September 08, 2011

Where's Gandhi?

I am now tweeting as @Jaraparilla and blogging at - come say hi.

March 06, 2010

The Best Of BushOut

Top ten posts since I started this blog in 2003:

1. How Bush's friends manipulated Global Oil Prices in the lead-up to the 2006 mid-term elections.
The real question is not why they manipulate oil prices for political profit, but how do they do it...
2. Killing Arabs: Bush, Camus and the Politics Of The Absurd:
Camus’ writing is marked by an intellectual rigor that shines like a bright light through all his work. By contrast, Bush cannot even be bothered to analyze complex issues in anything more than a superficial way...
3. Bush Cites Fadhils For Proof Of "Success" In Iraq:
When the President of the United States of America is reduced to quoting propaganda nonsense fabricated by his own neocon supporters, that's pathetic. When he does so specifically in order to justify failed policies which continue to see dozens, if not hundreds, dead every day in Iraq, that's worse than tragic. It's criminal...
4. Iraq The Model: The Full Story
The NYT article only skimmed the surface of my allegations against the Fadhil brothers, gently suggesting they might be working with the CIA but quickly concluding that they probably are not. So here is the full story, from my point of view, for anyone who is interested...
More on Jim Hake here. More on the Fadhil brothers here. One day I might get around to pulling all this shit together.

5. Warmongers Jerk Off To Chrenkoff
If normal companies are using buzz and direct-advertising techniques, there's no reason to think that the most powerful military complex on the planet hasn't caught on...
More on Chrenkoff here.

6. Bush Versus Confucius
Others are clear and bright,
But I alone am dim and weak.
Others are sharp and clever,
But I alone am dull and stupid.
7. Too Incredible To Be True: The Khaled El-Masri Story
Regular readers might remember that it was not so long ago that this humble blog was - quite incredibly - rated the #2 resource on the Web for a Google search on his name...
More on Khaled El-Masri here. Original Bush Out blog post here. Latest Wikipedia info here.

8. A hit from the Executive Office Of The President Of The United States:
The hit came from Washington, D.C., on April 16th at 11:46:42 pm. It was a Google blog search ( for the words "George Tenet" and it led to this post...
9. My very first blog post, from way back in Feb, 2003:
Who are we? Where are we going? What kind of world do we want to create? ...

The industralised behommeth [sic] of 21st Century "Civilisation" races at full steam towards a destination most thinking people no longer wish to attain... Who built this cursed machine? Who controls it? Should we be trying to stop it, destroy it or re-direct it? Or should we just be jumping off?!?

After centuries of disenfranchisement, subjugation and de-humanisation, the Internet promises to re-empower the individual and unite ordinary people around the globe. Personal web sites like Blogger give us a medium to make our voices heard like never before. This Blog is my voice on the Internet.
10. My second blog post, just two months into the war:
We are now witnessing the collapse of the myriad Bush administration myths about why the USA had to invade Iraq... So now it it time to ask: WHY DID THEY DO IT?

The answer, obvious enough once the other myths are exploded, is OIL.

So, what now? Iraq is perhaps the only nation on earth capable of seriously challenging Saudi Arabia as the World #1 oil exporter. The Americans will clearly want to maintain control of this oil for the next hundred years (or at least until it is all gone). The obvious fix would be to "sell" all the Iraqi's oil to the USA at very attractive prices. In return, the USA will give the Iraqis ... what? Hmmn... How about ongoing military and administrative support? Well, that won't be necessary once the Iraqis regain control of their country and set up a stable, model democracy, right?

Hands up anyone who thinks the instability in Iraq will be resolved anytime soon.
And a follow up more than four years later:
If the truth was obvious to me, a relatively uninformed middle-aged nobody, way back then, why couldn't the whole world see it? Why couldn't our politicians admit it? Why was the media silent? Why has it taken us four long years of lies, and over half a million deaths, to reach this point of public outrage? How on earth did Bush, Blair and Howard manage to get re-elected?

The disturbing answers to these questions tell us much about who we are, what we have become, and where we are going.

I have now spent over four years blogging nearly every day against Bush, Howard, Blair and their Big Money backers. It has been a process of learning and self-realisation as much as a politically-oriented campaign for truth and accountability.

