Sunday, December 30, 2007

Guest post by Jean Genet

Quelques poètes, de nos jours, se livrent a une très curieuse opération: ils chantent le Peuple, la Liberté, la Révolution, etc., qui, d'etre chantés, sont précipités puis cloués sur un ciel abstrait ou ils figurent, déconfits et dégonflés, en de difformes constellations. Désincarnés, ils deviennent intouchables. Comment les approcher, les aimer, les vivre, s'ils sont expédiés si magnifiquement loin? Ecrits, parfois somptueusement, ils deviennent les signes constitutifs d'un poème, la poésie étant nostalgie et le chant détruisant son prétexte, nos poètes, tuent ce qu'ils voulaient faire vivre.
Hermetically under siege, after decades of occupation and years of Intifada in which Israel destroyed the little infrastructure that the Strip ever had, following many months of total embargo on everything except basic food products, which brought the economy to a halt, with daily invasions of Israeli tanks and extra-judicial killings by Israeli airplanes, and now with gasoline supplies cut and electricity supply to be reduced soon, the Gaza Strip (1.5 million people, 80 percent refugees) is no longer the world's biggest open-air prison. It's a huge laboratory for human experimentation, run by the Israeli army.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Then they came for the Nordic blondes...

...and I was silent, for my hair was mousey-brown. (Besides, I was planning a winter break in Miami.)

The story of Eva Ósk Arnardóttir.

Friday, December 14, 2007


With the help of a theremin, John Otway makes his body talk:

With the help of a mutant guitar, Otway does Sweet's 'Blockbuster':

Conspiracy Praxis: Government fabricated terror group

Stand easy: it was only the Egyptian government. (Them Muslims, eh?) Couldn't happen here. of course.

(Strangely enough, that cant term and all-purpose thoughtstopper "conspiracy theory" does not appear once in this BBC piece - just as it never appeared in any British media report on Putin's alleged involvement in the assassinations of Russian journalists abroad. Why not? An unfathomable mystery.)

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Why do they hate us?

Guantanamo prisoner cut his throat with sharpened fingernail, survives


GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba - A Guantanamo Bay prisoner slashed his throat with a sharpened fingernail last month, spilling a lot of blood but surviving, a U.S. military commander said Tuesday.

Guards administered first aid and took the prisoner to the prison clinic, said navy Cmdr. Andrew Haynes, the deputy commander in charge of the guard force.

"There was an impressive effusion of blood," Haynes told reporters visiting the base. He would not disclose the man's name or nationality. A medical officer, who could not be identified under military rules for journalists, said the prisoner received several stitches and spent a week under psychiatric observation.

There have been four suicides since the United States opened the military prison at Guantanamo in January 2002 for men suspected of involvement in terrorism or links to al-Qaida and the Taliban.

Haynes said he doubted the latest incident was a real suicide attempt, and characterized it instead as an act of "self-harm."

The incident occurred while the man was taking his daily five-minute shower in early November, around the time when more than two dozen journalists were visiting Guantanamo for a military court hearing.

Haynes said there have been up to half-dozen "self-harm incidents" in the two months he has been assigned to Guantanamo Bay. He described suicide as a "paramount tactic" used by prisoners to discredit U.S. forces. But defence lawyers and human rights groups say the suicides are a result of the prisoners' despair.

Many of the 305 men held at Guantanamo have been there for more than five years without charge. The military has said it plans to prosecute up to 80 of the prisoners.

In other developments, a Guantanamo prison manual from 2004 that was posted anonymously on the Internet on Tuesday indicated that some detainees were prevented from having any contact with representatives from the International Committee of the Red Cross. The military said it could not immediately confirm the document's authenticity.


The New York Times adds:

Commander Haynes said there had been four to six occurrences in the last two months in which detainees harmed themselves, a rate that he said was consistent with recent experience. Those instances show that a potentially deadly struggle between detainees and their jailers continues, largely out of public view. One detainee committed suicide in May, after three other suicides the previous June, and there have also been numerous suicide attempts.


In interviews with reporters Tuesday, officials said nine detainees remained on hunger strikes and were being force-fed daily. The detainee engaged in the longest of the hunger strikes, the officials said, has been force-fed for 816 days.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Friday, November 02, 2007

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

NAPLES (Reuters) -
Ecuador's leftist President Rafael Correa said Washington must let him open a military base in Miami if the United States wants to keep using an air base on Ecuador's Pacific coast. Correa has refused to renew Washington's lease on the Manta air base, set to expire in 2009. U.S. officials say it is vital for counter-narcotics surveillance operations on Pacific drug-running routes. "We'll renew the base on one condition: that they let us put a base in Miami -- an Ecuadorean base," Correa said in an interview during a trip to Italy. "If there's no problem having foreign soldiers on a country's soil, surely they'll let us have an Ecuadorean base in the United States."

Time Porn

There are all kinds of porn other than sex porn. Since 1980, Hollywood has made mostly redemption-through-violence porn and happy-ending porn. Some TV shows, like Seinfeld, are time porn, indulging a stressed-out audience with characters who are free to just hang out all day.

The Freedom to Serve and the Freedom to Starve

“America touts itself as the land of the free, but the number one freedom that you and I have is the freedom to enter into a subservient role in the workplace. Once you exercise this freedom you’ve lost all control over what you do, what is produced, and how it is produced. And in the end, the product doesn’t belong to you. The only way you can avoid bosses and jobs is if you don’t care about making a living. Which leads to the second freedom: the freedom to starve.”

