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And, yes, I DO take it personally: 11/08/2009 - 11/15/2009
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Saturday, November 14, 2009

The lengths we go to avoid looking like a conspiracy theorist

i have a lot of respect for marcy "emptywheel" wheeler who blogs regularly and in great depth on national intelligence and security issues, torture accountability, the ever-waffling justice department, detainee policy and other such critically important issues over at firedoglake... she researches her material assiduously and rarely leaves a stone unturned... in fact, she often provides more material and in greater depth than i have the time or patience to absorb...

i'm also aware of the extraordinary lengths otherwise intelligent people who fall into the category of reasonable, progressive liberals will go to in order to avoid being labeled "conspiracy theorists," even when the "conspiracy theory" in question is smacking them upside the head...

yesterday, marcy put up a post under this title...

FAA and NORAD Changed Records to Accord with Cheney Lies

the post was based on an nyt review of a recently-published book by john farmer called “the ground truth,” in which farmer, a senior counsel to the 9/11 commission and the dean of the law school at rutgers, on the basis of actual records, attests that the:
F.A.A. and Norad rec­ords [show] that a day after a Sept. 17 White House briefing, both agencies suddenly altered their chronologies to produce a coherent timeline and story that “fit together nicely with the account provided publicly by Deputy Defense Secretary Wolfowitz and Vice President Cheney.”

here's marcy's conclusion...
We’ve know for a long time that the FAA records, in particular, were politicized. Given already documented proof that Cheney lied to hide the fact that he violated the chain of command on 9/11 it’s not surprising that that politicization served Dick Cheney’s false narrative of leadership.

But we can add this book to the long list of proof that Cheney’s a big liar trying to hide his own incompetence.

jumpin' jeebus key f'ing ryst on a trapeze, marcy...! somebody turns up irrefutable evidence of dick cheney falsifying records and you conclude he has to be covering-up INCOMPETENCE...? i ask you, m'dear, when exactly did the arch-fiend, dick cheney, EVER display any evidence of incompetence and when exactly did you become convinced that the man doesn't know exactly and precisely what he is doing at any given moment...?

every single one of us has by now heard and read multiple stories speculating, attempting to prove, and/or setting out pretty solid circumstantial - if not smoking-gun - evidence that there was a conspiracy on almost all counts to present 9/11 as something other than it was... you, marcy, of all people, ought to be able to take all of that critical context and come up with at least a reasoned alternative supposition that cheney might have been acting out a motive other than attempting to cover the incompetence of his own sorry ass... don't you think there's a possibility, however remote, he might be covering up for SOMETHING ELSE...? huh...?

i'm disappointed in you... seriously disappointed...

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Kosovo - the country brand


needless to day, there's a lot of mixed opinion here in pristina about the "country" ad below... most kosovars i have spoken to recognize that their new country is a mess, rife with corruption, officials on the take, no road or building construction standards, people paying bribes to get drivers licenses without even taking - much less passing - a driving test, a national economy almost entirely dependent on imports, and a nonexistent work ethic... they also recognize that there's not a hell of a lot that can be done either short or long-term to fix any of it... meanwhile, there's elections for the municipalities coming up tomorrow that absolutely NOBODY has confidence will make the slightest bit of difference...

here one view, not terribly optimistic, but that nevertheless manages to leave out most of the blemishes i mentioned above...

These days, it’s not just companies that are trying to brand themselves — countries are getting in on the game as well. Half the commercials on international television news stations these days seem to be sappy, upbeat videos extolling the virtues of some nation, many of which aren’t exactly on the tourist map. There’s “Breathtaking Montenegro” and “South Africa: Alive with Possibilities” and one about Armenia whose slogan I can’t remember.

But how do you brand a place like Kosovo, whose very status is disputed and whose name is more likely to conjure images of war and ethnic conflict than the kind of pleasant feelings that make you want to go on vacation there?

