April 30, 2009


Spanish judge opens Guantanamo investigation
Garzon is opening a separate, broader probe that does not name any specific suspects but targets "possible material authors" of torture, accomplices and those who gave torture orders.

Garzon is acting on his own, rather than in response to a complaint filed with the National Court, which is the usual procedure for universal justice probes in Spain.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, speaking with reporters in Berlin before the investigation was announced, did not rule out cooperating with such an investigation.

"Obviously, we would look at any request that would come from a court in any country and see how and whether we should comply with it," Holder said.

"This is an administration that is determined to conduct itself by the rule of law and to the extent that we receive lawful requests from an appropriately-created court, we would obviously respond to it," he said.

Responsible Journalism?

How does she talk while she is running for a plane at the same time?

Mexico tourism collapses, tourists flee
"We arrived from Peru last night. We were going to spend 10 days in Mexico but now we're going to miss it all. We're leaving as fast as possible," said Frenchwoman Aude Tersac, 36, running to catch a flight with her family to Miami.

Another Pony?

Poll: Bush Getting Even More Unpopular Out Of Office
A new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found that former President Bush's popularity has dropped since he left office.

When he left office in January, 31 percent of American's viewed him positively. That number has now dropped to 26 percent.

There's Only One Johnny Pilger!

    Obama's 100 Days                   : Information Clearing House - ICH
The Mad Men Did Well

By John Pilger

April 29, 2009 "Information Clearing House" -- The BBC's American television soap Mad Men offers a rare glimpse of the power of corporate advertising. The promotion of smoking half a century ago by the “smart” people of Madison Avenue, who knew the truth, led to countless deaths. Advertising and its twin, public relations, became a way of deceiving dreamt up by those who had read Freud and applied mass psychology to anything from cigarettes to politics. Just as Marlboro Man was virility itself, so politicians could be branded, packaged and sold.

It is more than 100 days since Barack Obama was elected president of the United States. The “Obama brand” has been named “Advertising Age’s marketer of the year for 2008”, easily beating Apple computers. David Fenton of MoveOn.org describes Obama’s election campaign as “an institutionalised mass-level automated technological community organising that has never existed before and is a very, very powerful force”. Deploying the internet and a slogan plagiarised from the Latino union organiser César Chávez – “Sí, se puede!” or “Yes, we can” – the mass-level automated technological community marketed its brand to victory in a country desperate to be rid of George W Bush.

No one knew what the new brand actually stood for. So accomplished was the advertising (a record $75m was spent on television commercials alone) that many Americans actually believed Obama shared their opposition to Bush’s wars. In fact, he had repeatedly backed Bush’s warmongering and its congressional funding. Many Americans also believed he was the heir to Martin Luther King’s legacy of anti-colonialism. Yet if Obama had a theme at all, apart from the vacuous “Change you can believe in”, it was the renewal of America as a dominant, avaricious bully. “We will be the most powerful,” he often declared.

Perhaps the Obama brand’s most effective advertising was supplied free of charge by those journalists who, as courtiers of a rapacious system, promote shining knights. They depoliticised him, spinning his platitudinous speeches as “adroit literary creations, rich, like those Doric columns, with allusion...” (Charlotte Higgins in the Guardian). The San Francisco Chronicle columnist Mark Morford wrote: “Many spiritually advanced people I know... identify Obama as a Lightworker, that rare kind of attuned being who... can actually help usher in a new way of being on the planet.”

In his first 100 days, Obama has excused torture, opposed habeas corpus and demanded more secret government. He has kept Bush’s gulag intact and at least 17,000 prisoners beyond the reach of justice. On 24 April, his lawyers won an appeal that ruled Guantanamo Bay prisoners were not “persons”, and therefore had no right not to be tortured. His national intelligence director, Admiral Dennis Blair, says he believes torture works. One of his senior US intelligence officials in Latin America is accused of covering up the torture of an American nun in Guatemala in 1989; another is a Pinochet apologist. As Daniel Ellsberg has pointed out, the US experienced a military coup under Bush, whose secretary of “defence”, Robert Gates, along with the same warmaking officials, has been retained by Obama.

All over the world, America’s violent assault on innocent people, directly or by agents, has been stepped up. During the recent massacre in Gaza, reports Seymour Hersh, “the Obama team let it be known that it would not object to the planned resupply of ‘smart bombs’ and other hi-tech ordnance that was already flowing to Israel” and being used to slaughter mostly women and children. In Pakistan, the number of civilians killed by US missiles called drones has more than doubled since Obama took office.