Friday, October 19, 2007

Ruling Class/ History

... this proposition, that the Ruling Class already has the knowledge 'we' have, that they are not ideological dupes sleepwalking through their acts of corporate vandalism etc but soberly and even cynically ensconced behind ideological spin, this is almost universally resisted by the intellectual classes. They think it unsophisticated, vulgar, conceptually uninteresting. For some reason, they want to think that the ruling class is stupid. As if their own knowledge was - politically speaking - enough. Not at all. Their own knowledge implies no political position. ONly active commitment will do.

....To be serious about theoretical reflection is to be ready to engage in a tremendous labour of detail, the sifting through all kinds of cultural and historical minutiae. With a microscope and telescope at once, maintain perpetual vigilance against the self-evidence of the contemporary moment. Dig into its contingency. What is unserious is to wonder around wide-eyed in the bazaar of the present pointing to endless examples of one’s pet concepts – ooh look, another instance of the Big Other! These New Concepts that can never drink their fill of examples!!


Thursday, October 11, 2007

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

"Everybody loves you when you're six foot in the ground."

"In hindsight it's easy to mock Lennon for his political pretensions; indeed, those born since 1975 will probably be mystified that a pop star could ever have been taken so seriously as to become a prized figurehead for radical movements, let alone monitored by the security agencies of Britain and America. The key word here is "radical". Nowadays, there is neither an equivalent to the radical politics of the early Seventies nor anything that begins to approach the extent to which such radicalism was then de rigueur for young thinking people."
- the late Ian McDonald on John Lennon, born 67 years ago today.


Greenhouse gas emissions hit danger mark

SYDNEY (Reuters) - The global economic boom has accelerated greenhouse gas emissions to a dangerous threshold not expected for a decade and could potentially cause irreversible climate change, said one of Australia's leading scientists.

Tim Flannery, a world recognized climate change scientist and Australian of the Year in 2007, said a U.N. international climate change report due in November will show that greenhouse gases have already reached a dangerous level.

Flannery said the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report will show that greenhouse gas in the atmosphere in mid-2005 had reached about 455 parts per million of carbon dioxide equivalent -- a level not expected for another 10 years.

"We thought we'd be at that threshold within about a decade," Flannery told Australian television late on Monday.

"We thought we had that much time. But the new data indicates that in about mid-2005 we crossed that threshold," he said.


Flannery said global economic expansion, particularly in China and India, was a major factor behind the unexpected acceleration in greenhouse gas levels. ...

- continues here

Monday, October 08, 2007

October 9, 1967

Mario Terán was the Bolivian Army sergeant who executed revolutionary Che Guevara as a young man on October 9, 1967. He had drawn a short straw after arguments over who would kill Guevara broke out among the soldiers. In 2006, Terán was treated for cataracts by Cuban physicians in the Cuba-Venezuela Operación Milagro (Operation Miracle) program, which restored his sight. This was first revealed when Terán's son wrote a letter to the Santa Cruz de la Sierra newspaper El Deber thanking the Cuban doctors. In 2007 it gained wider attention when Granma (the official newspaper of the Communist Party of Cuba) reported the treatment, opining that "Four decades after Mario Terán attempted to destroy a dream and an idea, Che returns to win yet another battle...Now an old man, he [Terán] can once again appreciate the colors of the sky and the forest, enjoy the smiles of his grandchildren and watch football games."

Revisionist Daydreaming

Women's suffrage? Big mistake: "If we took away women's right to vote, we'd never have to worry about another Democrat president. It's kind of a pipe dream, it's a personal fantasy of mine, but I don’t think it's going to happen."

Social movements of the past? Liquidate retroactively: "In this election, we're going to find out if the heritage of May 68 is going to be perpetuated or if it will be liquidated once and forever."

Invasion of Iraq? Sensible idea after all: "You know, I've thought for a long time that Obama's not in quite as strong a position on the war in Iraq as he really thinks he is. Remember, when he famously came out against the war, it was back in a time when the entire world believed that Saddam Hussein in Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, that he would probably be willing to use them himself at some time or pass them along to terrorists who would use them. And yet, Barack Obama was against going to the war at that point. I don't think that shows that he is very strong on national security, which he needs to be."

Slavery? Maybe not as bad as you thought: "There is no reason to believe that today's African-Americans would be better off if their ancestors had remained behind in Africa."

