Sunday, November 30, 2008

Gone Fishin' (Yet Again)

Lots of folks visiting the APOV HQ this week-end, including today. Hence, no blogging on my part this Sunday, as for yesterday - the Weekly Revue will return next week as usual. My apologies.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Bush Grand Delusion

Bush wants history to see him as a liberator of millions

George W. Bush hopes history will see him as a president who liberated millions of Iraqis and Afghans, who worked towards peace and who never sold his soul for political ends.

"I'd like to be a president (known) as somebody who liberated 50 million people and helped achieve peace," Bush said in excerpts of a recent interview released by the White House Friday.

"I would like to be a person remembered as a person who, first and foremost, did not sell his soul in order to accommodate the political process. I came to Washington with a set of values, and I'm leaving with the same set of values."

Keep Reading (if you haven't died laughing) ...

Punditman says ... Oh, George, you are such a funny guy!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Late Friday Night Ode To ... The Worse Of Humanity

Throughout history, from the first inter-tribal clashes to this week's recent terrorist attacks in India - truly Humanity is quite good at shackling its better angels in favor of leaving way to its worst demons.

From fear, to religion, to territory, to resources, to power - any excuse we have to commit violence upon each other, we use.

Same with exploiting others, stealing from them, or destroying our world.

For all that matters is the fullfillment of immediate, short-term wants and needs above and beyond any consequences that may result thereafter.

And never mind all the suffering and death brought upon fellow human beings.

And future generations be damned.

So I give you tonight's Ode - a double-play from my all-time favorite band ... Iron Maiden.

First, we have For The Greater Name Of God:

Followed by The Evil That Men Do:

Yup. We have a long way to go before we wise up indeed ...

(P.S. I've been busy yet again, hence why blogging on my part has been less than usual - see you folks Sunday)

(P.P.S. Impolitic? 900ft Jesus? Your move, ladies!) ;-)

Ooopsie! Sorry - Our Bad! (Heheh)

The title is essentially what Harper and his Harpies are now saying in their backing down on their "swell" idea to strip political parties of their public financing.

While one can only acknowledge approvingly such an "enlightened" change of mind, the question nevertheless remains: how in Hell could they ever think that they would have got away with this, to begin with?

I reiterate: competence, Mr. Harper? What a joke you are, sir.

And an increasingly unfunny, pathetic one at that.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Karzai Wishes He Could Shoot Down US Planes

Afghan President Hamid Karzai used a visit yesterday by a United Nations delegation to hit out at the international forces over their conduct in the war, expressing disbelief that after seven years “a little force like the Taliban” is continuing to flourish.

But today the Afghan President took his complaints to a new level, publicly lamenting that he was unable to shoot down the US planes which have been bombarding Afghan villages. Karzai added that if he had a rock attached to a piece of string, he’d use it to try to down the planes, “but that’s not in my hands.”

Hitting out at the war on terror as “unclear,” Karzai criticized “a war which is unclear what it is for, and what we are doing.” Addressing the media after today’s meeting with NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer he called for a firm timeline for withdrawal, insisting “this war cannot be endless and forever and the Afghan nation cannot burn in a war of which the end is not clear,” and adding “we did not welcome the international community in Afghanistan so that our lives get worse.”

Karzai warned that if a timeline is not set, he feels Afghanistan has “the right to find another solution for peace and security, which is negotiations.” He also accused international troops of having set up a parallel government.

punditman says ...

Afghanistan is never far from our minds, but what a headline! Is this some blunt, off-message honesty from a Western puppet that shows signs of a very real schism in a once solid alliance? Or is it an orchestrated front? You decide ...

Julie Morand. Terrorist. Al Qaeda.

Just because a deserving cause well, deserves support.

After all, chronic intellectual sloth-driven incompetence has to be paid for, sooner or later - eh?

Let me reiterate: Julie Morand. Terrorist. Al Qaeda.

Any questions?

Harper - Oh, The Hypocrisy, Mendacity And Incompetence!

Ah, the palpable sense of competence and responsibility of our Prime Douchebag and his Harpies in matters regarding budgets, deficits and the economy ...

Can you smell a (politicizing) budgetary rat?

Flaherty to axe subsidies to political parties in fiscal update: sources

The Conservatives are poised to eliminate the public subsidies that Canada's five major political parties receive, a move that would save $30 million a year but could cripple the opposition.

Sources told CBC News and other media outlets Wednesday that the subsidy cut is one of the key elements of the fiscal update that Finance Minister Jim Flaherty will present Thursday in Ottawa.

(...) On the surface, it would appear Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservatives have the most to lose if subsidies were cut because they garnered the most votes in the October election. The Conservatives earned $10 million in subsidies, compared to $7.7 million for the Liberals, $4.9 million for the NDP, $2.6 million for the Bloc Québécois and $1.8 million for the Greens.

But because the Conservatives have such a strong fundraising base, their subsidy represents only 37 per cent of the party's total revenues.

By comparison, the subsidy amounts to 63 per cent of the Liberals' funding, 86 per cent of the Bloc's, 57 per cent of the NDP's and 65 per cent of the Greens'
Typical of neocons (and thus, incompetents) - they claim the noble, moral high ground of "doing what's right" for our budget, when in truth their aim is to keep in check the opposition parties to ensure that we won't be having a no-confidence vote (and thus ensuing elections) any time soon ... in turn guaranteeing that Harper and the CPC remain in power for this much longer in the near-future.

Why do I conclude that Harper, Flaherty et al. are being obvious hypocrites here with their claim of seeking to reduce budget deficits (aside from their usual mendacity and obfuscations concerning said deficits)?

Let's just take this little bit of news as case in point:
Canada will invest up to $210 million over the next three years toward helping the Afghan government deliver basic services
And this one:
One of Canada’s six priorities for moving forward on Afghanistan is to help the Afghan government strengthen the Afghan National Army (ANA)’s ability to conduct operations and sustain a more secure environment, and increase the Afghan National Police (ANP)’s ability to promote law and order in the province of Kandahar.

In addition to the ongoing efforts by the Canadian Forces to mentor and equip the ANA, Canada will be providing up to $99 million over the next three years toward:
  • training, mentoring and equipping the ANA and the ANP;
  • building capacity in administration and logistical support; and
  • complementary initiatives in the justice and correctional systems to support activities of the ANP.
And this one:
Canada will be contributing up to $111 million* over the next three years to help the Government of Afghanistan provide humanitarian assistance in the province of Kandahar and nationwide.
And this one:
Funding of up to $32 million* has been earmarked until 2011 for the following activities that Canada will undertake in close co-operation with the Afghan government:
  • contributing to a dialogue between Afghanistan and Pakistan;
  • facilitating discussions of border officials from both sides of the border;
  • training of border officials; and
  • providing critical infrastructure and equipment.
And this one:
Canada is ready to support Afghan-led efforts to promote outreach and reconciliation in the interest of a sustainable peace, with the clear understanding that reconciliation only involve those individuals and organizations that agree to renounce violence, respect human rights and the rule of law, and accept the legitimacy of the Afghan government and the Afghan constitution.

To this end, Canada will be contributing up to $14 million over the next three years toward:
  • the development of Afghan government-led mechanisms that will encourage dialogue; and
  • the improvement of the Government of Afghanistan’s capacity to communicate with its citizens, especially in the province Kandahar.
And also this one:
One of Canada’s six priorities for moving forward on Afghanistan is to help advance Afghanistan’s capacity for democratic governance by contributing to effective, accountable public institutions and electoral processes. With funding of up to $355 million allocated over the next three years, Canada will work to:
  • provide financial and technical support for the elections process (presidential elections in 2009 and parliamentary elections in 2010), including the establishment of a national voter registry;
  • collaborate with other international donors to provide technical and financial resources to support the Independent Elections Commission, including the establishment of an independent electoral complaints commission; and
  • provide select national institutions/departments with technical expertise, training and mentoring, equipment, and program support.
Running the expense clock of Canada's war indeed.

