October 29, 2009

Who Should Really Be In Prison?

Under Attack, Credit Raters Turn to the First Amendment
With help from two of the most storied constitutional lawyers in the country, the raters have successfully argued that when they make a mistake -- say, awarding the top triple-A grade to a multibillion-dollar bundle of bonds that later default -- they cannot be sued or held accountable.

That's because ratings are opinions, the agencies claim, protected by the constitutional right to free speech.

October 28, 2009

Imagine That!

Afghan leader's brother on CIA payroll: report
Karzai denied receiving CIA payments or playing any role in the booming opium trade that helps fund the Taliban-led insurgency.

"I don't know anyone under the name of the CIA," he told the newspaper. "I have never received any money from any organisation. I help, definitely. I help other Americans wherever I can. This is my duty as an Afghan."

A Prescription For "The Long War"

Glenn Greenwald nails it:
How long are we going to continue to do this? We invade and occupy a country, and then label as "insurgents" or even "terrorists" the people in that country who fight against our invasion and occupation. With the most circular logic imaginable, we then insist that we must remain in order to defeat the "insurgents" and "terrorists" -- largely composed of people whose only cause for fighting is our presence in their country. All the while, we clearly exacerbate the very problem we are allegedly attempting to address -- Terrorism -- by predictably and inevitably increasing anti-American anger and hatred through our occupation, which, no matter the strategy, inevitably entails our killing innocent civilians.

October 27, 2009

Some Motivation

George W. Bush is a hit on the motivational speakers' circuit - washingtonpost.com
Bush did not appear to have an overarching theme, but strung anecdotes and jokes together and frequently mentioned his faith in God.

"I don't see how you can be president without relying on the Almighty. Now when I was 21, I wouldn't have told you that, but at age 63, I can tell you that one of the most amazing surprises of the presidency was the fact that people's prayers affected me. I can't prove it to you. But I can tell you some days were great, some days not so great. But every day was joyous." That, he attributed, to the prayers of others.

October 26, 2009

I'm So Old I Can Remember When This Would Have Been A Big Story

Naughty, Naughty!

Karzai questions US reliability as partner
"Is the United States a reliable partner with Afghanistan? Is the West a reliable partner with Afghanistan?" Karzai asked. "Have we received the commitments that we were given? Have we been treated like a partner?"

Karzai said a partnership to him was "where the Afghan lives are respected, where Afghan property is respected, where the Afghan traditions are respected, where we know the direction we are moving to."

October 23, 2009

Let Them In

Australia urged to take more refugees
Sustainable Population Australia (SPA) national president Sandra Kanck said Australia could double the number of refugees it accepted provided it cut as many, or more, entrants through the skilled migration program.

"We have no moral obligation to the people coming here under the skilled migration program - they are not fleeing from war-torn states," Ms Kanck, a former Australian Democrats state MP, said.

"They are taking places we could make available to real refugees."

Ms Kanck said Australia could provide the necessary training to produce its own skilled workforce and did not need to poach from other countries.

She also suggested ditching the federal government's baby bonus to use the funding for training programs.

Oh My!

 Pentagon Used Psychological Operation On US public, Documents Show         : Information Clearing House - ICH
A months-long review of documents and interviews with Pentagon personnel has revealed that the Bush Administration's military analyst program -- aimed at selling the Iraq war to the American people -- operated through a secretive collaboration between the Defense Department's press and community relations offices.

Raw Story has also uncovered evidence that directly ties the activities undertaken in the military analyst program to an official US military document’s definition of psychological operations -- propaganda that is only supposed to be directed toward foreign audiences.

Old, Gifted And White

That's me. One in 100,000, when I was back in my old selective school. What happened, eh?

Gifted, talented, but it's no easy ride
"The word is the problem. In the Australian context, the term 'giftedness' is often perceived as a form of privilege. We are not saying they are any better in terms of their worth though."

Dying Breeds

Bid to install Howard as rugby league boss given boot:
''I wish the game of rugby league well and I'll continue to follow it with sympathy,'' he said.

October 22, 2009

Gentle, Caring Killers

Always the way, innit? You have to wonder why all these gentle, caring souls sign up to go abroad and kill people...

World News Australia - Family's tribute to 'gentle, caring' soldier
His distraught family say the dedicated soldier "was so strong, and yet the most gentle, caring, and loving man you would ever meet.

"He made us laugh every time we were together and his easy-going attitude was infectious.

"Our hearts ache for him.


October 20, 2009

If only we had the DNA of Bush, Cheney, Rove, etc...

Maybe 20 years from now?