Friday, October 05, 2007

I'm Not Sure We Could Really Do Anything About These People Now

Contractors take on expanded role in drug warBy Katherine McIntire Peters September 12, 2007 Late last month, the Pentagon tapped five major defense contractors to provide wide-ranging support in global counter-narcotics operations. The contract, worth up to $15 billion over the next five years, illustrates the extent to which the Defense Department is relying on contractors to perform critical missions while combat forces are stretched thin by operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In response to specific task orders issued under the indefinite delivery indefinite quantity contract, companies will develop and deploy new surveillance technologies, train and equip foreign security forces and provide key administrative, logistical and operational support to Defense and other agencies such as the Drug Enforcement Administration.
According to the work statement provided to bidders, the vast majority of the drive will be conducted overseas.
"The contractor shall provide security and related services in support of [counter-narcoterrorism and] related missions to include, but not limited to, intelligence, medical, logistics, canine services, surveillance, counter-surveillance, aerial over-watch, security advisory, etc. The services may be incidental to other activities (i.e., training programs, construction, etc.) or the primary purpose of the [task order]," the statement said.
Three task orders included in the request for proposals issued last December give some sense of the contract's scope:
The first task order requires the contractor to develop and install high-resolution shortwave infrared cameras and all necessary appurtenances on two types of aircraft. A second requires the contractor to provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance support in Trans-Saharan Africa by identifying the best platform and sensor suite; designing, building, operating and maintaining a base of operations; and providing various analytical reports. A third "sample" task order requires the contractor to develop a program to train border police in Afghanistan to guard crossings, prevent the flow of contraband, and search people and vehicles.
All contractor personnel must have security clearances for handling classified information, and some must possess clearances for special access programs, including those at the Top Secret/sensitive compartmented information level.
Awardees include Raytheon Technical Services Co., Lockheed Martin Co., Northrop Grumman Corp., Arinc Inc., and Blackwater USA. The contract was let by the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command on Aug. 24 on behalf of the Pentagon's Counter-Narcoterrorism Technology Program Office.
The mission of the counter-narcoterrorism office is to "develop and deploy technology that aids disrupting, deterring and denying the flow of drugs, people, information, money and weapons related to illegal drug trafficking and narcoterrorism," according to a 2003 Pentagon memo that expanded the charter. The office was formerly known as the DoD Counterdrug Technology Development Program Office.
While contractors have long supported federal counternarcotics programs, the scope of requirements in the contract issued last month is new. In late February 2006, Space and Missile Defense Command issued a "sources sought" document seeking information from industry about the support that contractors could provide for the counter-drug mission.
Two months later, at an industry briefing in April, Defense officials estimated that the value of the contract would be $500 million to $750 million per year over five years, according to briefing documents. Clearly, the Pentagon's requirements expanded between that briefing and last December, when Defense issued its request for proposals.
As the work statement in the request noted: "Due to the rapid adaptability of the counter-narcoterrorist threat, special federal government spending authorities are available to the [deputy assistant secretary of Defense for counter-narcoterrorism]."

Revealed: CIA offered $2m to Lockerbie witness and brother

The Lockerbie case stinks nearly as badly as the 9/11 cover-up. Years ago, a former Scottish police chief confirmed that evidence had been planted by the CIA. Nothing was done. Now comes this, from the Glasgow Herald:

Revealed: CIA offered $2m to Lockerbie witness and brother

Exclusive by LUCY ADAMS, Chief Reporter October 03 2007

The CIA offered $2m (£1m) to the Crown's key witness in the Lockerbie trial and his brother, sources close to the case have told The Herald.

Recently discovered papers show Scottish police officers investigating the 1988 bombing were aware the US intelligence service had discussed financial terms and witness protection schemes with Tony Gauci and his brother, Paul.

They documented the talks and it would have been standard practice for such information to have been relayed to the prosecution team before the trial of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi, the Libyan serving 27 years for the bombing.

However, his defence team was never told of the CIA offer, in what critics say is another example of non-disclosure that undermines the credibility of Mr Gauci and, in turn, the Crown's case against Megrahi.

It has not been confirmed that the brothers accepted any money, but the fact that an offer was made is directly relevant to the credibility of Tony Gauci, who became the lynchpin of the case. Paul was never called as a witness.

The latest remarkable twist comes a day after The Herald revealed a top-secret document vital to the truth about Lockerbie was obtained by the Crown but never disclosed to the defence.

The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission found that document during its three-year investigation, which concluded earlier this year that Megrahi should have a fresh appeal.

The document, thought to be from the CIA, contains highly classified information about the MST13 timer which allegedly detonated the bomb. The Crown, for national security [sic] reasons, is still refusing to hand the material over to the defence.

An offer of remuneration by the US agency could be explained by the political imperative then for the US and Britain to secure a conviction for Lockerbie. At the time, Libya was very much a hostile nation, unlike the more relaxed links between Tripoli and the West which now prevail.

Yesterday in Edinburgh, the defence lodged its case with the appeal court and a preliminary hearing has been set for a week tomorrow.

The defence team also lodged a specification of documents order, demanding the Crown release the classified document. Prosecutors are expected to challenge the appeal, despite the weight of new evidence.

A source close to the case said: "We understand the commission found new documents which refer to discussions between the US intelligence agency and the Gaucis and that the sum involved was as much as $2m.

"Even if they did not receive the money, the fact these discussions took place should have been divulged to the defence."

The Herald has also seen copies of an agreement with the US government and signed by a senior member of the Crown Office, agreeing not to disclose certain material.

Norman McFadyen, then one of the leading members of the prosecution team and now the Crown Agent, signed the non-disclosure agreement on June 1, 2000.

James Chalmers, a senior lecturer in law at Edinburgh University, said if a member of the Crown agreed not to disclose material shown by a foreign government, it called its worth into question.

"This would raise questions about whether the right to a fair trial has been breached. And if a witness were offered money before giving evidence, this could undermine their credibility.

"It would certainly need to be put to the witness under cross-examination. If such information was not disclosed to the defence, that could give rise to a miscarriage of justice. It is an issue of credibility."

Dr Jim Swire, whose daughter Flora died in the tragedy, said: "It is shocking to me that if after 19 years of trying to get to the truth about who murdered my daughter, national security is being used as an excuse."

A spokesman for the Crown Office has previously declined to comment on the case
saying it would be "wholly inappropriate" while it is before the appeal court.

America: A Corporation Before It Was A Country

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Welcome to the Desert of the Unreal

I have a section in the book about how lies in a fascist shift serve a different purpose than they do in a democracy. In a democracy, people lie to deceive. In a fascist shift, lies serve to disorient. Lies in the service of a fascist shift make it hard for citizens to trust their own judgment about what's real and what's not. Once citizens don't know what's real and what's not real, they are profoundly disempowered. The Bush administration seems to have learned that lesson, and they regularly name things the opposite. And there's a long historical precedent for making people feel that there is no such thing as truth.