Taking these considerations above altogether, I am left asking yet again: competence, Mr. Harper?

What a joke you are, sir.

Unfortunately enough ...

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

More On Harper, Economics And Incompetence

As follow up of these previous posts here, here, here and here on the matter at hand, I offer these additional considerations:

Canada needs its own economic strategies
The Harper government is out of touch with the scale of the crisis.

by James Laxer

Much like the Bush administration, which is floundering as the economic crisis intensifies, the Harper government seems to have no idea what is going on.

Not only is the United States and the world as a whole undergoing the worst stock market crash since the Great Depression, the so-called "read economy" is about to be hit by a potent mix of falling purchasing, declining prices, business bankruptcies on a vast scale, and the loss of jobs at a pace we haven't seen in our lifetimes.

Meanwhile, on both sides of the border, policy makers are dithering as the very real threat of the collapse of the Big Three automakers grows greater every day. When Lehman Brothers expired what seems like a millennium ago, we were reassured that Henry Paulson, the US Treasury Secretary, was a student of the Great Depression and knew what to do.

Think of those grainy newsreels from 1929 and the early 1930s. We used to feel smug about them. How dumb those policy makers were not to understand that you had to pump sufficient liquidity back into the system to keep the economy from collapsing? (We were taught that in Economics 101 — oh, I forgot, when I took Economics 101 Keynesianism was still in vogue. Now in Economics 101, students learn the idiocies of Friedmanism and its successor doctrines, a perfect brew for cooking up a depression.)

If the Big Three, or any one of them, go into bankruptcy protection, the storm that will follow will be enormously more intense than what we have experienced so far. It will be felt in every community in Ontario and Quebec. The auto parts, steel, rubber, glass and other feeder sectors, along with the service sectors in the dozens of communities tied to the auto sector will be devastated. From there it will spread to every community in the country, including those nowhere near an auto plant.

(Keep reading ...)

Youth - And The Future

The following provides much think-food for discussion with regards to the future of our democratic societies - including our own Canadian one (especially in light of this and this):

Disposable Youth in a Suspect Society: A Challenge for the Obama Administration
Youth and the crisis of the future.
By Henry A. Giroux

While there is little question that the United States - with its burgeoning police state, its infamous title as the world leader in jailing its own citizens, and its history of foreign and domestic "torture factories" [1] - has moved into lockdown (and lockout) mode both at home and abroad, it is a mistake to assume that the Bush administration is solely responsible for transforming the United States to the degree that it has now become unrecognizable to itself as a democratic nation. Such claims risk reducing the serious social ills now plaguing the United States to the reactionary policies of the Bush regime - a move which allows for complacency in light of the potentially inflated hopes raised by Barack Obama's successful bid for the presidency. What the United States has become in the last decade suggests less of a rupture than an intensification of a number of already existing political, economic, and social forces that since the late 1970s have unleashed the repressive anti-democratic tendencies lurking beneath the damaged heritage of democratic ideals.

What marks the present state of American "democracy" is the uniquely bipolar nature of the degenerative assault on the body politic, which combines elements of unprecedented greed and fanatical capitalism with a new kind of politics more ruthless and savage in its willingness to abandon - even vilify - those individuals and groups now rendered disposable within "new geographies of exclusion and landscapes of wealth" [2] that mark the neoliberal new world order. Nowhere is this assault more evident than in what might be called the "war on youth," a war that not only attempts to erase the democratic legacies of the past, but disavows any commitment to the future.

Any discourse about the future has to begin with the issue of youth because young people embody the projected dreams, desires, and commitment of a society's obligations to the future. In many respects, youth not only register symbolically the importance of modernity's claim to progress; they also affirm the importance of the liberal democratic tradition of the social contract in which adult responsibility is mediated through a willingness to fight for the rights of children, enact reforms that invest in their future, and provide the educational conditions necessary for them to make use of the freedoms they have while learning how to be critical citizens. Within such a modernist project, democracy is linked to the well-being of youth, while the status of how a society imagines democracy and its future is contingent on how it views its responsibility towards future generations. But the category of youth does more than affirm modernity's social contract, rooted in a conception of the future in which adult commitment and intergenerational solidarity are articulated as a vital public service; it also affirms those representations, images, vocabularies, values, and social relations central to a politics capable of both defending vital institutions as a public good and contributing to the quality of public life.

Yet as the twenty-first century unfolds, it is not at all clear that the American public and government believe any longer in youth, the future, or the social contract, even in its minimalist version. Since the 1980s, the prevailing market inspired discourse has argued that there is no such thing as society and, indeed, following that nefarious pronouncement, institutions committed to public welfare, especially for young people, have been disappearing ever since. Those of us who, against the prevailing common sense, believe that the ultimate test of morality resides in what a society does for its children cannot help but acknowledge that if we take this standard seriously, American society has deeply failed its children and its commitment to democracy.

At stake here is not merely how American culture is redefining the meaning of youth, but how it constructs children in relation to a future devoid of the moral and political obligations of citizenship, social responsibility, and democracy. Caught up in an age of increasing despair, uncertainty, and the quagmire of a global financial collapse, youth no longer appear to inspire adults to reaffirm their commitment to a public discourse that envisions a future in which human suffering is diminished while the general welfare of society is increased. Constructed primarily within the language of the market and the increasingly conservative politics of a corporate dominated media culture, contemporary youth appear unable to constitute themselves through a defining generational referent that gives them a sense of distinctiveness and vision, as did the generation of youth in the 1960s. The relations between youth and adults have always been marked by strained generational and ideological struggles, but the new economic and social conditions that youth face today, along with a callous indifference to their spiritual and material needs, suggest a qualitatively different attitude on the part of many adults toward American youth - one that indicates that the young, especially under the Bush administration, have become our lowest national priority. Put bluntly, American society at present exudes both a deep-rooted hostility and chilling indifference toward youth, reinforcing the dismal conditions that young people are increasingly living under.

The hard currency of human suffering that impacts children is evident in some astounding statistics that suggest a profound moral and political contradiction at the heart of our culture: for example, the rate of child poverty is currently at 17.4 percent, boosting the number of poor children to 13 million. In addition, about one in three severely poor people are under age 17. Moreover, children make up 26 percent of the total population but constitute an astounding 39 percent of the poor. Just as alarming as this is the fact that 9.4 million children in America lack health insurance and millions lack affordable child care and decent early childhood education. Sadly, the United States ranks first in billionaires and defense expenditures and yet ranks an appalling twenty-fifth in infant mortality. As we might expect, behind these grave statistics lies a series of decisions that favor economically those already advantaged at the expense of the young. Savage cuts to education, nutritional assistance for impoverished mothers, veterans' medical care, and basic scientific research, are often cynically administered to help fund tax cuts for the already inordinately rich.