In Afghanistan, the US “strategy” of killing Pashtun tribespeople (the “Taliban”) has been extended by Obama to give the Pentagon time to build a series of permanent bases right across the devastated country where, says Secretary Gates, the US military will remain indefinitely. Obama’s policy, one unchanged since the Cold War, is to intimidate Russia and China, now an imperial rival. He is proceeding with Bush’s provocation of placing missiles on Russia’s western border, justifying it as a counter to Iran, which he accuses, absurdly, of posing “a real threat” to Europe and the US. On 5 April in Prague, he made a speech reported as “anti-nuclear”. It was nothing of the kind. Under the Pentagon’s Reliable Replacement Warhead programme, the US is building new “tactical” nuclear weapons designed to blur the distinction between nuclear and conventional war.

Perhaps the biggest lie – the equivalent of smoking is good for you – is Obama’s announcement that the US is leaving Iraq, the country it has reduced to a river of blood. According to unabashed US army planners, as many as 70,000 troops will remain “for the next 15 to 20 years”. On 25 April, his secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, alluded to this. It is not surprising that the polls are showing that a growing number of Americans believe they have been suckered – especially as the nation’s economy has been entrusted to the same fraudsters who destroyed it. Lawrence Summers, Obama’s principal economic adviser, is throwing $3trn at the same banks that paid him more than $8m last year, including $135,000 for one speech. Change you can believe in.

Much of the American establishment loathed Bush and Cheney for exposing, and threatening, the onward march of America’s “grand design”, as Henry Kissinger, war criminal and now Obama adviser, calls it. In advertising terms, Bush was a “brand collapse” whereas Obama, with his toothpaste advertisement smile and righteous clichés, is a godsend. At a stroke, he has seen off serious domestic dissent to war, and he brings tears to the eyes, from Washington to Whitehall. He is the BBC’s man, and CNN’s man, and Murdoch’s man, and Wall Street’s man, and the CIA’s man. The Madmen did well.


April 23, 2009

If You Work On The Theory That Zelikow Is Acting For Rice Then It Makes More Sense

Philip Zelikow: Bush White House Attempted to Destroy Alternative Memo on Torture | Video Cafe
I know copies that were retained in my building, and as I mentioned, Secretary Rice understood what I was doing on her behalf. I was her agent in these matters.


Eschaton wins the lucky meat hamper.

April 22, 2009

Who Could Have Guessed?

Pass me a glass of water, Mildred. NYT think Zelikow is a good guy. I guess he should have demanded decent information for his 911 Commission too, hunh???

In Adopting Harsh Tactics, No Inquiry Into Their Past Use - NYTimes.com
Today, asked how it happened, Bush administration officials are finger-pointing. Some blame the C.I.A., while some former agency officials blame the Justice Department or the White House.

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

“Competent staff work could have quickly canvassed relevant history, insights from the best law enforcement and military interrogators, and lessons from the painful British and Israeli experience,” Mr. Zelikow said. “Especially in a time of great stress, walking into this minefield, the president was entitled to get the most thoughtful and searching analysis our government could muster.”

Not Born a Pratt, But Dies a Pratt

Crikey - Richard Pratt near death: a Crikey wrap - Richard Pratt near death: a Crikey wrap
All the newspapers this morning, it's all front page everywhere: who gets what, basically.

Meanwhile the Melbourne establishment is queuing up to say what a terrific bloke Dick Pratt is, all of them, you know, the usual suspects, Jeff Kennett, the trade union leader Bill Shorten, Carlton football players, Premier John Brumby comes out to say that Dick Pratt was a remarkable Australian, a stunning success story, all that, all of which is true but spare us the hypocrisy. He was also a crook.

He ran one of the crookest business operations in the country, a price fixing racket, a cartel in the packaging business which ripped off, cheated customers and companies out of about A$700 million.

So his philanthropy, his generosity, was with other people’s money. I mean, give me a break.

Australia Gets A "Peace" Corps

I guess this massive waste of money is Rudd's idea of stimulus. It will certainly stimulate the war-heads. Let's just hope it's a setup for downsizing Defense in the budget and White Paper. But don't bet on it. FFS!

Rudd to announce civilian corps

Glennzilla Does Sarcasm Very Well

Glenn Greenwald - Salon.com
Jane Harman is so shrill and angry today. She sounds like some sort of unhinged leftist blogger. As The Washington Post's Dana Milbank so insightfully asked this week, what could any Democrat possibly have to be angry about? After all, they won. I wonder how long it's going to be before Harman joins the ACLU? What's that old saying -- a "civil liberties extremist" is a former Bush-enabling, Surveillance State-defending Blue Dog who learns that their own personal conversations were intercepted by the same government that they demanded be vested with unchecked power

Zelikow's Game

I can't work him out. Looks like he's applying pressure to his old neocon buddies - does he need a favour? Worried about being left swinging in the breeze? He could get the death penalty if US citizens ever learn the truth about his role in the 911 Commission.