School Days

In a racist, terroristic police state.

The Spook Who Sat By The Door

via Zuky

Review at PopMatters.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Friday, September 21, 2007

Alisher Usmanov

Craig Murray's web site host pulled his blog because of the following post (via Lenin, see also):

Alisher Usmanov, potential Arsenal chairman, is a Vicious Thug, Criminal, Racketeer, Heroin Trafficker and Accused Rapist

I thought I should make my views on Alisher Usmanov quite plain to you. You are unlikely to see much plain talking on Usmanov elsewhere in the media becuase he has already used his billions and his lawyers in a pre-emptive strike. They have written to all major UK newspapers, including the latter:

“Mr Usmanov was imprisoned for various offences under the old Soviet regime. We wish to make it clear our client did not commit any of the offences with which he was charged. He was fully pardoned after President Mikhail Gorbachev took office. All references to these matters have now been expunged from police records . . . Mr Usmanov does not have any criminal record.”

Let me make it quite clear that Alisher Usmanov is a criminal. He was in no sense a political prisoner, but a gangster and racketeer who rightly did six years in jail. The lawyers cunningly evoke "Gorbachev", a name respected in the West, to make us think that justice prevailed. That is completely untrue.

Usmanov's pardon was nothing to do with Gorbachev. It was achieved through the growing autonomy of another thug, President Karimov, at first President of the Uzbek Soviet Socilist Republic and from 1991 President of Uzbekistan. Karimov ordered the "Pardon" because of his alliance with Usmanov's mentor, Uzbek mafia boss and major international heroin overlord Gafur Rakimov. Far from being on Gorbachev's side, Karimov was one of the Politburo hardliners who had Gorbachev arrested in the attempted coup that was thwarted by Yeltsin standing on the tanks outside the White House.

Usmanov is just a criminal whose gangster connections with one of the World's most corrupt regimes got him out of jail. He then plunged into the "privatisation" process at a time when gangster muscle was used to secure physical control of assets, and the alliance between the Russian Mafia and Russian security services was being formed.

Usmanov has two key alliances. he is very close indeed to President Karimov, and especially to his daughter Gulnara. It was Usmanov who engineered the 2005 diplomatic reversal in which the United States was kicked out of its airbase in Uzbekistan and Gazprom took over the country's natural gas assets. Usmanov, as chairman of Gazprom Investholdings paid a bribe of $88 million to Gulnara Karimova to secure this. This is set out on page 366 of Murder in Samarkand.

Alisher Usmanov had risen to chair of Gazprom Investholdings because of his close personal friendship with Putin, He had accessed Putin through Putin's long time secretary and now chef de cabinet, Piotr Jastrzebski. Usmanov and Jastrzebski were roommates at college. Gazprominvestholdings is the group that handles Gazproms interests outside Russia, Usmanov's role is, in effect, to handle Gazprom's bribery and sleaze on the international arena, and the use of gas supply cuts as a threat to uncooperative satellite states.

Gazprom has also been the tool which Putin has used to attack internal democracy and close down the independent media in Russia. Gazprom has bought out - with the owners having no choice - the only independent national TV station and numerous rgional TV stations, several radio stations and two formerly independent national newspapers. These have been changed into slavish adulation of Putin. Usmanov helped accomplish this through Gazprom. The major financial newspaper, Kommersant, he bought personally. He immediately replaced the editor-in-chief with a pro-Putin hack, and three months later the long-serving campaigning defence correspondent, Ivan Safronov, mysteriously fell to his death from a window.

All this, both on Gazprom and the journalist's death, is set out in great detail here:

Usmanov is also dogged by the widespread belief in Uzbekistan that he was guilty of a particularly atrocious rape, which was covered up and the victim and others in the know disappeared. The sad thing is that this is not particularly remarkable. Rape by the powerful is an everyday hazard in Uzbekistan, again as outlined in Murder in Samarkand page 120. If anyone has more detail on the specific case involving Usmanov please add a comment.

I reported back in 2002 or 2003 in an Ambassadorial top secret telegram to the Foreign Office that Usmanov was the most likely favoured successor of President Karimov as totalitarian leader of Uzbekistan. I also outlined the Gazprom deal (before it happened) and the present by Usmanov to Putin (though in Jastrzebski's name) of half of Mapobank, a Russian commercial bank owned by Usmanov. I will never forget the priceless reply from our Embassy in Moscow. They said that they had never even heard of Alisher Usmanov, and that Jastrzebski was a jolly nice friend of the Ambassador who would never do anything crooked.

Sadly, I expect the football authorities will be as purblind. Football now is about nothing but money, and even Arsenal supporters - as tight-knit and homespun a football community as any - can be heard saying they don't care where the money comes from as long as they can compete with Chelsea.

I fear that is very wrong. Letting as diseased a figure as Alisher Usmanov into your club can only do harm in the long term.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


He ought have asked it, I guess, in cartoons.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Saturday, September 15, 2007


"I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil."


To understand what’s really happening in Iraq, follow the oil money, which already knows that the surge has failed.

Back in January, announcing his plan to send more troops to Iraq, President Bush declared that “America will hold the Iraqi government to the benchmarks it has announced.”

Near the top of his list was the promise that “to give every Iraqi citizen a stake in the country’s economy, Iraq will pass legislation to share oil revenues among all Iraqis.”