Well, the international advertising firm Saatchi & Saatchi has now created a slick new television commercial and slogan, “Kosovo: The Young Europeans,” to help burnish Kosovo’s international image and fuel its quest for recognition.

The campaign seizes on Kosovo’s comparative youth in the context of an aging Europe, trying to present it — and its people — as young and dynamic. The average age of people there, according to the campaign, is 25.9.

The promise of Kosovo’s youth is a refrain I’ve heard often from optimistic young people there in recent years. Kosovo lacks great natural beauty or an abundance of memorable architecture (the capital Pristina’s most notable landmark is the boxy and far from charming Grand Hotel) or even really any established modern industry. Instead, young entrepreneurs dream of building a new economic future as a high-tech center by tapping into the Kosovo’s young, well-educated population.

But that will be a difficult task given Kosovo’s still unresolved status — blocked by Serbia, which considers its seccession illegal, it still lacks, for example, its own telephone dialing code or recognition by most international organizations — and the ethnic tensions that continue to divide its population.

Last year, I attended Kosovo’s independence celebrations on a bitterly cold February day, when tens of thousands of jubilant Kosovo Albanians braved the weather to dance on the streets of the Pristina. Kosovo’s Serbs took to the streets too, but in protest, not celebration.

Even then, as Kosovo declared independence from Serbia with American backing, it lacked the basic symbols of a state. On that day, it was the red and black flag of Albania — along with a smattering of American flags — that people waved.

The international community — or at least the part of it that backed the declaration of independence — had made clear to Kosovo’s leaders that their new state had to be a multi-ethnic one, and that any new symbols needed to include Serbs and other minorities. That meant, for example, no black two-headed eagle, like the one on the Albanian flag.

The new branding campaign draws on the new symbols the were developed as part of the independence process, particularly Kosovo’s new flag which has a blue background, the shape of Kosovo in gold and six stars representing its six peoples. It also recalls the independence celebrations, during which giant yellow letters spelling the word “NEWBORN” were erected in the center of Pristina.

The well-produced Saatchi & Saatchi commercial full of beautiful young people is designed to brand Kosovo to the outside world. But it’s not clear yet whether even Kosovo’s majority ethnic Albanian population identifies strongly with the new national symbols it presents. And its clear that at home, there’s still a lot of work to be done building a Kosovo identity that has room for all its people.

here's the ad followed by the rosy verbiage that must have no doubt been written by the ad agency...

The new slogan, which appears as part of the logo, is: Kosovo. The young Europeans.

The slogan is based on the facts that The Republic of Kosovo is one youngest countries in the world, and it's also home to the youngest population in Europe with an average age of 25.9.

This is probably the very first national slogan which turns the spotlight on the people and the human spirit rather than the country, its natural marvels or history.
This is a very strong and confident statement of Kosovos attitude as a country and of its future intentions. It will attract the interest of a range of audiences, from politicians to businessmen, from tourists to donors. All will sense the future potential of this young nation and the positive attitude of its people.

The visual appearance of the logo is very much in keeping with the new generation of national logos in that it has a modern flowing style and an impactful use of colour. Each of the colours featured in the logo was chosen for a specific reason. The green represents the green fields that can be found across Kosovos expansive countryside, the red-terracotta represents the colour of the bricks that are used for the building that is in progress across the land, and the blue symbolizes the sky and water and is taken from the background from Kosovos new flag. The unique design of the letters' font typography is inspired by "the fountain of youth" concept the energy that flow unboundedly throughout Kosovo.

yeah, well, whatever...

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Friday, November 13, 2009

Now, THIS is what I'M talkin' about, and it AIN'T rocket SURGERY...


Jurm Valley, Badakshan Province, Afghanistan
Photo: Holly Pickett for The New York Times

goddam... how long does it take folks to get a clue...? and guess who's got the goddam clue...? why, the aga khan foundation, of course, who, if anybody oughta know, it would be them...
[I]n Jurm, a valley in the windswept mountainous province of Badakhshan, in the northeast ... people ... have taken charge for themselves — using village councils and direct grants as part of an initiative called the National Solidarity Program, introduced by an Afghan ministry in 2003.