State Dept Lawyer: White House Tried To Destroy My Alternative Memo On Torture | TPMMuckraker

April 21, 2009

The Lunatics Who Ran The Asylum Are Still Lunatics

Someone please tell Cheney he doesn't run the USA any more. And why isn't this guy in jail yet?

Doonesbury@Slate - Daily Dose
"All of these techniques have now been ruined."
-- Karl Rove, on torture memos

Guess Who's Going To Jail?

I wonder if Bybee, Yoo and Bradbury will soon be talking to the DoJ about Cheney and his friends.

Pressure Grows to Investigate Interrogations - NYTimes.com
The decision to promise no prosecution of those who followed the legal advice of the Bush administration lawyers was easier, aides said, because it would be hard to charge someone for doing something the administration had determined was legal. The lawyers, however, are another story.

Release All The Information That Hasn't Been Shredded

Comment Of The Day

The Harman-AIPAC Story: A Timeline | TPMMuckraker
I'm sorry to say I can't find a single mention of this story on a single cable news website. Not even Fox News is jumping on this one even though it's a Democrat accused of corruption.

April 20, 2009

AIPAC Runs The US Government! WHO KNEW??? LOL

What's funny is that Harman could end up in court facing the DoJ and being the first person to argue that she was illegally wiretapped so the evidence is inadmisible.

CQ Politics | Sources: Wiretap Recorded Rep. Harman Promising to Intervene for AIPAC
Rep. Jane Harman , the California Democrat with a longtime involvement in intelligence issues, was overheard on an NSA wiretap telling a suspected Israeli agent that she would lobby the Justice Department reduce espionage-related charges against two officials of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, the most powerful pro-Israel organization in Washington.

Harman was recorded saying she would “waddle into” the AIPAC case “if you think it’ll make a difference,” according to two former senior national security officials familiar with the NSA transcript.

In exchange for Harman’s help, the sources said, the suspected Israeli agent pledged to help lobby Nancy Pelosi , D-Calif., then-House minority leader, to appoint Harman chair of the Intelligence Committee after the 2006 elections, which the Democrats were heavily favored to win.

Seemingly wary of what she had just agreed to, according to an official who read the NSA transcript, Harman hung up after saying, “This conversation doesn’t exist.”

Another Election Eve Story The NYT Did Not Publish

CQ Politics | Sources: Wiretap Recorded Rep. Harman Promising to Intervene for AIPAC
Sources: Wiretap Recorded Rep. Harman Promising to Intervene for AIPAC
By Jeff Stein, CQ SpyTalk Columnist

Rep. Jane Harman , the California Democrat with a longtime involvement in intelligence issues, was overheard on an NSA wiretap telling a suspected Israeli agent that she would lobby the Justice Department reduce espionage-related charges against two officials of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, the most powerful pro-Israel organization in Washington.

Harman was recorded saying she would “waddle into” the AIPAC case “if you think it’ll make a difference,” according to two former senior national security officials familiar with the NSA transcript.

In exchange for Harman’s help, the sources said, the suspected Israeli agent pledged to help lobby Nancy Pelosi , D-Calif., then-House minority leader, to appoint Harman chair of the Intelligence Committee after the 2006 elections, which the Democrats were heavily favored to win.

Seemingly wary of what she had just agreed to, according to an official who read the NSA transcript, Harman hung up after saying, “This conversation doesn’t exist.”

Harman declined to discuss the wiretap allegations, instead issuing an angry denial through a spokesman.

“These claims are an outrageous and recycled canard, and have no basis in fact,” Harman said in a prepared statement. “I never engaged in any such activity. Those who are peddling these false accusations should be ashamed of themselves.”

It’s true that allegations of pro-Israel lobbyists trying to help Harman get the chairmanship of the intelligence panel by lobbying and raising money for Pelosi aren’t new.

They were widely reported in 2006, along with allegations that the FBI launched an investigation of Harman that was eventually dropped for a “lack of evidence.”

What is new is that Harman is said to have been picked up on a court-approved NSA tap directed at alleged Israel covert action operations in Washington.

And that, contrary to reports that the Harman investigation was dropped for “lack of evidence,” it was Alberto R. Gonzales, President Bush’s top counsel and then attorney general, who intervened to stop the Harman probe.

Why? Because, according to three top former national security officials, Gonzales wanted Harman to be able to help defend the administration’s warrantless wiretapping program, which was about break in The New York Times and engulf the White House.

As for there being “no evidence” to support the FBI probe, a source with first-hand knowledge of the wiretaps called that “bull****.”

“I read those transcripts,” said the source, who like other former national security officials familiar with the transcript discussed it only on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of domestic NSA eavesdropping.