The knowledge I have accumulated has been quite shocking, in many respects, and almost always depressing. Much that was dismissed, just a short time ago, as wild Conspiracy Theory, is now accepted as common knowledge. I have learned a good deal about of politics, business, and Western society, but I have learned far, far more about human nature.
See also this 9-11 timeline.

November 25, 2009

9/11 Was An Inside Job

The son of the man who built the Sydney Opera House - himself a highly respected architect - gets the usual "batshit crazy" treatment from the media but makes his opinion clear.

Utzon's son signs up for September 11 conspiracy theory
''I think it is important that we get all the things on the table, all the different facts, and see what is actually right,'' Mr Utzon tells Mr Gage. ''Because if somebody, they are indeed trying to cover something up, it is good to get it out in the open. Because what else would they be covering up?''

Speaking in a corridor in the Sydney Opera House, Mr Gage reveals that Mr Utzon signed a petition organised by his organisation, Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, demanding an inquiry a year ago.

Contacted yesterday about the comments, Mr Utzon said he was ''a bit surprised'' that the video had been posted. Yet he repeated his call for an investigation and said distrust of the media was a significant driver of that.

''I have an inborn sense [that] what is coming out in the media is slightly, or to a large extent, a distorted version of what actually happened,'' Mr Utzon said. ''This comes right back from where my father had to leave the Opera House job here in Sydney and consequent media reports on his life and his doings.''

November 24, 2009

Mr Monsieur? Really?

How The Game Works

Tensions high at climate deal crunch time - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
Mr Rudd today announced the Government was doubling compensation for the coal sector and more than doubling it for electricity generators in an attempt to win Coalition support and get the deal through the Senate before the end of the week.

Blair's War

Iraq war inquiry Tony Blair invasion
British military commanders are expected to tell an inquiry into the Iraq war, which opens today, that the invasion was ill-conceived and that preparations were sabotaged by Tony Blair's government's attempts to mislead the public.

They were so shocked by the lack of preparation for the aftermath of the invasion that they believe members of the British and US governments at the time could be prosecuted for war crimes by breaching the duty outlined in the Geneva Conventions to safeguard civilians in a conflict.

The lengths the Blair government took to conceal the invasion plan and the extent of military commanders' anger at what they call the government's ''appalling'' failures emerged as Sir John Chilcot, the inquiry's chairman, promised to produce a ''full and insightful'' account of how Britain was drawn into the conflict.

Fresh evidence indicates how Mr Blair misled MPs by claiming in 2002 the goal was ''disarmament, not regime change''. Documents show the government wanted to hide its true intentions by informing only ''very small numbers'' of officials.

The documents, leaked to London's Sunday Telegraph, are ''post-operational reports'' and ''lessons learned'' papers compiled by the army and its field commanders. The deep hostility of Britain's senior military commanders towards their US allies is also disclosed in the classified government documents leaked to the Telegraph.

In an interview for the Chilcot inquiry, Colonel J.K. Tanner, the British chief of staff in Iraq, described his US counterparts as ''a group of Martians'' for whom ''dialogue is alien''. He added: ''Despite our so-called 'special relationship', I reckon we were treated no differently to the Portuguese.''

Colonel Tanner's boss, Major-General Andrew Stewart, the top British operational commander in Iraq, told how ''a significant amount of my time'' had been spent ''evading'' and ''refusing'' orders from his US superiors.

At least once, according to the papers, General Stewart's refusal to obey an order resulted in Britain's ambassador to Washington, Sir David Manning, being called to the US State Department for a diplomatic reprimand - of the kind usually delivered to ''rogue states'' such as Zimbabwe.

One commander said the government ''missed a golden opportunity'' to win support from Iraqis. Another commented: ''It was not unlike 1750s colonialism where the military had to do everything ourselves.'' One, describing the supply chain, added: ''I know for a fact that there was one container full of skis in the desert.''

The ''lessons learned" report said: ''Never again must we send ill-equipped soldiers into battle.''

