James Watson: ready to up’n die.

I doan know why, but dey’s sumfn bout dem aging white scientists-one er dem chuckleheads–dey alwuz love dem to scuttle deir reputations right befo’ dey die.  It happmd to Richard Herrnstein when he published Da Bell Curve with Charles Murray.  What wuz he thinkin’?  He wrote it, den up’n died.  I reckon James Watson will up’n die soon too.  I’s a-gwyne to tell ya bout it below da fold.

http://news.independ…

There’s really not much to say.  James Watson, Nobel Prize winner for his work on the DNA double-helix with Francis Crick (who based their work on Rosalind Franklin’s work), stood up in front of the entire world and unceremoniously dropped his trousers.

The 79-year-old geneticist reopened the explosive debate about race and science in a newspaper interview in which he said Western policies towards African countries were wrongly based on an assumption that black people were as clever as their white counterparts when “testing” suggested the contrary. He claimed genes responsible for creating differences in human intelligence could be found within a decade.

Key phrase: could be found within a decade.  They have NOT been found.  As for “testing” a la Herrnstein, Cavalli-Sforza demolished Herrnstein’s estimates of heritability.  And what are the chances of finding these differing genes between races when scientists have no idea what race is?  Ask Luca Cavalli-Sforza, Richard Lewontin, or Craig Venter.

Yes, about 0.01 percent of the genome varies along dimensions of hair, skin, and eye color, etc, little polymorphisms related to particular climates and ecologies.  Big whoop.  A very broad scientific consensus is that “race” is a bogus and useless biological concept.  Rather, it is a sociological construct.  But don’t let that stop you, you crazy old stork, James Watson.  Get your freak on!

The newly formed Equality and Human Rights Commission, successor to the Commission for Racial Equality, said it was studying Dr Watson’s remarks ” in full”. Dr Watson told The Sunday Times that he was “inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa” because “all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours – whereas all the testing says not really”. He said there was a natural desire that all human beings should be equal but “people who have to deal with black employees find this not true”.

Dude, if you want to get gloomy about Africa, read Joseph Conrad, or any of Devilstower’s excellent diaries on What’s the Matter with Africa?

Or just write your own bigoted story, and immortalize your bogus racism.

His views are also reflected in a book published next week, in which he writes: “There is no firm reason to anticipate that the intellectual capacities of peoples geographically separated in their evolution should prove to have evolved identically. Our wanting to reserve equal powers of reason as some universal heritage of humanity will not be enough to make it so.”

I think Steven Rose gave a pretty decent response:

This is Watson at his most scandalous. He has said similar things about women before but I have never heard him get into this racist terrain. If he knew the literature in the subject he would know he was out of his depth scientifically, quite apart from socially and politically.

Watson embarrasses everyone.  Well, he’s ready to up’n die anyway

Prison Camps and the Trail of Tears (Conclusions)

October: For most Cherokee, the “Trail of Tears” begins.

* These are my conclusions after “Part 1”:

Prison Camps and the Trail of Tears

and “Part 2”:

Prison Camps and the Trail of Tears (Part 2)

I almost thought Fox News was responsible for posting some of the information on the web about Native American history. Omission and blatant misleading misinformation such as the soldiers weren’t with the Cherokee on the Trail of Tears. Then who was it that forced the Cherokee to leave their dead relatives on the trail? I also found numbers that were disgustingly off and blame like, “Remember they agreed to this.” The tribal museums, eyewitness accounts, and reports on those eyewitness accounts provide the best information; not Wikipedia or any other “source” that contradicts what really occurred, even if only in parts. The truth still wants to be forgotten by some, I can only speculate as to who they are.

I made the error of trying to understand the “why” the Trail of Tears happened when I wrote this:


Source

And then, only a fictional movie can begin to explain it to me.
 


Scene from “Exorcist III”:


EXORCIST III

The Gemini Killer: I kill at random… no motive… that’s the fun.

Dt. Kinderman: This I believe in… I believe in death. I believe in disease. I believe in injustice and inhumanity, torture and anger and hate… I believe in murder. I believe in pain. I believe in cruelty and infidelity. I believe in slime and stink and every crawling, putrid thing… every possible ugliness and corruption, you son of a bitch. I believe… in you.

“Why” only led me to my own esoteric philosophies and trying to align some of those with the research and conclusions of Alice Miller to “understand it.” However, the result was just more and more confusion.

SITE 1

SITE 2

I decided I could only barely grasp it by looking at the behaviors that resulted from prior events. I asked myself “what,” in terms of what the behavior was that the author of this statement refers to.

SOURCE

The Trail of Tears and the Middle Passage are journeys to the first of the concentration camps-Indian reservations and plantations-and the beginnings of the U.S. strategy to work the captured and colonized to death.

Asking “why” also led me searching prior events. I remembered Wilma Mankiller mentioning the Panic of 1837 in her book when I came across it again.

 

Panic of 1837

Source

The Panic of 1837 resulted from President Andrew Jackson’s attack on the Second Bank of the United States.  Following the War of 1812, the United States government recognized the need for a national bank to regulate the printing of currency and the issuance of government bonds.

 

Source

It turned out to be the worst economic depression that the young nation had yet known.


Source

First Depression in American history. Banks lost money, people lost faith in banks, and the country lost faith in President Martin van Buren.

Source

Thousands of people were out of work in a country that had never been through such an experience. In the cities, mobs stormed the warehouses for food, flocked to the poorhouses, and committed crimes so they could go to jail, where they could at least survive. Although prosperity began to return within two years, it came too late to save Van Buren politically. In the 1840 election, he was badly defeated by his former opponent, William Henry Harrison, and suffered what was to him the disgrace of being a one-term president.

Social analysis of “why” it occurred could only be understood case by case of the entire population, so the more useful question that may lead to solutions and learning its lessons now is, “What happened?”

 

“What”

Radical supremacist beliefs with religious fundamentalist views (labeling the Cherokee and all indigenous as evil, in service to the Devil, and inferior. Ex.: Extermination and Manifest Destiny).

“Gold fever” and greed was in the midst of great economic collapse and social upheaval.

Hasty conclusions were made regarding land and natural resources.

False claims by the U.S. government were made of a legitimate treaty(s).

Bullying was done to the Cherokee as a social phenomenon.

Only while military power was too weak to force the Cherokee’s removal, was deception used.

Military power was built while bullying and deception was used to buy time.

Military power was established.

Announcement of the hostile military takeover and forced relocation with false blame was made, deception ceased.

Cherokees were forced from homes at gunpoint. Theft, destruction, and complete loss of their property and homes were also traumatic consequences of the “roundup.”

Cherokees were transported to military forts, which transformed into prison, concentration and death camps for approximately ½ year.

The greatest atrocities occurred in the internment camps, because the prisoners were helpless while the soldiers were fully armed.


The approximate 70,000 Native American Indians that were forced to relocate, were the only ones left to relocate. The Government’s use of extermination was successful. Smallpox and diseases used as germ warfare by “trading” or “gifting” infected blankets after germ warfare’s “discovery” continued to exterminate  90% of the indigenous population.(1) First, it was unintentional with the discovery of the Americas, then diseases were used deliberately. Massacres, wars, murders, and mutilations killed the rest even before the forced relocations began. This only left approximately 5% to forcibly remove.(1)


http://www.studyworl…

The Trails of Tears were several trails that the Five Civilized Tribes traveled on their way to their new lands. Many Indians died because of famine or disease. Sometimes a person would die because of the harsh living conditions. The tribes had to walk all day long and get very little rest. All this was in order to free more land for white settlers… At that time there was reported to be sightings of gold in the Cherokee territory in Georgia which caused prospectors to rush in, tearing down fences and destroying crops. In Mississippi, the state laws were extended over Choctaw and Chickisaw lands, and in 1930 the Indians were made citizens which made it illegal to hold any tribal office.