There was a reason he placed such importance on oil: oil is pretty much the only thing Iraq has going for it. Two-thirds of Iraq’s G.D.P. and almost all its government revenue come from the oil sector. Without an agreed system for sharing oil revenues, there is no Iraq, just a collection of armed gangs fighting for control of resources.

Well, the legislation Mr. Bush promised never materialized, and on Wednesday attempts to arrive at a compromise oil law collapsed.

What’s particularly revealing is the cause of the breakdown. Last month the provincial government in Kurdistan, defying the central government, passed its own oil law; last week a Kurdish Web site announced that the provincial government had signed a production-sharing deal with the Hunt Oil Company of Dallas, and that seems to have been the last straw.

Now here’s the thing: Ray L. Hunt, the chief executive and president of Hunt Oil, is a close political ally of Mr. Bush. More than that, Mr. Hunt is a member of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, a key oversight body.

Some commentators have expressed surprise at the fact that a businessman with very close ties to the White House is undermining U.S. policy. But that isn’t all that surprising, given this administration’s history. Remember, Halliburton was still signing business deals with Iran years after Mr. Bush declared Iran a member of the “axis of evil.”

Friday, September 14, 2007

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Osama yo mama

From atol letters:

The man with the dyed beard returns [Sep 11] by Ramzy Baroud alludes to the group that translated the recent [Osama] bin Laden video, but no more. A little time spent searching for details about SITE [Search for International Terrorist Entities] finds the following info about SITE and one of its founders, Rita Katz. From Source Watch: "The Terrorism Library, on cursory investigation, looks to be a straight data scrape from the US Department of State's Patterns of Global Terrorism - 2003, Appendix B. The list of publications often provides a very short synopsis of a news item, with a reference given for a translation from their premium service; [at] other times they offer full mirrors of news items, poorly marked up. Rita Katz is director and co-founder of the SITE Institute. Born in Iraq, her father was tried and executed as an Israeli spy, whereupon her family moved to Israel [the move has been described as both an escape and an emigration in different sources]. She received a degree from the Middle Eastern studies program at Tel Aviv University, and is fluent in Hebrew and Arabic. She emigrated to the US in 1997. Katz was called as a witness in the trial, but the government didn't claim she was a terrorism expert. During the trial it was discovered that Katz herself had worked in violation of her visa agreement when she first arrived in [the United States of] America in 1997. She also admitted to receiving more than [US]$130,000 for her work as an FBI [US Federal Bureau of Investigation] consultant on the case." It was telling that CNN, when airing the latest video from BL, never mentioned once who performed the translation. An article in the New York Times credits SITE with the translation. Guess they didn't want to get into sticky details, like the one that the head of SITE, Rita Katz's father, was executed for being an Israeli spy. Or that Katz has been receiving money from the FBI. But that wouldn't influence anyone's impartiality, now would it? And that bin Laden: the last time he appeared, the Republicans were needing help in the 2004 presidential elections. Now he appears just as the Republicans are needing help continuing the war against Iraq and selling the next war against Iran. Boy oh boy, is that BL clever or what? He should go to work for the CIA [US Central Intelligence Agency].
Greg Bacon
Ava, Missouri (Sep 12, '07)

Catastrophically Competent

Naomi Klein: Why failure is the new face of success

"So while the reconstruction of Iraq was certainly a failure for Iraqis and for US taxpayers, it has been anything but for the disaster capitalism complex. Made possible by the September 11 attacks, the war in Iraq represented nothing less than the violent birth of a new economy. This was the genius of Rumsfeld's "transformation" plan: since every possible aspect of both destruction and reconstruction has been outsourced and privatised, there is an economic boom when the bombs start falling, when they stop and when they start up again - a closed profit-loop of destruction and reconstruction, of tearing down and building up. For companies that are clever and far-sighted, such as Halliburton and the Carlyle Group, the destroyers and rebuilders are different divisions of the same corporations."

Monday, September 10, 2007

Truly Mos Def

Bill Maher: You don't think Bin Laden knocked down the World Trade Center?

Mos Def: Absolutely Not!

Bill Maher: Come aaaawn...

Mos Def: I don't! I don't. I don't. I don't - and in any barber shop I am so not alone. I am so not alone.

Jana Aranya

part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6, part 7, part 8, part 9, part 10, part 11, part 12, part 13, part 14, part 15, part 16

Saturday, September 08, 2007

BBC: Osama is neither dead nor dyeing

What's wrong with this beard?

The BBC's comedy security correspondent Frank Gardner is here to help:

"analysts have suggested that, rather than being dyed, it may be actually false, and that to help avoid detection he is clean-shaven these days."

Journalistic rubbish??

i heartily agree that GCC countries are useless at monetary and fiscal policy, and, well, at everything else, which is why any talk of economic, let alone monetary union is simply quite absurd..

i noticed subtle propaganda/disinformation in that exclusive article so I promptly emailed the author..

To my pleasant surprise, he replied the same day (from his Bloomberg Mobile MSG, no less).

How courteous and professional, but then i should expect that from a company I think has the best ever customer service in the world..

Subject: Re: GCC
Date: 12:32 AM
To: ###############??????????@@@@@@

Islamist terrorism was the perceived threat from iranian islam after the
revolution. Of course this wasn't made explicit in any official documentation.

Sent From Bloomberg Mobile MSG

---- Original Message ----
From: &^*$* ##@
At: 9/8/2007 0:17

You wrote:

"The Gulf Cooperation Council, as the alliance is known, was created in
May 1981 as a military accord to protect members from the Iran-Iraq war
and Islamist terrorism."

From "Islamist" terrorism??

What rubbish.