Significantly, the documents support what officials have earlier admitted - that the army was not allowed to prepare properly for the Iraq invasion in 2002 so as not to alert Parliament and the UN that Mr Blair was already determined to go to war.

Mr Blair had in effect promised the US president, George Bush, that he would join the US-led invasion when, as late as July 2002, he was denying to MPs that preparations were being made for military action.

Guardian News & Media;

Telegraph, London

We All Know That Feeling, Right?

Well, maybe not quite.

Doctors thought he was in a coma, but he was in fact conscious
A Belgian man thought to have been in a coma for 23 years has told of his "second birth" after doctors realised he was in fact conscious, a German weekly reported.

Medical staff believed Rom Houben had been left in a vegetative state by a serious car accident, but he was simply paralysed and unable to communicate.

The former engineering student and martial arts enthusiast, now 46, told Der Spiegel that he meditated to pass the long years trapped in his own body.

Houben's true condition was discovered following new tests at the University of Liege, in eastern Belgium, which found that his brain was still functioning.

Using a specially-adapted computer to type messages, Houben has been able to describe the ordeal he endured for more than two decades.

"I cried out, but no-one heard me," he said, "I will never forget the day they discovered me - it was my second birth."

November 23, 2009


Blair misled MPs on Iraq war: papers
Blair misled MPs on Iraq war: papers

By Europe correspondent Emma Alberici

Posted 10 hours 40 minutes ago
Updated 5 hours 39 minutes ago
Troops in Basra: the leaked reports reveal that Britain was not prepared for war

Troops in Basra: the leaked reports reveal that Britain was not prepared for war (AFP: Toby Melville)

Secret British government papers reveal that former prime minister Tony Blair misled MPs and the public about the reasons the country was going to war in Iraq.

Britain's Sunday Telegraph has published correspondence between military commanders and their political masters.

The correspondence shows that in July 2002, Mr Blair told the public and MPs that Britain's objective in Iraq was "disarmament, not regime change", and that there had been no plan for military action.

But the documents reveal that a full invasion of Iraq was being planned five months earlier.

The leaked reports also reveal that Britain was not prepared for war and was under-equipped when the invasion began in 2003.

The need to conceal that fact had "constrained" the planning process and the result was a "rushed" operation "lacking in coherence and resources", which caused "significant risk" to troops and "critical failure" in the post-war period.

The revelations come two days before public hearings begin in the Iraq inquiry.

The Sheep Awake

Guardian Report: US Setting Aside $1.3 Billion For Anti-Taliban Afghan Militias
1.3 billion something is wrong here wish we could audit this money and see where it is really going?????????? that's 1,300,000,000 of your tax money and I do not think it will go to who they say.......­­l me a skeptic

The Mysterious US Media

Glenn Greenwald -
The Washington Post has known since 2005 in exactly which countries the CIA maintained its illegal, secret prisons but still refuses to say, even though they've now been banned by Executive Order and even though Lithuania and Poland are launching investigations which the Post could easily answer, but chooses not to.

Throw Out The Case?

First Obama, now his AG... In any fair trial, this would be enough to get the case thrown out.

September 11 accused to explain why
"I have every confidence that the nation and the world will see him for the coward that he is," Holder told the committee.

November 17, 2009

Shock! Horror!

Pro-Israel lobby group bankrolling Tories, film claims | Politics | The Guardian
50% of MPs in the shadow cabinet are Conservative Friends of Israel members, according to Channel 4's Dispatches.

November 16, 2009

Was Hasan Working Undercover?

A comment from Zelikow? And more "anonymous White House officials"? Why...?

Obama orders inquiry into handling of Hasan intelligence:
Perhaps more than most of Hasan's actions, it was the e-mail contact with Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki that had independent analysts and some members of Congress demanding an investigation.

"I was startled," said Philip Zelikow, who was the executive director of the bipartisan commission that investigated the 2001 terrorist attacks. "Awlaki is a (Sept. 11) loose end. ... It should have set off some questions."

U.S. government agents knew that Hasan had exchanged 10 to 20 e-mails starting last December with Awlaki, a New Mexico-born Muslim cleric who grew up in Yemen and was linked in the 9-11 Commission's final report to at least two of the 2001 hijackers.