This inversion of the government's responsibility to protect public goods from private threats further reveals itself in the privatization of social problems and the vilification of those who fail to thrive in this vastly iniquitous social order. Too many youth within this degraded economic, political, and cultural geography occupy a "dead zone" in which the spectacle of commodification exists alongside the imposing threat of massive debt, bankruptcy, the prison-industrial complex, and the elimination of basic civil liberties. Indeed, we have an entire generation of unskilled and displaced youth who have been expelled from shrinking markets, blue-collar jobs, and the limited political power granted to the middle-class consumer. Rather than investing in the public good and solving social problems, the state now punishes those who are caught in the downward spiral of its economic policies. Punishment, incarceration, and surveillance represent the new face of governance. Consequently, the implied contract between the social state and its citizens has been broken, and social guarantees for youth, as well as civic obligations to the future, have vanished from the public agenda. Within this utterly privatizing market discourse alcoholism, homelessness, poverty, joblessness, and illiteracy are not viewed as social issues, but rather as individual problems - that is, such problems are viewed as the result of a character flaw or a personal failing and in too many cases such problems are criminalized.

(Keep reading ...)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A (Grim) Fable Of Woe

Once upon a time ...

There was this single cell, alone in a body of billions of other cells.

And it was unhappy and malcontent of its lot in life.

Now, in that body of billions of cells, and in order for that body to function, there was this assignment of specific roles to be played by each given cell - all for the common good of all.

Some were meant for infrastructure. Some were meant for protection. Some were meant for defense. Some were meant for repair. Other were meant to digest and absorb foodstuffs, or take in oxygen. Yet others were meant as roads and highways to keep the flow of nutriments and oxygen going to all cells. More others were meant as the motor of said vital flow.

Hence, some were workers, some were soldiers, some were mechanics, some were maintenance technicians, some were harvesters, some were waste managers, some were distributors, some were traffic comptrollers, some were programmers, some were entrepreneurs, some were decision-makers - and so on and so forth, altogether essential for the body-organism to thrive, prosper, adapt, reproduce and, through its progeny, evolve.

Again - all for the common good and perpetuation of all.

Except for the single, malcontent and unhappy cell of this story.

You see - this cell had come to resent rules and regulations. It fell in love with the idea of being able to do what it wanted to do, whenever it wanted to do it, and regulations be damned.

It also rejected the notion of long-term thinking - what it perceived as a slow, inane and petrificating way of looking at the world - in favor of pure short-term thinking.

The here and now - and maybe tomorrow, next week and/or the next three months, but that is it! - is what truly mattered in its life.

In other words: this cell had decided that it was in it for itself - first and foremost.

So this single, malcontent and unhappy cell started multiplying on its own, disregarding any signals it received from the regulators to stop.

But still the malcontent cell kept on growing.

Into two cells. Then four. Then eight, sixteen, thirty-two, sixty-four, one hundred and twenty eight, and thus more and more and more.

Soon enough, the one original malcontent and unhappy cell was now a growing crowd of equally-minded rebel cells - in fact, many of them having already become even more self-centered and self-serving than the original one.

Of course, the other neighboring cells came to be disturbed by such outrageous behavior of this crowd of rebel cells - why, these uncout ones ate much more than their fare share of the food available, most of what energy they produced they kept for themselves, their presence displaced or even stiffled other normal-behaving cells and - adding insult to injury - they left a lot of waste around and about them.

So police, ordely, maintenance, repair and decision-maker cells were called in to stop such reckless, utterly selfish nonesense.

But the rebel cells, now so many clumped together in a growing mass, came to be rather crafty and smooth-tongued cells.

Upon being confronted by the aforementioned authorities and their assistants, they pleaded victimhood:

"Growth serves the common good!" They chanted mendaciously. "Do not all tissues grow thus? Does the overall body-organism not grow thus? Growth is prosperity!" They continued, in earnest. "Sure, we use local resources - we have to! But through our growing numbers, how much more proteins, sugars and macromolecules we generate than what we take in." Regaining their composure, they then delivered their ultimate argument: "Give us the proper tools and the means, lend us more energy and foodstuff, let us employ other cells, and you will see how our growth will benefit all those cells in our neighborhood - for indeed, a good portion of all the proteins, sugars and other macromolecules we generate can and will be returned to those cells we will employ which, in turn, will likewise share in the general wealth and well-being of all cells in the end!"

At first unsure, the decision-making cells nonetheless came to be enthralled by such apparently unassailable argument in favor of growth, being lulled by the smooth tongues of the rebel cells.

Hence the police, orderly and repair cells were sent back to their stations, having been instructed henceforth to leave the rebel cells well enough alone.

The decision maker cells likewise instructed maintenance cells to remain available to the rebel cells in order to help them establish whatever infrastructure they required.

Hence, the tumor was granted irrigation with newly formed blood capillaries and vessels, allowing it greater access to food and oxygen - all the better for the common good, the rebel cells still claimed.

And thus supplied, the rebel cells went to work anew - with a vengeance.

As they kept on growing further in numbers, they came to co-opt (sorry: employ) the maintenance and road/highway cells, making them construct/deliver/divert more and more resources - which were in large part used first and foremost by the rebel cells, of course.

In time, some of the rebel cells even got the means to bribe supplier cells in giving them more resources than they needed, or endothelial cells to make cheaper capillaries, or quality control cells to look the other way, or even some decision-making cells to assure their continued support.

Then a momentous time came, when some of the rebel cells began to spread throughout their neighboring tissue - taking more and more place while increasingly displacing normal-behaving cells further.

So decision maker cells were called in again.

"We get little while they keep the most of what they make, in addition to having no other choice but to live in the mounting waste of their wake - waste which makes us sick or even dying!" The outraged normal cells shouted angrily. "Those capillaries and vessels they constructed are badly designed and all leaky!" They continued. "Not only is there less and less for us, and of us, now it has come to the point whereby we can't perform our roles adequately anymore in order to keep our tissue functional and healthy!" They added, thinking that such a potent argument would be quite difficult to counter, let alone dismiss.

But the ever crafty, self-serving rebel cells were more than prepared for such argument: "In order to keep growth going," they offered, "we must expand. Let those of us who grow the most quickly and who are the most sturdy leave this tissue in order to bring our growth-producing propsperity to other tissues and organs. Those others of us who will remain behind will slow down their growth and be more careful about waste, thus nevertheless keeping growth-producing prosperity alive and well here!"

Confused by such double-speak, the normal-behaving cells decided that this all made much sense. Consequently, the decision maker cells consented as well - especially since they were sold to the idea of "growth = prosperity" to begin with.

And so, many cancer cells used the leaky capillaries and vessels they constructed through their employment of connective tissue and endothelial cells in order to metastasize boldly go out and spread and practice their free, unregulated growth prosperity ideals to the rest of the body-organism.

Where the whole cycle was repeated again and again and again.

In between, those rebel cells which initially did slow down their growth and waste production eventually generated more aggressive cells anew - thus further amplifying the destructive cycle of unchecked, unregulated growth.

Leaving all their neighboring normal-behaving cells to gradually break down and die from lack of food, lack of oxygen and toxic waste.


And thus, there eventually came a time when the body-organism came to be sick.

Very, very sick.

Lungs were bleeding, the liver was shuting down, the kidneys were malfunctionning, and a whole slew of other breakdowns and/or malfunctions were ensuing throughout all organs and tissues.

As the body-organism laid in a vegetative state on its death-bed, physician body-organisms considered what options they could enact to heal this dying one.

High dosage chemotherapy was put forth - then dismissed. Although such treatment may kill all the cancer cells, too many of the remaining healthy cells would likewise be killed in the process - thus killing the patient most assuredly.

Radiotherapy as a possibility met the same decisional fate, for essentially the very same reason.

It was finally decided to attempt to render the body-organism better prepared to undergo drastic cancer therapies - if only for a short while.

The physician body-organisms did so by pumping intravenously a glucose-saline solution and by force-feeding through a tube nutritious foodstuff preparations.

It was hoped that enough food and energy would nevertheless reach the healthy cells, consequently making the sick body-organism that bit much stronger to undergo drastic cancer treatment.