Crime-fighting leech collars crook:
The robber who was identified by the leech - Peter Cannon - will be sentenced in the Launceston Supreme Court on Friday.

The Anger Still Burns In Many Of Us, It Seems...

David Hare: It all started 96 hours after 9/11 | David Hare | Comment is free | The Guardian
Every period throws up its own favoured means of mass distraction, but you're going to have to pull every history book off the shelf to find a distraction quite as nothing-to-do-with-anything as the US invasion of Iraq. The decade's significant date of choice for most historians is taken to be 11 September 2001. An airborne suicide attack on the twin towers in New York killed 2,948 people of 91 different nationalities. But if I was going to choose the day when the destiny of the new century really took shape, then I'd opt for 96 hours later. On 15 September, George Bush assembled his cabinet in casual clothes at Camp David (Paul Wolfowitz came without invitation and wore a suit) and, over chicken noodle soup, fried chicken and mashed potatoes, began to yield to the dazzling temptation of deliberately pursuing the wrong suspect. Hey, said the Americans, Let's Look Away.

October 19, 2009

How Will They Spin This Shit?

If Obama is looking for excuses to withdraw...

Karzai Camp Hardens Its Line on Recount - WSJ.com
"The foreigners are trying to push a second round, and we are not going to participate this time," said Talim Khan, who marched in Spin Boldak. "They don't respect our votes. Despite threats that the Taliban will cut off our nose and ears we went to the polling station. We won't do so again."

October 15, 2009

Ah, Here Comes The Flood

There really appears to be no solution to human stupidity.

Arctic ice cap to disappear in 20-30 years: study
"The summer ice cover will completely vanish in 20 to 30 years but in less than that it will have considerably retreated," said Professor Peter Wadhams, head of the polar ocean physics group at Britain's prestigious Cambridge University.

"In about 10 years, the Arctic ice will be considered as open sea."

October 14, 2009

Hey, We Finally Found That Steel From The WTC!

Surprise, surprise! The military-industrialists have it!

Ship built from 9/11 steel sets sail:
A warship built with steel salvaged from the wreckage of the World Trade Centre has set sail for New York.

Hundreds of people lined the banks of the Mississippi river near New Orleans as the USS New York sailed through the fog, according to local media reports.

Its bow stem contains 7.5 tonnes of steel, salvaged from the rubble following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

October 13, 2009

But But But They Said They Didn't USE Depleted Uranium...

Mano A Mano, Rupes?

While it's nice that the White House is belatedly targetting FAUX, Obama should really be going mano-a-mano with Rupert Murdoch.

White House targets Fox as it goes after press critics

October 09, 2009

History Lesson

From Glenn Greenwald - Salon.com
In February, the Obama DOJ went to court to block victims of rendition and torture from having a day in court, adopting in full the Bush argument that whatever was done to the victims is a "state secret" and national security would be harmed if the case proceeded. The following week, the Obama DOJ invoked the same "secrecy" argument to insist that victims of illegal warrantless eavesdropping must be barred from a day in court, and when the Obama administration lost that argument, they engaged in a series of extraordinary manuevers to avoid complying with the court's order that the case proceed, to the point where the GOP-appointed federal judge threatened the Government with sanctions for noncompliance. Two weeks later, "the Obama administration, siding with former President George W. Bush, [tried] to kill a lawsuit that seeks to recover what could be millions of missing White House e-mails."

In April, the Obama DOJ, in order to demand dismissal of a lawsuit brought against Bush officials for illegal spying on Americans, not only invoked the Bush/Cheney "state secrets" theory, but also invented a brand new "sovereign immunity" claim to insist Bush officials are immune from consequences for illegal domestic spying. The same month -- in the case brought by torture victims -- an appeals court ruled against the Obama DOJ on its "secrecy" claims, yet the administration vowed to keep appealing to prevent any judicial review of the interrogation program. In responses to these abuses, a handful of Democratic legislators re-introduced Bush-era legislation to restrict the President from asserting "state secrets" claims to dismiss lawsuits, but it stalled in Congress all year. At the end of April and then again in August, the administration did respond to a FOIA lawsuit seeking the release of torture documents by releasing some of those documents, emphasizing that they had no choice in light of clear legal requirements.

