numbers of dead, while the Pentagon combined the numbers of dead and wounded -- a figure that should be greater. Yet Petraeus's numbers were higher than the Pentagon's for the months preceding this year's increase of U.S. troops to Iraq, and lower since U.S. operations escalated this summer.

The charts are difficult to compare: Petraeus used monthly figures on a line graph, while the Pentagon computed "Average Daily Casualties" on a bar chart, and neither included actual numbers. But the numerical differences are still stark, and the reasons offered can be hard to parse. The Pentagon, in a written clarification, said that "Gen. Petraeus reported civilian deaths based on incidents reported by Coalition forces plus Iraqi government data. The [Pentagon] report only includes incidents reported by Coalition forces for civilian causality data."

But... the Pentagon's numbers are bigger. Strange, that. Nuance, one supposes. One must be correct about such things.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Only a few thousand dead? Guess again.

Avedon on the Long War:

...We were told this early on in the war, but we've all become used to looking at the official counts of troops killed in combat rather than the total number of troop deaths resulting from service in the current action. The official number is for people who actually die on the field. If they manage to get them to a helicopter before they die, they don't get included in those counts. Meanwhile, the number of Gulf war deaths since 1991 is higher than it was for the 20 years of the Vietnam war, it turns out: around 74,000.

Total U.S. Military Gulf War Deaths: 73,846
– Deaths amongst Deployed: 17,847
– Deaths amongst Non-Deployed: 55,999

Total “Undiagnosed Illness” (UDX) claims: 14,874
Total number of disability claims filed: 1,620,906
- Disability Claims amongst Deployed: 407,911
- Disability Claims amongst Non-Deployed: 1,212,995

Percentage of combat troops that filed Disability Claims 36%

Source [a .pdf file]

More Gulf War veterans have died than Viet Nam veterans. And one wonders exactly what the definition of "deployed" vs. "non-deployed" but actually, you know, "there" is.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Antagonistic Spin States

Kind of like matter and antimatter, agreed. Ian Welsh:

...The question, of course, implicitly suggests that compromise, a middle - a connsensus is good and that extremes are bad.

It's a common question, and here's how I answered it.

I don't have anything to say to people who think that torture is acceptable.

I don't even have anything to say, beyond heaping moral opprobrium, on those who want to "debate" whether or not torture is acceptable. I don't have anything to say, nor am I interested in talking to people who believe in "free speech zones". I don't have anything to say to people who think it's acceptable to abrogate the fourth amendment by allowing the government to spy on citizens without a warrant from a judge based on probable cause and listing specifically what they're looking for. I don't have any time for people who want to argue that invading another country that didn't threaten the US, and selling that invasion based on lies was acceptable. These people aren't "misguided", they are evil. There is no point of connection. There is no middle where we can meet and discuss because everything they stand for, I abhor (and I daresay the reverse is true). They are authoritarians who want to see their government kill, maim and torture in their name. They want to destroy the parts of the US constitution they disagree with. They are fundamentally against the tenets of western civilization that have grown up, not just over the last 50 years, the last hundred years, but pretty much the last thousand years. It's not just that they want to end the seperation of church and state, or limit free speech - they want to end habeas corpus, a right that in various forms goes back about a thousand years.

There's nothing to say such people. There is no point where you can debate. To even debate something like "should we torture" is amazing to me - how have we come to have this conversation? How is it that the side arguing for torture isn't consigned to the "too crazy to even listen to" camp? Why are we arguing about whether Habeas Corpus should be reinstated?

Could it be because even though we have the People, the Old Ones have the dollars, and can buy the air time?

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Motivational Rationale

The Existentialist Cowboy figures out why Bu$hCo-Cheneyburton want to nuke Iran.

It's because at one level they're on the level, as quoted from Len Harrison:

...I am quite certain that what is denied in public is discussed in private. What is obvious to anyone certainly cannot be a mystery to the elites. Now we might imagine it's Nero all over again, at least the Nero of popular myth who "fiddled while Rome burned". But these grey-faced, grey-suited, somber, soured souls are not hedonists nor are they acting like Hitler's cronies in the Berlin bunker. They aren't looking to solutions and they aren't going out with one last party. To my mind that leaves only one possible scenario.

They know what's coming and they don't care because they don't intend for most of us to survive. Reduce the population by 90-95% and none of this makes any difference. There's plenty of oil, plenty of places on the planet to move to, even if the coastlines of the continents are under water. Things start to look much different if you imagine a world of at most a few hundred million. Quite honestly, as far as I can see, that's the only future in which what's going down right now can end well for anyone.

In that context the aggregation of wealth and power become paramount. It's like the back end of a poker tournament. Wars become very useful in a variety of ways. They help the population reduction. They distract the masses. They provide tangible "enemies" while masking the common enemy. They inure people to all sorts of cruelty and inhumanity. And they garner chips so that the winners have more clout in the competition between elites after the die-off begins.

If I were a member of the elites, and possessed that sense of innate superiority and lack of compassion and morality that mark those who are visible members, it's what I'd do. It just makes sense. And it's already begun in Africa and elsewhere.

Of course, it's totally unnecessary, but the alternatives are as unthinkable to the elites as this idea is to most of us. There is a path to a sustainable economy but it involves massive decentralization and localization. It collapses the corporations, destroys the elites, and creates a world in which there are neither rich nor poor. It's what some of us call the better world, Possible. But it's anathema to fat cats and the power brokers. ...

--Len Harrison

This fits quite nicely.

It's doubtful that the fat cats and the power brokers actually believe the biblical version of the apocalypse story. After all, in the end, there's a religious communism under god, right? There is no way they'd want that to happen in this bubble of the multiverse.

On the other hand, there is no doubt this vision could prove quite useful to them. After all, what a shock to the system, what a chance to gain the monopoly!

Still, the scope of this is all well beyond 9/11, or the invasion of Iraq. This is taking a little bit more than Big Time Dick's 8 visits to Langley to get Tenet on board. The majority of the Company is likely balking at the idea of nukular conflagration. Not at the idea of the fallout, which is entirely beyond their conceptial experience and therefore likely meaningless to them.

It's the idea of losing 95% of their market, even for the chance of becoming the only game in town. Poppy's faction of the Company- not the Cheneyburton group incidently- feels well on the way to cornering the market anyway.

While the strong arm of the chaos smash and grab strategery is a useful tool for the Company, they don't want to smash the booty.

But the problem is they would trash it all before they'd institute the kind of technological changes that would allow a sustainable post-fossil fuel global economy to develop where the Company no longer holds all the cards, the chips, and the table.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

But they're in the movies...

Apparently someone made a video of the Blackwater guards firing unprovoked on Iraqis, the car "bomb" blowing up because that's what cars do their gas tanks get shot.

Woops. It isn't the first time.

Apparently Mitt Romney's campaign is particularly tight with Blackwater, since his senior adviser for counterterrorism and national security issues is Cofer Black, Blackwater's Vice Chairman.

Speaking of NeoNazis, it looks like the Stormfronters have taken note of the Jena 6, publishing their names and addresses. And whether 10,000 or 60,000 protesters, it looks like the kid is still in jail.

Open Water

FAIRBANKS, Alaska, Sept. 20 — The cap of floating sea ice on the Arctic Ocean, which retreats under summer’s warmth, this year shrank more than one million square miles — or six Californias — below the average minimum area reached in recent decades, scientists reported Thursday.

The minimum ice area for this year, 1.59 million square miles, appeared to be reached Sunday. The ice is now spreading again under the influence of the deep Arctic chill that settles in as the sun drops below the horizon at the North Pole for six months, starting Friday.

The findings were reported by the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colo., and posted online at www.nsidc.org.