When you have the time maybe you can lead me to an original 1981
document that mentions this.



Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Pav Teaching

(Susan Mentzer at 22)

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Monday, September 03, 2007

Party Tape

The Life and Times of Alasdair Gray (so far)

Alasdair Gray 0-70, a 25-minute documentary made by Kevin Cameron for the BBC in 2004:

Part One (Early Life & "the possibilities of delight and horror")

Part Two (Art School & the idea of "a fantastic modern Divine Comedy or Pilgrim's Progress, without the religion")

Part Three (Teaching, the dole & "a formidable Danish teenager who accepted my clumsy wooing")

Part Four (Lanark)

Part Five (1982 Janine & the Oran Mor ceiling)

- From Gray's storyboard for a projected film version of

Lanark: A Life in Four Books:

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Conspiracy Praxis: Lockerbie

From today's Observer. (The priceless reference to "conspiracy theorists and investigative journalists" in the last paragraph speaks volumes about the current state of journalism.)

Vital Lockerbie evidence 'was tampered with'

Fragments of bomb timer that helped to convict a Libyan ex-agent were 'practically carbonised' before the trial, says bankrupt Swiss businessman

Alex Duval Smith, Europe correspondent
Sunday September 2, 2007

The Observer

The key piece of material evidence used by prosecutors to implicate Libya in the Lockerbie bombing has emerged as a probable fake.

Nearly two decades after Pan Am flight 103 exploded over Scotland on 21 December, 1988, allegations of international political intrigue and shoddy [sic!] investigative work are being levelled at the British government, the FBI and the Scottish police as one of the crucial witnesses, Swiss engineer Ulrich Lumpert, has apparently confessed that he lied about the origins of a crucial 'timer' - evidence that helped tie the man convicted of the bombing to the crime.

The disaster killed 270 people when the London to New York Boeing 747 exploded in mid-air. Britain and theUS blamed Libya, saying that its leader, Colonel Muammar Gadaffi, wanted revenge for the US bombing of Tripoli in 1986. At a trial in the Netherlands in 2001, former Libyan agent Abdulbaset al-Megrahi was jailed for life.

He is currently serving his sentence in Greenock prison, but later this month the Scottish Court of Appeal is expected to hear Megrahi's case, after the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission ruled in June that there was enough evidence to suggest a miscarriage of justice. Lumpert's confession, which was given to police in his home city of Zurich last week, will strengthen Megrahi's appeal.

The Zurich-based Swiss businessman Edwin Bollier, who has spent nearly two decades trying to clear his company's name, is as eager for the appeal as is Megrahi. Bollier's now bankrupt company, Mebo, manufactured the timer switch that prosecutors used to implicate Libya after they said that fragments of it had been found on a Scottish hillside.

Bollier, now 70, admits having done business with Libya. 'Two years before Lockerbie, we sold 20 MST-13 timers to the Libyan military. FBI agents and the Scottish investigators said one of those timers had been used to detonate the bomb. We were shown a fuzzy photograph and I confirmed the fragments looked as though they came from one of our timers.'

However, Bollier was uneasy with the photograph he had been shown and asked to see the fragments. He was finally given permission in 1998 and travelled to Dumfries to see the evidence.
'I was shown fragments of a brown circuit board which matched our prototype. But when the MST-13 went into production, the timers contained green boards. I knew that the timers sold to Libya had green boards. I told the investigators this.'

Back in Switzerland, Bollier's company was in effect bankrupt, having faced a lawsuit from Pan Am and having lost major clients, such as the German federal police to which Mebo supplied communications equipment.

In 2001, Bollier spent five days in the witness box at the Lockerbie trial at Camp Zeist in the Netherlands. 'I was a defence witness, but the trial was so skewed to prove Libyan involvement that the details of what I had to say was ignored. A photograph of the fragments was produced in court and I asked to see the pieces again. When they were brought to me, they were practically carbonised. They had been tampered with since I had seen them in Dumfries.
Few people apart from conspiracy theorists and investigative journalists working on the case were prepared to believe Bollier until the end of last month, when Lumpert, one of his former employees, walked into a Zurich police station and asked to swear an affidavit before a notary.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Come Together

The late Ian McDonald on the Beatles, the Sixties, the Left and the Right:

"It was hard for (Christopher) Booker, or Malcolm Muggeridge, or Mary Whitehouse to understand that much of what appeared to be profane in Sixties youth culture was quite the opposite ... by a devilish paradox, those who thought they were at the cutting edge of social development in the Sixties - the hippies, the New Left - soon found themselves adrift in the wake of the *real* social avant-garde of the period: ordinary people. The individualism of the Me Decade, as Tom Wolfe dubbed the Seventies, was a creation of the Sixties' mass mainstream, not of the peripheral groups which challenged it. Former hippies and radicals who abandoned the utopian 'we' for rueful self-interest in the Seventies, far from leading public taste, were merely tagging along behind it. As for the punks, their blurt of betrayal in 1976-8 was apprehended by the comfortable, sensible majority of Western society with no more than mystified amusement.

The irony of modern right-wing antipathy to the Sixties is that this much-misunderstood decade was, in all but the most superficial senses, the creation of the very people who voted for Thatcher and Reagan in the Eighties. It is, to put it mildly, curious to hear Thatcherites condemn a decade in which ordinary folk for the first time aspired to individual self-determination and a life of material security within an economy of high development and low inflation. The social fragmentation of the Nineties which rightly alarms conservatives was created neither by the hippies (who wanted us to "be together") nor by the New Left radicals (all of whom were socialists of some description). So far as anything in the Sixties can be blamed for the demise of the compound entity of society it was the natural desire of the 'masses' to lead easier, pleasanter lives, own their own homes, follow their own fancies and, as far as possible, move out of the communal collective completely.