Unfortunately, the rebel cells of the now generalized cancer running throughout the dying body-organism had come to be so self-serving, so self-centered and so aggressively greedy, that they managed to hoard - and consume - all of what was being pumped/force-fed.

Hence while they remained well off, all remaining normal-behaving cells died.

Thus the body organism died as well.

"If only that body-organism paid closer attention to its symptoms of illness and sought remedy when there was still much, much time left, instead of letting such cancer grow and fester!" One of the physician body-organism bemoaned upon the very last breath of their patient.

But woe as well was there for the rebel, cancer cells - for when their host body died, all foodstuff, energy and oxygen stopped being supplied even to them, consequently leaving them in turn - and in the last - with naught but bitter-sweet memories of prosperity.

"If only our single, malcontent and unhappy ancestor cell could have forseen such a terrible fate for us all!" Thus wept the dying cancer cells in distraught unisson.

And the darkness of oblivion prevailed forevermore.


Moral of the story: now you folks get to have fun "guessing" what this parabole is all about ... and what it may signify for our future.

(since I'm a good guy, here's a hint ... or two ... or three)

(Cross-posted at TWWL)

Being While Not being?

That is the question indeed.

Here's a take on ideology vs non-ideology which raises not only interesting questions but also provides a good measure of food for thought on the matter (although for me, competence should trump any and all ideological considerations - heh):

The Ideology of No Ideology
by Norman Solomon

On Friday, columnist David Brooks informed readers that Barack Obama's picks "are not ideological." The incoming president's key economic advisers "are moderate and thoughtful Democrats," while Hillary Clinton's foreign-policy views "are hardheaded and pragmatic."

On Saturday, the New York Times front page reported that the president-elect's choices for secretaries of State and Treasury "suggest that Mr. Obama is planning to govern from the center-right of his party, surrounding himself with pragmatists rather than ideologues."

On Monday, hours before Obama's formal announcement of his economic team, USA Today explained that he is forming a Cabinet with "records that display more pragmatism than ideology."

The ideology of no ideology is nifty. No matter how tilted in favor of powerful interests, it can be a deft way to keep touting policy agendas as common-sense pragmatism -- virtuous enough to draw opposition only from ideologues.

Meanwhile, the end of ideology among policymakers is about as imminent as the end of history.

But -- in sync with the ideology of no ideology -- deference to corporate power isn't ideological. And belief in the U.S. government's prerogative to use military force anywhere in the world is a matter of credibility, not ideology.

Ideological assumptions gain power as they seem to disappear into the prevailing political scenery. So, for instance, reliably non-ideological ideological journalists sit at the studio table every Friday night on the PBS "Washington Week" program, which is currently funded by similarly non-ideological outfits including Boeing, the National Mining Association and Constellation Energy ("the nation's largest supplier of competitive electricity to large commercial and industrial customers," with revenues of $21 billion last year).

Along the way, the ideology of no ideology can corral even normally incisive commentators. So, over the weekend, as news broke about the nominations of Timothy Geithner and Lawrence Summers to top economic posts, former Labor Secretary Robert Reich wrote an article praising "the members of Obama's new economic team." Reich declared: "All are pragmatists. Some media have dubbed them 'centrists' or 'center-right,' but in truth they're remarkably free of ideological preconception. ... They are not visionaries but we don't need visionaries when the economic perils are clear and immediate. We need competence. Obama could not appoint a more competent group."

Competence can be very good. But "free of ideological preconception"? I want to meet these guys. If they really don't have any ideological preconceptions, they belong in the book of Guinness World Records.

(Keep reading ...)

More On The Continuing Blackmail Con Game

Following up on my post regarding the continuing blackmail con game being perpetrated at our expense (here's yet one more recent example!), here is more food for thought on the matter:

Of Arrogance, Bailouts and the Big Three
Give Them Money...Only After They Fire the Top Executives

By James Abourezk

Just as I was about to give up on Congress, BAM, POW, a California Congressman decked the auto executives with a one-two punch. As these august gentlemen were sitting before a House Committee telling the Congressmen how bad it was, and that they needed money badly, Brad Sherman asked the group of beggars to raise their hand if any of them flew by commercial airline to the hearings in Washington.

“Let the record show,” the Congressman said, “that no one raised their hand,” the Congressman said.

Then came the right hook. “Raise your hand if any of you plan to sell your private jet.”

No response. They looked at each other, then at the Committee members, most likely sensing they had lost that round by points.

“Let the record show,” Congressman Sherman said, “that no one raised their hand.”

The lack of response was hardly surprising, but what was surprising is that a member of Congress finally earned his paycheck for that day. Fear of the 30 second spot television commercial has silenced many a member of Congress. None of them want to have their words replayed during the next campaign, so they are generally silent when it comes to challenging the corporate world—oil companies and auto executives included.

But even more outrageous is the arrogance of the Big Three executives coming to the taxpayers with their hands outstretched, waiting for a bailout. And why not? You ask. Didn’t this same bunch hand over $700 billion to Henry Paulson so his banking and Wall Street friends could continue their plush lifestyle? And didn’t Henry Paulson suddenly discover that the bankers and Wall Street money men didn’t need it all, causing him to shift gears and aim the bailout at mortgage foreclosures?

As Senator Everett Dirksen used to say, “A few hundred million here and a few hundred million there—pretty soon you’re talking about real money.” Nowadays the word billion has replaced million, but, you get the idea. For the well-connected it’s Monopoly money anyway. It’s not real unless your company can’t pay a $25 or $50 million dollar bonus.

The arrogance of these fellows is being rewarded by the fearmongering of George W. Bush and others who predicted dark consequences if the money wasn’t handed over. So most everyone fell into line and voted it in.

When I was a member of the Senate Energy Committee in the 1970s I attached an amendment onto a piece of legislation that would have required the automobile manufacturers to make new cars that delivered a minimum of 26 miles to the gallon. That was in the 1970s when we all thought that mileage level would be a great victory. Nowadays, Toyota doesn’t make a car, I don’t believe, that delivers less than that. But back then, 26 miles to the gallon was revolutionary, even radical. So the Big Three came in and lobbied against it and defeated it. And they steadily moved into making and selling real he-man cars and trucks, such as the Hummers, the big pickups and the SUVs that more resemble a battleship than a car. At the same time, in Europe, taxes levied on gasoline made it so high that if one bought an American gas-guzzler, he would be thought of as crazy. So the Europeans made smaller cars that ate much less gas, and the Japanese began to move into the American market, selling high gas mileage cars to those of us who felt guilt at driving a four-wheeled monster.

The Europeans and Japanese also built high speed rail transportation that moved people so efficiently that cars became sort of redundant for longer trips. Meanwhile we Americans have spent ourselves into bankruptcy fighting wars, consuming more gasoline than we should, and telling ourselves that single payer health care and a national rail transportation system was socialistic. We listened to the lobbyists for the pharmaceutical companies and the airline and automobile industries, and said to ourselves: “We don’t need no stinking socialism.”

What this all means is that socialism is good for the Big Three automobile manufacturers and for Wall Street and for the big banks, but bad for the rest of us.

(Keep reading ...)

Cruelty And Harassment - No Decency Left Indeed

Following up on this previous post and this one - here's yet more proof to my conclusion that there is "no decency left" while we are "losing ourselves beyond redemption".

War crimes indeed ... and then some.

Guantanamo Detainee Who Was Tortured Faces New War Crimes Charges
By Jason Leopold

A Guantanamo Bay detainee who was tortured by military interrogators is again being charged with war crimes by Pentagon prosecutors, six months after those charges were dropped because of the coercive techniques used to obtain information were likely to be revealed at his trial.