 

http://www.historica…

The term “Trails of Tears” was given to the period of ten years in which over 70,000 Indians had to give up their homes and move to certain areas assigned to tribes in Oklahoma. The tribes were given a right to all of Oklahoma except the Panhandle. The government promised this land to them “as long as grass shall grow and rivers run.” Unfortunately, the land that they were given only lasted till about 1906 and then they were forced to move to other reservations.

 

http://www.museumoft…

The Choctaw’s long journey to their new home, which was often made without the supplies and wagons promised in the treaty, was arduous. Many did not survive. As with other Indian groups that were moved west, the Choctaw remember this trek as a “Trail of Tears.”

The most difficult information to find is: how many died on the Trail of Tears, total? Everyone can say 6,000,000 Jews died during the Holocaust, so what might “many did not survive mean,” at least for the Choctaw? “Many” means more than half died to me, but not “almost all.” Maybe it means 65%-75% of their total tribal population died. Even the records at the Oklahoma Historical Society stop at the forced removal; I heard so on T.V. just recently by accident. More research needs to be done, or the information may be lost? I don’t know.

To me, horror movies such as the “Exorcist III” are entertaining to a point; however, a simple superstitious rationalization like “possession” is easier to contemplate than what author Kurt Kaltreider, PH.D. says in his chapter entitled “The American Indian Holocaust”:

(1) Kurt Kaltreider, PH.D. “American Indian Prophecies,” p.44:

…It is estimated that 100 million Indians from the Caribbean, Central, South, and North America perished at the hands of the European invaders. Sadly, unbelievably, really, much of that wholesale destruction was sanctioned and carried out by the Roman Catholic Church and various Protestant denominations.(1: p.37)

From 100,000,000 to 70,000, prior to forced removal and relocation.

Since recognizing the past in the present is a key to not repeating it, I then asked myself what I’ve observed recently that mirrors this past.

First, “Dominionism” is the modern equivalent of Manifest Destiny.


Michelle Goldberg, “Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism.” p.13


Kingdom Coming

As the historian Garry Wiles has noted`Dominion theologians’lay great emphasis on Genesis 1:26-27, where God tells Adam to assume dominion over the animate and inanimate world. Thus the true inheritors of this world are Christians who can `name it’ and `claim it’ by divine right.”

  Second, this was an instance where Stalin’s notorious quote, “Death solves all problems: no man, no problem” was used by Edwin Vieira in the “War on the Courts,” and is a modern example of “extermination.”

Michelle Goldberg, “Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism” p.160 :

Constitutional lawyer Edwin Vieira discussed Justice Anthony Kennedy’s majority opinion which struck down that state’s antisodomy law. Vieira accused Kennedy of relying on “Markist, Leninist, Satanic principles drawn from foreign law. “What to do about Communist judges in thrall to the Devil? Vieira said, “Here again I draw on the wisdom of Stalin. We’re talking about the greatest political figure of the twentieth century. He had a slogan, and it worked well for him whenever he ran into difficulty. No man, no problem.'”

I also consider the following current events to be strikingly similar to the Trail of Tears in terms of their potential usage, although not identical in language. They are: economic overextension due to the war, acquiring oil via war when other alternatives for energy production and consumption exist, NAFTA treaties have been signed without the consent of congress, “terror” was used in attempting to win a crucial election by the party in power at the time (bullying), the Patriot Act and Military Commissions Act with the added power of section 1076 and

Halliburton share much in common collectively for their potential usage as the Indian Removal Act and the Treaty of New Echota did in terms of empowering the military. Individual or collective “roundups,” transportation to prisons, and detention where torture ensued were the consequences of the Indian Removal Act and the Treaty of New Echota. Likewise, those consequences have followed for foreign nationals with the Patriot Act at least, but have yet to follow for a natural born American citizen as far as I know.

Perhaps in addition to this serious sentiment expressed in “Indian Country”:

Military Commissions Act raises painful memories:

SOURCE

Ghosts of Sioux warriors surround the controversy on the Military Commissions Act, 38 of them to be precise. They offer a warning that should not be ignored.

On June 29, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the type of tribunal the Bush administration intended to use for terrorist trials. On Sept. 29, Congress passed a fix that met the court’s objections but left civil libertarians very nervous. The issues are an eerie echo of the debate over one of the most notorious of these tribunals, which 154 years ago ordered the largest mass execution in U.S. history. This was the military commission of Col. Henry Sibley, which tried and condemned alleged participants in the Minnesota Sioux uprising of 1862.


…the Trail of Tears should also be “offered as a warning,” as long as those “acts” are law and the Bush Administration or likewise politicians in the GOP control the executive branch. If 1/3  of our planet earth is DESERT IN 2100, I can imagine the cycle of panic, violence, and “forced removal” might possibly happen again.

”Those who do not know their history are condemned to repeat it.” -Georges Santayana.


Cherokee letter protesting the Treaty of New Etocha  from Chief John Ross. “To the Senate and House of Representatives”:


LETTER

By the stipulations of this instrument, we are despoiled of our private possessions, the indefeasible property of individuals. We are stripped of every attribute of freedom and eligibility for legal self-defence. Our property may be plundered before our eyes; violence may be committed on our persons; even our lives may be taken away, and there is none to regard our complaints. We are denationalized; we are disfranchised. We are deprived of membership in the human family! We have neither land nor home, nor resting place that can be called our own. And this is effected by the provisions of a compact which assumes the venerated, the sacred appellation of treaty.


Cherokee Prayer:


Source

As I walk the trail of life

in the fear of the wind and rain,

grant O Great Spirit

that I may always walk

like a man

To the Tower, Igor!!!!


via videosift.com

Sorry for the title! I tried to overcompensate for just posting a piece of neato ‘art stuff’ by being clever. But these really do look like they could come to life……which is pretty scary!

NO ONE wants to mess with an 8′ tall http://maientertainmentlaw.com/?search=lasix-50mg very pregnant woman!

The other two videos that  make up the entire program start automatically, or at least they did for me. Here is the page URL if they don’t. Its a full half hour, but the first few minutes of the first video gives a good look at some  finished pieces. Most of the rest of the video is the how to….but also shows more of the artist’s sculpture.

And for you pesky bastiges who are always whining that we don’t cover theremin playing robots enough…

via videosift.com

maybe there’s something to nothing

i’d like to formally announce that i am no longer a democrat. i have decided to register as an independent.

further, i realize there are lots of people like me, democrats and republicans. and they nor I have a political place… we’re orphans with no place to call home. nowhere to go. and nothing to hold us to the status quo.

what would happen then? to dismantle your democrat self? and when you go to talk to your republican neighbor and tell them, hey this is all a bunch of shit. i’m just an american… you?

what would happen do you suppose?

the cruel thing was how the democrats made me believe in their good intentions. that they got it… what was important… the environment and leadership on iraq and restoring the good name of democracy and our country.

i have not recovered from these blows… issuing supeonas, writing letters, and letting the criminals walk like kings among us. all the while lives are being destroyed every day.

Pony Open Thread: a little Mae West is always good

for fun today… here’s one of the most famous lines from a movie

from “I’m No Angel”

starring Mae West and Cary Grant

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

this is an OPEN THREAD… so chit chat and remember to be excellent to each other…

Gardasil – and “Greeed”

gardawart 2000 3

Image inspired by Joey’s group, The Zit Remedy, of the DeGrassi TV series.
http://en.wikipedia….
Any resemblace of objects in the image to a coffin is not intentional.

(Note: “Greeed” – coined by Molly Ivins, Texan and patriot. http://www.creators….)