The truth is that, once the obsolete Christian compact of the Fifties had broken down, there was nothing - apart from, in the last resort, money - holding Western civilisation together ... It is, in short, no accident that Mrs Thatcher should have founded her outlook on the conviction that society does not exist - and no surprise that her favourite Sixties tune is 'Telstar' by The Tornados, a record symbolising the rise of technology-driven post-war prosperity and mass social emancipation. She and her radicalised, post-consensus Conservative voters are the true heirs of the Sixties. *They* changed the world, not the hippies (and certainly not the New Left). What mass society unconsciously began in the Sixties, Thatcher and Reagan raised to the level of ideology in the Eighties; the complete materialistic individualisation - and total fragmentation - of Western society. Hoist with its own petard, the New Right now seeks to pin the blame for the unhappier aspects of the Sixties' social revolution on groups whose influence on the course of events oover the past quarter of a century has been at best peripheral, at worst non-existent ... When contemporary right-wing pundits attack the Sixties, they identify a momentous overall development but ascribe it to the very forces who most strongly reacted against it. The counterculture was less an agent of chaos than a marginal commentary, a passing attempt to propose alternatives to a waning civilisation ... At their heart, the (Sixties) countercultural revolt against acquisitive selfishness - and, in particular, the hippies' unfashionable perception that we can change the world only by changing ourselves - looks in retrospect like a last gasp of the Western soul. Now radically disunited, we live dominated by and addicted to gadgets, our raison d'etre and sense of community unfixably broken."

Brought up in an age of consensus the like of which I know I'm never going to see, [Ian McDonald] could still remember the days of togetherness - his greatest break with Received Wisdom, and hence his finest moment, was his claim that "All You Need Is Love" was not the start of a new era in Western society but the end of the one that came before, the final moment when Everyone Joined In.

Miles Davis (VI)

Miles Davis (V)

Miles Davis (IV)

Miles Davis (III)

Miles Davis (II)

Miles Davis (I)

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Mission Accomplished

Operation Iraqi Freedom, it turns out, was never a war against Saddam ­Hussein's Iraq. It was an invasion of the federal budget, and no occupying force in history has ever been this efficient. George W. Bush's war in the Mesopotamian desert was an experiment of sorts, a crude first take at his vision of a fully privatized American government. In Iraq the lines between essential government services and for-profit enterprises have been blurred to the point of absurdity -- to the point where wounded soldiers have to pay retail prices for fresh underwear, where modern-day chattel are imported from the Third World at slave wages to peel the potatoes we once assigned to grunts in KP, where private companies are guaranteed huge profits no matter how badly they fuck things up.

And just maybe, reviewing this appalling history of invoicing orgies and million-dollar boondoggles, it's not so far-fetched to think that this is the way someone up there would like things run all over -- not just in Iraq but in Iowa, too, with the state police working for Corrections Corporation of America, and DHL with the contract to deliver every Christmas card. And why not? What the Bush administration has created in Iraq is a sort of paradise of perverted capitalism, where revenues are forcibly extracted from the customer by the state, and obscene profits are handed out not by the market but by an unaccountable government bureauc­racy.


At the very outset of the occupation, when L. Paul Bremer was installed as head of the CPA, one of his first brilliant ideas for managing the country was to have $12 billion in cash flown into Baghdad on huge wooden pallets and stored in palaces and government buildings. To pay contractors, he'd have agents go to the various stashes -- a pile of $200 million in one of Saddam's former palaces was watched by a single soldier, who left the key to the vault in a backpack on his desk when he went out to lunch -- withdraw the money, then crisscross the country to pay the bills. When desperate auditors later tried to trace the paths of the money, one agent could account for only $6,306,836 of some $23 million he'd withdrawn. Bremer's office "acknowledged not having any supporting documentation" for $25 million given to a different agent. A ministry that claimed to have paid 8,206 guards was able to document payouts to only 602. An agent who was told by auditors that he still owed $1,878,870 magically produced exactly that amount, which, as the auditors dryly noted, "suggests that the agent had a reserve of cash."

In short, some $8.8 billion of the $12 billion proved impossible to find. "Who in their right mind would send 360 tons of cash into a war zone?" asked Rep. Henry Waxman, chairman of the House Oversight Committee. "But that's exactly what our government did."


In perhaps the ultimate example of military capitalism, KBR reportedly ran convoys of empty trucks back and forth across the insurgent-laden desert, pointlessly risking the lives of soldiers and drivers so the company could charge the taxpayer for its phantom deliveries. Truckers for KBR, knowing full well that the trips were bullshit, derisively referred to their cargo as "sailboat fuel."


Sometimes the government simply handed out money to companies it made up out of thin air. In 2006, the Army Corps of Engineers found itself unable to award contracts by the September deadline imposed by Congress, meaning it would have to "de-obligate" the money and return it to the government. Rather than suffer that awful fate, the corps obligated $362 million -- spread out over ninety-six different contracts -- to "Dummy Vendor." In their report on the mess, auditors noted that money to nobody "does not constitute proper obligations."