While satellite tracking of polar sea ice has been done only since 1979, several ice experts who have studied Russian and Alaskan records going back many decades said the ice retreat this year was probably unmatched in the 20th century, including during a warm period in the 1930s. “I do not think that there was anything like we observe today” in the 1930s or 1940s, said Igor Polyakov, an ice expert at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks.

The ice retreat has been particularly striking this year. The Alaskan side of the Arctic Ocean has stretches of thousands of square miles of open water; the fabled Northwest Passage through the islands of northern Canada was free of ice for weeks; and the sea route between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans north of Russia was nearly clear a week ago, with one small clot of ice around a group of Siberian islands...

Keeping the Endless War Endless

BAGHDAD - Federal prosecutors are investigating whether employees of the private security firm Blackwater USA illegally smuggled into Iraq weapons that may have been sold on the black market and ended up in the hands of a U.S.-designated terrorist organization, officials said Friday.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Raleigh, N.C., is handling the investigation with help from Pentagon and State Department auditors, who have concluded there is enough evidence to file charges, the officials told The Associated Press. Blackwater is based in Moyock, N.C...

Friday, September 21, 2007

The House of $aud Hands Us the Anvil


...Lots of buzz suddenly about the possibility of a sharp fall in the dollar. The Canadian dollar is back at parity with the greenback; there are rumors that the Saudis are planning to diversify into euros, and maybe even that the Chinese might break the dollar peg. A nice summary at Barry Ritholtz’s blog The Big Picture.

I could say that I saw this coming; the problem is that I’ve been seeing it coming for several years, and it keeps not arriving (and I don’t know if this is really it, even now.) The argument I and others have made is that the U.S. trade deficit is, fundamentally, not sustainable in the long run, which means that sooner or later the dollar has to decline a lot. But international investors have been buying U.S. bonds at real interest rates barely higher than those offered in euros or yen — in effect, they’ve been betting that the dollar won’t ever decline.

So, according to the story, one of these days there will be a Wile E. Coyote moment for the dollar: the moment when the cartoon character, who has run off a cliff, looks down and realizes that he’s standing on thin air – and plunges. In this case, investors suddenly realize that Stein’s Law applies — “If something cannot go on forever, it will stop” – and they realize they need to get out of dollars, causing the currency to plunge. Maybe the dollar’s Wile E. Coyote moment has arrived – although, again, I’ve been wrong about this so far.

Much more about all this in a thoroughly incomprehensible paper I recently published in the European Journal of Economic Policy. Don’t bother clicking if you hate funny diagrams and Greek letters.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

That isn't a lowering tide, it's the next tsunami

Who needs "talk like a pirate day" when you have the real thing?

Yes indeed, the Fed cut their interest rate today, sending the bulls galloping into the fresh tidal plain.

Stocks extended their rally on Wall Street today after Asian and European markets rose sharply in the wake of the Federal Reserve’s decision on Tuesday to cut interest rates by half a percentage point.

The Dow Jones industrial average advanced 0.6 percent, closing at 13,815.56, up 76.17. The Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index and the Nasdaq composite index had registered similar gains.

Stocks soared on Tuesday after the Fed’s aggressive action, with the Dow and the S.& P. 500 both posting their biggest single-day gains since early 2003. That momentum carried over today into Asia, where leading indexes were pushed to their highest levels in more than a month, and into Europe, where the main indexes all rose about 3 percent.

Analysts attributed most of the gains to lingering enthusiasm from the rate cut announcement.

“I think that pretty much swamps everything else,” said William Rhodes, chief investment strategist for Rhodes Analytics in Boston.

There were some signs today that the risk of inflation — a possible byproduct of the Fed’s rate cut — was abating. The Consumer Price Index, which measures prices at the retail level, fell 0.1 percent in August, according to the Labor Department, though the core index, which excludes food and energy, ticked up 0.2 percent. A recent surge in oil prices to record levels could also increase future inflationary pressures...

Ya think?

You won't read this in the 'Merikan main$tream, but The Telegraph sees the real wave coming:

Saudi Arabia has refused to cut interest rates in lockstep with the US Federal Reserve for the first time, signalling that the oil-rich Gulf kingdom is preparing to break the dollar currency peg in a move that risks setting off a stampede out of the dollar across the Middle East.

Saudi Arabia has refused to cut interest rates in lockstep with the US Federal Reserve for the first time, signalling that the oil-rich Gulf kingdom is preparing to break the dollar currency peg in a move that risks setting off a stampede out of the dollar across the Middle East.

The Fed's dramatic half point cut to 4.75pc yesterday has already caused a plunge in the world dollar index to a fifteen year low, touching with weakest level ever against the mighty euro at just under $1.40.

There is now a growing danger that global investors will start to shun the US bond markets. The latest US government data on foreign holdings released this week show a collapse in purchases of US bonds from $97bn to just $19bn in July, with outright net sales of US Treasuries.

The danger is that this could now accelerate as the yield gap between the United States and the rest of the world narrows rapidly, leaving America starved of foreign capital flows needed to cover its current account deficit -- expected to reach $850bn this year, or 6.5pc of GDP...

The Fed's dramatic half point cut to 4.75pc yesterday has already caused a plunge in the world dollar index to a fifteen year low, touching with weakest level ever against the mighty euro at just under $1.40.

There is now a growing danger that global investors will start to shun the US bond markets. The latest US government data on foreign holdings released this week show a collapse in purchases of US bonds from $97bn to just $19bn in July, with outright net sales of US Treasuries.

The danger is that this could now accelerate as the yield gap between the United States and the rest of the world narrows rapidly, leaving America starved of foreign capital flows needed to cover its current account deficit -- expected to reach $850bn this year, or 6.5pc of GDP...

Sail away, me hearties!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Sowing Dragon's Teeth

If you've got a taste for genocide, but want to avoid the messy stains on your hands, what do you do?

Why, go into the middle of a civil war and arm everybody!

Monday, September 17, 2007

No Blood for Oil

What digby says concerning the dirty rotten hippies:

...I just love watching Chris Matthews and Howard Fineman and the rest of these Village gasbags blithely discussing Alan Greenspan's pronouncement that the Iraq war was all about oil as if it's always been just so obvious. It's not even controversial except that it's Alan Greenspan who said it, which they seem to find tittilating. But now they go on and on about how America runs on oil and that wars are fought over resources (even though it's a "Marxist" argument *shudder*.)

Well, no shit. It was always obvious and there were a whole bunch of people who told the truth about that from the very beginning and were vilified as traitors, naifs, terrorist sympathizers and worse by these oh-so-jaded commentators who are discussing it now with all the emotion they used when they ordered their lunch today.

I'm sure you'll all recall how everyone with any sense of decorum ran as fast as they could from the disgusting hippies who had the nerve to say this:

The denizens of the Village are just unbelievable. If we could have had a real debate in the beginning perhaps this "democracy" could have decided for itself if the trillion dollars we would spend on the Iraq invasion and occupation might have been better spent on alternative energy and conservation so we didn't have to fight any useless wars over oil. We had a right to make that choice for ourselves not be mowed down by a bunch of oilmen and over-excited teenage media whores who wanted to run around in a military costume and pretend they were Ernie Pyle for a week or two.

Instead, Alan Greenspan says from on high that the war in Iraq is about oil and even after five years of shoving shrill neocon sanctimony and intimidation about WMD and terrorism and "Demaaahcracy" down our throats, the whole goddamned town nods its head and says, "of course, everyone knows that."

Of course, it's about oil and so much more...

Mercenariae Non Grata

Via xan:

BAGHDAD (AP) -- The Iraqi government announced Monday it was ordering Blackwater USA, the security firm that protects U.S. diplomats, to leave the country after what it said was the fatal shooting of eight Iraqi civilians following a car bomb attack against a State Department convoy.

The order by the Interior Ministry, if carried out, would deal a severe blow to U.S. government operations in Iraq by stripping diplomats, engineers, reconstruction officials and others of their security protection.