Thinking of getting the Gardasil shot for your child?
Be aware that
– HPV can be transmitted without intimate contact
– Conflict of interest is involved. Prominent Gardasil promoters – Texas’ Governor Perry and a Canadian lobbyist with ties to the Harper government – gain if you buy into this Merck moneymaker.
– the Gardasil vaccine has caused dreadful side effects and death:

Filed at archive.org: http://www.archive.o…

“Merck (Sunday, July 01, 2007)

Published: 2007
Keywords: Merck; Merck HPV Vaccine; HPV Vaccine; children; child; little girl; kid, kids; FDA; Vaccine; Nina Cicchelli
Merck HPV Vaccine has killed 12-year-old child in the United States. Facts As of May 11, 2007, the 1,637 adverse vaccination reactions reported to the FDA via the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) included 371 serious reactions. Of the 42 women who received the vaccine while pregnant, 18 experienced side effects ranging from spontaneous abortion to fetal abnormities. Three deaths were related to the vaccine. One physician’s assistant reported that a female patient “died of a blood clot three hours after getting the Gardasil vaccine.” Two other reports, on girls 12 and 19, reported deaths relating to heart problems and/or blood clotting. This vaccine has been tested in over 11,000 females (ages 9-26 years) around the world. The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2006, over 9,700 women will be diagnosed with cervical cancer and 3,700 women will die from this cancer in the U.S. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently licensed this vaccine for use in girls/women, ages 9-26 years. The vaccine is given through a series of three shots over a six-month period. The vaccine is only effective for 4-1/2 years. A booster injection will be needed every five years. The HPV vaccine only protects against 4 of the 127 strains of HPV Texas lawmakers has blocked Gov. Rick Perry’s effort to make Texas the first state to require sixth-grade girls to be vaccinated against a sexually transmitted virus that causes cervical cancer. My conclusions. If you do the math, you could conclude that this vaccine has the potential to kill 3 out 9,700 of every children who receive it in the United States. Merck wants to perform a medical experiment on all nine-year-old girls in the United States. By the time a child is sexually active the vaccine could no longer be affective, depending on the age they received it. The long term effects of this vaccine ha not been tested, and could lead to many long-term health problem. Source. http://www.cdc.gov/s…
http://www.judicialw…
http://www.judicialw… http://www.judicialw… http://www.nytimes.c…
http://www.americanv…

Read more criticism of Gardasil here:
http://www.westonapr…
http://www.ahrp.org/…
http://womenshealthn…

Adverse Event Reporting System
The FDA receives adverse drug reaction reports from manufacturers as required by regulation. Health care professionals and consumers send reports …
http://www.fda.gov/c…

How to report adverse events/reactions to medications, drug products or medical devices to the Food and Drug Administration voluntary reporting system.
http://www.fda.gov/m…

Canadian Adverse Drug Reaction Information System (CADRIS)
What is the Canadian Adverse Drug Reaction Information System (CADRIS)? … Adverse reaction reports are submitted by health professionals and laypersons on …
http://www.hc-sc.gc….

Faint Warning – a CBC Report
Does Health Canada let the FDA dictate what will happen to Canadians?
http://www.cbc.ca/ne…

Let’s recognize this initiative for what it – hype and shock-doctrine style scares to sell a product we don’t need and that may harm us and those we love. There are more responsible things we can do for child health in North America  than dropping $300+ every three years for a wart vaccine. How about universal health care and dental care, school breakfasts?




Videos on Gardasil – Commentary by Alex Jones, and cartoons from HealthTarget.

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Four at Four

This is an http://cinziamazzamakeup.com/?x=quanto-costa-Viagra-generico-100-mg-online-a-Torino OPEN THREAD. Here are four stories in the news at 4 o’clock to get you started.

  1. The New York Times reports Parliament in Turkey votes to allow Iraq incursion. “The Turkish Parliament today granted authorization for a cross-border offensive to strike Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq, although diplomatic efforts continued to prevent any military action. The motion passed in the Parliament by 526 votes in favor to 19 votes against. It was drafted by the ruling Justice and Development Party, and grants the government open authority for one year to launch military incursions against rebels who carry out attacks in Turkey from northern Iraq.” Meanwhile, the Washington Post and others report that House support wanes for Armenian genocide bill. As much as the media and the Bush administration is linking the two, the Turks have had these incursion plans in the works for a long time. Good thing the Bush doctrine allows countries to invade to stop terrorism.

  2. The Guardian reports Britain to claim more than 1m sq km of Antarctica and the move would extend UK oil, gas and mineral rights.

    The United Kingdom is planning to claim sovereign rights over a vast area of the remote seabed off Antarctica, the Guardian has learned. The submission to the United Nations covers more than 1m sq km (386,000 sq miles) of seabed, and is likely to signal a quickening of the race for territory around the south pole in the world’s least explored continent.

    The claim would be in defiance of the spirit of the 1959 Antarctic treaty, to which the UK is a signatory. It specifically states that no new claims shall be asserted on the continent. The treaty was drawn up to prevent territorial disputes.

    So what’s motivating this grab? Well likely, Britain has been ‘frozen” out of the land grab going on at the North Pole by Russia, Canada, the U.S. and other countries. (For more info, see my essay from September, “Mapping Claims to the Spoils of Global Warming”.) In addition, the rising price of oil, which is at $88 a barrel, is intensifying pressure to secure new potential oil sources.

    Unfortunately, this will be nothing but bad news for penguins and other creatures that live in Antarctica. In another story at The Guardian, science correspondent Alok Jha reports, WWF calls for protected areas for Antarctica. “Large parts of the oceans around Antarctica should be turned into marine reserves to protect the rapidly declining biodiversity on the continent,” according to the WWF. The environmental charity “will call on diplomats, environmentalists and scientists to support their plan to identify and designate a network of protected marine reserves to safeguard Antarctica and its surroundings, which occupy some 40% of the world’s surface.”

Below the fold is an article about the poverty line, which one ground says should be $74,044 for a 2-parent family of four living in Los Angeles, today’s “Guns of Greed”, and a “extra” report on the Solomon Island’s sale and export of 28 dolphins to Dubai taking place today.

  1. News from the Los Angeles Times that Poverty line out of touch with costs. Alana Semuels writes, “Everyone knows living in California isn’t cheap. But a new report casts a light on how challenging it is to afford basic necessities — and how inadequate a minimum-wage job is to meet those needs.”

    A person working full-time for the state’s minimum wage of $7.50 an hour earns $15,600 annually. But a single adult in Los Angeles needs to make $28,126 a year to live modestly, while a single parent needs $62,393, according to the California Budget Project, the policy group behind the report being released today.

    A two-parent family in Los Angeles with one working member needs $51,035, while a two-working-parent family needs $74,044, the report calculated…

    But the poverty line, the report says, “is an obsolete measure that fails to take into account the reality of modern families.” The federal poverty line for a family of four was $20,650 in 2007, less than a third of what this report estimates they need.

  2. Here is today’s episode of “Guns of Greed”.

    • While Blackwater warlord Erik Prince smiles before corporate media cameras saying how much he welcomes oversight, the reality is his corporations do everything possible to stymie investigations and legal efforts to hold Prince’s holdings accountable. One need only look how Blackwater responded to the investigations surrounding the crash in Afghanistan of Presidential Airways Flight 61. Del Quentin Wilber of the Washington Post reports A crash’s echoes, from war zone to washington.

      The accident soon began to draw attention to the flight crew’s employer, Presidential Airways. The families of the dead soldiers sued Presidential. The military conducted an investigation that criticized the carrier for a variety of problems. And the National Transportation Safety Board weighed in with a report last year, faulting the pilots and poor oversight of flight operations by Presidential, the Federal Aviation Administration and the Defense Department.