Awlaki's response was limited - only two of Hasan's messages were returned - and didn't encourage violence. In fact, one of them advised Hasan not to violate any laws, according to an official at the House Intelligence Committee, who spoke only on the condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorize to talk about the investigation.


Bruce Ivins sent samples of RMR-1029 to both Battelle and Dugway. Practically all of the science underlying Amerithrax now being reviewed by the National Academy of Sciences is about matching the genetic fingerprint of the attack anthrax to that of RMR-1029. Given that both Battelle and Dugway had RMR-1029, Battelle and Dugway are no less incriminated than Bruce Ivins by the science underlying Amerithrax.

That the FBI has engaged in cover-up in its Amerithrax investigation is readily apparent. This memorandum addresses the urgent matter of what it is that is being covered up...
I posted the following comment at ICH:
Great work, Barry. These anthrax attacks really have demonstrated a most extraordinary level of official incompetence on multiple levels, including the FBI's bungled attempts to pretend to be mounting a serious investigation. If they are going to lie to us, they should at least TRY to make the lies semi-plausible.

More importantly, the fact that nobody in Washington DC or the US media is prepared to mount a ruthless exposure of these anthrax lies tells us everything we need to know about the USA today. Look at the simple logic:

1. The anthrax attacks were an inside job.

2. The FBI and the Bush administration covered up the truth.

3. The Obama administration is not interested in further investigations, even though two top Democrats were targetted.


4. The US military-industrial complex is now as powerful as, or more powerful than, both major parties in the US government. Effectively, it controls the government.


5. The US military-industrial complex and major political parties are prepared to engineer false reasons for more wars, including targetting US citizens.

Horrifying stuff, but unarguably TRUE!

A Decent Book Review?

Book Review - 'The Ground Truth - The Untold Story of America Under Attack on 9/11,' by John Farmer - Review -
It doesn’t require scouring the archives to notice that 9/11 was relentlessly exploited by the Bush administration to serve as the founding myth for the war on terror, which was seamlessly expanded from Afghanistan to Iraq. In retrospect, the administration’s public portrayal of itself and the armed forces as acting heroically on 9/11 can be seen as an integral part of the selling of the Iraq war.

Farmer also suggests that the cold war did not come to an end until the 9/11 attacks took place. But this, too, is questionable. In trumpeting an ill-defined war against terrorism, Bush simply transposed the bombast of the cold war to the present to suggest that he was a new Churchill staring down evil and that America needed to combat a new totalitarian threat emerging from the Islamic world. Still, Farmer’s accomplishment is to throw 9/11 into fresh relief. A precise and reliable accounting of what happened has been absent until now. This is it.

November 13, 2009


Glenn Greenwald -
What Galbraith kept completely concealed all these years was that a company he formed in 2004 came to acquire a large stake in a Kurdish oil field whereby, as the NYT put it, he "stands to earn perhaps a hundred million or more dollars." In other words, he had a direct -- and vast -- financial stake in the very policies which he was publicly advocating in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and countless other American media outlets, where he was presented as an independent expert on the region.

Resolve To Withdraw ASAP!

The Associated Press: Obama's hesitancy on war buildup sends messages
"How do we signal resolve and at the same time signal to the Afghans and the American people that this isn't an open-ended commitment?"

November 12, 2009

So Much For The First Black Female President

Rice And Hadley Look Set To Launch Consulting Firm | TPMMuckraker
In September, the RiceHadley Group LLC was registered as a business in California, under a San Francisco address. According to a source, the venture is to be a "strategic consulting" firm, headed by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and former National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, and will be launched imminently.

Neither Rice nor Hadley responded to TPMmuckraker's requests for comment.

A website at the URL "" is said to be "under construction."

November 11, 2009

The Only Thing That Surprises Me...

... is that they couldn't get hold of this information themselves. I assume the DoJ/CIA/FBI/etc is staffed with fools while Indymedia has some very clever geeks.

Justice Dept. Asked For News Site's Visitor Lists - Taking Liberties - CBS News
In a case that raises questions about online journalism and privacy rights, the U.S. Department of Justice sent a formal request to an independent news site ordering it to provide details of all reader visits on a certain day.