But even obligating money to no one was better than what sometimes happened in Iraq: handing out U.S. funds to the enemy. Since the beginning of the war, rumors have abounded about contractors paying protection money to insurgents to avoid attacks. No less an authority than Ahmed Chalabi, the head of the Iraqi National Congress, claimed that such payoffs are a "significant source" of income for Al Qaeda. Moreover, when things go missing in Iraq -- like bricks of $100 bills, or weapons, or trucks -- it is a fair assumption that some of the wayward booty ends up in the wrong hands. In July, a federal audit found that 190,000 weapons are missing in Iraq -- nearly one out of every three arms supplied by the United States. "These weapons almost certainly ended up on the black market, where they are repurchased by insurgents," says Chatterjee.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Let them eat stone

In February, the BBC reported on "noisy, passionate and angry" mass protests in Mexico, following a 400% rise in the price of corn flour:

President Felipe Calderon has said the government will clamp down on hoarding and speculation to ease the problem. But some blame the rise on demand for corn to make environmentally-friendly biofuels in the United States.


Wheat prices reach record level

Wheat prices have hit record highs on global commodity markets, bringing the threat of rising bread prices. Bad weather in key grain growing areas such as Canada and parts of Europe has limited supplies as demand has risen, sparking fears of a supply shortfall. Surging prices are also expected to have widespread fallout for consumers. While it will mean higher bread prices, it could also trigger an increase in meat and dairy prices as farmers battle to pass on rising feed costs.

Global wheat stockpiles will slip to their lowest levels in 26 years as a result, official US figures predicted earlier this month.

"WHAT 'human price'? Gimme a break!"

John Pilger's 93-minute documentary War on Democracy is available free online at Google Video.

In this three-minute extract, Duane R. 'Dewey' Clarridge, the CIA's chief in Latin America from 1981 to 1984, scoffs at the deaths in Chile under Pinochet and says it was worth it:

PILGER: It was a period which almost everyone in the present moment thinks was a dark time, in which the CIA played a major role.

CLARRIDGE: That's right, they played a major role in overthrowing, uh, wh-wh- whatsisname.

PILGER: 'Whatsisname' was Salvador Allende. He was democratically elected.


PILGER: Is that OK, to overthrow a democratically elected government?

CLARRIDGE: It depends on what your national security interests are.

Thursday, August 23, 2007


(Also: '"Why did you support the Iraq war?" Gerson asked [Kissinger]. "Because Afghanistan wasn't enough," Kissinger answered. In the conflict with radical Islam, he said, they want to humiliate us. "And we need to humiliate them."')

Conspiracy Praxis: The US-UK Energy Dialogue, April 2002

Britain and America’s shared energy fears were secretly formalised during the planning for Iraq. It is widely accepted that Blair’s commitment to support the attack dates back to his summit with Bush at Crawford in April 2002. The Times headline was typical that weekend: Iraq Action Is Delayed But ‘Certain’. What is less well known is that at the same summit Blair proposed and Bush agreed to set up the US-UK Energy Dialogue, a permanent diplomatic liaison dedicated to “energy security and diversity”. No announcement was made, and the Dialogue’s existence was only later exposed through a US Freedom of Information enquiry by Rob Evans and David Hencke of the Guardian.

Both governments continue to refuse to release minutes of meetings between ministers and officials held under the Dialogue, but among some papers that have been released, one dated February 2003 notes that to meet projected world demand, oil production in the Middle East would have to double by 2030 to over 50 million barrels per day, and proposed “a targeted study to examine the capital and investment requirements of key Gulf countries”. So on the eve of the invasion British and American officials were secretly discussing how to raise oil production from the region and we are invited to believe this is mere coincidence. Iraq was evidently not just about corporate greed but strategic desperation.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Conspiracy Praxis (Cops as "anarchists")

At the North American summit in Montebello, Quebec, three masked "anarchists" - at least one of them holding a rock - are exposed by a protest organiser. The three then melt back into police lines, entirely unhindered, where they are gently "forced to the ground" and then led away in handcuffs - without having their masks removed. Later, there is no record of any of them ever having been arrested.

Five-minute YouTube video here.

The Toronto Star reports:

A video, posted on YouTube, shows three young men, their faces masked by bandannas, mingling Monday with protesters in front of a line of police in riot gear. At least one of the masked men is holding a rock in his hand.

The three are confronted by protest organizer Dave Coles, president of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada. Coles makes it clear the masked men are not welcome among his group of protesters, whom he describes as mainly grandparents. He urges them to leave and find their own protest location.

Coles also demands that they put down their rocks. Other protesters begin to chime in that the three are really police agents. Several try to snatch the bandanas from their faces.

Rather than leave, the three actually start edging closer to the police line, where they appear to engage in discussions. They eventually push their way past an officer, whereupon other police shove them to the ground and handcuff them.

Late Tuesday, photographs taken by another protester surfaced, showing the trio lying prone on the ground. The photos show the soles of their boots adorned by yellow triangles. A police officer kneeling beside the men has an identical yellow triangle on the sole of his boot.

Kevin Skerrett, a protester with the group Nowar-Paix, said the photos and video together present powerful evidence that the men were actually undercover police officers. "I think the circumstantial evidence is very powerful," he said.

The three do not appear to have been arrested or charged with any offence.

Conspiracy Theories

Dr B is alleged to have used, in his academic publications, "phrases and key words" also used by a militant group, among them "inequality" and "gentrification". The police found it suspicious that meetings occurred with German activists in which the sociologists did not bring their mobile phones; the police deemed this a sign of "conspiratorial behaviour". (...) He's not actually accused of writing anything inflammatory, but seen rather to be intellectually capable of "authoring the sophisticated texts" a militant group might require; further, our scholar, "as employee in a research institute has access to libraries which he can use inconspicuously in order to do the research necessary to the drafting of texts" of militant groups, though he hasn't written any.