And, yes, I DO take it personally: 03/01/2009 - 03/08/2009
Mandy: Great blog!
Mark: Thanks to all the contributors on this blog. When I want to get information on the events that really matter, I come here.
Penny: I'm glad I found your blog (from a comment on Think Progress), it's comprehensive and very insightful.
Eric: Nice site....I enjoyed it and will be back.
nora kelly: I enjoy your site. Keep it up! I particularly like your insights on Latin America.
Alison: Loquacious as ever with a touch of elegance -- & right on target as usual!
"Everybody's worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there's a really easy way: stop participating in it."
- Noam Chomsky
Was Argentina's 2001 economic collapse a preview of what's happening now worldwide?
this link takes you to a 12-part youtube video series on the 2001 economic collapse in argentina... living there, i of course had heard many of these stories but watching these clips brought it home to me in a way nothing else ever has...
i highly recommend watching these if for nothing else as a backgrounder to what's now taking place world-wide with potentially the same ramifications...
A documentary on the events that led to the economic collapse of Argentina in 2001 which wiped out the middle class and raised the level of poverty to 57.5%. Central to the collapse was the implementation of neo-liberal policies which enabled the swindle of billions of dollars by foreign banks and corporations. Many of Argentina's assets and resources were shamefully plundered. Its financial system was even used for money laundering by Citibank, Credit Suisse, and JP Morgan. The net result was massive wealth transfers and the impoverishment of society which culminated in many deaths due to oppression and malnutrition.
here's part 1 to start you off...
i confess to having tears in my eyes as i watched this and felt the intense passion and anger of the people i've come to know and love holding forth for their country and what they believe in many of the same streets and plazas that i've walked myself...
(note: i've just watched the first 8 parts and i DARE you to watch them yourselves and not make the comparison to what is now happening in the G8 countries, particularly the uk and the u.s...)
His presidency now a smoldering memory, Harper's contributing editor Scott Horton thinks that perhaps he wasn't kidding after all. In a March 3 column, Horton extrapolated on "George W. Bush's Disposable Constitution," expanding on his thoughts during a Thursday broadcast of MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann.
Since the Monday release of nine previously-secret Bush administration legal memos claiming that the president has the power to ignore the Constitution when fighting terrorism, experts have almost unanimously denounced both their legal reasoning and their conclusions.
"These memos provide the very definition of tyranny," Constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley told MSNBC's Keith Olbermann on Tuesday. "These memos include everything that a petty despot would want."
Olbermann's Thursday guest was just as strident as Turley in his view of the prior administration.
"We may not have realized it at the time, but in the period from late 2001-January 19, 2009, this country was a dictatorship," wrote Horton in his Harper's article.
I think essentially that the Leahy commission is an excuse for non-prosecution. It’s essentially saying, “Let’s put some stuff on the public record. Let’s immunize people. And then,” as he even said, “let’s turn the page and go forward.” That’s really an excuse for non-prosecution. And in the face of what we’ve seen in this country, which is essentially a coup d’etat, a presidential dictatorship and torture, it’s essentially a mouse-like reaction to what we’ve seen. And it’s being set up really by a liberal establishment that is really, in some ways, in many ways, on the same page as the establishment that actually carried out these laws. And it’s saying, “OK, let’s expose it, and then let’s move on.”
[T]here’s a lot of pressure in this country right now for prosecutions. I mean, the polls indicate that people want to see a criminal investigation. We’ve had open—open and notorious admissions of waterboarding by people like Cheney. And we know that waterboarding is torture, even according to Obama.
So, how do you diffuse that pressure? And one way you diffuse it is you set up a, quote, “truth commission” that’s going to give immunity to people. And then, as Leahy himself says—the word he used, I think, is that he objects to those “fixated” on prosecution. Well, you know, it’s a legal requirement that you prosecute torturers in your country. And yet, he calls us “fixated” on it and wants to make this excuse.
This is not about mistakes. This is about fundamental lawbreaking, about the disposal of the Constitution, and about the end of treaties. So I think, actually, that Leahy’s current proposal is extremely dangerous.
ratner goes on to spell out in detail the horrifying extent of what had been put in place under the bush administration...