Before then, this valley had no electricity or clean water, its main crop was poppy and nearly one in 10 women died in childbirth, one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world.

Today, many people have water taps, fields grow wheat and it is no longer considered shameful for a woman to go to a doctor.

If there are lessons to be drawn from the still tentative successes here, they are that small projects often work best, that the consent and participation of local people are essential and that even baby steps take years.


“We ignored the people in districts and villages,” said Jelani Popal, who runs a state agency that appoints governors. “This caused a lot of indifference. ‘Why should I side with the government if it doesn’t even exist in my life?’ ”

Jurm was tormented by warlords in the 1990s, and though it never fell to the Taliban, the presence of the central government, even today, is barely felt. The idea to change that was simple: people elected the most trusted villagers, and the government in Kabul, helped by foreign donors, gave them direct grants — money to build things like water systems and girls’ schools for themselves.

Local residents contend that the councils work because they take development down to its most basic level, with villagers directing the spending to improve their own lives, cutting out middle men, local and foreign, as well as much of the overhead costs and corruption.

“You don’t steal from yourself,” was how Ataullah, a farmer in Jurm who uses one name, described it.


Anecdotal accounts point to some success. There have even been savings. When villages in the Jurm Valley wanted running water, for instance, they did much of the work themselves, with help from an engineer. A private contractor with links to a local politician had asked triple the price. (The villagers declined.)

Even such modest steps have not come easily. Jurm presented many obstacles, and it took a development group with determined local employees to jump-start the work here.

One basic problem was literacy, said Ghulam Dekan, a local worker with the Aga Khan Development Network, the nonprofit group that supports the councils here.

Unlike the situation in Iraq, which has a literacy rate of more than 70 percent, fewer than a third of Afghans can read, making the work of the councils painfully slow. Villagers were suspicious of projects, believing that the people in the groups that introduced them were Christian missionaries.

“They didn’t understand the importance of a road,” Mr. Dekan said.

Most projects, no matter how simple, took five years. Years of war had smashed Afghan society into rancorous bits, making it difficult to resist efforts by warlords to muscle in on projects.

“They said, ‘For God’s sake, we can’t do this, we don’t have the capability,’ ” Mr. Dekan said. “We taught them to have confidence.”

shit on a stick, people... this ain't rocket SURGERY, fercryinoutloud... why in god's name are we continuing to be so friggin' clueless about something so fundamental, so elemental, so goddam EASY as helping people to help themselves and building that help in to existing society rather than trying to build some fabulous overlay of shit WE think is cooler than sliced bread and then end up shooting ourselves in the foot in the process...?

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

The US has exported an economic model with the idea that everyone can organise themselves under that model

how horribly embarrassing when a united nations special rapporteur, banned from exercising her duties in the united states by the bush administration, finally gets to do her job and discovers that, under the capitalist rock, the rock at the centerpiece of the "shining city on the hill," are all sorts of creepy-crawlies...
Raquel Rolnik, the UN special rapporteur for the right to adequate housing, who has just completed a seven-city tour of America, said it was shameful that a country as wealthy as the US was not spending more money on lifting its citizens out of homelessness and substandard, overcrowded housing.

"The housing crisis is invisible for many in the US," she said. "I learned through this visit that real affordable housing and poverty is something that hasn't been dealt with as an issue. Even if we talk about the financial crisis and government stepping in in order to promote economic recovery, there is no such help for the homeless."

She added: "I think those who are suffering the most in this whole situation are the very poor, the low-income population. The burden is disproportionately on them and it's of course disproportionately on African-Americans, on Latinos and immigrant communities, and on Native Americans."

equally shameful is that the major media exposure on this story - no surprise, unfortunately - comes via the uk guardian...

and equally shocking - again, if not surprising - is this...