The grand jury subpoena also required the Philadelphia-based Web site "not to disclose the existence of this request" unless authorized by the Justice Department, a gag order that presents an unusual quandary for any news organization.

No Magic Escape For Australia

Fall in housing starts to impact prices
The myth is that higher property taxes increase the cost of housing and office space over time. The reality is that higher taxes would leave less site-rent to be pledged to banks - thereby reducing the financial cost of property ownership - while also enabling the government to shift the tax burden back off labour on to property, as used to be the case in Australia before the mid-1970s.

This explains why the financial lobby supports the real estate lobby in shaping public perceptions of the property market - along with government financial policy towards the finance, insurance and real estate sector.

Australia's fiscal-financial system has become increasingly dysfunctional in giving tax preference to land-price ''capital'' gains and hence property speculation rather than tangible capital formation. Instead of raising living standards by producing more, what passes as post-industrial ''wealth creation'' takes the form of inflating asset prices on credit. The result is a bubble economy. And inasmuch as asset-price gains are fuelled by debt leveraging, wealth creation is more accurately viewed as debt creation.

The problem is that debts remain in place even as prices drop.

And they are dropping in response to the economy's shrinking ability to pay, as more and more income is earmarked to pay debts run up in the past. This debt service is not available for spending on goods and services. The result is debt deflation. Lower spending on goods and services shrinks the domestic market (and also shrinks imports), leading to lower business profits and also lower business rentals. Lower rental income results in lower property prices - and at a point, property falls into negative equity: the mortgage debt exceeds the current market price that home owners or commercial investors can recover.

This is the end stage of debt-leveraged bubbles.

Violence Bets Violence Begets Violence Begets....

Breaking news
Breaking news
Washington sniper executed by injection: prison

1:39pm Washington sniper John Muhammad has been executed by lethal injection over a series of 2002 shootings that left 10 people dead, a prison spokesman has said.
Obama vows justice for Fort Hood victims

DAPHNE BENOIT 1:34pm US President Barack Obama has vowed justice (IE EXECUTION - G.) as he eulogized the dead of the Fort Hood shootings and warned that even twisted faith could not explain such "craven" mass murder.

So That's All Right Then?

Maybe not quite! But I am sure the professional global warming sceptics will grab at it with both hands...

Ice loss offsets global warming: study
Their estimate, based on images of green algal blooms, is that the phytoplankton absorbs 3.5 million tonnes of carbon, equivalent to 12.8 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2), the principal greenhouse gas.

To put it in perspective, this is equivalent to the CO2-storing capacity of between 6,000 and 17,000 hectares (15,000 and 42,500 acres) of tropical rainforest, according to the paper.

The tally is minute compared to the quantities of greenhouse gases from fossil fuels and deforestation, which amounted to 8.7 billion tonnes of carbon in 2007.

Heckuva Job (Cont'd)

On Bush's Watch, U.S. Suffered Its "Electronic Pearl Harbor"
Enter Jim Lewis, who directs the Technology and Public Policy Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, who says that the United States experienced its "electronic Pearl Harbor" in 2007:

LEWIS: Some unknown foreign power, and honestly, we don't know who it is, broke into the Department of Defense, to the Department of State, the Department of Commerce, probably the Department of Energy, probably NASA. They broke into all of the high tech agencies, all of the military agencies, and downloaded terabytes of information.

Lewis goes on to point out that the entire Library Of Congress is the equivalent of 12 terabytes, so that sort of puts things in perspective, doesn't it? And it's not like hackers were making off with William Faulkner novels!

And last November, according to Lewis, "someone was able to get past the firewall and encryption devices of one of the most sensitive U.S. military computer systems and stay inside for several days." That system? The CENTCOM network, which you might know as "the people who are fighting all of our wars." The hackers were able to sit inside the network, tracking information and documents "like they were part of military command."

This, Lewis said, is the "most significant" breach of security ever "acknowledged by the Pentagon." Not acknowledging this, however, is the Bush administration, on whose watch all of this happened. Asked why the public was never told about the extent to which the United States had already suffered significant cyber-casualties, Lewis said: "You know, I've been trying to figure out why that is. And some of it is the previous administration didn't want to admit that they had been rolled in 2007." Worse yet, in Lewis' estimation, the seriousness of the threat, even now, "doesn't seem to be sinking in."