“It’s true,” added another former national security official who was briefed on the NSA intercepts involving Harman. “She was on there.”

Such accounts go a long way toward explaining not only why Harman was denied the gavel of the House Intelligence Committee, but failed to land a top job at the CIA or Homeland Security Department in the Obama administration.

Gonzales said through a spokesman that he would have no comment on the allegations in this story.

The identity of the “suspected Israeli agent” could not be determined with certainty, and officials were extremely skittish about going beyond Harman’s involvement to discuss other aspects of the NSA eavesdropping operation against Israeli targets, which remain highly classified.

But according to the former officials familiar with the transcripts, the alleged Israeli agent asked Harman if she could use any influence she had with Gonzales, who became attorney general in 2005, to get the charges against the AIPAC officials reduced to lesser felonies.

Rosen had been charged with two counts of conspiring to communicate, and commnicating national defense information to people not entitled to receive it. Weissman was charged with conspiracy.

AIPAC dismissed the two in May 2005, about five months before the events here unfolded.

Harman responded that Gonzales would be a difficult task, because he “just follows White House orders,” but that she might be able to influence lesser officials, according to an official who read the transcript.

Justice Department attorneys in the intelligence and public corruption units who read the transcripts decided that Harman had committed a “completed crime,” a legal term meaning that there was evidence that she had attempted to complete it, three former officials said.

And they were prepared to open a case on her, which would include electronic surveillance approved by the so-called FISA Court, the secret panel established by the 1979 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to hear government wiretap requests.

First, however, they needed the certification of top intelligence officials that Harman’s wiretapped conversations justified a national security investigation.

Then-CIA Director Porter J. Goss reviewed the Harman transcript and signed off on the Justice Department’s FISA application. He also decided that, under a protocol involving the separation of powers, it was time to notify then-House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., and Minority Leader Pelosi, of the FBI’s impending national security investigation of a member of Congress — to wit, Harman.

Goss, a former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, deemed the matter particularly urgent because of Harman’s rank as the panel’s top Democrat.

But that’s when, according to knowledgeable officials, Attorney General Gonzales intervened.

According to two officials privy to the events, Gonzales said he “needed Jane” to help support the administration’s warrantless wiretapping program, which was about to be exposed by the New York Times.

Harman, he told Goss, had helped persuade the newspaper to hold the wiretap story before, on the eve of the 2004 elections. And although it was too late to stop the Times from publishing now, she could be counted on again to help defend the program

He was right.

On Dec. 21, 2005, in the midst of a firestorm of criticism about the wiretaps, Harman issued a statement defending the operation and slamming the Times, saying, “I believe it essential to U.S. national security, and that its disclosure has damaged critical intelligence capabilities.”

Pelosi and Hastert never did get the briefing.

And thanks to grateful Bush administration officials, the investigation of Harman was effectively dead.

Many people want to keep it that way.

Josh Marhsll Gets a Big New Bone

Talking Points Memo | Breaking News and Analysis
04.19.09 -- 11:57PM // link | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (2)
Must Read

This story is so radioactive it's hard to know which of fifty different directions to go with it. In brief, Jeff Stein at CQ has a much, much more detailed account of the story, first reported in 2006, of Rep. Jane Harman getting wiretapped allegedly discussing a quid pro quo with "a suspected Israeli."

There are a lot of hairy details on this one. But the gist is that an NSA wiretap caught Rep. Jane Harman in a conversation with a "suspected Israeli agent" in which Harman allegedly agreed to use her influence with the DOJ to get them to drop the AIPAC spy case in exchange for help lobbying then-Speaker-in-waiting Nancy Pelosi to make Harman chair of the House Intelligence Committee -- a position she ended up not getting. (Remember, this was back when Rep. Alcee Hastings was the next person in line in terms of seniority. But there was intense opposition to his appointment because Congress had earlier impeached and removed him from a federal judgeship over bribery allegations. Pelosi eventually gave the nod to Silvestre Reyes rather than Harman.)

The story suggests that the tapes show Harman crossed the line. And the gears were in motion to open a full blown investigation. But then Alberto Gonzales intervened and shutdown the whole thing.

Why? Here's where it gets into the realm of bad novel writing -- because Gonzales (and the White House) needed Harman to go to bat for them on the warrantless wiretaping story that the New York Times was about to publish.

It's late. And we'll dig more into this tomorrow. But definitely give it a look yourself. Among the many questions this raises are some that Harman should probably answer, but not all. High on my list would be finding out more about the circumstances under which a member of Congress ended up having her phone conversations recorded by the NSA. The article suggests it was a by-the-books warrant -- part of a highly-classified probe of Israeli agents in the US -- and not one of the 'warrantless' ones. But we've seen so much funny business on that front that I'm not sure that's enough information.