"One of the first meetings I had at the state department they clearly told me: here, adequate housing is not a human right," [Rolnik] said.

the mindset that has been assiduously fostered in the united states, through an endless stream of propaganda, is that if you're poor, it's your own goddam fault... by definition, you must be lazy and no damn good... and yet my country has taken this bogus philosophy and is pushing it down the throats of people around the world... it's people like rolnik, who is, after all only doing her job, that can blow the whistle on this patent bullshit...

rolnik's conclusion...

"The US has exported an economic model with the idea that everyone can organise themselves under that model. It's very important for the rest of the world to know who fits in to this model and who is excluded," she tells her audience.

damn straight...

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Emotional kids when daddy comes home

despite being a vietnam veteran, despite having worked in the war zone of afghanistan off and on for the past 18 months, and despite typing this as i'm working here in post-war kosovo, i am very far from a flag-waving, mindless supporter of our "troops"...

i think our militarized society has gone way overboard in practically canonizing those who do our country's dirty work, work done at the behest of those with the money and power to take them away from their families to suffer psychological trauma, possibly grave injury, disability and even death...

however, we should never, ever forget that those who serve in our military, even though they are often pawns in a larger game, are nonetheless fellow human beings who love their families as much or maybe even more than the rest of us do...

and, yes, i get this treatment from my grandsons when i arrive back home after a long time away...

thanks to alternet...

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More on why the U.S. REALLY, REALLY invaded Iraq

anyone left out there who has any more doubts about why we invaded iraq...?
Peter W. Galbraith, an influential former American ambassador, is a powerful voice on Iraq who helped shape the views of policy makers like Joseph R. Biden Jr. and John Kerry. In the summer of 2005, he was also an adviser to the Kurdish regional government as Iraq wrote its Constitution — tough and sensitive talks not least because of issues like how Iraq would divide its vast oil wealth.

Now Mr. Galbraith, 58, son of the renowned economist John Kenneth Galbraith, stands to earn perhaps a hundred million or more dollars as a result of his closeness to the Kurds, his relations with a Norwegian oil company and constitutional provisions he helped the Kurds extract.


Interviews by The New York Times with more than a dozen current and former government and business officials in Norway, France, Iraq, the United States and elsewhere, along with legal records and other documents, reveal in considerable detail that he received rights to an enormous stake in at least one of Kurdistan’s oil fields in the spring of 2004.

As it turns out, Mr. Galbraith received the rights after he helped negotiate a potentially lucrative contract that allowed the Norwegian oil company DNO to drill for oil in the promising Dohuk region of Kurdistan, the interviews and documents show.

He says his actions were proper because he was at the time a private citizen deeply involved in Kurdish causes, both in business and policy.

When drillers struck oil in a rich new field called Tawke in December 2005, no one but a handful of government and business officials and members of Mr. Galbraith’s inner circle knew that the constitutional provisions he had pushed through only months earlier could enrich him so handsomely.

As the scope of Mr. Galbraith’s financial interests in Kurdistan become clear, they have the potential to inflame some of Iraqis’ deepest fears, including conspiracy theories that the true reason for the American invasion of their country was to take its oil. It may not help that outside Kurdistan, Mr. Galbraith’s influential view that Iraq should be broken up along ethnic lines is considered offensive to many Iraqis’ nationalism. Mr. Biden and Mr. Kerry, who have been influenced by Mr. Galbraith’s thinking but do not advocate such a partitioning of the country, were not aware of Mr. Galbraith’s oil dealings in Iraq, aides to both politicians say.

Some officials say that his financial ties could raise serious questions about the integrity of the constitutional negotiations themselves. “The idea that an oil company was participating in the drafting of the Iraqi Constitution leaves me speechless,” said Feisal Amin al-Istrabadi, a principal drafter of the law that governed Iraq after the United States ceded control to an Iraqi government on June 28, 2004.