[W]hat we see in these memos—and I recommend them to everybody, because you read these, you are seeing essentially the legal underpinnings of a police state or a dictatorship of the president. There’s no doubt about it. That’s what it is, and it’s not theoretical. ... [W]hat happened here was one of these memos said the military could operate in the United States, and operate in the United States despite the Posse Comitatus law, which prohibits the military from operating in the United States. And when it operates—this is really extraordinary—they can arrest and detain—“arrest” is not the right word—kidnap anyone they want and send them to a detention place anywhere in the world without any kind of law.
And then, on top of that, they can disregard the First Amendment. So this conversation we’re having right now, they could say, “Well, this is harmful to the national security of the United States”—that’s what these memos say—“this type of conversation is harmful, and we can ban this conversation.” And then they could put the military at the door to the firehouse and come in and say the Fourth Amendment, the one that protects us against unlawful searches, that the military could walk in here, search all of us and see if we have anything they don’t like on us. So, no First Amendment, no Fourth Amendment, no Fifth Amendment—essentially, the end of the Constitution and 225 years of constitutional history.
yes, it's hair-raising stuff, but nothing that folks like me and and number of others have been saying all along... something else that many of us have been saying is that we simply MUST have accountability for these shocking abuses... nothing else than facing facts square in the face is going to put this behind us...
yesterday was a gloriously clear and beautiful day here in aqaba... being as how it was a friday (friday and saturday are the weekend in islamic countries), we decided to walk down along the public beach to the plaza that features the giant flagpole flying the flag of the arab revolt (see my post from january)... we also browsed the museum and the fort...
The Crusaders occupied the area in the 12th century and built their fortress of Helim, which remains relatively well-preserved today. The Aqaba fort was rebuilt in the 14th century under one of the last Mamluk sultans, Qansah al-Ghouri, and has been substantially altered several times since then. The Hashemite Coat of Arms was placed above the main doorway during the Great Arab Revolt of World War I, after the Turks were driven out of the city. The fort is open daily and entrance is free.
The flag of the Arab revolt as seen from a portal in the Aqaba fort
then, like last time, we parked our keisters in the waterfront cafe to spend a couple leisurely hours smoking a shisha...
that evening, we walked over to mohandas, a local version of a u.s. diner, where we pigged out on hummous and felafel... yum...
Tsvangirai was traveling to a weekend rally in his home region, south of Harare, when their car sideswiped a truck, said his spokesman, James Maridadi. No other details were immediately available and Tsvangirai's aides refused to elaborate.
Maridadi had initially said the injuries to the Tsvangirais and an aide were not life-threatening. Later, two officials from the Movement for Democratic Change party told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity that 50-year-old Susan Tsvangirai was dead and an official statement would come later from the family.
President Robert Mugabe paid a condolence visit to the hospital, but a long rivalry with his new premier fed suspicions about the circumstances surrounding the crash.
i think the real "accident" is that morgan tsvangirai wasn't killed as well... somebody must have screwed up...
In a stark measure of the recession’s toll, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Friday that the national unemployment rate surged to 8.1 percent last month, its highest in 25 years. The economy has now shed more than 4.4 million jobs since the recession started in December 2007.
and yet we continue to burn up the printing presses, creating more worthless money out of thin air, and throwing it at failed financial institutions... i may not be a financial expert, but even i can see that what we're doing is certifiably NUTS...!
and, yes, all of the fears of those of us who were talking about a quiet, hidden "coup," were not only justified, but were much worse than we imagined...
If history gets this recent era right, future textbooks will have to show that the US narrowly averted a carefully planned but thorough and unmistakable conspiracy to subvert the rule of law and the process of democracy from 2001-2008. For three years, since writing End of America, I have been arguing that the Bush team sought irretrievably to subvert our liberty. Fortunately, this appalling and conceivably irrevocable subversion of the tenets of freedom was narrowly averted by citizens at every level -- from the grassroots to the courts -- resisting in time. But the release this week by the Justice Department of the "secret memos" sought valiantly by the ACLU confirms that Bush's legal architects were building up the framework for something even scarier than our most anguished projections.