      The probes and proceedings focused on Presidential have also drawn attention to its parent company, Prince Group, and to Prince’s better-known subsidiary, Blackwater Worldwide, one of the largest private security contractors operating in Iraq…

      Presidential is battling the NTSB over its findings, in part by challenging the board’s jurisdiction, in an attempt to blunt their impact in legal proceedings, particularly the lawsuit filed by the families of the crash victims. The firm’s legal efforts were set back this month when a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Miami rejected the carrier’s attempt to have the crash lawsuit thrown out of court…

      Presidential filed two lengthy petitions with the NTSB that argued that the board relied too heavily on the military investigation to reach its conclusions. It, too, noted that the NTSB sent no experts to inspect the plane’s wreckage or interview people in Afghanistan about what happened, raising questions about how the NTSB expects anyone to uphold civil air safety standards in a war zone…

      The company also said the board doesn’t have jurisdiction to investigate the crash because it does not have the authority to probe military accidents. “Clearly, this was a military mission, and it was flying military personnel and equipment to and from military bases under the direct operational control of the military,” Goelz said. “The NTSB is not authorized to expend taxpayer dollars to investigate a military accident.”

      Now I ask you, does this seem like a company that is welcoming oversight and accountability?

    • Tina Susman of the Los Angeles Times reports Iraqis shot by contractors stymied in search for justice. There is no standard redress or compensation available to victims of mercenaries in Iraq. So now, four families are suing Blackwater in U.S. federtal court, “seeking unspecified damages.”

      Susan L. Burke, an attorney for the Iraqi plaintiffs suing Blackwater, said the fact that the convoy was not accompanying a client at the time of the shootings — the official had been driven away from the perceived threat when gunfire erupted — helps her clients’ case.

      “Blackwater already had dropped off the person they were protecting, and they went out and engaged in unnecessary and senseless gunfire,” she said.

      If that argument holds up, it could also benefit the families in the Oct. 9 case involving Unity Resources Group. Guards from that company shot two Iraqi women to death after they allegedly drove at high speed toward the guards’ convoy. The guards were not accompanying a client at the time.

    • CNN’s Jomana Karadsheh has an interview with the family of two victims, a mother and her 20-year-old son, of the Blackwater massacre in Dad: Blackwater blew up son’s and wife’s ‘skulls’.

      Haythem could only recognize his oldest boy from his tall and slim physique as well as what was left of his shoes. His son’s head had been blown away, his body charred beyond recognition. His wife of more than 20 years was torn apart.

      “Only part of her neck and jaw remained,” Haythem told CNN. The rest of her was covered by a body bag. Choking back tears, he said, “Killing them was not enough, blowing up their skulls, they burned them and disfigured them.”

      … All Haythem and the family know about the final moments of their loved ones is what two Iraqi police officers who witnessed the shootings have told them — that Ahmed was shot as he was driving his car in Nusoor Square and his mother clutched him tight as he was bleeding. “Those who witnessed the incident say that my son’s head was scattered and my wife held him and hugged him,” Haythem said. “She was screaming, ‘My son, my son! Help me! Help me!’ ”

      The car slowly rolled forward until Blackwater guards unleashed more shots that turned the vehicle into a fireball, according to the witnesses. “They understood the call for help. They sprayed her with bullets,” he said.

    • CNN is reporting that, once again, Iraq is demanding Blackwater leave Iraq. “Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki asked the U.S. State Department to “pull Blackwater out of Iraq”… But in Washington, State Department spokesman Tom Casey said the department has received ‘no specific request’ from Iraq to withdraw the company’s contractors.” Oh so coy, is Miss Condoleezza’s State Department. Al-Maliki adviser Sami al-Askari “said the United States is still waiting for the findings of the American investigation, but al-Maliki and most Iraqi officials are ‘completely satisfied’ with the findings of their probe and are ‘insisting’ that Blackwater leave the country.” Seems pretty specific to me.

    • The Bush administration is playing turf games with which agency will be responsible for their mercenaries. The New York Times reports Pentagon sees one authority over contractors. War “Secretary Robert M. Gates is pressing for the nearly 10,000 armed security contractors now working for the United States government in Iraq to fall under a single authority, most likely the American military, in an effort to bring Blackwater USA under tighter control… [But,] that idea is facing resistance from the State Department, which relies heavily for protection in Iraq on some 2,500 private guards, including more than 800 Blackwater contractors”.

      Oh, and check out this steaming pile of B.S. “Because of their overseas travel schedules, Mr. Gates and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice have been unable to meet face to face to resolve the issue, officials said.” The two were in Moscow, Russia… together. “One outside adviser to the Pentagon said Mr. Gates felt so strongly that he told associates he was prepared to go to… Bush to decide the matter.” After all, he is the Decider.

    • According to the AP, the UN has found that Private military recruiting is booming.

      The U.N. Security Council and General Assembly have opposed the use of mercenaries, but the hiring of foreign soldiers by one country for use in another is barred only for the 30 nations that ratified a 1989 treaty against the practice. The U.S. and Iraq are among the many states that didn’t sign. A five-member U.N. panel has been studying the use of contractor guards for two years, said Jose Luis Gomez del Prado, the Spanish expert who heads panel. Its report is to be presented to the U.N. General Assembly next month.

      “The trend toward outsourcing and privatizing various military functions by a number of member states in the past 10 years has resulted in the mushrooming of private military and security companies,” the report says.

    • Donald McNeil of The New York Times reports Could Afghan Poppies Be Painkillers for the Poor? “As opium harvests in Afghanistan have steadily increased, some think tanks and politicians — mostly in Britain — have raised a trenchant question: rather than trying to eradicate Afghanistan’s poppies, why not instead buy them and make morphine?” Two years ago, it was calculated that “Afghanistan’s whole crop could be purchased for about $600 million — the ‘farm gate’ price”. Today, the crop would fetch nearly $1 billion.

      Whatever the price, ‘enforcement will not work,’ said Romesh Bhattacharji, a former narcotics commissioner of India who has investigated the Afghan situation for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. ‘The Afghan farmer will not switch to alternative crops as long as there is a market for his opium.’ Mr. Bhattacharji says he now endorses the idea of buying the crop.

      The United States and British governments are vigorously opposed; instead they favor tough eradication tactics and more encouragement to farmers to grow wheat, cotton or fruit… With a $600 million annual budget for eradication, the field attracts paramilitary contractors with deep connections to the Bush administration, including Blackwater USA and DynCorp International, both of whom train Afghan anti-narcotics police.

    • Washington Post columnist, William Arkin, writes about Blackwater and War Crimes: A Dangerous Equation.

      Which brings us to the question: Who are these guys anyway? They are in a war zone, carrying guns, with authority granted by the U.S. government to engage in warfare under the name of ‘security’…

      We have only begun the scratch the surface of what the Blackwater era means, but to me a central question is our obligation as a society to continue to maintain the distinction between who and what is military and who and what is civilian…

      The distinction between what is military and what is civilian is thus eroded. In the current war — one in which our enemies have made a point to obliterate that distinction — I am not sure this is a difference we want to let dissolve.

      Didn’t WW2 and the concept of total war already destroy the distinction between civilian and soldier? The civilian population supports its military, thus it too is part of the war machine. While I understand Arkin’s point, I think the distinction is already gone. We eliminated it when we fire bombed Dresden and nuked Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

    • Lastly, this observation from PressTV in Tehran, Iran. Ismail Salami writes ‘Made in USA’ crisis in Iraq. “Now the question is: why does the US administration wish to conduce to crisis in the war-ravaged country? The simple answer is: to use crisis as an excuse to stay on in the country. As long as there is crisis, there is justification for longer military presence. Blackwater creates crisis in Iraq and thus guarantees longer US military presence.”