In effect, he said, the company “has a representative in the room, drafting.”

there, there... that wasn't so bad, now was it...? it's so comforting to have one's suspicions validated that the reason so many of our country's poor, young bastards were sent to iraq to die and that so many poor, powerless iraqis were slaughtered was to help make huge bastards like mr. galbraith filthy rich...

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Scahill on Maddow: is Blackwater still around because Obama's afraid?

here's an interesting twist on the on-going blackwater story...
Despite news reports that the security contractor formerly known as Blackwater has seen its contracts dry up and its influence wane, the company continues to do brisk business in Iraq and Afghanistan -- and the Obama administration may be too afraid of the firm to do anything about it, says investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill.

"You know who's guarding Hillary Clinton in Afghanistan right now? Blackwater," Scahill told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Tuesday night. "You know who guards members of Congress? Blackwater. They have half a billion dollars in contracts in Afghanistan right now. CIA, State Department, Defense Department. Why is President Obama keeping these guys on the payroll? There has never been a company in recent history that made the case that corporations are corrupt, evil organizations [better] than Blackwater."

Scahill was on The Rachel Maddow Show discussing the New York Times' revelation that senior Blackwater executives allegedly arranged for bribes of up to $1 million for Iraqi politicians in a bid to retain its contracts and silence criticism of the company in the wake of the Nissour Square massacre in 2007, in which 17 Iraqi civilians died after Blackwater guards opened fire.

so, afraid why...? afraid to lose a kickback...? afraid of what they know and would be willing to tell...? afraid for his life...? afraid why...?

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Extraordinary rendition of a U.S. citizen - it could happen to you...!

note: mr. meshal was never charged...
"U.S. officials repeatedly threatened Mr. Meshal with torture, forced disappearance, and execution in order to coerce him to confess to wrongdoing in which he had not engaged and to associations that he did not have," according to the lawsuit [the suit, brought on behalf of Amir Meshal by the American Civil Liberties Union, is the first by a U.S. citizen seeking damages for the practice of "rendition," the extrajudicial transfer of terrorist suspects between countries], which targets two FBI agents, identified as Chris Higgenbotham and Steve Hersem, and two unidentified U.S. officials who allegedly questioned Meshal in Kenya and Ethiopia.

A spokesman for the FBI declined to comment, citing the Justice Department's policy in civil litigation cases.

Meshal, a Muslim born to Egyptian parents, traveled to Somalia in 2006 "to enrich his study of Islam," according to the lawsuit. Mogadishu, the Somali capital, had recently come under the control of a militia known as the Islamic Courts Union. Later that year, the U.S.- and Ethiopian-backed Transitional Federal Government of Somalia launched a military offensive and took back the city.

As he fled the fighting, Meshal was picked up in Kenya, near the Somali border, and held at the behest of U.S. officials, often in filthy and crowded cells, according to the lawsuit. He was repeatedly questioned by FBI agents who threatened to send him to Israel or Egypt unless he acknowledged ties to al-Qaeda, the lawsuit alleges.

Meshal signed a document waiving counsel, but the lawsuit claims that the FBI told him doing so was the only way he would get home, effectively leaving him no choice.

When a Kenyan human rights group filed a habeas petition on behalf of Meshal and other foreigners picked up at the border with Somalia, the American was secretly flown back to Somalia, where he was held for a number of days, before being taken to Ethiopia. He was also questioned repeatedly by U.S. agents in Ethiopia before finally being allowed to return to the United States on May 26, 2007, the suit says.

mr. meshal is now back home in new jersey...

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Before we get too carried away with the emotions of Veterans Day...

let's take into account a little bit of the reality that surrounds the event...

glenn greenwald takes david brooks to the woodshed...

Denying Responsibility for the Wars One Cheers On

David Brooks' column today perfectly illustrates what lies at the core of our political discourse: namely, self-loving tribalistic blindness laced with a pathological refusal to accept responsibility for one's actions. Brooks claims there is a unique evil that one finds in the "fringes of the Muslim world":

Most people select stories that lead toward cooperation and goodness. But over the past few decades a malevolent narrative has emerged.