The Washington Post called these memos "legal errors." We need to stare them in the face and understand them: they are evidence that the groundwork was laid out that gave the president the legal power effectively subvert the Republic. We need to understand the full darkness of what we narrowly escaped -- for now, our work is hardly begun. We need to build these lessons into our history and to use the terror they represent to dismantle the last of Bush's evil legacy -- a legacy that could have been activated by any US president in the future, including Obama or McCain -- and see these memos for what they are: the revealed architecture of an intended edifice of what amounts to treason again our republic and against all of us, regardless of belief, station of life, or political party.
i would add one very serious caution to what ms. wolf is saying here and that is we are not out of the woods yet by any means...
Oh, and btw, I'm the down-on-his-luck star of my OWN soap opera
without going into incredibly boring details and a VERY long story, suffice it to say that i have had to send my passport off from here in jordan to d.c. to get an updated afghanistan visa so that i can return to kabul later this month and be cleared to stay until the end of april... i'm not at all keen on being minus my passport in a foreign country, particularly since i can't leave until i get it back...
i sent it off on monday from here in aqaba to d.c. via dhl... below is the routing update current as of last night, wednesday, 4 march...
The Afghanistan election drama - a bit of Bollywood in Kabul [UPDATE]
[UPDATE and BUMPED]
another chapter in the suspense-filled serial... (see previous installments below...)
Afghanistan's election commission has said that presidential polls will take place on August 20, rejecting a request from Hamid Karzai, the country's president, for them to be held in the spring.
In a decree issued last week, Karzai said the elections should take place in April in line with the constitution that requires the vote to take place 30 to 60 days before the end of his mandate on May 21.
But on Wednesday, election officials repeated their belief that a fair vote would be impossible in spring because of the threat of violence and snow in the country's remote mountainous areas.
"While we respect and accept the president's decree, its implementation is not possible because all the problems which we listed previously, which are mainly security and weather conditions, are still in place," Azizullah Ludin, head of the Independent Election Commission (EC), said.
"This is why after a thorough study the EC came to the conclusion that we have to hold transparent, free and fair elections. That's why we confirm the date of August 20."
But with that date being confirmed, it is now unclear who will be president after Karzai's term ends.
The National Front, the main political opposition group formed of a fragile coalition of opposition parties and some other candidates welcomed the commission's decision and called for "national dialogue" on an interim administration.
oh, we're in for months of great fun...!
for those just joining us, here are the previous installments of our pot-boiler...
bollywood soap operas are hugely popular on afghan tv, despite the taliban's expressed displeasure over their perceived pollution of the morals of the populace... watching the latest gyrations over the afghan presidential elections, i can't help but think of a bollywood serial - many actors, byzantine subplots, and enough twists and turns to boggle the mind of any one trying to figure out what the hell is going on...
Afghanistan on Thursday announced presidential elections for August 20, hoping a U.S. troop surge will improve security at a time when violence is at the highest levels since the 2001 overthrow of the Taliban.
President Hamid Karzai has strongly hinted he will run for re-election saying he still has "a job to complete," but his popularity has waned both among Afghans and his Western backers due to rampant corruption and weak government outside Kabul.
The credibility of the international mission in Afghanistan was dealt a blow yesterday with the announcement that presidential elections have been put back by three months.
The delay, which pushes the vote back until mid-August, was blamed on the difficult security conditions in many parts of the country and logistical and technical problems. It has sparked fears of political turmoil at a time when President Karzai’s administration is becoming increasingly unpopular among Afghans weary of the fighting and endemic corruption.
President Hamid Karzai decreed Saturday that presidential elections be moved forward to April or May, just weeks after they were set for August, in what appears to be an attempt to avert constitutional challenges to his legitimacy.
Mr. Karzai, who has declared his intention to run for a second term, is supposed to step down on May 21, when his current five-year term ends, under the terms of the country’s Constitution. But Afghanistan’s election commission announced in January that weather conditions and poor security had forced it to delay presidential and provincial elections until Aug. 20, which immediately raised questions over Mr. Karzai’s legitimacy for the intervening three months.
The US rejects the Afghan president's call for an early poll on April 21, saying it prefers an August date for presidential elections in Afghanistan.
In Washington, State Department Spokesman Robert Wood said on Sunday that it still believed an August date would be best for a free and fair election.
One Western official told The Daily Telegraph an attempt to hold the poll within weeks was 'absolutely ridiculous'.