The presence of so many visible, aggressive Western security contractors has angered many Iraqis, who consider them a mercenary force that runs roughshod over people in their own country.

Sunday's shooting was the latest in a series of incidents in which Blackwater and other foreign contractors have been accused of shooting to death Iraqi citizens. None has faced charges or prosecution...

Interior Ministry spokesman Abdul-Karim Khalaf said eight civilians were killed and 13 were wounded when contractors believed to be working for Blackwater USA opened fire on civilians in the predominantly Sunni neighborhood of Mansour in western Baghdad.

''We have canceled the license of Blackwater and prevented them from working all over Iraqi territory. We will also refer those involved to Iraqi judicial authorities,'' Khalaf said.

He said witness reports pointed to Blackwater involvement but added that the shooting was still under investigation. One witness, Hussein Abdul-Abbas, said the explosion was followed by about 20 minutes of heavy gunfire and ''everybody in the street started to flee immediately.''

U.S. officials said the motorcade was traveling through Nisoor Square on the way back to the Green Zone when the car bomb exploded, followed by volleys of small-arms fire that disabled one of the vehicles but caused no American casualties...

The problem with Blackwater mercenaries is that if they get deported back to the USA, they end up working here.

For Rethuglicans.

Concerning Well-Paid Trolls and Media Orcs

I got this letter from Spocko I thought I'd share here:

...I thought that there were no new depths that the hosts of KSFO could sink to. I was wrong.

On the anniversary of the thousands who died in the Katrina flooding Lee Rodgers and Melanie Morgan attacking Katrina refugees telling them to stop their sniveling and whining, to get off their butts, shut up and grow up. (Of course the people who DIED from the flooding will NEVER grow up and their voices are silenced forever).

Last week Brian Sussman and "Officer Vic" joked about rape. They did this right before their interview with the coach of the Raiders. (KSFO is the Raiders flagship station)

Of course I don't write Rodgers or Morgan, if you disagree with Rodgers he suggests, " We'll trace you back, run you down and kill you like a mad dog ." audio link) (and that is directed to his Republican critics, so I guess he is crossing the aisle to suggest killing Republicans too.)

And it makes no sense to write to local management, there is nothing that they can say that their management won't stand behind. Torturing and killing a black man? Fine. Hog-tying and burning a man alive? No problem. Lighting a dog on fire? Big joke, keep those Purina endorsements coming.The management won't be doing any disavowing or denouncing of what they say on the air.

Citadel Broadcasting seems to think that Rodgers, Morgan, Sussman and Benner are assets and not liabilities. They renewed Rodgers contract, so as far as I'm concerned they are now complicit in what he says.I don't really understand why they renewed his contract. Maybe he has one of those Don Imus contracts where he can sue if he is fired, so I don't expect them to do anything. And they can't use "the market should decide!" line anymore, in January of this year the market spoke back, they lost 28 advertisers and I estimate 1/2 a million dollars in revenue when we alerted the advertisers to what they were saying,

Might these new horrific comments cost them their Raiders broadcast franchise? We can suggest it. Considering that their new star quarterback played for Louisiana State University and hosted Katrina refugees in his two bedroom apartment following the flood, he might not appreciate Rodgers calling his friends and family "sniveling whiners". Of course the Katrina dead can't speak up to Rodgers' management. They can't tell the Raiders and the NFL marketing team that being associated with KSFO radio hosts is morally repugnant.

But the hard-headed folks say, sports is a business and as long as they deliver their numbers, nobody will care. Welllll, perhaps the Raiders are looking for an excuse to disentangle themselves from this station, maybe they aren't delivering their numbers or demographics. We do know that the NFL is working to disassociate themselves with dog abusers and cheaters, why not radio station hosts who want potential listeners dead?

Maybe now is the time that they consider a move, after all, when the majority of the listeners in the bay area are insulted by the hosts of the station, maybe there are other stations that won't work to actively drive away potential audience members.

For the last week I worked on the post/letter below, (thanks to everyone who helped!). If any of you want to use it to push this conversation forward regarding what is really going on in rebuilding following the Katrina flooding, or why rape isn't funny, please be my guest.

I'm thinking that getting this to anyone you know with in the Saints, Raiders, or NFL would be good, or to other bloggers in the sports world or sports talk radio people. If this leads to some SF vs New Orleans talk and "How dare they say that being in earthquake country!" fine. I want a conversation about Katrina disaster and recovery and who is really behind the problems (hint, it's not the victims.)


Below is a list of names and email addresses that I dug up the only ones that I'm sure have reached the target so far is the LSU one and the two from WWL the Saints flagship radio station.

Let me know if you write anyone and get any responses...

Roger Goodell
NFL Commissioner

Anastasia Danias, Assistant General Counsel, National Football League Properties LLC

National Football League

Greg Aiello, Vice President of Public Relations -aiellog@nfl.com

Peter Murray, Senior Vice President of Partnership Marketing and Sales-murrayp@nfl.com

Jaime Weston, Director Brand Management & Integration Marketing & Sales - westonj@nfl.com

Beth Colleton, Director of Community Affairs -colletonb@nfl.com

New Orleans Saints
Tom Benson, Owner Via Fax
Mickey Loomis, Executive Vice President/General Manager -loomism@saints.nfl.com

Greg Bensel, Vice President of Communications - benselg@saints.nfl.com

Ben Hales, Vice President of Marketing and Business Development - halesb@saints.nfl.com

Oakland Raiders
Amy Trask, CEO - traska@raiders.com, feedback@raiders.com

Chris Gargano, Raiders Director of Broadcasting -garganoc@raiders.nfl.com

Mike Taylor, Director of Public Relations -miket@raiders.com

ABC Radio Networks
James M. Robinson, President, ABC Radio Networks -- Phone (212) 887-1670

Entercom Radio Network
Ken Beck, VP, General Manager of Entercom New Orleans - kbeck@entercom.com

Kenny Wilkerson, WWL, flagship radio station of the Saints - kwilkerson@entercom.com

Bobby Hebert, WWL - bhebert@entercom.com

KRON, Channel 4 San Francisco
Gary Radnich - askgary@kron4.com

Charles Baglio, Director of External Football Relations - football@lsu.edu

Oakland Assemblymember Sandré Swanson - Sandre@SandreSwanson.org

(Not only is Swanson an Assemblymember from Oakland, it was his bill, AB 1334 designed to stop the spread of aids that gave Sussman the idea to joke about rape.).

Melanie Morgan, Brian Sussman, and Lee Rodgers have had a real neonazi neocon hatefest at KSFO for awhile. And Mr. Rodgers, please feel free to trace me back and run me down. I'm not Republican, nor a Pelosi DINOcrat though, so I won't respond quite like the chickenhawks you've been bullying for years.

Who Knew?

...WASHINGTON - Clarifying a controversial comment in his new memoir, former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said he told the White House before the Iraq war that removing Saddam Hussein was “essential” to secure world oil supplies, according to an interview published on Monday.

Greenspan, who wrote in his memoir that “the Iraq War is largely about oil,” said in a Washington Post interview that while securing global oil supplies was “not the administration’s motive,” he had presented the White House before the 2003 invasion with the case for why removing the then-Iraqi leader was important for the global economy.

“I was not saying that that’s the administration’s motive,” Greenspan said in the interview conducted on Saturday. “I’m just saying that if somebody asked me, ’Are we fortunate in taking out Saddam?’ I would say it was essential...”

Cthulhu has promised to eat him last. Which is about as good as any promise one Republican gives another.

Or anyone else.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

What are these people thinking?