That narrative has emerged on the fringes of the Muslim world. It is a narrative that sees human history as a war between Islam on the one side and Christianity and Judaism on the other. This narrative causes its adherents to shrink their circle of concern. They don't see others as fully human. They come to believe others can be blamelessly murdered and that, in fact, it is admirable to do so.

This narrative is embraced by a small minority. But it has caused incredible amounts of suffering within the Muslim world, in Israel, in the U.S. and elsewhere. With their suicide bombings and terrorist acts, adherents to this narrative have made themselves central to global politics. They are the ones who go into crowded rooms, shout "Allahu akbar," or "God is great," and then start murdering.

But Brooks himself was a vehement, vicious advocate for the attack on Iraq, which caused this:

The 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq has resulted in the deaths of many Iraqi civilians . . . Many international organizations, governments and non-governmental organizations have counted excess civilian casualties using such methods; however all have reported different numbers. Reports range from 128,000 to 1,033,000.

That's at least 128,000 innocent human beings -- at least -- whose lives were eradicated by the war Brooks repeatedly cheered on. It also resulted in this: "More than 4 million Iraqis have now been displaced by violence in the country." But Brooks accuses Islamic fanatics -- but not himself -- of "causing incredible amounts of suffering."

Brooks also justified the Israeli attack on Gaza, including its worst excesses -- a war that wiped out the lives of 1,400 Palestinians (including 252 children under the age of 16) and that entailed "the shooting of [Gazan] civilians with white flags, the firing of white phosphorus shells and charges that Israeli soldiers used Palestinian men as human shields," all of which, according to a U.N. investigation, were "the result of deliberate guidance issued to soldiers." He also cheered on the Israeli bombing campaign of Lebanon and derided those calling for a cease-fire, even as the war wiped out more than 1,000 Lebanese people, at least 300 of whom were women and children, during which "Israeli warplanes also targeted many moving vehicles that turned out to be carrying only civilians trying to flee the conflict." And Brooks is now demanding escalation of the war in yet another Muslim country, this one in Afghanistan -- making it the fourth separate war on Muslims he's cheered on in the last six years alone.

So here's a person who is constantly advocating and justifying the killing, bombing, and slaughtering of Muslims, including well over 100,000 innocent civilians. And yet today he writes a column saying: Look over there at those radical Muslims; can you believe how degraded and inhumane they are? In fact, he says, "they" -- those Muslims over there -- "don't see others as fully human. They come to believe others can be blamelessly murdered and that, in fact, it is admirable to do so." That's from the same person who cheerleads for the endless deaths of Muslims and destruction of the Muslim world while thinking that it makes him strong, resolute, Churchillian, righteous and noble -- exactly that which he accuses "fringe Muslims" of doing. And even as he blames the U.S. for "absolving" radical Muslims for the "evil" of their choices, Brooks will never make the connection between what he does and its results because he believes he is free from accountability and that his righteousness justifies the killings he desires -- again, exactly that which he says today is the hallmark of Islamic monsters ("They come to believe others can be blamelessly murdered and that, in fact, it is admirable to do so").

The tribalistic narcissism and depraved refusal to accept responsibility for the consequences of one's actions on vivid display here is hardly unique to Brooks. The very same people who express such moral outrage and self-righteous horror over events like the Fort Hood shootings themselves have immense amounts of innocent human blood on their hands, but they simply avert their eyes from what they have caused or believe that they are too inherently Good to be responsible, let alone culpable, for what they unleash.

and juan cole sums it up nicely...
The most patriotic way to honor future veterans of foreign wars is not to create any unnecessarily.

full disclosure: i'm a vietnam veteran...