Yoo Got Problems

Justice Watch: Yoo Withdrew: Amidst Growing Call for Criminal Investigation, Torture Memos Author John Yoo Withdraws from Federalist Society Panel

Yoo was scheduled to speak on the panel, “Professional Responsibility: The Role of Government Attorneys and the Global War on Terror” this Thursday, November 12.

Teh Stoopid (Part 134,236,729 and counting...)

They really do let anyone into the US Marines these days...

Marine accused of attacking priest
Marakis, a Greek Orthodox priest visiting from Crete, told police he had stopped to ask the 28-year-old reservist for help after getting lost in downtown Tampa. He had just performed a blessing of another priest and accidentally got off the highway.

Marakis approached Bruce as he was unloading his dry-cleaning, police said.

"Please, please help," Marakis said to Bruce in his limited English.

Bruce pulled out a tyre iron and attacked the priest, police said. He then called police as he chased Marakis, saying an Arabic man was trying to rob him. When officers arrived, Bruce told them the man was a terrorist.

Bruce told police he heard Marakis yell, "Allahu akbar!", Arabic for "God is great," according to Tampa police spokeswoman Laura McElroy.

Marakis, however, does not speak Arabic, McElroy said. He speaks Greek.

Rupert Murdoch, White Supremacist

A former NY Post editor is suing the paper, claiming they are racist misogynists. Longtime Murdoch favourite editor Col Allen, the man who took Kevin Rudd to a strip club, gets special attention: he even showed women employees photos of naked men on his Blackberry!

Murdoch recently insisted that he doesn't tell his editors what to write, "but I do choose my editors." News Ltd employees and outlets are always coming under scrutiny, while Murdoch himself floats above the carnage. That could be about to change.

Murdoch: Beck 'Was Right' When He Called Obama Racist:

In an interview with SkyNews last week, Rupert Murdoch, whose News Corp. owns Fox News, said Glenn Beck "was right" when he called President Obama "a racist" this summer.

Some background: In August, after a white cop mistakenly arrested a black Harvard professor in his own home, touching off a nationwide debate about race, Obama said during a news conference that James Crowley, the police officer, "acted stupidly."

Beck jumped on the comment, saying Obama has "a deep-seated hatred for white people." He later said, "I'm not saying he doesn't like white people. ... He has a, this guy is, I believe, a racist."

Asked about that comment last week, Murdoch -- ultimately, Beck's boss -- said Beck was right, even though he maybe shouldn't have said as much.

"On the racist thing, that caused a grilling. But [Obama] did make a very racist comment about, you know, blacks and whites and so on, which he said in his campaign he would be completely above. And, you know, that was something which perhaps shouldn't have been said about the President. But if you actually assess what he was talking about, he was right."

Murdoch is now in the firing line. About bloody time!

Bye Bye Bitch

November 10, 2009

Das Kapital Sux

BBC NEWS | Special Reports | Free market flawed, says survey
More than 29,000 people in 27 countries were questioned. In only two countries, the United States and Pakistan, did more than one in five people feel that capitalism works well as it stands.

Almost a quarter - 23% of those who responded - feel it is fatally flawed. That is the view of 43% in France, 38% in Mexico and 35% in Brazil.

And there is very strong support around the world for governments to distribute wealth more evenly. That is backed by majorities in 22 of the 27 countries.

If there is one issue where a global consensus seems to emerge from the survey it is this: there are majorities almost everywhere wanting government to be more active in regulating business.

November 09, 2009

Another Occupied US Colony

I was trying to explain to my 12-y-o about East and West Germany today when he saw a TV story about the Berlin Wall (I drove through it 20 years ago, just weeks after it came down, and it was like going back 50 years in time). I explained that the Russians built the wall to block off East Berlin, and then he asked "So who owned the other side?"