Mohammed al-Al-Qahtani, the alleged “20th hijacker”, is believed to be one of the first detainees subjected to harsh questioning after the Justice Department issued a legal opinion in August 2002 permitting U.S. government interrogators to sidestep the Geneva Convention and use cruel and humiliating techniques, from forced nudity to stress positions to waterboarding, to extract information.

Last February, the Pentagon announced its intention to pursue the death penalty against al-Qahtani and five other men for their alleged involvement in the 9/11 attacks.

On May 9, the Pentagon dismissed the case against al-Qahtani without explanation – and without prejudice, meaning that the charges could be reinstated at a later date. Though the charges were dropped, he remained detained at Guantanamo.

The decision to drop war-crimes charges against al-Qahtani underscored the consequences of the Bush administration’s descent into torture and other abusive treatment of “war on terror” detainees.

If al-Qahtani’s case goes forward, the U.S. government would be forced to reveal its own violations of the Geneva Convention, anti-torture statutes and the laws of war, according to lawyers representing al-Qahtani.

“All of the [incriminating] statements Mohammad al-Qahtani made or is alleged to have made were the result of torture or made under the threat of torture and that is in my view why the government decided to dismiss his case at this point,” said Vince Warren, executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) in New York, the organization that has been representing al-Qahtani since 2005.

But the chief military prosecutor for Guantánamo, Col. Lawrence J. Morris of the Army indicated he would be willing to take that chance.

(Keep reading ...)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Harper On The Economy: You Don't Say?!?

Our Prime Douchebag of Canada strikes again:
Canada could soon be in recession: Harper

Canada could be in a recession later this year or early in 2009, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Sunday.

"Since the election, Minister of Finance [Jim] Flaherty has been consulting on a regular basis with experts in the private sector as to what their forecasts are for the economy," Harper told reporters after attending a two-day summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation group in Lima.

"The most recent forecasts, and there has been a series of predictions, [are that] there is a suggestion that there might be a technical recession at the end of this year or the beginning of next," he said.

"Indeed, the economic growth is just about zero, perhaps a little bit less, but it is a technical recession," Harper said.
Gee - what ever happened to "the fundamentals of our economy are strong/solid" and to "don't worry, be happy"?

Notice as well that Harper the Mini Leader has once again fully emulated his dear idol, George W. Bush, in this devolution from "the fundamentals are strong" to denying a recession and to, at last, "we are entering a recession".

Competence, Mr. Harper?

The point here is that it looks like Harper has finally decided to acknowledge reality, instead of - you know - keep on denying it.

But a competent Prime Minister would have done this months ago, at the very least.

If only because all the signs were there to see.

How unfortunate that Harper chose to diminish/deny reality back then - over and over again - while busying himself at the ideological-driven politicization of our economy ... with the result we now know all too well.

Which brings me to another point - concerning deficits. Here's again our Prime Douchebag in action mode:
Budget deficit 'essential' if economic stimulus needed: Harper

Budgetary deficits may be an inevitable reality for countries intending to use financial stimulus packages to revive their economies, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Saturday.

During a speech at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Peru, Harper suggested the Canadian government will introduce a stimulus package to boost the economy while trying to avoid setting the stage for a long-term government deficit.

Signalling a shift in his usual anti-deficit stance, he acknowledged that countries that choose to implement fiscal stimulus packages will likely find it necessary to run budgetary deficits.

"We did agree at the G20 [summit in Washington] last week that additional fiscal stimulus should be used to sustain global demand if monetary policy continues to prove to be inadequate," Harper said in Lima.

"These are, of course, the classic circumstances under which budgetary deficits are essential."
Which is, of course, an about face indeed:
It was an about-face for the prime minister, who in the lead-up to last month's election dismissed the possibility of a deficit, saying they were addictive and out of the question for Canada.

Harper said Saturday that whatever short-term new spending his government pursues, it "will ensure that Canada does not return to long-term structural budgetary deficits."
Remember what Harper and his Finance Minister And Cronie-In-Chief Flaherty have been carping previously, with regards to deficits?

First, there was denial.

Then obfuscations.

Then mendacious double-talk of "modest surpluses" and "small deficits".

And now we get "deficits are essential".

My conclusion is this: like the utter incompetents that they truly are, Harper and his Harpies keep on just making it up as they go along, reacting to each successive, worsening development concerning our economy (and every single issue presenting it self, for that matter), instead of seeing them coming while such are germinating, all the while propping themselves up as the cool, calm and steady stewards of the slowly sinking ship that is our country.

Again, I ask: competence, Mr. Harper?

Not only is our economy worsening, Harper and his Harpies are now intent on literally bankrupting our children, our grandchildren, and the very future of our country, through the ill-thought, ill-planned, ill-informed use of our taxpayer monies and assets in order to artificially keep the economy just above the water line while those corrupted and incompetents "captains of industry" end up fattening their pockets at the expense of our society.

But hey - that's what you voted for, my fellow Canadians - at least those of you who actually voted, in contrast to the overwhelming numbers who decided to sleep in this last election ... despite the evident signs that our economy was going to be hit bad.

Oh, how the chickens have come home to roost, eh?

So congratulations, fellow Canadians - especially to those who actually voted for Harper and to those lazy and irresponsible ones who did not get out and vote.

This is what you get, this is what you are stuck with - at least for the time being.

In the end, what goes around comes around, eh?

I can only wish that my country didn't have to be wrecked in the process.

(Cross-posted at NetRoots)

The Inherent Stupidity In Testing Nuclear Devices

Following up on this older post regarding "all options on the table", as well as this more recent one ...

I've always thought that testing nuclear bombs anywhere on the planet, whether above or under ground, constituted sheer stupidity - if only because of soil-seeping/wind-surfing/water-contaminating nuclear radiation and fallout.

And to think that there are still those out there who just can't wait for the actual use of nukes in soon-to-come armed conflicts over resources ...

More food for thought on the matter:

Cautionary Tales From a Nuclear War Zone
By Barbara Rose Johnsonband Holly M. Barker

John Anjain, Alab of Rongelap, Marshall Islands:

Early in the morning of March 1, 1954, sometime around five or six o'clock, American planes dropped a hydrogen bomb on Bikini Atoll. Shortly before this happened, I had awakened and stepped out of my house. Once outside, I looked around and saw Billiet Edmond making coffee near his house. I walked up and stood next to him. The two of us talked about going fishing later in the morning. After only a few minutes had passed we saw a light to the west of Rongelap Atoll. When this light reached Rongelap we saw many beautiful colors. I expect the reason people didn't go inside their houses right away was because the yellow, green, pink, red, and blue colors which they saw were such a beautiful sight before their eyes.

The second thing that happened involved the gust of wind that came from the explosion. The wind was so hot and strong that some people who were outside staggered, including Billiet and I. Even some windows fell as a result of the wind.

The third thing that happened concerned the smoke-cloud which we saw from the bomb blast. The smoke rose quickly to the clouds and as it reached them we heard a sound louder than thunder. When people heard this deafening clap some of the women and children fled to the woods. Once the sound of the explosion had died out everyone began cooking, some made donuts and others cooked rice.

Later some men went fishing, including myself. Around nine or ten-o'clock I took my throw net and left to go fishing near Jabwon. As I walked along the beach I looked at the sky and saw it was white like smoke; nevertheless I kept on going. When I reached Jabwon, or even a little before, I began to feel a fine powder falling all over my body and into my eyes. I felt it but I didn't know what it was.