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Blackwater can run but it can't hide

what a bunch of sleazeballs...
Top executives at Blackwater Worldwide authorized secret payments of about $1 million to Iraqi officials that were intended to silence their criticism and buy their support after a September 2007 episode in which Blackwater security guards fatally shot 17 Iraqi civilians in Baghdad, according to former company officials.

Blackwater approved the cash payments in December 2007, the officials said, as protests over the deadly shootings in Nisour Square stoked long-simmering anger inside Iraq about reckless practices by the security company’s employees. American and Iraqi investigators had already concluded that the shootings were unjustified, top Iraqi officials were calling for Blackwater’s ouster from the country, and company officials feared that Blackwater might be refused an operating license it would need to retain its contracts with the State Department and private clients, worth hundreds of millions of dollars annually.

Four former executives said in interviews that Gary Jackson, who was then Blackwater’s president, had approved the bribes and that the money was sent from Amman, Jordan, where the company maintains an operations hub, to a top manager in Iraq. The executives, though, said they did not know whether the cash was delivered to Iraqi officials or the identities of the potential recipients.

Blackwater’s strategy of buying off the government officials, which would have been illegal under American law, created a deep rift inside the company, according to the former executives. They said that Cofer Black, who was then the company’s vice chairman and a former top C.I.A. and State Department official, learned of the plan from another Blackwater manager while he was in Baghdad discussing compensation for families of the shooting victims with United States Embassy officials.

Alarmed about the secret payments, Mr. Black cut short his talks and left Iraq. Soon after returning to the United States, he confronted Erik Prince, the company’s chairman and founder, who did not dispute that there was a bribery plan, according to a former Blackwater executive familiar with the meeting. Mr. Black resigned the following year.

Stacy DeLuke, a spokeswoman for the company, now called Xe Services, dismissed the allegations as “baseless” and said the company would not comment about former employees. Mr. Black did not respond to telephone calls and e-mail messages seeking comment.

what's most interesting about this story is not the bribery itself but the fact that the company's vice chair, ace sleazeball cofer black, AFTER making his discovery and "confronting" erik prince, didn't take his knowledge public...


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Monday, November 09, 2009

Would you trust this man?

Rupert Murdoch

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Banksters: ‘Quite frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn’

let them eat cake... who gives a shit about the peasants when you can collect a BONUS well over five times the median u.s. household income and, oh, btw, who gives a shit that billions of people around the world are STARVING TO DEATH...?
Three of the largest Wall Street firms -- which together received $45,000,000,000 in taxpayer bailouts -- are on track to hand out $29,700,000,000 in bonuses this year.

That's only the three largest firms. JP Morgan Chase took $25 billion in government aid; Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, $10 billion each. All three have paid back the government bailout money they've received, but the liquidity and "cheap money" offered by the Fed have kindled record profits at their investment and trading arms.

According to analyst estimates published by Bloomberg News, the financial banking triumvirate will shell out $29.7 billion in bonuses this year -- up 60 percent from 2008, and higher than the previous record of $26.8 billion in 2007.

If divided equally among the firms' collective 119,000 employees, the sum total per worker comes to $250,400 each (which Bloomberg notes is almost five times the median US household income of $50,000).

“Wall Street is beginning to resemble Clark Gable as Rhett Butler in the film ‘Gone With the Wind’: ‘Quite frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn,’” Paul Hodgson, a compensation expert, told the wire. “It doesn’t seem as if even political threat, disastrous PR, envy, rising unemployment rates and home repossessions is enough to get any of these people to refuse the bonuses they have ‘earned.’”

what kind of people are these...? after visiting auschwitz-birkenau last week and seeing once again just how monstrous certain elements of the human race can be toward their fellow human beings, is THIS kind of behavior any the less complicit...? just because they're not sitting in watchtowers or manning gas chambers doesn't mean they're not forcing people into misery and death by grabbing such a disproportionate share of the world's resources for themselves... and don't give me any crap about it isn't a sin to be rich... after a certain point, a point well in excess of any reasonable definition of "rich," you're guilty as hell, believe me...