Next, is it possible Harman knew these tapes existed and was compromised vis a vis the administration? That's purely speculation on my part. Nothing in the article suggests that. But hearing it alleged that Gonzales protected her because he knew she'd be so helpful -- that really makes me wonder.

This raises lots and lots of questions -- not least of which is why this is coming out right now. Any particular reason people in the intel community would want to start talking to the press right now?

--Josh Marshall


One of the problems with these demands for accountability is that most of the people making the demands - NTY, Post, Dems, etc - are themselves complicit in much of the crimes. Heck, even the US people voted for Bush again when they knew he was committing war crimes.

Oh well. I guess it's all good...

Opposition Grows To Obama's Decision Not To Prosecute CIA Agents

Good Post, Good Comment

We shouldn’t be grieving for the death of newspapers | Antony Loewenstein
My day begins with a brief glance at the New York Times, the Washington Post, and three or four other major papers; then it’s on to TPM, the Nation, War in Context, the Real News, a few other indies, and the blogs to find out what’s really going on. But not everybody has the time for this–and that is the problem.

Every Now And Again NYT Writes A Good Editorial

Editorial - The Torturers’ Manifesto - NYTimes.com
These memos are not an honest attempt to set the legal limits on interrogations, which was the authors’ statutory obligation. They were written to provide legal immunity for acts that are clearly illegal, immoral and a violation of this country’s most basic values.

It sounds like the plot of a mob film, except the lawyers asking how much their clients can get away with are from the C.I.A. and the lawyers coaching them on how to commit the abuses are from the Justice Department. And it all played out with the blessing of the defense secretary, the attorney general, the intelligence director and, most likely, President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.


183 - Paul Krugman Blog - NYTimes.com
I think I ought to say something about the torture memos — namely, that there is now no way to view the people who ruled us these past 8 years as anything but monsters. We had all these rationalizations of torture over the “ticking clock” and all that — then we learn, for example, that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded 183 times in one month.

I really don’t even want to think about all this. But this was our government — and these people might be back.

Rudd Does As He's Told

Jewish group welcomes boycott of racism talks - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
Australia's Jewish community has welcomed the Federal Government's decision not to attend a major United Nations conference on racism.

Australia and now the Netherlands have joined the US, Israel and Canada in boycotting the Geneva talks this week amidst concerns the meeting will serve as a platform against Israel.

He Who Battles Monsters

Mondoweiss: After shooting one Palestinian demonstrator, Israeli soldiers call out, 'Do you want more gas?'
Bassem is shouting "listen, wait a minute, wait a minute" before he falls to the ground. The soldiers then fire another round of tear gas as the demonstrators yell that he is injured and needs an ambulance.

In the longer video, as [Mohammed] Khatib is arguing with the soldier, I can't make out all of it because they're talking over each other, but you can clearly hear the soldier say, "do you want more gas?"

April 17, 2009

Goldman Sachs USA Inc.

Larry Silverstein Wants Taxpayers To Rebuild WTC

World Trade Center rebuild in jeopardy
Construction of several office towers at the World Trade Center site could be put off for decades because of the failing real estate market, the site's owners said on Thursday.

An analysis projected that one skyscraper might not be built and occupied until 35 years after the September 11, 2001 attack destroyed the complex.

April 16, 2009

One World, One Scurvy Crew Aboard

BBC NEWS | Africa | Piracy symptom of bigger problem
If there were a silver lining to the piracy issue it may be that a deeper, broader and more imaginative engagement with Somalia develops.

Piracy is difficult for the nations of the world and disastrous for sailors but for millions of Somalis the problems of their homeland are catastrophic.

You'll Come Running Back To Me-e-e-e!

Iraq war: Gordon Brown aims to delay inquiry report until after election | Politics | The Guardian
Tony Blair would probably welcome any delay in publishing the report. The former prime minister is making active plans to assume the new role of president of the European Council if Irish voters pass the Lisbon treaty in a referendum this autumn.

Dylan on Hitler

Bob Dylan Interview: Talks Rolling Stones, "Real Music," Val Kilmer, and Hitler
BF: Do you remember images of Hitler from growing up?

BD: No, not growing up. He was dead by the time I was four or five. I never had a real understanding of that.

BF: Never had an understanding of what?

BD: How you take a failed landscape painter and turn him into a fanatical mad man who controls millions. That's some trick. I mean the powers that created him must have been awesome.

BF: Well, the social and economic conditions of the Weimar Republic were so different than now.