The 'Merikan political e$tablishment continues to show itself out of touch with what will really work. Digby quotes a "saavy" friend:

...The Bush undertow on the GOP is severe and history indicates an incumbent party with this unpopular a President has difficulty winning another term. Only once in the last five tries (Bush in ’88) has a party succeeded in three consecutive terms. Reagan’s approval numbers were 20 points higher than Bush’s will be next year. The Republican issue agenda is out of favor with the public. So, the GOP and its allies will run a scorched earth campaign with character assassination of the nominee front and center. It will make George Bush’s 1988 campaign against Michael Dukakis look like child’s play. An independent media campaign should begin next spring reminding voters of the many failures of the Bush and the entire GOP agenda. The GOP nominee should be tied around Bush, his failed policies, and anemic approval rating.

Hillary Clinton is the most centrist of the major Democratic candidates for the nomination while the broader electorate views her as the most liberal. This is not surprising as this has been the right wing campaign against her since 1992. If she is the nominee, the Republicans will plan their whole effort to make her the issue and to drive up her “unfavorables,” already in the high 40s. Of course they have already thrown the kitchen sink at her so who knows how much further opinion can be driven against her. Certainly she is far more unpopular in red geography that no Democrat would carry anyway. What a white guy in Georgia thinks about her really doesn’t matter. Democrats in red and purple geography though are concerned about the down ballot effect if she pulls out all the haters. The key question remains whether she can dampen negative perceptions through her performance. She managed that in upstate New York in her Senate race. There is little time for that type of retail politics in the Presidential. It is naive though to think there will not be a further smear of Bill Clinton’s private life. Kathleen Willey already has her book ready, and Wolf Blitzer, likely, has the interview already booked.

No doubt, there will be a quasi-racist campaign against Obama if he wins the nomination with an emphasis that he is “not one of us” given that exotic background and middle name. Suddenly, the media establishment has decided “experience” is the central criteria in a President. Too bad that was not the hurdle in 2000...

The DINOcratic e$tablishment has collectively lost its mind if it thinks HillBama will ever win the Preznitcy. The bigots will come out of the woodwork to vote against these two. Despite their Company acceptability (both basically support the plan of Poppy's Iraq Study Group), they aren't really the privateers of corporate choice either.

Once again, I quote Jeff Wells, which bears examination in its entirety though truncated here:

...1. In my experience, people who describe themselves as apolitical are those most likely to repeat right-wing talking points, and call it "telling it like it is."

2. Binary thinking is a mind cancer that retards insight, and unfortunately flourishes in conspiracy culture...

3. Winning the battle for popular opinion might mean something if opinion in America were not so cheap, malleable, and effectless.

4. Embracing a minority position is not an admission of futility or failure. "When great changes occur in history,... when great principles are involved, as a rule the majority are wrong."

5. "Big government "/"small government" is an unhelpful construct...

6. With exceptions that probably could be counted on the knuckles of one finger, the Left simply does not exist in Washington...

7. Since I've long held the view that the neocons were intentionally set loose as berserkers to move the goalposts so they could later be scapegoated for 9/11 and Iraq, and the "true conservatives" could return in glory...

8. ... it isn't enough anymore to say the Official Story is a lie, though it is, since the popular unofficial stories are as well. And perhaps told by the same storyteller.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Information is Shock Resistance

Arm yourself.

It's a myth and a lie that free markets thrive on freedom.

From Jane Smiley's review of Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine:

...Every current candidate for the presidency is “authoritarian” in an extreme and unAmerican way that Dean thinks would have in earlier decades been “corrected” by the political system, but the Republicans, according to Dean, have broken the political system precisely so that it won’t correct them. Sounds like the financial markets, doesn’t it?

Personally, I would have put things slightly differently. The Republican Party now seems to work like a gang, in which the most valued qualities in members are loyalty to the gang and the leader, obedience to authority, and violence toward outsiders. The gang is constantly having to prove its dominance, and so candidates for leadership vie with one another for the most tyrannical or violent rhetoric, rhetoric which simultaneously demonizes those who don’t accept the authority of the gang and the leader and removes all rules and laws for the gang and the leader. No one is exempt from the wrath of the gang. In this case, the Republican party has now separated itself fairly clearly from the general American population, and as Americans support it less, they come to seem to the Republicans to be more and more the enemy. The far away enemy is one thing, in terms of threat (think Al Qaeda, Shiites, Sunnis) but the enemy close at hand is more threatening because their enmity is seen as a “betrayal.”

...What amazes me is that Republicans who are now exclaiming at what has happened to the Republican Party (and yes, I talked to my mother this morning) didn’t see this coming. Everything, every value, that the Republicans have held up for my lifetime as desirable has been pointing us in this direction. As I’ve said before on the HuffPost, all of this is the necessary consequence of traditional Republican values, not an accidental byproduct. Or maybe I’ll put it this way — when you reject common humanity, value profits above people, practice sectarian religion, feel contempt for the choices of others, exalt wealth, conflate consumersim with citizenship, join exclusive clubs, daily practice unkindness rather than kindness, and develop theories, such as those of free market capitalism, that allow you to congratulate yourself morally for selfishness and short-sightedness, then being a gang member is in your future.

In the fifties and sixties in the US, at least two lines of thought converged. One was about how to change people’s minds without leaving marks and the other was about what was the best way of organizing a given economy. The first grew out of experiments in psychological torture (whoops, I mean electrocshock therapy) run by Ewen Cameron in the late 1940s. The theory was that patients could be rid of mental illnesses by “regressing” them to an infantile state, attaining a “clean slate” upon which new patterns of behavior and thought would be etched. Cameron used both electroshock and powerful drugs to attain his clean slate, having no actual knowledge of the chemistry of the brain or how it works — in other words, he was operating in accordance with a metaphor. The result of Cameron’s experiments, for the patients, was often considerable loss of short term and even long term memory and a subsequent lifelong feeling of “blankness” on the part of the patients (apparently, later refinements of electroshock techniques have mitigated these effects). In the 1950s, the CIA redirected these techniques toward torture of political opponents, allegedly to find out information, but really to test the techniques themselves (hello, Jose Padilla!).

At the same time, Milton Friedman was coming up with the idea that if only an economy could be purified of any kind of restraints on the free market (for example labor unions or socialized medicine or history), then the free market would be able to perfectly gauge the value of any type of good or service, and therefore an economy would balance itself, and, most importantly, inflation would be controlled (also, as you can see, a metaphor, or, perhaps, an extended analogy).

According to Klein, it soon became apparent that all powerful shocks to a system had a similar effect, whether the system was a human body or a national body, and this was to temporarily disable the system’s defenses. The US government, the CIA, and the free market economists began to act on this insight, to collude in larger experiments. The first of these was the right wing coup, in Chile, led by Augusto Pinochet, in 1973. At the time, Chile had a functioning leftish government and economy, and the voters had already rejected Friedman’s pure free market troika: privatization of government functions, an end to social spending, and deregulation.The new economy was dependent upon outside investors and highly profitable to them — let’s call that the allure of globalization. Pinochet set about instilling terror in the population (that’s the shock therapy) using death squads, exemplary killings, and torture. Taking advantage of this, the economists installed the new free market way of doing things within days of the coup. But Friedman’s ideas did not work — inflation rose. In the eighties, the Chilean government tried again, this time by inducing a profound economic crash — essentially impoverishing the populace in order to bring them to heel. Ultimately, the Chilean “miracle” (Friedman’s term) did nothing for the population, but it did enrich the top ten per cent and put 45% below the poverty line...

So, John Dean, stop wondering what happened to your fellow Republicans. They embarked, knowingly in many cases, unknowingly in some cases, with utter indifference in still other cases, upon the destruction of the common good. They began doing this in the Cold War and kept up with it when it turned out to benefit them economically. Some of them did this because they were fearful and aggressive by nature, and hurting those outside their own families and clubs felt good, or reassuring. Some did it for money. Some did it for “patriotism.” Some did it for religion and some did it out of pure cussedness, but they did it, and they did it over time.