The US and its western allies' criticism come after the Afghan President, Hamid Karzai on Saturday, called for polls before his term ends on May 21. Karzai issued a decree for elections 'according to the constitution', which says the vote, should be held 30 to 60 days before his term ends.
President Hamid Karzai's call to suddenly move up elections from late summer to early spring drew cries of "sabotage" Sunday from political opponents who know they can't win the presidency if a vote is held next month.
But few in the capital think Karzai's decree is anything but a political gambit meant to give him the high ground in a tussle for power come May 22, when the Afghan constitution says his five-year term expires.
Mullah Abdul Salaam Zaeef, a former Taliban ambassador to Pakistan,looks at his iPhone during an interview.
everywhere i go in the world, people are talking on their cell phones, but nowhere is the contrast between that piece of high-tech equipment and the user more striking than in afghanistan... this story about the mullah and his iphone accurately portrays a phenomenon visible everywhere i go in kabul... from little kids to goat herders to shopkeepers to burka-covered women, EVERYBODY is chatting and texting up a storm...
Mullah Abdul Salaam Zaeef is a former Taliban ambassador to Pakistan. He spent almost four years in Guantanamo. He wears a black turban, has a thick beard — and is never without his Apple iPhone.
The ultra-conservative Taliban banned modern technology like the Internet and TV during its harsh 1996-2001 rule, but those items have boomed in Afghanistan since the regime's 2001 ouster, helping to bring the country into the 21st century.
Zaeef, who reconciled with the Afghan government after being released from U.S. custody, says he uses his iPhone to surf the Internet and find difficult locations, employing the built-in GPS. He even checks his bank account balance online.
"It's easy and modern and I love it," Zaeef said as he pinched and pulled his fingers across the iPhone's touch screen last week. "This is necessary in the world today. People want to progress."
an afghan friend and colleague whose mother is also a friend and colleague got an iphone from his mom after her visit to the u.s. late last year... i've teased him unmercifully about having to have the latest toys (like i don't have the same predilection)...
so, with the tunnels as virtually the only way re-building supplies or, in fact, supplies of ANY sort can be brought into gaza, what does israel do...? why BOMB them, of course... all in the name of self-defense... ya, right...
Israeli warplanes bombed smuggling tunnels linking the Gaza Strip to Egypt on Tuesday, wounding four people, following rocket fire from the Hamas-ruled territory, witnesses and medics said.
Palestinian witnesses said aircraft carried out at least seven strikes along Gaza's southern border, where dozens of tunnels are used for trafficking people, goods and arms into the impoverished territory.
Four people were wounded in the raids, Palestinian medics said.
An army spokeswoman told AFP that the air force carried out six strikes against smuggling tunnels near the southern Gaza town of Rafah "in response to barrages of rockets fired over the past week".
israel is out of control and has been for a very long time... it needs to be brought to heel and the only way i can think of is to cut its umbilical cord with the u.s... nothing else is going to work...
Shorter AFP: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will try to tell Binyamin Netanyahu, the far rightwing prospective prime minister of Israel, that he should allow the rebuilding of Gaza and start up a peace process that leads to a Palestinian State. Netanyahu [will] ask her to let him bomb Iran and go on colonizing the West Bank and making sure there is a never a Palestinian state.
Netanyahu probably won't get his way on Iran, but he likely will keep the Palestinians stateless, i.e., in subhuman conditions.
Clinton arrives in Israel from a donors conference in Cairo that raised $5 bn. Unfortunately, Israel won't let most of it in, since it is trying to half-starve the Palestinians into submission. And the only realistic conduit for that amount of money is the Palestinian Authority bureaucracy in Gaza, which was taken over by Hamas when it won the January, 2006 elections. But the US and Israel refuse to deal with Hamas and won't let the money go through bureaucracies it controls (all the relevant ones). Washington and Tel Aviv will probably try to use the money to bolster Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah faction within the Palestinian authority. What they can't understand is that Palestinians have excellent bs meters, and don't support people they view as corrupt collaborators. The frantic search for the 'good Palestinian' only creates unpopular failures over time, in the nature of the case.