I went ahead with my fishing and caught enough fish with my throw-net to fill a bag. Then I went to the woods to pick some coconuts. I came back to the beach and sat on a rock to drink the coconuts and eat some raw fish. As I was sitting and eating, the powder began to fall harder. I looked out and saw that the coconuts had changed color. By now all the trees were white as well as my entire body. I gazed up at the sky but couldn't see the clouds because it was so misty. I didn't believe this was dangerous. I only knew that powder was falling. I was somewhat afraid nevertheless.

When I returned to Rongelap village I saw people cooking food outside their cook-houses. They didn't know the powder was very dangerous. The powder fell all day and night long over the entire atoll of Rongelap. During the night people were sick. They were nauseous, they had stomach, head, ear, leg and shoulder aches. People did not sleep that night because they were sick.

The next day, March 2, 1954, people got up in the morning and went down to get water. It had turned a yellowish color. "Oh, Oh" they cried out and said "the powder that fell down yesterday and last night is a harmful thing." They were sick and so Jabwe, the health-aide, walked around in the morning and warned the people not to drink the water. He told them that if they were thirsty to drink coconuts only.

. . . At three o'clock in the afternoon of March 2, 1954 a seaplane from Enewetak Atoll landed in the lagoon of Rongelap and two men came ashore. Billiet and I asked them why they had come to Rongelap and they responded by saying they had come to inspect the damage caused by the bomb. They said they would spend twenty minutes looking at all the wells, cement water catchments, houses and other things. The two men returned quickly to their plane and left without telling anyone that the food, water, and other things were harmful to human beings.

Everyone was quite surprised at the speed with which the men surveyed everything in the island and then returned to their plane. People said maybe we've been really harmed because the men were in such a hurry to leave. Although they said they would look around for about twenty minutes, they probably didn't stay here for more than ten minutes. So in less than ten minutes after their arrival on Rongelap, the two men had already taken off.

. . . On that day we looked at the water catchments, tubs and other places where there was a great deal of water stored. The water had turned a strong yellow and those who drank it said it tasted bitter.

On March 3, early in the morning, a ship and a seaplane with four propellers appeared on Rongelap. Out of the plane came Mr. Oscar de[Brum] - and Mr. Wiles, the governor of Kwajelein Atoll. As their boat reached the shore, Mr. Oscar cried out to the people to get on board and forget about their personal belongings for whoever thought of staying behind would die. Such were the words by which he spoke to them. Therefore, none of the people went back to their houses, but immediately got on the boats and sailed to board the ship that would take them away. Those who were sick and old were evacuated by plane.

. . . At ten o'clock in the morning we left Rongelap for Ailinginae Atoll and arrived there at three in the afternoon. We picked up nineteen people on this atoll and by five o'clock we were on our way to Kwajalein.

On March 4, we arrived on Kwajalein and met the Admiral who then sent us to where we were to stay. A day later, Dr. Conard and his medical team arrived. The doctors were very thorough in checking and caring for our injuries and showed much concern in examining us. The Admiral was also very concerned about our situation and took us in as if we were his own children. His name was Admiral Clark.

Ever since 1954 Dr. Conard has continued to examine the fallout victims on a yearly basis. These visits are very important for all the people on Rongelap and others in the Marshall Islands. These medical examinations are also of great importance for men throughout the world.

. . . From 1959 to 1963 and 1964, after the Rongelapese had returned to Rongelap from Majuro, many women gave birth prematurely to babies which looked somewhat like animals. Women also had miscarriages. During these years many other strange things happened with regard to food, especially to fish in which the fertilized eggs and liver turned a blackish color. In all my forty years I had never seen this happen in fish either on Rongelap or in any of the other places I've been in the Marshall Islands. Also, when people ate fish or [arrowroot] starch produced on Rongelap, they developed a rash in their mouths. This too I had never seen before.

. . . I, John, Anjain, was magistrate of Rongelap when all this occurred and I now write this to explain what happened to the Rongelap people at that time.

[In 1954] the people of Rongelap stayed on Kwajalein for three months and the DOE [Atomic Energy Commission] people removed the Rongelap people to Majuro. The people lived in Majuro for three years and in 1956 the DOE, Trust Territory government and the UN came to Majuro and I went with them to attend a meeting with them at the school in Rita. And they told me that it is time that we go back home. And I asked "are we really going home while Rongelap is contaminated?" And the answer that they give me is that "it is true that Rongelap is contaminated but it is not dangerous. And if you don't believe us, well then stay here and take care of yourself."

. . . In 1957 the people returned to Rongelap and the DOE promised that there wouldn't be any problems to the Rongelap people. However in 1958 and 1959 most of the women gave birth to something that was not resembling human beings. There was a woman giving birth to a grape. Another woman gave birth to something that resembles a monkey. And so on. There was a child born at that time and there was no shell covering the top of that child's head.

The American doctors came every year to examine us. Every year they came, and they told us that we were not sick, and then they would return the next year. But they did find something wrong. They found one boy did not grow as fast as boys his age. They gave him medicine. Then they began finding the thyroid sickness.

My son Lekoj was thirteen when they found his thyroid was sick. They took him away to a hospital in America. They cut out his thyroid. They gave him some medicine and told him to take it every day for the rest of his life. The same thing happened to other people. The doctors kept returning and examining us. Several years ago, they took me to a hospital in America, and they cut out my thyroid. They gave me medicine and told me to take it every day for the rest of my life.

A few years after the bomb, Senator Amata Kabua tried to get some compensation for the people of Rongelap. He got a lawyer, and the lawyer made a case in court. The court turned our case down. The court said it could not consider our case because we were not part of the United States. Dwight Heine went to the United Nations to tell them about us. People from the United Nations came to see us, and we told them how we felt. Finally, in 1964, the U.S. Congress passed a bill. The bill gave us money as a payment for our experience. Some of the people spent all their money; some of them still have money in the bank. After we got the money, they began finding the thyroid sickness.

In 1972, they took Lekoj away again. They said they wanted to examine him. They took him to America to a big hospital near Washington. Later, they took me to this hospital near Washington because they said he was very sick. My son Lekoj died after [I] arrived. He never saw his island again. He returned home in a box. He is buried on our island. The doctors say he had a sickness called leukemia. They are quite sure it was from the bomb.

But I am positive.

I saw the ash fall on him. I know it was the bomb. I watched him die.


Statement of Almira Matayoshi to the Nuclear Claims Tribunal, Marshall Islands (2001):

I was pregnant when they dropped the bomb [Bravo]. I was flown off of Rongelap with the other pregnant women and elderly people. The rest of the people left on the boat. I gave birth to Robert on Ejit, and he was normal. The child I had after Robert, when we had returned to Rongelap, I gave birth to something that was like grapes. I felt like I was going to die from the loss of blood. My vision was gone, and I was fading in and out of consciousness. They emergency evacuated me to Kwajalein, and I was sure I was going to die. After the grapes, I had a third child. It wasn't like a child at all. It had no bones and was all skin. When I gave birth they said, "Ak ta men en?" [What is that thing?]. Mama said uror [a term denoting exacerbation]. It was the first strange child that people had seen. I was the first. That time was the worst in my life. I feel both angry and embarrassed.


What words can possibly communicate what it is like to see and survive such sights? To become increasingly fearful that the intense beauty of your world-the water, the sand, the plants, the soil, the sea, and all the creatures within-has been fundamentally transformed by invisible, untouchable, all-encompassing poison? After years and years of living in a radioactive laboratory as the subject of scrutiny and study, what does it mean to find your fears confirmed-that your favorite foods are taboo, that your loved ones grow old before their time and your children fail to thrive? What does it mean to "survive" downwind from the the United States proving grounds - where nuclear war was practiced and perfected by Cold War warriors?