Klein ends her book on a hopeful note — in many places such as Chile and Lebanon, the people have learned from their experiences — they are cannier and more resistant to the shocks administered to them by Bushco and their own ruling classes. Having endured “Disaster Capitalism” for several decades, they understand their own self-interests better and aren’t as easy to fool. I would like to be as hopeful. The question, as always, with Bush and Cheney, is how far are they willing to go? And, is anyone willing to stop them? From John Dean’s article, it doesn’t sound as though it is going to be the Republicans.

Chaos is the plan.

"...like being in a Tom Clancy novel, if Clancy wrote while taking acid"

Now that the 15th has dawned and there is no hot plasma fallout, it seems that the only the thing to conclude is this whole exercise was an elaborate disinformation designed to distract, manipulate, and/or desensitize people.

On the other hand, the rumors continue. Apparently one of the security crew at Minot Airbase managed to turn up dead, and one of the nukes may be missing. Or so it is said.

Now, if somebody really had enough security access to steal a nuke, don’t you suppose they’d have enough security access to cover it up completely?

Perhaps this whole exercise was an elaborate disinformation designed to distract, manipulate, and/or desensitize people.

Then perhaps this is the kind of thing that happens when media sources are notoriously unreliable and the government starts a land war in Asia based on lies and propagated for profit.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

A Disturbance in the Force

Others are noticing a wake, too:

Going into Labor Day weekend, there were lots of rumors anticipating a false flag operation, another 9-11. Trainloads of armored vehicles rolled into Houston. The San Francisco Bay bridge closed for three days. Suspicious activity was reported on ferries in Puget Sound. Ominous civil defense exercises are being held in Oregon, as part of Operation Noble Resolve, which also involves military jets flying over New York. An antiaircraft division is ordered to Washington DC.

We made it through the holiday safely.

Then last Wednesday, Congressman Paul Gillmor (R-OH) was found dead in his home. This was reported as a heart attack, until word leaked out that he had blunt trauma to the head and neck. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/20649320/ Now we're being told he fell down the stairs. Gillmor was investigating a series of option trades that are suspicious- someone is betting billions of dollars that the market will fall 50% by September 21st. Even with the housing crisis, it would take a major catastrophe, like a "terrorist" attack, to precipitate such a plunge. As part of his job on the House Finance Committee, Gillmor was investigating this deal. Was he murdered because he was about to reveal something?

Would this death, on top of the deaths of Senators Wellstone and Carnahan, and the anthraxing of Senators Daschle and Leahy, have a chilling effect on people in Congress? Maybe that's why they're "spineless".

Now we learn that on August 30th, six nuclear warheads were "accidentally" shipped by B-52 from Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota to Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana. (Five arrived, did one get "lost"? Or is someone unable to count?) This violates all military procedure, which requires that nuclear weapons always be shipped on the ground in the continental US, so that if there's an accident, a bomb detonation won't occur. It would take an order from the Commander-in-Chief to put nukes on a plane.

The warheads were reportedly fastened to cruise missiles, which have a range of 1500-2000 miles. Not enough to cross the Atlantic, but enough to hit cities in the US as part of a false flag operation. This scenario is being claimed by "military investigators" on the Hal Turner show, and is making its way around the internet. It's being said the plan was to hit 5 American cities with nuclear weapons over Labor Day weekend in order to install martial law. If so, we have been saved by the grace of God, operating through loyal American whistleblowers, who made the "accidental shipment" of nuclear warheads public.

Now we are told that the entire Air Force will stand down on September 14th, for overhaul and review of procedures. http://www.airforcetimes.com/news/2007/09/airforce_aircombatcommand_standdown_070807 Our skies will be unguarded for a day, and our vulnerability has been announced to the whole world. It's an open invitation to America's enemies to attack us. The last stand-down, unannounced ahead of time, took place on Sept 11, 2001. What's planned for Sept. 14th, 2007? Oddly enough, El Al, the Israeli airline, will not be flying planes that day either.

What is going on?

[link via Avedon]

What, indeed.

I dunno, kids, but maybe you should ask Britney.

Look at what her trust in the system has done for her.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Masters of the Obvious

It's nice the United Nations feels the need to warn all of us. The Guardian seems a bit breathless about it. It's good to know the scope of the figures, but not too terribly surprising data trend.

International organised crime has become a $2 trillion (£984bn) behemoth that threatens to pervert democracy around the world and fuel already dangerous levels of global inequality, a new study warns.

While the world is getting richer, the relentless rise of organised crime has emerged as one of the most potent threats to the planet's future, alongside global warming and the scarcity of drinkable water, according to the State of the Future survey by the World Federation of United Nations Associations.

The annual takings of criminal gangs around the world are roughly equivalent to Britain's GDP, or twice the world's combined defence budgets. Half of that amount is paid as bribes, which tend to make the rich and powerful even wealthier.

The 225 richest people on the planet now earn the same as the poorest 2.7bn, equivalent to 40% of humankind, the report finds. And although democracy is on the rise, with nearly half the world's population now living in democratic systems, it is in danger of being demolished by a culture of bribery.

"The implications the world has to understand is that government decisions can be bought and sold," Jerome Glenn, head of the association's millennium project and one of the report's authors said. "What happens if organised crime decides that instead of buying and selling cocaine or heroin, it's going to buy and sell government decisions? That's a threat to democracy."

Well, yes. Bought and sold indeed. Somebody should really familiarize Mr. Glenn with the going market value for his soul. Apparently they're still promoting ARMs for first timers with record low entry interest rates...

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Let Slip the Dogs of Iraniraqistan

Despite- or perhaps because- the Germans keep busting their terrorist wanna-bees before they grow into the real thing, Germany suggests the IAEA may be right after all, and refuses to willingly Coalition in the latest full frontal facade on Terra. Let's watch how FOX disinforms about this development.

Germany — a pivotal player among three European nations to rein in Iran's nuclear program over the last two-and-a-half years through a mixture of diplomacy and sanctions supported by the United States — notified its allies last week that the government of Chancellor Angela Merkel refuses to support the imposition of any further sanctions against Iran that could be imposed by the U.N. Security Council.

The announcement was made at a meeting in Berlin that brought German officials together with Iran desk officers from the five member states of the Security Council. It stunned the room, according to one of several Bush administration and foreign government sources who spoke to FOX News, and left most Bush administration principals concluding that sanctions are dead.

The Germans voiced concern about the damaging effects any further sanctions on Iran would have on the German economy — and also, according to diplomats from other countries, gave the distinct impression that they would privately welcome, while publicly protesting, an American bombing campaign against Iran's nuclear facilities.

Ah, yes, FOX groks the Bu$hCo fratboy version of diplomacy. Dear Leader knows Merkel says no but knows she really wants it. Backrubs and all.

...Germany's withdrawal from the allied diplomatic offensive is the latest consensus across relevant U.S. agencies and offices, including the State Department, the National Security Council and the offices of the president and vice president. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns, the most ardent proponent of a diplomatic resolution to the problem of Iran's nuclear ambitions, has had his chance on the Iranian account and come up empty.

Political and military officers, as well as weapons of mass destruction specialists at the State Department, are now advising Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that the diplomatic approach favored by Burns has failed and the administration must actively prepare for military intervention of some kind. Among those advising Rice along these lines are John Rood, the assistant secretary for the Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation; and a number of Mideast experts, including Ambassador James Jeffrey, deputy White House national security adviser under Stephen Hadley and formerly the principal deputy assistant secretary for Near Eastern affairs.

Consequently, according to a well-placed Bush administration source, "everyone in town" is now participating in a broad discussion about the costs and benefits of military action against Iran, with the likely timeframe for any such course of action being over the next eight to 10 months, after the presidential primaries have probably been decided, but well before the November 2008 elections.