Aljazeera English reports on the challenges of rebuilding Gaza and the Israeli blockade that is keeping basic materials out. 90% of Gaza's water is unsafe to drink, and the damage the Israelis did the sewage treatment plant has sent raw sewage into the drinking water.
now, THERE'S a strategy for ya - starve people into submission... ya gotta love that israel...! what a country...!
Israel's 22-day offensive on the Gaza Strip has left a trail of destruction. Rebuilding is an enormous project, now being done with little money, a few tools and no organization. But as billions of dollars are being pledged to fund the reconstruction efforts, [the] Israeli blockade is still in effect.
In Britain, the major stock market index lost 5.3 percent, and the performance of the major Italian index was worse, declining 6 percent. With the dollar also gaining, the losses were even greater for international investors in those markets.
In the United States, the Dow fell 299.64 points, or 4.24 percent, to 6,763.29, while the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index fell 34.27 points, or 4.66 percent, to 700.82. The Nasdaq composite ended 54.99 points, or 3.99 percent, lower, at 1,322.85.
Crude oil settled at $40.15 a barrel, down $4.61.
“It’s pretty despondent everywhere,” said Dwyfor Evans, a strategist at State Street Global Markets in Hong Kong. “O.K., there are signs that some of the leading indicators have stabilized to some extent, but it’s at a very, very low level, and we’re not seeing corporate investment picking up, or consumers starting to spend again — in other words, the traditional mechanisms by which economies come out of a recession are absent at this time.”
Hopes that the American economy, which led the world into recession, might lead it back out this year have been fading.
get a clue, people... our money-grubbing, super-rich, power-mad overlords have led us to this pretty pass, and now, in their endlessly, shamelessly, 100% self-serving, totally predictable, inimitable style, are trying to vacuum the last bit of our collective wealth into their bottomless money pits by suckering the entire world into continuing to throw money at them, all in the name of keeping THEIR status quo afloat...
tim and jim, in their comments on the previous post, are toying with the idea of taking to the streets... that's certainly an understandable reaction at this point, but with the military at the disposal of the elites to "quell domestic disturbances," we all need to realize that the simon legrees* who call the shots aren't going down without a bloody fight...
The specter of social unrest was raised at the U.S. Army War College in November in a monograph [click on Policypointers’ pdf link to see the report] titled “Known Unknowns: Unconventional ‘Strategic Shocks’ in Defense Strategy Development.” The military must be prepared, the document warned, for a “violent, strategic dislocation inside the United States,” which could be provoked by “unforeseen economic collapse,” “purposeful domestic resistance,” “pervasive public health emergencies” or “loss of functioning political and legal order.” The “widespread civil violence,” the document said, “would force the defense establishment to reorient priorities in extremis to defend basic domestic order and human security.”
“An American government and defense establishment lulled into complacency by a long-secure domestic order would be forced to rapidly divest some or most external security commitments in order to address rapidly expanding human insecurity at home,” it went on.
“Under the most extreme circumstances, this might include use of military force against hostile groups inside the United States. Further, DoD [the Department of Defense] would be, by necessity, an essential enabling hub for the continuity of political authority in a multi-state or nationwide civil conflict or disturbance,” the document read.
In plain English, something bureaucrats and the military seem incapable of employing, this translates into the imposition of martial law and a de facto government being run out of the Department of Defense. They are considering it. So should you.
i just want the bastards relieved of their command over us and the house of cards to finish collapsing so we can get on with re-building our world the way it's supposed to be, with dignity, respect, love, peace, and abundance for all... we're way, way overdue...
AIG's board approved a new rescue package that also includes more lenient terms on a government investment in its preferred shares and a lower interest rate on a government credit line, two sources familiar with the matter said.
Details will be announced on Monday when AIG is expected to report a fourth-quarter loss of about $60 billion -- roughly $460,000 per minute.
fuck 'em...! these outfits have led us directly down the garden path to financial and economic RUIN and we're rewarding and reinforcing their behavior...??? do we honestly believe for one friggin' second they're somehow going to magically transform themselves into paragons of financial responsibility on the back of u.s. taxpayers...??? i don't freakin' think so...
Sibel Edmonds, a 32-year-old Turkish-American, was hired as a translator by the FBI shortly after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 because of her knowledge of Middle Eastern languages. She was fired less than a year later in March 2002 for reporting shoddy work and security breaches to her supervisors that could have prevented those attacks.