In 1946, after evacuating the people of Bikini and nearby atoll communities in the Marshall Islands, the United States detonated two atomic weapons: the same type of bomb that was dropped on Nagasaki in 1945. In 1947 the United Nations designated the Marshall Islands a United States Trust Territory. Over the next eleven years, this U.S. territory played host to another sixty-five atmospheric atomic and thermonuclear tests. The largest of these tests, code named Bravo, was detonated on March 1, 1954. This 15-megaton hydrogen bomb was purposefully exploded close to the ground. It melted huge quantities of coral atoll, sucking it up and mixing it with radiation released by the weapon before depositing it on the islands and inhabitants in the form of ash, or radioactive fallout. The wind was blowing that morning in the direction of inhabited atolls, including Rongelap and Utrik, some 100 and 300 miles from the test site at Bikini. The Marshallese communities on Rongelap, Ailinginae, and Utrik atolls, U.S. servicemen on Rongerik Atoll (weathermen who were monitoring winds and fallout), and the twenty-three-man crew of the Japanese fishing vessel Fukuryu Maru (Lucky Dragon) received near-lethal doses of radiation from the Bravo event.

International protests and calls for a ban on nuclear weapons testing prompted the U.S. government to publicly acknowledge the incident and accept liability. The Marshallese filed an April 20, 1954, complaint to the United Nations Trusteeship Council:

We, the Marshallese people feel that we must follow the dictates of our consciences to bring forth this urgent plea to the United Nations, which has pledged itself to safeguard the life, liberty and the general well being of the people of the Trust Territory, of which the Marshallese people are a part.

. . . The Marshallese people are not only fearful of the danger to their persons from these deadly weapons in case of another miscalculation, but they are also very concerned for the increasing number of people who are being removed from their land.

. . . Land means a great deal to the Marshallese. It means more than just a place where you can plant your food crops and build your houses; or a place where you can bury your dead. It is the very life of the people. Take away their land and their spirits go also.

In response to this petition the United States assured the General Assembly of the United Nations:

The fact that anyone was injured by recent nuclear tests in the Pacific has caused the American people genuine and deep regret. . . . The United States Government considers the resulting petition of the Marshall Islanders to be both reasonable and helpful. . . . The Trusteeship Agreement of 1947 which covers the Marshall Islands was predicated upon the fact that the United Nations clearly approved these islands as a strategic area in which atomic tests had already been held. Hence, from the onset, it was clear that the right to close areas for security reasons anticipated closing them for atomic tests, and the United Nations was so notified; such tests were conducted in 1948, 1951, 1952 as well as in 1954. . . . The question is whether the United States authorities in charge have exercised due precaution in looking after the safety and welfare of the Islanders involved. That is the essence of their petition and it is entirely justified. In reply, it can be categorically stated that no stone will be left unturned to safeguard the present and future well-being of the Islanders.

The United States promised the Marshallese and the United Nations General Assembly that "Guarantees are given the Marshallese for fair and just compensation for losses of all sorts."

These guarantees worked: the United States was able to continue its atmospheric weapons testing program in the Marshall Islands through 1958 and at its Nevada test site through 1963, when the United States, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union finally signed on to a limited test ban treaty.

The United States has not, however, fully lived up to its promises to the United Nations or the Marshallese people to safeguard their well-being. Atmospheric weapons testing in the Pacific resulted in considerable human and environmental harm.

Atmospheric nuclear weapons tests released numerous radioisotopes and dangerous heavy metals. An estimated 2 percent of the radioactive fallout was iodine-131, a highly radioactive isotope with an 8-day half-life. The nuclear war games conducted by the United States in the Marshall Islands released some 8 billion curies of iodine-131. To place this figure in broader context, over the entire history of nuclear weapons testing at the Nevada Proving Grounds, some 150 million curies of iodine-131 were released, and varying analyses of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster estimate an iodine-131 release of 40 to 54 million curies. Much of the iodine-131 released in the Marshall Islands was the by-product of the March 1, 1954, Bravo test detonation of the hydrogen bomb. Designed to produce and contain as much radioactive fallout in the immediate area as possible, in order to create laboratory-like conditions, Bravo unleashed as much explosive yield as one thousand Hiroshima-sized bombs. Communities living downwind from the blast, especially the Rongelap community, were acutely exposed to its fallout.

Evacuated three days after the blast, the people of Rongelap spent three months under intense medical scrutiny as human subjects in Project 4.1. They spent three years as refugees and were returned to their still-contaminated atoll in 1957 with assurances that their islands were now safe. They lived on Rongelap for another twenty-eight years and as the closest populated atoll to the Pacific Proving Grounds, they were exposed to additional fallout from another series of nuclear tests in 1958. While living on Rongelap, the community was visited annually, and later biannually, by U.S. government scientists and medical doctors conducting follow-up studies begun under Project 4.1. Researchers collected fish, plants, soil, and human body samples to document the presence of radioisotopes deposited from sixty-seven tests, the movement of these isotopes through the food chain and the human body, and the adverse health impact of this radiation on the human body.

(Keep reading ...)

Harper Still Passing The Buck ...

... and evading his responsibilities as Prime Minister of Canada, again with regards to Omar Khadr.

Competence indeed, Mr. Prime Douchebag.

Afghanistan: History Being (Re)Enacted

It's déjà vu all over again ...

Back in this older post, I opined on the matter of trying to understand the history of Afghanistan, its wars and failed occupations, after having already invaded and occupied the country - therefore constituting nothing more than an empty exercize seeking hindsight while sinking deeper and deeper into the quagmire already well jumped into.

The following article essentially explores the same theme, albeit more exhaustively:

Kabul 30 Years Ago, and Kabul Today. Have We Learned Nothing?
'Terrorists' were in Soviet sights; now they are in the Americans'.

by Robert Fisk

I sit on the rooftop of the old Central Hotel - pharaonic-decorated elevator, unspeakable apple juice, sublime green tea, and armed Tajik guards at the front door - and look out across the smoky red of the Kabul evening. The Bala Hissar fort glows in the dusk, massive portals, the great keep to which the British army should have moved its men in 1841. Instead, they felt the king should live there and humbly built a cantonment on the undefended plain, thus leading to a "signal catastrophe".

Like automated birds, the kites swoop over the rooftops. Yes, the kite-runners of Kabul, minus Hollywood. At night, the thump of American Sikorsky helicopters and the whisper of high-altitude F-18s invade my room. The United States of America is settling George Bush's scores with the "terrorists" trying to overthrow Hamid Karzai's corrupt government.

Now rewind almost 29 years, and I am on the balcony of the Intercontinental Hotel on the other side of this great, cold, fuggy city. Impeccable staff, frozen Polish beer in the bar, secret policemen in the front lobby, Russian troops parked in the forecourt. The Bala Hissar fort glimmers through the smoke. The kites - green seems a favourite colour - move beyond the trees. At night, the thump of Hind choppers and the whisper of high-altitude MiGs invade my room. The Soviet Union is settling Leonid Brezhnev's scores with the "terrorists" trying to overthrow Barbrak Karmal's corrupt government.

Thirty miles north, all those years ago, a Soviet general told us of the imminent victory over the "terrorists" in the mountains, imperialist "remnants" - the phrase Kabul communist radio always used - who were being supported by America and Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

Fast forward to 2001 - just seven years ago - and an American general told us of the imminent victory over the "terrorists" in the mountains, the all but conquered Taliban who were being supported by Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. The Russian was pontificating at the big Soviet airbase at Bagram. The American general was pontificating at the big US airbase at Bagram.