BD: Yeah sure, looking back in hindsight, you can see that someone would have to take control. But still, it's so perplexing. Like why him? You could see that the man's a total mutt. No Aryan characteristics whatsoever. You couldn't guess his ancestry. Brown hair, brown eyes, pasty complexion, no particular type of stature, Hitler mustache, raincoat, riding whip, the whole works. He knew something. He knew that people didn't think. Look at the faces of the millions who worshipped him and you see that he inspired love. It's scary and sad. The torch of the spoken word. They were glad to follow him anywhere, loyal to the bone. Then of course, he filled up the cemeteries with them.

April 15, 2009

We Don't Want Your Stinking Wars

Most Australians would oppose increase in $22bn defence budget | The Australian

Community support for increased spending on defence fell from 75 per cent in 2000 to 30 per cent last June.

But the panel believes that the support would have fallen further since the global financial crisis.

Open The Door, Homer

It's pretty clear now that Obama must choose between (a) becoming a monster, and (b) putting his life on the line. So far he's closer to (a) than (b), but many supporters claim that's just clever politics. Will he take on the dark side of the CIA, including Cheney, and risk assassination? I doubt it, but I'd love to be surprised.

Obama Tilts to CIA on Memos - WSJ.com

Wet Wet Wet

Why I know weapons expert Dr David Kelly was murdered, by the MP who spent a year investigating his death | Mail Online
He told his friend of his interest in the Kelly affair and also of the threatening phone call he had received.

His friend's reply was a serious one: he should be careful, particularly when using his phone or his computer. Moreover, he should let the Kelly matter drop.

But my contact did not do so. Two weeks later he met his friend again, this time in a pub, and pressed him on the matter.

/>{? His friend took him outside, and as they stood in the cool air, told him Dr Kelly's death had been "a wet operation, a wet disposal".

He also warned him in very strong terms to leave the matter well alone. This time he decided to heed the warning.

I asked my contact to explain what he understood by the terms his friend had used. Essentially, it seems to refer to an assassination, perhaps carried out in a hurry.

A few months later, I called my contact to check one or two points of his story. He told me that three weeks after our meeting in Exeter, his house had been broken into and his laptop - containing all his material on Kelly - had been stolen. Other valuable goods, including a camera and an LCD television, had been left untouched.

Throw On The Dust!

April 14, 2009

It's All About Me!!!

Maybe an Indian mystic might be able to discuss the perils of ego with him one day.

BBC NEWS | UK | Tony Blair's faith in new mission

High Priced Whore

April 13, 2009

Good Man, That Sands Chap

The Bench: The Bush Six: The Talk of the Town: The New Yorker
Last week, Sands’s accusations suddenly did not seem so outlandish. A Spanish court took the first steps toward starting a criminal investigation of the same six former Bush Administration officials he had named, weighing charges that they had enabled and abetted torture by justifying the abuse of terrorism suspects. Among those whom the court singled out was Feith, the former Under-Secretary of Defense for Policy, along with former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales; John Yoo, a former Justice Department lawyer; and David Addington, the chief of staff and the principal legal adviser to Vice-President Dick Cheney.

In Washington the other night, over a cup of camomile tea, Sands described the behind-the-scenes role he played in spurring the Spanish court to action. He paced his hotel room, seeming by turns proud and stunned at what he had done. “This is the end of these people’s professional reputations!” he said. “This is no joke. We’re talking about the serious potential deprivation of liberty.”

April 11, 2009

Oh My

Democracy ain't what it used to be...

Asian summit postponed after Thai protesters storm building: official | smh.com.au
Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva declared a state of emergency in the resort of Pattaya after chaos erupted at the summit, which was supposed to discuss the global financial crisis and North Korea's rocket launch.

Helicopters had began evacuating foreign leaders, officials said.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd had been scheduled to arrive in Pattaya late on Saturday afternoon, but Channel Ten reported that his plane had been diverted to an unknown destination. It was expected to refuel before returning to Canberra, it said.

Anti-war Momentum?

I've seen Chris Floyd at antiwar.com before, I think, but never seen him grab the #1 headline Spotlight - is this a sign of progress?

Hero Blues: Liberals Line Up With Militarism | Chris Floyd Online - Empire Burlesque - High Crimes and Low Comedy in the American Imperium

No Friends

Wouldn't You Love To See This On CNN?

April 09, 2009

Six Years Later...

Rupert's Latest War

Newpapers declare a war on web parasites - BizTech - Technology - smh.com.au
Robert Thomson, the managing editor of The Wall Street Journal, used even harsher language than his boss in describing the situation.

"There is no doubt that certain websites are best described as parasites or tech tapeworms in the intestines of the internet," Thomson said in an interview with the newspaper The Australian.

"It's certainly true that readers have been socialised - wrongly I believe - that much content should be free," he said. "And there is no doubt that's in the interest of aggregators like Google who have profited from that mistaken perception."