In May, after the British High Court ruled that a torture victim had the right to obtain evidence in the possession of British intelligence agencies documeting the CIA's abuse of him, the Obama administration threatened that it would cut off intelligence-sharing with Britain if the court revealed those facts, causing the court to conceal them. Also in May, Obama announced he had changed his mind and would fight-- rather than comply with -- two separate, unanimous court orders compelling the disclosure of Bush-era torture photos, and weeks later, vowed he would do anything (including issue an Executive Order or support a new FISA exemption) to prevent disclosure of those photos in the event he lost yet again, this time in the Supreme Court. In June, the administration "objected to the release of certain Bush-era documents that detail the videotaped interrogations of CIA detainees at secret prisons, arguing to a federal judge that doing so would endanger national security." In August, Obama Attorney General Eric Holder announced that while some rogue torturers may be subject to prosecution, any Bush officials who relied on Bush DOJ torture memos in "good faith" will "be protected from legal jeopardy." And all year long, the Obama DOJ fought (unsuccessfully) to keep encaged at Guantanamo a man whom Bush officials had tortured while knowing he was innocent.

October 08, 2009

It Stopped Making Sense A Long Time Ago

The article below is just one of many I've read lately where the ridiculousness of the various justifications for staying in Afghanistan is laid bare.

Marine Gen. James Jones says there are "less than 100" Al Quaeda operatives in Afghanistan.

     A War of Absurdity              : Information Clearing House - ICH

Meanwhile David Corn describes a surreal White House press conference.

October 06, 2009

The Funny Thing Is...

.. that Howard actually thinks his comments on the Murdoch media network will HELP. Check out the 100 comments here, I don't think there is a single one supporting him. So where were they all way back when...?

Send more troops or lose the war: Howard

Kevin's Naughty Nephew

For sale: $1.2b used car part:
"Christies and Sothebys would no doubt argue that my piece is unsellable," he said.

"This is totally the point."

October 05, 2009

Heads You Lose, Tails We Win

FT.com / Companies / Financial Services - Goldman to be paid $1bn if CIT fails
Goldman Sachs stands to receive a payment of $1bn – while US taxpayers would lose $2.3bn – if embattled commercial lender CIT files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, people familiar with the matter said.

The payment stems from the structure of a $3bn rescue finance package that Goldman extended to CIT on June 6 2008, about five months before the Treasury bought $2.3bn in CIT preferred shares to prop it up at the height of the crisis. The potential loss for taxpayers would be the biggest to crystalise so far from the government’s capital injection plan for banks.

October 02, 2009

Hubris And Senilty

Michael Wolff on Rupert Murdoch:
Murdoch can almost single-handedly take apart and re-assemble a complex printing press, but his digital-technology acumen and interest is practically zero. Murdoch’s abiding love of newspapers has turned into a personal antipathy to the Internet: for him it’s a place for porn, thievery, and hackers...

News Corp. isn’t like other media companies. Murdoch can cut through and level all bureaucratic confusion and inaction. If he says it will be paid, then all the voices, which in other companies would tell you why this, logically, might not work, go silent at News Corp. The logic of the situation is remade around Murdoch’s logic.

And even his young wife thinks he's an old fogey. This is surely grounds for divorce:
In one of my favorite Murdoch stories, his wife, Wendi, who had befriended the founders of Google, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, told me about how the “boys” had visited the Murdochs at their ranch in Carmel, California. When I marveled at this relative social mismatch and asked what they might have talked about, Wendi assured me that they had all gotten along very well.

“You know, Rupert,” Wendi said, “he’s always asking questions.”

“But what,” I prodded, “did he exactly ask?”

“He asked,” she said, hesitating only a beat before cracking herself up, “‘Why don’t you read newspapers?’”

October 01, 2009

Where Are They Now?

Remember Tom Switzer, the neocon-friendly ex-editor of The Australian? His influential mates were pushing for him to take over Brendan Nelson's old seat - "the jewel in the crown of conservative politics in NSW". Interestingly, he lost out. But his old friends in the Murdoch press were still singing his praises...

Chosen for his smarts | The Australian
First up, based on an order drawn from a hat, was Tom Switzer, a former opinion editor at The Australian. Handsome and charismatic, Switzer carried endorsements from leading conservative figures such as John Howard, Tony Abbott and Peter Costello.

Switzer had given everything to the contest, but his opponents had managed to brand him as the candidate of the Right: a disadvantage on the north shore, where the Left, also known as the Group, has done a much better job than elsewhere of blocking a resurgent Right during the past decade. Switzer's enemies also used the coward's haven of the internet to circulate nasty rumours about an alleged womanising past.


Goldman Sachs In Vanity Fair: Andrew Ross Sorkin Details Secret Meetings During Financial Crisis
"By tonight the government will realize they can't provide capital to a deal that's being done by the former firm of the Treasury secretary with the company of a former vice-chairman of Goldman Sachs and former deputy Treasury secretary," Buffett said. "There is no way. They'll all wake up and realize, even if it was the best deal in the world, they can't do it."


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