  3. The Independent reports Solomon Islands exports live dolphins to Dubai. “The Solomon Islands will export 28 live dolphins to Dubai”. They “were to be removed from their pens at Gavutu Island near the capital, Honiara, and loaded on to two DC-10 aircraft, said Robert Satu, director of Solomon Islands Marine Mammal Education Center and Exporters Ltd. ¶ Security was tight at Henderson Field airport near Honiara to keep away photographers and camera crews and to prevent protesters from disrupting the loading process ahead of the 30-hour flight to Dubai, Mr Satu said. ¶ He would not reveal who was importing the dolphins in Dubai or the price paid, although the government said each dolphin could be worth thousands of pounds.” The Solomon Times confirms the Dolphins are to be flown out today. Export of dolphins was supposedly banned in the Solomon Islands, but yet now 28 dolphins are being sold to Dubai — the same place Halliburton is moving to. In July, the Sydney Morning Herald reported the dolphins were headed to “a billion-dollar Dubai resort” called Atlantis, The Palm resort.

A note — I wrote today’s column at 4 in the morning, so the news may be a little stale. I’m without Internet access until the evening, but I’ll check in as soon as I can. Until then, what else is new?

Action! Thank Pelosi For Promising to End The War!

(Soon to be Orange)

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, in an interview with Arianna Huffington has promised she will not send a bill to the floor of the House to fund the Iraq War that does not contain a timeline to bring the troops home.

I was at first skeptical of Arianna calling this a promise on Pelosi’s part, but a full day has passed with no retraction from Arianna and no statement from Pelosi indicating that she was misunderstood or taken out of context. I think we have to take this somewhat seriously!

If the Speaker of the House of Representatives keeps her promise, the Iraq War is effectively over.

And Nancy certainly wouldn’t lie to Arianna!

Rep. David Obey, Chairman of the House Appropriation Committee, has stated that he will not send a new supplemental spending bill out of committee that does not contain a fixed date to bring the troops home.

As The Hill reported

He wants a war spending bill to end U.S. involvement in combat operations by January 2009, allow more rest time for troops between deployments and start a “diplomatic surge.”

Speaker Pelosi endorses and agrees with his position. Quoting from her interview with Arianna…

“Our chairman of our committee, and its my view as well, that we shouldn’t even take up a bill without a fixed date for us to come home.”

If the Speaker of the House and the Chairman of the House Appropriation Committee refuse to bring a funding bill to the floor…..there can be no funding.

Without funding, there is no war.

So let’s all take a few minutes out of our day and send Nancy a quick Thank You Note for her promise to end the war!

Suggested Text:

Dear Speaker Pelosi,

I recently read your interview with Arianna on the Huffington Post. I wanted to drop you a line and say thank you for your promise to no longer fund The Occupation of Iraq. It is good to see that you are putting our government back on the track to morality and sanity.

Thank you, Nancy!

Toll Free Contact Congress!  1-800-828-0498

.

Office of the Speaker
202-225-0100
FAX 202-225-8259
E-mail

Neocons vs. Iran: Final Prewar Scouting Report

(Wow! @6pm – promoted by buhdydharma )

As the Bush/Cheney White House, its supportive neocon ideologues, and its public relations machine appear to be “catapulting the propaganda” to prepare the way for attacking Iran, perhaps for a change we should try the novel approach of mood swings while using propecia pills thinking and asking about the possible enter consequences before actually launching yet another preemptive war.

No one in the corporate media, in Congress (save for a few largely drowned-out voices, such as that of Senator Jim Webb), or least of all in the Unitary Executive (except for Secretary of Defense Robert Gates) gives much evidence of raising and pondering such questions.

Let’s give it a try below the break. Just taking the trouble to ask a few questions uncovers at least source five major tectonic shifts that likely would follow a U.S. assault on Iran.

There will be plenty of links for those who want to delve a little deeper. You might want to start with a full coffee cup.

This map of the region may help frame the questions.

lasix mg of metolazone day THE TASK

We cannot predict whether Bush and Cheney, from their thought-proofed bunker with its constantly recirculating neocon air, would wish to start a war against Iran with merely “surgical strikes” (whether against Revolutionary Guard facilities or nuclear facilities) or would prefer to implement a massive “shock and awe” campaign against 10,000 targets. Neither do we know if they would incorporate a ground action to seize Iranian oil and gas fields in Khuzestan along the Iraqi border, though it is hard to imagine that Cheney would attack Iran without planning to seize a good portion of its energy resources and trying to secure the Iranian side of the Strait of Hormuz, as in an updated OPLAN 1002-4, the “Khuzestan Gambit.” But we can at least raise questions about some of the potential consequences of an attack.

Here is samples of viagra tablets one possible framework to order our thoughts; others in the blogosphere will certainly have more coherent outlines than this one. This framework is simply a series of commonsensical questions that any rational actor would want to ponder before making so momentous a decision as to launch a war and unleash large-scale death and destruction.

For more graphic detail than the map above offers to provide context for these questions, here is a good zoomable map of the region.

click here THE QUESTIONS

source url I. Initial Iranian Responses: Limited and Calibrated? Or Swarming and Massive?
  A. Immediate military capabilities for responses against U.S. forces and bases, i.e., SAM defenses (such as the TOR-M1), anti-ship missiles, ballistic missiles, air force, and navy
  B. Capability of ground forces, especially Revolutionary Guards, perhaps with aid of Iraqi Shiite militias, to cut off U.S. supply lines through Basra area in Iraq
  C. Capabilities for immediate responses against key military facilities or infrastructure in regional states enabling and supporting a U.S. attack. (Is the Shahab-3 ballistic missile sufficiently accurate to be militarily useful? With a CEP of 30 meters, yes. With a CEP of 190 meters, not so much.)
  D. Immediate capabilities for sabotage and terrorist responses (assassinations of pro-U.S. leaders, etc.) throughout the region. including various U.S. base facilities and Saudi oilfields (with a large Shiite  population)
  E. Ability to close the Strait of Hormuz to all commerce by deploying indigenously produced Noor  anti-ship missiles or more advanced Russian missiles (Yakhont? Moskit? Alpha?) in its arsenal (the Noor system alone seems sufficient to close the Strait)
  F. Capacity to launch paramilitary or surrogate attacks on U.S. military, governmental, or commercial facilities worldwide
  G. Capacity to retaliate with asymmetrical cyber warfare disruptions of the U.S. telecommunications  infrastructure, and perhaps even of the U.S. military’s unclassified NIPRNet for logistics traffic. (For eye-opening, though dated, details on Iranian cyber warfare preparations, scroll to page 59 in this report.)
  H. Israel: varsity starter on the U.S. air assault team and therefore an immediate target for Iranian  retaliation? Or just a head cheerleader for the prewar pep rallies? Interested but not-so-innocent  bystander and spectator? What Israeli targets would be most vulnerable to Iranian Shahab  ballistic missiles? Perhaps the Negev Nuclear Research Center at Dimona?

follow link II. Degree of Likely Intelligence and Ongoing Logistical Support and Resupply from Russia and  China
(Note Russian President Vladimir Putin’s public expressions of support for Iran during this week’s Caspian Summit.)
  A. Providing Iran with early warning of U.S. (or Israeli) initiation of attacks from SIGINT, reconnaissance satellites, or human sources within U.S. or allied armed forces or policy levels
  B. Providing Iran with satellite photography and coordinates of U.S. ships and ground forces in the  region (BTW, note the Russian launch of what appears to be a rudimentary Iranian photoreconnaisance satellite in October, 2005. China is scheduled to launch the SMMS for Iran this fall.)
  C. Providing electronic jamming and countermeasures assistance
  D. Replenishing SAMs, radars, anti-ship missiles, and anti-armor infantry weapons used or destroyed  in early stages of conflict
  E. Possibility that Russia or China might provide weaponry directly to Shiite militias in Iraq–or even to the Iraqi Government, if it turns against the U.S. (note in this context Iraq’s recent order for $100 million worth of Chinese weapons)