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Sunday, November 08, 2009

The Afghans are concerned about more troops - the United States must want the fighting to go on


Moises Saman for The New York Times
At a bazaar in Charikar, north of Kabul, many Afghans said they
felt vulnerable to the Taliban, unprotected by their own government
or the American forces.

yeah, no shit...
In bazaars and university corridors across the country, eight years of war have left people exhausted and impatient. They are increasingly skeptical that the Taliban can be defeated. Nearly everyone agrees that the Afghan government must negotiate with the insurgents. If more American forces do arrive, many here say, they should come to train Afghans to take over the fight, so the foreigners can leave.

What have the Americans done in eight years?” asked Abdullah Wasay, 60, a pharmacist in Charikar, a market town about 25 miles north of Kabul, expressing a view typical of many here. “Americans are saying that with their planes they can see an egg 18 kilometers away, so why can’t they see the Taliban?”

Such sentiments were repeated in conversation after conversation with more than 30 Afghans in Kabul and nearby rural areas and with local officials in outlying provinces. The comments point to the difficulties that American and Afghan officials face if they choose to add more foreign troops.

If the foreign forces are not seen so by Afghans already, they are on the cusp of being regarded as occupiers, with little to show people for their extended presence, fueling wild conspiracies about why they remain here.

The feeling is particularly acute in the Pashtun south, but it is spreading to other parts of the country. More American troops could tip the balance of opinion, particularly if they increase civilian casualties and prompt even more Taliban attacks.

The grass-roots view among Afghans is at odds with those of top Afghan officials, as well as many American military commanders, who strongly endorse a full-blown counterinsurgency strategy, including a large troop increase.

now, check this interesting perspective...
Mr. Wasay and several friends visiting his pharmacy were discussing the Taliban’s killing of a police chief in a rural part of the province. The rumor was that Taliban fighters had severed his head and delivered it to his son, according to one of Mr. Wasay’s friends.

True or not, the anecdote was part of a growing mythology of Taliban power and a general perception that neither the Afghan government nor American troops were protecting Afghans.

Daily life continues to be so precarious for many people interviewed, especially those outside Kabul, that they have come to believe that the United States must want the fighting to go on.

“In the first days of the war, the Americans defeated the Taliban in just a few days,” said Mohammed Shefi, a graduate student in the pharmacy school at Kabul University. “Now they have more than 60,000 forces and they cannot defeat them.”

gee... endless war... now, ain't THAT an interestin' concept...?!?!

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What a load of shit - "Despite the apparent end of the Great Recession" [UPDATE]


if it's all the same to you, nyt, i'd like to know just who the F-U-C-K this "Great Recession" has "apparently ended" FOR...?
The American unemployment rate surged to 10.2 percent in October, its highest level in 26 years, as the economy lost another 190,000 jobs, the Labor Department reported Friday.

The jump into the realm of double-digit joblessness — from 9.8 percent in September — provided a sobering reminder that, despite the apparent end of the Great Recession, economic expansion has yet to translate into jobs, leaving tens of millions of people still struggling.

it ain't over for you, it ain't over for me, and it sure as SHIT ain't over for those poor bastards desperate for work and not finding it...


oh, yeah, let's hear it for 17.5%... what a cool number...! much more mind-blowing than 10.2%, wouldn't you agree...?
For all the pain caused by the Great Recession, the job market still was not in as bad shape as it had been during the depths of the early 1980s recession — until now.

With the release of the jobs report on Friday, the broadest measure of unemployment and underemployment tracked by the Labor Department has reached its highest level in decades. If statistics went back so far, the measure would almost certainly be at its highest level since the Great Depression.

In all, more than one out of every six workers — 17.5 percent — were unemployed or underemployed in October. The previous recorded high was 17.1 percent, in December 1982.

kee-f'ing-rist... so much for that vaunted "recovery"...

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