The salvos by Singleton, Murdoch and Thomson appear to have been uncoordinated [LOL - gandhi] but they reflect rising anger among an industry facing a deepening crisis.

April 08, 2009

Amen, but why stick with the print edition?

BBC NEWS | Americas | Life without political cartoons
For Mr Stein being a political cartoonist is the best job in a newspaper:

"I don't know that there is really anything else as satisfying," he says.

"If we are not there, it is just one more thing that weakens democracy."

Ye Olde News Paper

BBC NEWS | Technology | Google addresses newspaper woes
The majority of newspapers should be online, says Google boss Eric Schmidt, amid criticism it should share some of the millions it makes from newslinks.

Media owner Rupert Murdoch has questioned if aggregators like Google should pay to use content.

The Associated Press is to sue to protect its content at a time when the industry is losing readers to the web.

"I would encourage everybody to think in terms of what your reader wants," Mr Schmidt told newspaper bosses.

"These are ultimately consumer businesses and if you piss off enough of them, you will not have any more," he warned the Newspaper Association of America's (NAA) annual conference in San Diego.

While he praised the way newspapers initially embraced the internet, Mr Schmidt said they had since dropped the ball allowing the likes of Google to take over content distribution.

"There wasn't an act after that. You guys did a superb job, and the act after that is a harder question."

I Suspect This Movie Will Be A Hit

CCTV Turns On Its Owners

Cartels 101

Banking 'cartel' slammed for pocketing cut - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
Editor of the banking newsletter The Sheet, Ian Rogers, told ABC Radio's PM the big four banks do not feel any pressure to fully pass on interest rate cuts because they face little or no competition.

"It's important to remember that the banking industry in Australia is an oligopoly and it's really fair to call it a cartel and it's no surprise that the banks that are in the cartel would go about undertaking price coordination and cartel behaviour," Mr Rogers said.

"From my following of the public behaviour and the public statements of various banks over the last few weeks there has been a clear effort in the normal way the banks go about these things, which is talking in public about what they are thinking about in order to coordinate an increase in margins on home loans and no doubt on other loan products as well and that's what's going on."

The Filth

G20 death video: Family demands answers - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
Witnesses had told the police watchdog that Mr Tomlinson did have contact with officers before he died, but until now this had not been shown in photos and CCTV pictures obtained of the man making his way home through the protests.

Grab The Moguls

Like Atrios says, the interesting thing about Wapo journos publicly criticizing a WaPo climate change denialist is that they were allowed to do it. It's not really the crazy journos who are the problem, it's the billionaire media moguls who give them a space.

Similarly, questions should be asked about why the NYT allowed this crap to be published, and why they didn't disclose the author's identity, and why they still think it's not a big deal.

I notice that the French people overwhelming support "sequestration", or the seizing of bosses during labor disputes. Wonder if the fad will catch on in the US media business one day?

April 07, 2009

You Know Not The Hour At Which I Come

Italy quake toll rises as hopes fade for survivors - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
The quake, measuring between 5.8 and 6.3 on the Richter scale, struck shortly after 3:30am (local time) on Monday, catching residents in their sleep and flattening houses, ancient churches and other buildings in 26 cities and towns.

Aftershocks rattled the area, some 100 kilometres east of Rome in the rugged Abruzzo region, well into the night as thousands of people sheltered in their cars and in tent camps.

Shaken survivors described the quake striking like a bomb in the night and the anguish of not knowing the fate of loved ones.

"I only remember this huge rumble and then someone dragged me out, but I don't know what happened to my wife and three-year-old son," said 35-year-old Stefano Esposito.
OTOH maybe somebody knew it was coming:
Weeks before, an Italian scientist predicted a major quake around L'Aquila based on the radon gas found in seismically active areas, but he was reported to police for "spreading alarm" and was forced to remove his findings from the internet.

"For weeks they told us to stay calm, that we could live in our houses, that there was no problem. Now we see what the problem was," one female resident of L'Aquila told state TV.
Science, what is it good for?

April 06, 2009

Obama: In His Own Words

N Korea rocket response divides Security Council - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
"Rules must be binding, violations must be punished, words must mean something."

April 05, 2009

MUST READ (all 9 pages)

The End of Wall Street's Boom - National Business News - Portfolio.com
To this day, the willingness of a Wall Street investment bank to pay me hundreds of thousands of dollars to dispense investment advice to grownups remains a mystery to me. I was 24 years old, with no experience of, or particular interest in, guessing which stocks and bonds would rise and which would fall. The essential function of Wall Street is to allocate capital—to decide who should get it and who should not. Believe me when I tell you that I hadn’t the first clue.