III. Possible Iranian Regional Political and Paramilitary Responses
  A. Iraq: would al-Maliki’s Iraqi Army turn its weapons on U.S. troops in country?
  B. Turkey: would the Turks join with Iran, Syria, and perhaps even with a suddenly unified Iraqi Shiite  coalition under al-Maliki, al-Hakim (Badr Brigades), and al-Sadr (Madhi Army) to try to crush the Kurds once and for all? Would the Turks permit basing and overflights of U.S. aircraft for attacks on Iran? (Unlikely: Turkey denied such permission for the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. U.S.-Turkish military relations are currently foundering. Watch for signs that Turkey may intend to restrict U.S. Air Force activities at the key base at Incirlik.)
  C. Kuwait, whose Defense Minister has declared that Kuwait would not allow itself to be used as a launching point for attacks on Iran
  D. Gulf States, notably the U.A.E., whose President has declared that no attacks on Iran would be launched from its territory
  E. Bahrain: Shiite majority; major U.S. base; likely very nervous; note Bahraini Parliament’s opposition to permitting U.S. to use Bahraini territory for launching attacks on Iran
  F. Afghanistan: might Iran withdraw support from Karzai and switch sides to support Taliban, or perhaps urge its old allies in the Northern Alliance to behave more independently?
  G. Pakistan: pay off tribal chiefs to create disruption in Baluchistan? Or perhaps collaborate with Pakistan to throw support behind the Taliban–Pakistan’s real preference–to squeeze the U.S. out of the region? The latter seems at least possible in view of the recent Iran-Pakistan pipeline deal, which seems likely to be extended to India.
  H. Syria: coordinate to step up pressure against Israel via Hezbollah?
  I. Lebanon: promote all-out civil war via Hezbollah? Could Iran supply large numbers of anti-ship  missiles to Hezbollah for use against Israeli navy ships and commercial shipping bound for Israeli ports?
  J. Saudi Arabia: offer modus vivendi and cooperation in oil pricing in return for Saudis’ distancing  themselves from fealty to U.S.? Here is one analytical perspective on Iranian-Saudi relations.
  K. Egypt: funnel weapons through Egypt to Hamas in Gaza to help Egypt redirect rising domestic pressures to a foreign focus?

IV. Possible Medium-term Iranian Military Responses in the Region
  A. Flooding Lebanon, Gaza, and Iraq with man-portable SAMs, such as the Iranian-produced Mithaq-2? Remember how U.S.-supplied Stinger missiles quickly turned the tide against the Soviets in Afghanistan in 1986?
  B. Flooding the region with guided, standoff anti-armor weapons, such as the Iranian-produced equivalent of the Sagger portable anti-tank missile, thereby escalating the challenges to occupying foreign forces and making their positions increasingly untenable?
  C. If Israel (or U.S.) escalates to nuclear strikes on Iran, what is Iran’s capacity to retaliate with chemical or biological WMD against Israel?

V. Reponses–Political, Economic, Military (if any)–among Key U.S. Allies, Especially Euroopeans
  A. Will the UK salute and join? Or hunker down and seek safe passage from the Iranians and their Iraqi Shiite allies for withdrawal from their remaining base at Basra in Iraq?
  B. Will Germany edge toward the Russian and Chinese position? (German Prime Minister Angela Merkel has been touting Germany’s “strategic relationship” with Russia. Putin has promised to build the Nord Stream gas pipeline from Russia to Germany on time.)
  C. What does French President Sarkozy expect to get out of supporting a U.S. attack? Just cheap oil  (unlikely to happen)? Or is Dassault complaining to him that Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics,  Northrop Grumman and the UK’s BAE are scarfing up all the big arms contracts in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf and that he must insure that the Saudis follow through with their pre-purchase agreement for twenty Falcon 2000XL aircraft?
  D. Will any other major players, notably Italy or Spain, support, or actively oppose, an attack on Iran?
  E. Impact of UN propaganda battles, especially considering likely resistance to U.S. military strikes from Russia and China and the independent approach by Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei and the IAEA (i.e., searching for evidence rather than merely accepting neocon assertions)

VI. Likely Impact on Oil Prices and World Economy
  A. Effects of sharply rising oil prices on U.S. economy, now teetering on brink of recession
  B. Effects on already plunging U.S. dollar
  C. Effects on economies of key allies in Western Europe and also on Japan (which depends on the Middle East for 89 percent of its oil, most of it tankered through the Strait of Hormuz)
  D. Effects on economies of geopolitical rivals, such as China and Russia. Key question: are the Chinese likely to help finance an attack on Iran. as they have done with the invasion and occupation of Iraq, by continuing to make massive purchases of U.S. T-Bills? If not, what will happen to the T-Bill auction market?

VII. Likely Reactions by al Qaeda and its Affiliates
  A. Would a U.S. “preemptive” war against Shiite Iran deliver an undeserved, unexpected strategic victory to the radical Sunni movement of Osama bin Laden?
  B. Would resulting public outrage throughout the Islamic World blur the age-old hostilities between  Shiites and Sunnis, as well as bring legions of new recruits to al Qaeda?
  C. Might a U.S. attack on Iran even push Iran and al Qaeda into a strategic alliance of convenience,  perhaps to provide joint support to the Taliban in Afghanistan and radical Islamists in Pakistan?  (Remember: Pakistan actually has components for a few dozen nuclear weapons. The vast bulk of Pakistan’s fissile material is highly enriched uranium, which is suitable for the kind of gun-barrel nuclear device that that even a non-state actor could engineer and assemble.)
  D. If the Saudi Royal Family decides to provide full military, diplomatic, and economic backing to a U.S. assault on Iran, might Iran seek also to collaborate with al Qaeda to disrupt Saudi oilfields and pipelines and step up internal subversion against the Saudi regime?

VIII. Likely Impact on U.S. Domestic Political Order
  A. Censorship (even more than now) of media?
  B. Censorship (using Chinese or Saudi methods of IP address filtering) of the Internet–including  blocking progressive blogsites–to tamp down potential dissent and organized resistance?
  C. Surveillance (primarily electronic) and arrest of anti-war activists, perhaps as “illegal enemy  combatants” for refusing to support the new war against Iran? Easy to do with current warrantless programs.
  D. Disruption (with unquestioning collaboration by telecoms) of e-mail exchanges and cell phone  communications among known political opponents? Simple step beyond current warrantless programs.
  E. Use of military forces or security contractors to maintain public order and suppress any potential street demonstrations, just as the Pinkerton men did in yesteryear, or as Blackwater did after Hurricane  Katrina in New Orleans?
  F. Implementation of secret provisions of Executive Orders and exploitation of provisions in Homeland Security legislation to suppress civil liberties and detain intractable political opponents, independent journalists, and anti-war organizers–real or merely suspected?
  G. Likely responses by the Democratic leadership–well, on second thought, not much reflection is required on that point. We can expect Nancy, Steny, and Harry to declare:

My goodness! How dreadful! Oh, and here’s the money you wanted for the war. Now don’t you dare accuse us of not supporting the troops!

A little later, when the compounding scope of the accelerating new debacle becomes evident to all sentient observers, the Democratic leadership will of course add with apparent consternation:

But we never intended for the Kyl-Lieberman Amendment to authorize the President to launch a war against Iran. It was just a non-binding resolution! And we had no way of predicting that things would turn out this badly!

Blogosphere to Congresscritters: “non-binding” in practical terms means pretty much the same thing as “enabling.” Shall we take up a public collection to provide a thesaurus and a dictionary for each Senator’s and Congressman’s office?

Are the widespread reports that AIPAC actually drafted the Kyl-Lieberman Amendment true? If so, why would our Congress allow a lobbying organization acting on behalf of a foreign power to write U.S. legislation?