This is not déjà-vu. This is déjà double-vu. And it gets worse.

Almost 29 years ago, the Afghan "mujahedin" began a campaign to end the mixed schooling of boys and girls in the remote mountain passes, legislation pushed through by successive communist governments. Schools were burned down. Outside Jalalabad, I found a headmaster and his headmistress wife burned to death. Today, the Afghan Taliban are campaigning to end the mixed schooling of boys and girls - indeed the very education of young women - across the great deserts of Kandahar and Helmand. Schools have been burned down. Teachers have been executed.

As the Soviets began to suffer more and more casualties, their officers boasted of the increasing prowess of the Afghan National Army, the ANA. Infiltrated though they were by the "mujahedin", Moscow gave them newer tanks and helped to train new battalions to take on the guerrillas outside the capital.

Fast forward to now. As the Americans and British suffer ever greater casualties, their officers boast of the increasing prowess of the ANA. Infiltrated though they are by the Taliban, America and other Nato states are providing them with newer equipment and training new battalions to take on the guerrillas outside the capital. Back in January of 1980, I could take a bus from Kabul to Kandahar. Seven years later, the broken highway was haunted by "mujahedin" fighters and bandits and the only safe way to travel to Kandahar was by air.

In the immediate aftermath of America's arrival here in 2001, I could take a bus from Kabul to Kandahar. Now, seven years later, the highway - rebuilt on the express instructions of George W but already cracked and swamped with sand - is haunted by Taliban fighters and bandits and the only safe way to travel to Kandahar is by air.

(Keep reading ...)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

APOV's Weekly Revue (01/23/2008)

That's right folks - time yet again for Teh Weekly Revue!

Oh, Canada!
Harper's non-self aware vision of his (non)mandate;

What lurks beneath Harper's outlining of his (non)mandate;

Harper's (non)sense of the future;

The sickness in Harper's "brain";

Harper's heart: no empathy allowed;

Harper and Flaherty - fiscal charlatans;

Harper and his stock market tips: blatant incompetence.
(You know - maybe I should've simply called this section "Oh, Harper!". But I digress ...)

Oh, USA!
The real Bush doctrine;

G.O.P.: rise of the wingnuts;

G.O.P. wingnuts: losing themselves further down the rabbit hole;

The Pentagon and its cronies are seeking to buy flying submarines;

The Pentagon and its cronies unveil a new scam: the "4% Freedom" sales pitch;

Meet the archetype of the White House suck-up;

Saying no to "enemy combatants" through actual, bona fides legal interpretation of the law;

The change that's really needed;

Economy: pass on the bad medicine;

The Bush Economic "Miracle";

U.S.A.: taser nation.

Oh, History!
The massacre for which Thanksgiving is named.

Oh, World!
Peace - what is it good for?

And on this note ends Teh Weekly Revue for this Sunday, November 23rd 2008.

(P.S. My apologies for being inactive this week-end blogwise - I was busy visiting family. I'll try to pick back my usual pace starting tomorrow ...)

Friday, November 21, 2008

There is no Country

"Patriotism is the last vestige of Scoundrels"
Benjamin Franklin.

"Follow the Money"
Molly Ivans

"There is no spoon"
The Matrix

Shut the door, quickly! Keep your voice down, man. These things have to be spoken about with extreme caution. Cell phones, off, and remove your batteries. GPS and all.

Settle down, listen up. We may only get to meet like this once.

"If you follow the money, there is no Patriotism, there is no Country"

There have always been the Elites. The moneyed, the entitled. For centuries, they worked under the guise of Country, even while using Imperialism to amass more wealth. They had to work, use and employ the Patriotism of Country to do so. They needed the armies.

Not anymore, man, not anymore.

The game has gone Global.

Even the CEO's with their jets are just well-paid house slaves to keep the Masters comfortable. They believe the illusion, too.

Shhh. Hear me out. The CEO's are patsies.

They aren't the real power. They are the curtains. They are their Seconds taking the lance for their Knights. Hubris filled, thinking they are protecting their own power and minuscule wealth; they fight their own people.

This is a new age. I've talked about it before.

The Bin Ladens, the Bush's, the Royal Families of Kuwait, The House of Saud, sure there are visible members of the Elites... but what I am telling you is that there are more, generations of more, whose names you will never know.

It matters not a whit to them whether their serfs are Vietnamese, Chinese or from India. They can with a click of their mouse, put their wealth in any Country on the Globe.

The rich don't have borders. They have moves.

It matters not who their market is either. 45%ish of GM's market is overseas, anyway.

So, right now, as India's buying power is rising, thats where they sell. When they ask too many wages, the jobs will move elsewhere, and the market will follow.

Thing is, it is no longer, "Whats good for General Motors is good for America." It's what's good for the elites is good for the elites.

They don't even have to follow the illusion of Patriotism, because they no longer need our armies and our public permission to play Globally. Whether or not the US Government says so.

I know, you 're thinking if we restored accountability to those offices, we could take back some reins. Not so much, my dear friends.

Hey, keep those curtains closed. You want Blackwater, Crescent or Vinnell looking in?

They have private armies now.

Anyway, America has become a pain in their ass. Its expendable now.

They need to break the masses down. They need us to be a Third World Country, and after a time, when we are willing to work for slave wages, they'll come back.

See, they can play the loop endlessly Globally. Pay tiny wages, increase bit by bit, making people able to buy your product, and then move the shell game elsewhere when it gets too expensive.

I've talked about that before, too. They left China for Vietnam, the cost of moving a factory was less than paying inflated wages.

Right now, its a series of slow-motion sieges.

Do you really think they give a fuck who is in any office here anymore? Sure, to the extent that some are more easily made into a house-boy than others. But really? Really? All can be brought to their knees with the money. The assets. The food. Or Weapons.

Wars are an illusion to them too, just profits, and ways to bring people to bay, for their next crop. Think about how we invest in every Country we have ever fought.

"They've all gone to look for America"
Paul Simon

"She's not There"
The Zombies.

Yeah, I know I shouldn't be making a joke right now.

But we can no longer have "Let them eat cake" rebellions in any one Country. They can just play elsewhere until we collapse upon ourselves.

The only way to break the cycle is to go after the source, dig? Shhhhhh. Its Class Warfare. They have created Global Warfare on the People.

We are just fodder, have been for a long time, only now they don't have to placate any Country, any Citizenship, any so-called Patriotism. Their only loyalty is to themselves.

Their only question is "Where to next?"

"As if I really didn't understand
That I was just another part of their plan
I went off looking for the promise
Believing in the Motherland"

Jackson Browne

Yeah, he almost got it right, but the disillusioned with Vietnam boy missed that even the war was for profit, and she ain't gonna "Come around" or "find her conscience" as a Country.

There are no Countries any more.

You can't bend it until you realize that much.

There are only the People, and without us as a commodity, without us as a crop they will wither.

All we can do is fight back locally.

That is, until we manage to remind the People everywhere THERE IS NO COUNTRY and get them with us as People.


The only way to win is to fight back Globally.

The rest? The Patriotism, is fucking illusion, dudes. Always. Was. That ended when Man stopped traveling in small Tribes.

We get all excited thinking we can make ourselves exceptional and proud again.

That was always a shadow on the cave wall.

In the past, they had to give us more, when they had nowhere else to play, that's all. They no longer have to. Period.


They have never cared about us. They played along with our strikes, had to make concessions until they could bring all the World's other Elites on board with Them.

They are a United Front now.

So must we be.

There is no Country, man.

There is Them. There is Us.

There are no Countries.

This concludes our meeting. Pass it on, but pass it carefully.