The discussions are now focused on two basic options: less invasive scenarios under which the U.S. might blockade Iranian imports of gasoline or exports of oil, actions generally thought to exact too high a cost on the Iranian people but not enough on the regime in Tehran; and full-scale aerial bombardment...
[thanks, vastleft]

David Addington knows the Iranian people would much rather have a full scale aerial bombardment, maybe with a few of Darth Rumsfeld's bunker-buster nukes thrown in, than a blockade of imported oil from places like, I dunno, Iraq?

There is no doubt that Darth Cheneyburton's Cheney, his Padwan-learner Addington has the best interests of the Free Market of the Flat World in mind.

There is no doubt a good firebombing- hell, might as well make it nukular- leveling Tehran, killing tens of millions of people, devastating the Middle East with fallout and by extention the economy of the world in its blowback repercussions on the export of Iranian oil would be preferable to any other solution.

After all, these are the best NeoConservative minds that gave us the Endless War on Terra in response to the criminal acts of fringe group of the Royal House of Saud originally organized by the Central Intelligence Agency under the direction of the Reagan/ Bu$h administration.

These are the thousand points of laser light that ignored the stated aims of this ronin spy proxy, hushed the FBI, CIA, and NSA agents that warned them about said renegades, muddled the response six years ago, and set us to fight instead a nation totally unrelated to the 9/11 attack but much closer to the financial interests of the Company and far more profitable for them to fight.

We know they have the best interests in mind. Their own.

Bankrolling Big Brother

Among the usual players, the Clinton Group:

SHENZHEN, China, Sept. 7 — Li Runsen, the powerful technology director of China’s ministry of public security, is best known for leading Project Golden Shield, China’s intensive effort to strengthen police control over the Internet.

But last month Mr. Li took an additional title: director for China Security and Surveillance Technology, a fast-growing company that installs and sometimes operates surveillance systems for Chinese police agencies, jails and banks, among other customers. The company has just been approved for a listing on the New York Stock Exchange.

The company’s listing and Mr. Li’s membership on its board are just the latest signs of ever-closer ties among Wall Street, surveillance companies and the Chinese government’s security apparatus...

...Executives of Chinese surveillance companies say they are helping their government reduce street crime, preserve social stability and prevent terrorism. They note that London has a more sophisticated surveillance system, although the Chinese system will soon be far more extensive.

Wall Street executives also defend the industry as necessary to keep the peace at a time of rapid change in China. They point out that New York has begun experimenting with surveillance cameras in Lower Manhattan and other areas of the city, and that corporations make broad use of surveillance cameras in places like convenience stores and automated teller machines.

“Is New York a police state?” said Peter Siris, the managing director of Guerrilla Capital and Hua-Mei 21st Century, two Manhattan hedge funds that were among the earliest investors in China Security and Surveillance.

Mr. Lantos and human rights advocates contend that surveillance in China poses different issues from surveillance in the West because China is a one-party state where government officials can exercise power with few legal restraints...

...A White House spokesman, Tony Fratto said the White House would not comment on specific companies, adding, “It’s not appropriate to interfere in the private decisions of Americans to invest in legally incorporated firms.”

The New York Stock Exchange said that it had no comment except to confirm that China Security and Surveillance was expected to list on the exchange “later this year, subject to the usual conditions, including approval by the S.E.C.”

Because the company already has shares traded in the United States and is not selling any additional shares, Securities and Exchange Commission regulations say approval is automatic once the company fills out a notification form and the New York Stock Exchange confirms it has approved the listing.

Over the last year, American hedge funds have put more than $150 million into Chinese surveillance companies.

The Chinese government trade association for surveillance companies, which also regulates the industry, predicts that the surveillance market here will expand to more than $43.1 billion by 2010, compared with less than $500 million in 2003. Under the Safe Cities program adopted by the government last winter, 660 cities are starting work on high-tech surveillance systems.

Many Western experts, skeptical that China faces a terrorism threat, have suggested that the government may be using it as an excuse for tougher policies toward ethnic minorities in western China, notably Xinjiang Province, and toward Tibet...

And, incidently, everyone else. Just like our government. But Eastasia/ Eurasia have always been at war with Oceania, no?

... Each time China Security and Surveillance makes an acquisition, it holds an elaborate banquet, with dancers. The majority of the 500 or more people invited are municipal and provincial security officials, as well as executives of rival companies that may become acquisition targets.

“When they come, they hear central government officials endorsing us, they hear bankers endorsing us or supporting us, it gives us credibility,” Mr. Yap said. “It’s a lot of drinking, it’s like a wedding banquet.”

Lehman Brothers bankers and various Ministry of Public Security officials have spoken at such events, which have been held all over the country. One was at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, where Mr. Li himself — of Project Golden Shield — addressed the crowd.

China Security and Surveillance has headquarters in Shenzhen, a high-tech manufacturing center in southeastern China, but two years ago it purchased a “shell” Delaware company with no operations but a listing on the American over-the-counter bulletin board market. It turned the Delaware company into its corporate parent.

China Public Security, also with headquarters in Shenzhen, incorporated in Florida in the same way to obtain a listing on the over-the-counter bulletin board.

China Security and Surveillance is involved in some of the most controversial areas of public security. Mr. Yap said on the conference call with Wall Street analysts and hedge fund managers in August that one of the company’s growth areas involved surveillance systems for Internet cafes; the government is trying to clamp down on users of the cafes in order to discourage pornography and prostitution.

Critics say the surveillance is aimed at catching democracy advocates, Falun Gong adherents and others the Communist Party regards as threatening, noting that rules for nightclubs are less rigorous, and do not require live feeds to police stations.

Mr. Yap said investment firms from Europe, the United States and Asia were so enthused about the surveillance market in China that he typically led a full-day tour each week to some of the company’s factories and installations.

At an aging Shenzhen police station, where the scuffed and peeling yellow walls look as though they have not been painted since the Cultural Revolution, a $100,000 bank of new video screens behind the duty officer’s desk shows scenes from nearby streets. In another neighborhood, the company has installed a $1 million system.

Many of the surveillance cameras are still assembled at a modest factory. But the company has used $20 million of the cash it raised in the United States to acquire a large industrial park with six just-completed factory buildings and six dormitories.

In Shenzhen, white poles resembling street lights now line the roads every block or two, ready to be fitted with cameras. In a nondescript building linked to nearby street cameras, a desktop computer displayed streaming video images from outside and drew a green square around each face to check it against a “blacklist.” Since China lacks national or even regional digitized databases of troublemakers’ photos, Mr. Yap said municipal or neighborhood officials compile their own blacklists.

To show off his systems, Mr. Yap strode across a nearby plaza flanked by apartment towers and a low-rise shopping area, pointing out tiny unobtrusive domes and tubes attached to various poles. “See, there’s a camera on the lamp pole, and another one over there and another one here,” he said. “Big Brother is watching you.”

Just like down home style.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Observational Abominations

The Dark Wraith points to a report that Tommy Thompson's ex-employer and preznitial cash cow, VeriChip, won't like:

When the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved implanting microchips in humans, the manufacturer said it would save lives, letting doctors scan the tiny transponders to access patients' medical records almost instantly. The FDA found "reasonable assurance" the device was safe, and a sub-agency even called it one of 2005's top "innovative technologies."

But neither the company nor the regulators publicly mentioned this: A series of veterinary and toxicology studies, dating to the mid-1990s, stated that chip implants had "induced" malignant tumors in some lab mice and rats.

"The transponders were the cause of the tumors," said Keith Johnson, a retired toxicologic pathologist, explaining in a phone interview the findings of a 1996 study he led at the Dow Chemical Co. in Midland, Mich...

The FDA also stands by its approval of the technology.

Did the agency know of the tumor findings before approving the chip implants? The FDA declined repeated AP requests to specify what studies it reviewed.