IX. Likely Cost in Blood, Treasure, and Time–for U.S. and Region
(Paul Wolfowitz once assured Congress that the oil that we would grab from Iraq would pay for that preemptive war. Doesn’t seem to be working out that way. So far, projections point to a cost of more than $2 trillion for the Iraq War.)
  A. Projected casualties: U.S., Iranian (military and civilian), and other (Iraqi, Israeli, Lebanese, etc.): tens of thousands? Hundreds of thousands, as already in Iraq? When all is said and done, even millions?
  B. Anticipated refugee flows, internal and cross-border; reserve capacity of UN and other international aid organizations to respond to multiple new humanitarian crises in region
  C. Cost projections, please. How much? How to finance? Chinese purchase of  T-Bills?
  D. Duration? A few weeks, as “planned” for Iraq?
  E. What are the metrics for achieving and declaring “success” in a preemptive war against Iran?
  F. And what are the metrics for acknowledging failure? At what point must the compulsive gambler be stopped from doubling down, compelled to gather up his remaining chips, and dragged from the table before he loses everything?

SO WHERE DO THE QUESTIONS LEAD? TO TECTONIC GEOPOLITICAL SHIFTS?

In a few minutes of similar reflection and outlining, each of us can do his own “blink” analysis. A moderately alert college freshman or ordinary voter who follows the daily news online (or at least Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show and Stephen Colbert’s The Colbert Report at Comedy Central on cable TV) could probably do as well in an hour or two. All it takes is common sense, an Internet connection, and an adult’s discarding of credulity to recognize the catapulted propaganda and disinformation for what they are. While the purpose of this thought experiment is to raise questions rather than to provide answers, even this modest effort quickly demonstrates that there are so many unpredictable variables, many with obvious and substantial downsides for U.S. economic and geopolitical interests, not to mention the interests of U.S. allies, that it would be beyond madness to expect a manageable “cakewalk” against Iran.

After cobbling together this outline of questions and trying to apply what Napoleon called the coup d’oeil to encompass reality at a glance, the truly tectonic scale of five potential Iranian reactions to a U.S. attack seems to leap out:

(1) If the Iranians are able to coordinate swarming, simultaneous salvos of anti-ship missiles from multiple directions against U.S. Navy vessels in the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea, two or three days of intensive combat could leave much of the U.S. fleet badly damaged or even sunk. Such a scenario would instantaneously vaporize the credibility of the long-feared U.S. carrier strike force as the ultimate, heretofore invincible tool for modern gunboat diplomacy and military intervention. A single major engagement in the Persian Gulf could thereby bring an abrupt, disorderly end to U.S. regional and global hegemony. Impossible, you say? Check out this account of the abortive start of the U.S. military’s massive Millennium Challenge 2002 war game. And BTW, what would be the environmental implications of a nuclear reactor oozing radioactive material from a sunken U.S. aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf or the Strait of Hormuz? And might China take advantage of a U.S. military humiliation–or at least preoccupation–in the Persian Gulf to ratchet up political and perhaps even military pressure against Taiwan?

(2) Iran’s closing the Strait of Hormuz and sabotaging Saudi oifields, ports, and pipelines would likely bring most industrialized nations economically to their knees within months, if not weeks–despite rationing and the existence of the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve with its current 56 days of import protection. Economic disruptions would surely be followed in many countries by political turmoil. Japan is highly dependent on Iranian oil, and has acceded to Iran’s request in July to be paid in yen instead of U.S. dollars. China would also be a very interested party, for it imports 13 percent of its oil from Iran.

(3) A major, lengthy disruption of oil supplies from the Persian Gulf region would strengthen Russia’s energy leverage with Europe. Besides the Nord Stream to Germany, a trans-Balkan pipeline will also connect Western Europe to Russian supplies. Remember that Putin is an expert in judo, and has even co-authored a book on the sport, Judo: History, Theory, Practice. Putin understands principles of timing and force, and in his book he notes the importance of choosing the right moment to “unlock” and give one’s stronger opponent the chance to lose his balance, plunge forward, and fall clumsily. The bigger the opponent, the heavier the fall. Would not a U.S. attack on Iran be such an “unlocking” moment to Russia’s immediate advantage, especially if Russian-manufactured anti-ship missiles proved their effectiveness against the U.S. Navy and if the Europeans were forced to become more reliant on Russian oil and gas?

Russia would certainly seek to gain political advantage from such an enhanced position as a vital source of Europe’s energy. It would not be long before NATO would develop fissures. U.S. allies would display growing disinclination to support future or even current U.S. interventions in the Middle East. U.S. allies would also ask hard questions about the wisdom of allowing the U.S. to install on European territory missile defenses that Russia might consider to be strategically destabilizing.

Remember, too, that virtually any educated Russian knows how to play chess. Putin himself seems to take some interest in the game. Chess is a game of great subtlety, complexity, patient positioning, artful sacrifices, and multi-move combinations, unlike the dice-rolling, winner-take-all Parker Brothers board game Risk that Bush liked to badger his fellow Yalies into playing, even when they had better things to do, such as study for a test. Is there an allegory here?.

Which leader, Putin or Bush, is intellectually better equipped to look several moves ahead in a period of geopolitical complexity and turmoil? Does your answer to that question help you sleep better at night? Maybe it does–if you happen to be Russian.

(4) An Iranian decision to provide large numbers of man-portable SAMs and portable guided anti-armor weapons to Shiite militias in Iraq, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and Hamas in Gaza could switch the military balance substantially in favor of such resistance groups throughout the region. Further U.S. or Israeli invasions and occupations in the area suddenly would become even more costly in blood and treasure, and perhaps even untenable altogether. U.S. casualties and losses of vehicles and aircraft (especially helicopters and transport planes) in Iraq would soar. It is even conceivable that the Iraqi Government under Prime Minister al-Maliki and President Talabani could turn to Iran, Russia and China as primary patrons and switch overnight to oppose the U.S. occupation. Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, spiritual leader of Iraq’s Shiites, is becoming increasingly vocal in his criticism of foreign (i.e., U.S.) contractors and occupation forces.

From Abu Ghraib, to the Marine killings of civilians at Haditha, to the casual killing of civilians by Blackwater and other mercenary contactors, to civilian casualties caused by frequent U.S. air strikes in urban areas, to U.S. detention of Iranian officials present in Iraq at the invitation of the Iraqi Government, to the rapid spread of cholera (largely because the U.S. will not allow trucks carrying chlorine into the country for fear of their falling into the hands of insurgents), to Senator Biden’s ill-advised resolution effectively calling for the three-way partition of Iraq, even America’s Iraqi clients seem to be approaching the critical snapping point of: “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it any more!”

(5) If a U.S. attack pushes Iran’s mullahs to go against historical precedents and ideological inclinations and instead negotiate a strategic alliance of convenience with Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda and its affiliates, such as the Taliban, the brittle regimes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia would quickly find themselves under enormous internal military and political pressure. This outcome would be supersaturated with irony, for in its wake the quickest path both for Iran and al Qaeda to acquire components for nuclear weapons–those currently under Pakistan’s control–could emerge as an unintended consequence of America’s launching a preemptive war against Iran. Such Iranian strategic flexibility is not inconceivable; after all, one current client, Hamas, is Sunni, not Shiite.

ARE EVENTS ON THE GROUND JUST SWIRLING? OR MOVING IN A DIRECTION?

It seems odd that the public debate omits the obvious common interests between the U.S. and Iran: (1) keeping the oil flowing (our way) and the money flowing (Iran’s direction); (2) establishing a stable Iraq (Iran seems perfectly happy with the Shiite-dominated proto-government which the U.S. has installed as its client); (3) supporting the Karzai government in Kabul against a resurgent, Sunni fundamentalist Taliban; (4) curbing the influence of Sunni fundamentalist al Qaeda sympathizers in the region; and, obvious at least from Iran’s standpoint, (5) avoiding the immense death and destruction that would follow in the wake of a major conflict with a military superpower. There are also obvious differences, based largely on unwavering U.S. support for Israeli policies in the region, while Iran supports Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Gaza, and Syria in its quest to regain the Israeli-occupied Golan. It is difficult to see why those differences should impel the U.S. to attack Iran, nor is there any good reason to insist that U.S. policy toward the region must be subservient to the wishes of the current hard-line Israeli governing coalition under the corruption-plagued Olmert.