Japanese FM Rules Out Base Deal During Obama Visit -- News from

Go Now

Japanese protest against US military presence:
Okinawa has long been called the United States' "unsinkable aircraft carrier" but the vast majority of Okinawa's 1.4 million inhabitants would like the Americans to sail off into the sunset.

At a rally in Ginowan, more than 20,000 Japanese turned up to call for the US base to be moved off the island.

"No other place in the world has had US troops stationed there as long as Okinawa," Ginowan mayor Yoichi Iha said.

"Okinawa has suffered for too long."

Born Again? Or Nowhere?

The cap fits!

BBC NEWS | UK | Magazine | The map that changed the world
The name America, for example, very probably represents not just a tip of the hat to Amerigo Vespucci but also a multilingual pun that can mean both "born new" and "no-place-land" - a playful coinage that seems to have inspired Sir Thomas More to invent his new world across the ocean, one meaning of which was also "no-place": Utopia.

Pitchforks? Anyone? Or Just Tea Bags?

Wall Street Record Bonuses Return as Big 3 May Pay $30 Billion -
Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s investment bank, survivors of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, are set to pay record bonuses this year.

The firms -- the three biggest banks to exit the Troubled Asset Relief Program -- will hand out $29.7 billion in bonuses, according to analysts’ estimates. That’s up 60 percent from last year and more than the previous high of $26.8 billion in 2007. The money, split among 119,000 employees, equals $250,400 each, almost five times the $50,303 median household income in the U.S. last year, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

The three will award more in stock and defer more cash payments under pressure from regulators to tie pay to long-term results, compensation experts said. They may still face public wrath over the size of bonuses after the government injected capital into all the major financial institutions following Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.’s collapse in September 2008.

“Wall Street is beginning to resemble Clark Gable as Rhett Butler in the film ‘Gone With the Wind’: ‘Quite frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn,’” Paul Hodgson, a senior research associate on compensation at the Portland, Maine-based Corporate Library, said in an e-mail. “It doesn’t seem as if even political threat, disastrous PR, envy, rising unemployment rates and home repossessions is enough to get any of these people to refuse the bonuses they have ‘earned.’”

November 06, 2009

USA Declares Victory In Iraq

Exxon clinches Iraq oil deal
Exxon Mobil on Thursday became the first US company to win a contract since Iraq's oil industry was nationalised almost 40 years ago, further expanding the role of foreign nations in the industry.

The contract to develop West Qurna 1, the war-torn country's second largest field, will boost its production to 2.325 million barrels per day (bpd), said Oil Minister Hussein al-Shahristani.

"The companies will spend $US50 billion ($A54.82 billion) - 25 billion on operations and a further 25 billion in development," he said, referring to the winning bid, in which Exxon holds an 80-per cent share and Anglo-Dutch firm Shell the balance.

The contract was announced 48 hours after Baghdad completed a deal with Britain's BP and China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) to almost triple production at the giant Rumaila oilfield - Iraq's biggest - in what is also a $US50 billion ($A54.82 billion) investment.

Both fields are located in southern Iraq, home to most of the nation's oil.

November 05, 2009

Belling The Cat

Glenn Greenwald -
Michael Ledeen is one of the most dishonest and ludicrous jokes on the political scene. Will that stop George Stephanopoulos from using Ledeen as an expert source on Iran? No, of course not, because once one obtains Seriousness credentials in Washington, they are irrevocable no matter one's conduct...

Interesting Result

I followed this case for a while way back when...

Italy Convicts 23 Americans In CIA Terrorist Kidnapping Case
MILAN — An Italian judge found 23 Americans and two Italians guilty Wednesday in the kidnapping of an Egyptian terror suspect, delivering the first legal convictions anywhere in the world against people involved in the CIA's extraordinary renditions program.

Human rights groups hailed the decision and pressed President Barack Obama to repudiate the Bush administration's practice of abducting terror suspects and transferring them to third countries where torture was permitted.

The Obama administration ended the CIA's interrogation program and shuttered its secret overseas jails in January but has opted to continue the practice of extraordinary renditions.

The Americans, who were tried in absentia, now cannot travel to Europe without risking arrest as long as the verdicts remains in place.