Another "Conspiracy Theory" Is Born

Tsvangirai's grandson drowns - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

The infant grandson of Zimbabwe's prime minister, Morgan Tsvangirai, has died in an accident at the family home.

According to an official from Mr Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change party, his grandson Sean drowned.

The death comes just days after the Zimbabwean leader returned to
work following the death of his wife, Susan, in a car accident.

US can't solve Guantanamo problem alone: human rights group - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
"The Obama administration can't solve the Guantanamo problem on its own," said Joanne Mariner, terrorism and counterterrorism director at Human Rights Watch (HRW), in a statement.

The System

Larry Summers, Tim Geithner and Wall Street's ownership of government - Glenn Greenwald - Salon.com
Just think about how this works. People like Rubin, Summers and Gensler shuffle back and forth from the public to the private sector and back again, repeatedly switching places with their GOP counterparts in this endless public/private sector looting. When in government, they ensure that the laws and regulations are written to redound directly to the benefit of a handful of Wall St. firms, literally abolishing all safeguards and allowing them to pillage and steal. Then, when out of government, they return to those very firms and collect millions upon millions of dollars, profits made possible by the laws and regulations they implemented when in government. Then, when their party returns to power, they return back to government, where they continue to use their influence to ensure that the oligarchical circle that rewards them so massively is protected and advanced. This corruption is so tawdry and transparent -- and it has fueled and continues to fuel a fraud so enormous and destructive as to be unprecedented in both size and audacity -- that it is mystifying that it is not provoking more mass public rage.

April 04, 2009

Obama Protecting UK and Aussie Criminals

Obama Team Divided Over Release of Torture Memos | Newsweek Politics | Newsweek.com
Brennan, who now oversees intelligence issues at the National Security Council, argued that release of the memos could embarrass foreign intelligence services who cooperated with the CIA, either by participating in overseas "extraordinary renditions" of high-level detainees or housing them in overseas "black site" prisons.


G20 resolution targets financial market 'cowboys' - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

I've always thought of myself as a bit of a rebel, if not quite a "cowboy". But I've never been able to turn that anti-social streak into a profitable asset, because I'm bound by a set of stupid old-fashioned principles.

I see now that this was my major weakness. To be both unprincipled AND anti-social is to court wealth and fame on an undreamed-of scale.

But enough about me. Is this change we can believe in?

But in the final word on the long-fought battle for tighter regulation, the end result is non-binding guidelines on pay, no call for legislative change, and support for a shareholder vote on executive salaries.

You know, financial markets are the ultimate confidence trick. Money itself is really just a confidence trick. If I tell you this stone is worth $100 and you go trade it with someone else who believes it's worth $100, that's "currency".

Nobody is changing that system, they are just re-inflating the bubble of belief with trillions more dollars.

Will we fall for it again? Probably. Those pretty stones are just so shiny, aren't they.

April 03, 2009

WTF Is Pacer Plus FTA???

Crean chats up Pacific nations over FTA
Why weren't we doing this then years ago?


When can I buy a house on the beach in Fiji?

How Many Miami Condo Owners Voted For Bush?

U.S. property bust threatens condo death spiral
"Everything is not going to look as nice," said Housen, a property broker.
Michael Calderone's Blog:
"Saving the New York Times now ranks with saving Darfur as a high-minded cause."


We should have said sorry: Abbott
Sorry but I just cannot find it in my heart right now toapplaud this kind of backwards-compatible  electoral popularity.


Fake Faith and Epic Crimes:
"My pre-disposition was to believe that Mr. Blair was deluded, but sincere in his belief. After considerable reading and much reflection, however, my final conclusion is that Mr. Blair deliberately and repeatedly misled Cabinet, the British Labour Party and the people in a number of respects. It is not possible to hold that he was simply deluded but sincere: a victim of his own self-deception. His deception was deliberate."

April 01, 2009

Stupid Stupid Stupid

If you wanted to create a confrontation in order to demonize anyone who opposes you, then I guess London would be the place to do it. Former Mayer Ken Livingstone said they should be holding the G20 meeting in Gleneagles, where security would be comparatively simple and inexpensive.

You have to wonder, do they want a solution to the world's financial crisis, or do they want blood on the streets?

G20 protestors converging on London

It is the biggest security operation in British history for the world leaders meeting which is the largest of its kind since the post World War II meeting of powers in 1946.

OTOH, media outnumbered protesters today outside Bank station... Ho hum? Or hold on?

Personally, I think the Masters of the Universe underestimate how much anger there is out there in the community. If they put Bush, Blair and Howard in jail tomorrow, surely that would go a long way to reassuring the masses, if not the markets.


U.S., in reversal, runs for UN rights council seat:
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said council membership would be "a tool to advance our interests."


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