The FDA is overseen by the Department of Health and Human Services, which, at the time of VeriChip's approval, was headed by Tommy Thompson. Two weeks after the device's approval took effect on Jan. 10, 2005, Thompson left his Cabinet post, and within five months was a board member of VeriChip Corp. and Applied Digital Solutions. He was compensated in cash and stock options.

Thompson, until recently a candidate for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, says he had no personal relationship with the company as the VeriChip was being evaluated, nor did he play any role in FDA's approval process of the RFID tag.

"I didn't even know VeriChip before I stepped down from the Department of Health and Human Services," he said in a telephone interview.

Also making no mention of the findings on animal tumors was a June report by the ethics committee of the American Medical Association, which touted the benefits of implantable RFID devices.

Had committee members reviewed the literature on cancer in chipped animals?

No, said Dr. Steven Stack, an AMA board member with knowledge of the committee's review.

Was the AMA aware of the studies?

No, he said.


Published in veterinary and toxicology journals between 1996 and 2006, the studies found that lab mice and rats injected with microchips sometimes developed subcutaneous "sarcomas" — malignant tumors, most of them encasing the implants.

_ A 1998 study in Ridgefield, Conn., of 177 mice reported cancer incidence to be slightly higher than 10 percent — a result the researchers described as "surprising."

_ A 2006 study in France detected tumors in 4.1 percent of 1,260 microchipped mice. This was one of six studies in which the scientists did not set out to find microchip-induced cancer but noticed the growths incidentally. They were testing compounds on behalf of chemical and pharmaceutical companies; but they ruled out the compounds as the tumors' cause. Because researchers only noted the most obvious tumors, the French study said, "These incidences may therefore slightly underestimate the true occurrence" of cancer.

_ In 1997, a study in Germany found cancers in 1 percent of 4,279 chipped mice. The tumors "are clearly due to the implanted microchips," the authors wrote...

after reviewing the research, specialists at some pre-eminent cancer institutions said the findings raised red flags.

"There's no way in the world, having read this information, that I would have one of those chips implanted in my skin, or in one of my family members," said Dr. Robert Benezra, head of the Cancer Biology Genetics Program at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York.

Before microchips are implanted on a large scale in humans, he said, testing should be done on larger animals, such as dogs or monkeys. "I mean, these are bad diseases. They are life-threatening. And given the preliminary animal data, it looks to me that there's definitely cause for concern."

Dr. George Demetri, director of the Center for Sarcoma and Bone Oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, agreed. Even though the tumor incidences were "reasonably small," in his view, the research underscored "certainly real risks" in RFID implants.

In humans, sarcomas, which strike connective tissues, can range from the highly curable to "tumors that are incredibly aggressive and can kill people in three to six months," he said.

At the Jackson Laboratory in Maine, a leader in mouse genetics research and the initiation of cancer, Dr. Oded Foreman, a forensic pathologist, also reviewed the studies at the AP's request.

At first he was skeptical, suggesting that chemicals administered in some of the studies could have caused the cancers and skewed the results. But he took a different view after seeing that control mice, which received no chemicals, also developed the cancers. "That might be a little hint that something real is happening here," he said. He, too, recommended further study, using mice, dogs or non-human primates...

And what of former HHS secretary Thompson?

When asked what role, if any, he played in VeriChip's approval, Thompson replied: "I had nothing to do with it. And if you look back at my record, you will find that there has never been any improprieties whatsoever."

FDA's Watson said: "I have no recollection of him being involved in it at all." VeriChip Corp. declined comment.

Thompson vigorously campaigned for electronic medical records and healthcare technology both as governor of Wisconsin and at HHS. While in President Bush's Cabinet, he formed a "medical innovation" task force that worked to partner FDA with companies developing medical information technologies.

At a "Medical Innovation Summit" on Oct. 20, 2004, Lester Crawford, the FDA's acting commissioner, thanked the secretary for getting the agency "deeply involved in the use of new information technology to help prevent medication error." One notable example he cited: "the implantable chips and scanners of the VeriChip system our agency approved last week."

After leaving the Cabinet and joining the company board, Thompson received options on 166,667 shares of VeriChip Corp. stock, and options on an additional 100,000 shares of stock from its parent company, Applied Digital Solutions, according to SEC records. He also received $40,000 in cash in 2005 and again in 2006, the filings show.

The Project on Government Oversight called Thompson's actions "unacceptable" even though they did not violate what the independent watchdog group calls weak conflict-of-interest laws.

"A decade ago, people would be embarrassed to cash in on their government connections. But now it's like the Wild West," said the group's executive director, Danielle Brian.

Thompson is a partner at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, a Washington law firm that was paid $1.2 million for legal services it provided the chip maker in 2005 and 2006, according to SEC filings.

He stepped down as a VeriChip Corp. director in March to seek the GOP presidential nomination, and records show that the company gave his campaign $7,400 before he bowed out of the race in August.

In a TV interview while still on the board, Thompson was explaining the benefits — and the ease — of being chipped when an interviewer interrupted:

"I'm sorry, sir. Did you just say you would get one implanted in your arm?"

"Absolutely," Thompson replied. "Without a doubt."

"No concerns at all?"


But to date, Thompson has yet to be chipped himself.

Quoth the Dark Wraith:

Long-time readers here at The Dark Wraith Forums probably know my stance on the so-called "RFID chips," those tiny little devices that can be implanted subcutaneously for identification purposes.

(In case you don't know my position, here it is: They are an abomination hated by God; and those who think they're a great idea will burn in Hell for all Eternity.)

Meanwhile, on another front, be sure to look up and wave on October the 1st:

Perhaps one of the real benefits of my wee hours babysitting chores is my unrestricted access to the C-SPAN rebroadcast of Committee Hearings. This morning I watched a doosey - The House Committee on Homeland Security . You can link to the video on this page.

Beginning in October 2007 the Department of Homeland Security will open a new office called the National Applications Office (NAO) charged with civil/domestic intelligence gathering.

This new division of Homeland Security was conceived entirely by the Executive Branch, with no Congressional input, and will serve as a clearinghouse for requests to access the data provided by military spy satellites, with a resolution of inches, to view the territorial United States...

Not that the Feds would ever abuse such information, would they? After all, if you're not doing anything illegal, you've nothing to fear. Right?

I agree with quantumspin:

...in many cases,people will never know why they were turned down for loans, employment, medical care or medical insurance, and those who are employed will never know if that promotion they didn't get or the raise that never came was the result of their employer hiring a data mining agency to build a dossier after the fact. Not to mention having a record made of all emails, all phone calls, all web sites visited, all instant messages, all blog entries, with associated scores assigned that attest to the person's support of not of the U.S. government. Like a credit score, that feeds into all other 'scores' individuals will be carrying with them through life.

That's right, folks. If it's information, it's for sale by our privately contracted DHS, even if there's no real lawbreaking involved. When money talks, it finds the data to fit the points the buyer wants to see.

Chips for your TV viewing, anyone?

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Lies, Damn Lies, and If They Showed You How They Figured Their Statistics

...they'd have to kill you:

...To recap, first the public was incorrectly led to believe that Gen. David Petraeus would issue his own report about the situation on the ground in Iraq. Then the Los Angeles Times reported that the so-called “Petraeus report” would “actually be written by the White House.”

Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA) then suggested the White House would probably “tweak” the “Petraeus report.” In an effort to put the controversy to rest, Gen. David Petraeus assured lawmakers that the White House was not going to be involved in the “"writing” of the report:

Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-Fla.), told reporters Thursday that Petraeus said he and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker had briefed the administration on the situation in Iraq, but added that “as far as [Petraeus] is concerned … he is writing his recommendations of that report and testimony.”

Now, apparently there will be no written report from Gen. Petraeus at all. While Petraeus’ statement to Congress will be made available, the public will not know what information he is providing to President Bush. The lack of transparency over Petraeus’ “report” will only intensify the high level of skepticism surrounding his statistics...