Despite the convictions capping the nearly three-year Italian trial, several Italian and American defendants – including the two alleged masterminds of the abduction – were acquitted due to either diplomatic immunity or because classified information was stricken by Italy's highest court.

The case has been politically charged from the beginning, with attempts to mislead investigators looking into the cleric's disappearance and derail the judicial proceedings once the trial was under way. But the Italian-American relationship, conditioned on such issues as participation in the Afghan campaign, is unlikely to be hurt by the convictions. The American Civil Liberties Union said the verdicts were the first convictions stemming from the rendition program.

Three Americans were acquitted, including the then-Rome CIA station chief Jeffrey Castelli and two other diplomats formerly assigned to the Rome Embassy, as well as the former head of Italian military intelligence Nicolo Pollari and four other Italian secret service agents.

Only two Italians were in the courtroom to hear the verdict, including Marco Mancini, the former No. 2 at Italian military intelligence, who embraced his lawyer outside the courtroom after he was acquitted.
Story continues below

Former Milan CIA station chief Robert Seldon Lady received the top sentence of eight years in prison. The other 22 convicted American defendants, including a former Milan consular official, Sabrina De Sousa and Air Force Lt. Col. Joseph Romano, each received a five-year sentence. Two Italians got three years each as accessories.

U.S. State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said the Obama administration was "disappointed about the verdicts."

The State Department is being sued by De Sousa, a former State Department employee who denies she was a CIA agent and who believes she should have been granted diplomatic immunity by U.S. officials. The judge's verdict, however, did not extend diplomatic immunity to consular officials charged.

Mark Zaid, the American lawyer for De Sousa, told The Associated Press in Washington: "The Italian conviction merely confirms the U.S. government's betrayal of our diplomatic and military representatives overseas."

Romano, who was one of only two Americans who received permission to hire his own lawyer, had tried to have the jurisdiction moved to a U.S. military court in the last weeks of the trial.

"We are clearly disappointed by the court's ruling," Defense Department press secretary Geoff Morrell told a Pentagon press conference Wednesday.

The Americans, all but one identified by prosecutors as CIA agents, were tried in absentia as subsequent Italian governments refused or ignored prosecutors' extradition request – a position that casts doubts on the Italian government's political will to enforce the sentences.

Prosecutor Armando Spataro said he was considering asking Rome to issue international arrest warrants for the fugitive Americans on the strength of the convictions. The government of Silvio Berlusconi, a close ally of President George W. Bush, has previously refused.

The Americans and Italian agents were accused of kidnapping Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr, also known as Abu Omar, on Feb. 17, 2003, in Milan, then transferring him to U.S. bases in Italy and Germany. He was then moved to Egypt, where he says he was tortured. He has since been released, but has not been permitted to leave Egypt to attend the trial.

Spataro had sought stiffer sentences ranging from 10 to 13 years in jail, citing a conspiracy between U.S. and Italian secret services to abduct Nasr, who was under surveillance by Italian investigators building their own terror case against him. Nasr was suspected of organizing the movement of would-be suicide bombers to the Middle East, and Spataro noted in his closing arguments that the timing of his CIA-led abduction, as the United States was preparing to invade Iraq, indicated his potential importance.

CIA Director Leon Panetta said at his confirmation hearing in February that the administration would continue the practice of rendition for prisoners captured in the war on terrorism, but promised to get assurances first that prisoners would not be tortured or have their human rights violated once transferred.

The CIA declined to comment on the convictions.

November 04, 2009

After Hanan Ashwari

Pilger awarded Sydney Peace Prize:
Pilger noted that in an essay in The Monthly magazine published not long before Mr Rudd became prime minister, he lauded the moral principles of the Good Samaritan and left no doubt that he believed refugees should not be treated the way Jews fleeing Nazi Germany were - that is, prevented from entering western countries, including Australia.

"But now Rudd says the diametric opposite: that his government would be `tough' on `illegal immigrants'. The term itself is a lie," he said.

"Refugees are not illegal - international law is clear on that. When are Australians going to speak out against this outrage being perpetrated in our name?"

Mr Pilger will deliver his Sydney Prize Lecture, titled Breaking the Australian Silence, at the Sydney Opera House on Thursday.


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