Despite all the assertions that 'Merika is behind Petraeus and Dear Leader by the likes of Michael Gordon and Mary Matalin, et cetera ad nauseum, Kevin Drum digs up this rather more extensive poll to show, in fact, although we support our troops, we aren't and we don't believe Fearless Leader.

Jumpin' bin Shark

That didn't take long. The fairly unbalanced Fox News notices- and promotes the Osama bin Bloggin' connection. It's nice to see Hannity, bin Laden, and Cheneyburton are all reading from the same script.

So when antiwar advocates and the 67% of America that want this over immediately are declared enemies of the state, do we get the same palace in Riyadh and endless supply of Grecian Formula?

Meanwhile, the big sharks are still in the water as the propaganda blitzkrieg to git thar Iran On continues. Step 1: convince the rubes the IraqIranistan situation is all good, and those are roses the locals are handing us. Pay no attention to the cooks behind those books, which of course are never actually going to be put into print.

Although Petraeus refuses to issue an written report this week, that doesn't stop the D.o'D. from leaking all sorts of unsupported feel good peudostats about Iraq to justify the shiny surginess of it all. Insurgents shot in the front aren't really insurgents. Sunni killing Sunni and Shiite killing Shiite aren't victims of the civil war, but victims of crime. Although Wahhabi and Ba'athist are both Sunni, and love each other about as much as the generic Sunni and the generic Shia.

Jumpin' the shark with our troops in the middle now, too, I guess...

As usual, Glenn Greenwald nails the Kingfish better than I can. But as long as the money bankrolling the D.C. machine is totally independent of public opinion, count on the Great 'Merikan War Dream Machine to keep making that leap of faith that keeps it lubed with the blood of patriots.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Neccessity is the Mother of Invention

If there was no terrorism, they would have to invent it.

Woops! They already did!

The Lyin' of Al Qaeda

But Bu$hie sez "Feel da Terra, baby".

The disinformation continues, with a tape from Osama that got taken down, we're assured, as soon as he saw Dear Leader had it before the Terra'ists did. Maybe even before his own people could see it on the Jihadist websites.

We're told Osama equates the consensus of the majority of Americans, to get the Hell out of IraqIranistan, to conversion to Islam. We are told he wants us all aboard. He even throws the bellyache of most of the Democrats, that we're led by DINOcrats who really treat progressives like Rethuglicans treat Christians, into the mix.

So many things we're told, mixing the progressive agenda with radical right-wing muslim theocracy. Which in the reality-based world, mix about like oil and water. But in the Bu$hCo bubble, and strangely enough in Al Qaeda's, progressive liberalism is one and the same with TheoCon Islam.

The world, she's flat. It says so right there on the label. Who ya gonna believe, the White House or your lyin' eyes?

Friday, September 07, 2007

Taking the Party Lyin'

Krugman nails it about Iraq this morning:

Here's what will definitely happen when Gen. David Petraeus testifies before Congress next week: he'll assert that the surge has reduced violence in Iraq - as long as you don't count Sunnis killed by Sunnis, Shiites killed by Shiites, Iraqis killed by car bombs and people shot in the front of the head.

Here's what I'm afraid will happen: Democrats will look at Gen. Petraeus's uniform and medals and fall into their usual cringe. They won't ask hard questions out of fear that someone might accuse them of attacking the military. After the testimony, they'll desperately try to get Republicans to agree to a resolution that
politely asks President Bush to maybe, possibly, withdraw some troops, if he feels like it.

There are five things I hope Democrats in Congress will remember.

First, no independent assessment has concluded that violence in Iraq is down. On the contrary, estimates based on morgue, hospital and police records suggest that the daily number of civilian deaths is almost twice its average pace from last year. And a recent assessment by the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office found no decline in the average number of daily attacks.

So how can the military be claiming otherwise? Apparently, the Pentagon has a double super secret formula that it uses to distinguish sectarian killings (bad) from other deaths (not important); according to press reports, all deaths from car bombs are excluded, and one intelligence analyst told The Washington Post that "if a bullet went through the back of the head, it's sectarian. If it went through the front, it's criminal." So the number of dead is down, as long as you only count certain kinds of dead people.

Oh, and by the way: Baghdad is undergoing ethnic cleansing, with Shiite militias driving Sunnis out of much of the city. And guess what? When a Sunni enclave is eliminated and the death toll in that district falls because there's nobody left to kill, that counts as progress by the Pentagon's metric.

Second, Gen. Petraeus has a history of making wildly overoptimistic assessments of progress in Iraq that happen to be convenient for his political masters.

I've written before about the op-ed article Gen. Petraeus published six weeks before the 2004 election, claiming "tangible progress" in Iraq. Specifically, he declared that "Iraqi security elements are being rebuilt," that "Iraqi leaders are stepping forward" and that "there has been progress in the effort to enable Iraqis to shoulder more of the load for their own security." A year later, he declared that "there has been enormous progress with the Iraqi security forces."

But now two more years have passed, and the independent commission of retired military officers appointed by Congress to assess Iraqi security forces has recommended that the national police force, which is riddled with corruption and sectarian influence, be disbanded, while Iraqi military forces "will be unable to fulfill their essential security responsibilities independently over the next 12-18 months."

Third, any plan that depends on the White House recognizing reality is an idle fantasy. According to The Sydney Morning Herald, on Tuesday Mr. Bush told Australia's deputy prime minister that "we're kicking ass" in Iraq. Enough said.

Fourth, the lesson of the past six years is that Republicans will accuse Democrats of being unpatriotic no matter what the Democrats do. Democrats gave Mr. Bush everything he wanted in 2002; their reward was an ad attacking Max Cleland, who lost both legs and an arm in Vietnam, that featured images of Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein.

Finally, the public hates this war and wants to see it ended. Voters are exasperated with the Democrats, not because they think Congressional leaders are too liberal, but because they don't see Congress doing anything to stop the war.

In light of all this, you have to wonder what Democrats, who according to The New York Times are considering a compromise that sets a "goal" for withdrawal rather than a timetable, are thinking. All such a compromise would accomplish would be to give Republicans who like to sound moderate - but who always vote with the Bush administration when it matters - political cover.

And six or seven months from now it will be the same thing all over again. Mr. Bush will stage another photo op at Camp Cupcake, the Marine nickname for the giant air base he never left on his recent visit to Iraq. The administration will move the goal posts again, and the military will come up with new ways to cook the books and claim success.

One thing is for sure: like 2004, 2008 will be a "khaki election" in which Republicans insist that a vote for the Democrats is a vote against the troops. The only question is whether they can also, once again, claim that the Democrats are flip-floppers who can't make up their minds.

"Cept, now, the Petraeus Report is too double-top secret for the unititiated to understand, so it's only gonna be verbal, to our betters.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

When Was the Last Time We Had a "System-wide Stand-down"

As we hear that Cheneyburton is gearing up for an excuse to slam Iran with a Big One, we also find Osama bin Hidin' is about to release a new Bu$hCo cheerleading video.

You may remember the last one was a plea not to throw him in that briar patch and please not $elect Dear Leader preznit in 2004.

Of course, millions of Rethuglicans heard Osama's embrace of John Kerry as a good reason to throw the rascal in the briar patch, $electing Dear Leader, and ensuring the hunt for Al Qaeda remained in Afghanistan and not in the bin Laden harem in Riyadh or the Office of the Vice-Preznit of the United States.

Curiously, Military Times has upgraded the number of nuke-loaded cruise missiles that went on a joy ride this week to six. As a result,

...Air Combat Command will have a command-wide mission stand-down Sept. 14 to review its procedures in response to the mistake. Even units without oversight of nuclear weapons will take part in the stand-down...

Does it seem wise to have a "command-wide mission stand-down" just when Al Qaeda seems to be all touchy-feelie again? Wasn't there a system-wide stand-down order on September 11, 2001? Is this wise?