The dispute over Iran’s nuclear program is the one being pushed to the forefront by the neocons, as was the case with supposed Iraqi nuclear weapons program and other WMD before the invasion of Iraq. Just to review the reality under international law, remember that Iran (unlike Israel, Pakistan, or India) is a party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Articles III and IV of that treaty grant each party the right to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, as long as it negotiates appropriate safeguards with the IAEA. As IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei pointed out in September, the IAEA has been able to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material by Iran. The IAEA and Iran continue to work on a comprehensive agreement regarding safeguards. While it is certainly possible that Iran is secretly pursuing a nuclear weapons program, the IAEA (or anyone else) has no proof of such a program. Dr. ElBaradei’s international reservoir of credibility on this issue remains full from his careful, skeptical, analytical approach to now-disproved allegations regarding an Iraqi nuclear program in the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq. U.S. Secretary of State Rice’s international reservoir of credibility on such issues was long ago drained dry by her credulous (or, more likely, cynical) catapulting of propaganda claims conforming to the neocon agenda for Iraq and Iran. But the IAEA safeguards process with Iran is far from dead and has certainly not reached an impasse.

If we ordinary observers in the blogosphere can figure these things out by sifting through information available to everybody on the planet, why cannot the few ideologues who, within the confines of their apparently windowless and soundproofed neocon echo chamber, make policy and decide to launch preemptive wars, do the same? Besides willfully ignoring publicly available information, do the neocon policymakers also willfully ignore the U.S. Government’s expensively gathered and analyzed classified intelligence if it happens to contradict neocon dogma?

It is astonishing that such ever-loyal neocon apparatchiks as National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice seem not to have mastered the first steps of elementary information gathering and cost-benefit analysis, despite their many years in the neocon national security “Establishment.” Their assigned task seems to be merely to implement by rote the received “unitary executive” policy, not to question it, much less inform its creators. Rice and Hadley seem to have clicked their heels and saluted. At least Rice still gets to have her photo taken often as she flies, waves, meets, and smiles-though she seemed not to have had much to smile about during her most recent, generally tense and bungled visit to Moscow, along with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.

How was the subject of Iran handled by each side at the meetings in Moscow? Did Russian Defense Minister Antoli Serdyukov warn that a U.S. attack on Iran would meet with a surprising response with the help of Russian weapons systems already provided to Iran? The French press has been citing intelligence sources in reporting that Russian President Putin has warned Iran of Israel’s plan, with U.S. help, to strike Iranian nuclear facilities toward the end of 2007. The U.S. would then follow with its own assault on Iran. Are the Russians simply trying to make sure that Iran would not be caught unawares by an Israeli and U.S. “shock and awe” campaign? The same French reporting asserts that the Russians are now sending anti-ship missiles and anti-aircraft missiles to Iran. Speaking at the Caspian Summit in Tehran this week, Putin issued a stern public warning against using military force in the region. Putin’s visit was the first by a Russian leader to Tehran since Stalin attended the Tehran Conference with President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill in 1943.

Recall that in March rumors swirled that the Russians were predicting a U.S. strike on Iran for April 6th. Obviously, the strike did not occur. Is it possible that the carefully executed Iranian seizure of 15 British sailors and marines in disputed waters on March 23rd may have thrown a wrench in U.S. planning and thereby averted a regional disaster?

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates surely is up to the task of asking tough questions about the consequences of attacking Iran. Unfortunately, Gates, a long-time loyal Bush family retainer, simply may not be up to the task of insisting on credible answers or of putting a stop to the madness, although since April, 2007 some reporting indicates that he has been putting up a stout effort to thwart Cheney’s “fondest pipe dream” to attack Iran.

Even if a member or two of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, or perhaps the very sane and reality-based CENTCOM Commander Admiral William J. Fallon, were to resign rather than carry out an arguably illegal and certainly irrational order to launch preemptive strikes (framed, of course, as “defensive” in nature) against Iran, there will be an ample supply of tail-wagging, eager-to-please sycophants in the mold of General David Petraeus to take their places.

The Boys in the Bunker will always be able to find enough ambitious, heel-clicking apparatchiks who will say: “Yes, sir,” and ask no irritating, troublesome questions.

And the “deciders” can probably find and co-opt enough short-sighted and even complicit Democrat in Congress, too, as the 76-22 vote on the Kyl-Lieberman Amendment in the Senate demonstrated.

Is it possible that the Boys in the Bunker are asking questions like the common sense ones in the outline above? Not likely. Bush has repeatedly demonstrated that he is intellectually impaired, incurious, and millennialist. And what about Cheney? Isn’t he smart enough to ponder such questions? Here is the reality check: even the incurious Bush managed to squeak through Yale with a “gentleman’s C-minus average.” Cheney flunked out of Yale not merely once, but twice. He lacked the intellectual capacity and discipline even to complete the work assignments and hang on with grades of C-minus or D. Cheney is not especially bright, but he is paranoid, authoritarian, and malevolent.

Displaying a relentless will in pursuit of corporatist, neocon interventionist, and “unitary executive” agendas obviously does not correspond to any particular ability to distill truth from facts or to reflect on the larger consequences of one’s actions.

And remember that the Bush/Cheney White House team has a proven track record: a confirmed debacle in Iraq and an emerging debacle in Afghanistan. So does Israeli Prime Minister Olmert’s Kadima-led coalition: the embarrassing invasion of Lebanon in 2006–with obvious U.S. encouragement–in a futile effort to crush Hezbollah.

By now we are compelled to conclude that the “deciders” both in Washington and Tel Aviv (and the enabling U.S. Senators and Congressmen as well) have learning curves coinciding with the X axis on the strategic graph.

Even if it is all mainly about the oil, as Alan Greenspan let slip in his recent memoir and as former CENTCOM Commander Gen. John Abizaid (Ret.) asserted recently at Stanford (“We’ve treated the Arab world as a collection of big gas stations.”), at what point do the vast amounts of blood and treasure expended to secure the oilfields of Iraq and perhaps also of Iran surpass the return on investment? Could we not just let the Iraqis and Iranians run their own countries, manage state-run oil companies if that is their preference, and contract with them to purchase their oil (even if they want yen, yuan, or euros instead of dollars), rather than occupy their territory for decades in an effort to enforce production sharing agreements advantageous mainly to Big Oil?

Will the Boys in the Bunker give the order to try for a hat trick with Iran? Will they move beyond mere debacle to outright catastrophe? If a quagmire is the best that they can manage in Iraq, imagine what they can accomplish in Iran, a nation of four times the size and three times the population, not to mention one possessing a disciplined and well-led military with high morale and infused with the Shiite willing acceptance of martyrdom. And while the Iranian military is certainly not up to the technical standards and awesome firepower of the U.S. forces in the region, remember that Iran possesses a large arsenal of lethal anti-ship missiles. Given Iran’s commanding position along the Strait of Hormuz, such missiles, along with Russian intelligence support, may well be the only weapons it really needs to neutralize a seemingly overwhelming American military advantage in sheer firepower.

A SHORT CONCLUDING RANT

Ken Burns’ magnificent and profoundly moving The War series on PBS has reminded us how even an unavoidable, necessary, defensive war like World War II is marked by horrendous human blunders (even by the good guys) and by pointless destruction, death, maiming, and untold human suffering.

What words can we possibly summon to describe what launching an unnecessary war of “preemption” (i.e., a war of aggression under the precedents of the Nuremberg Tribunal) brings in its wake?

Who would launch such a war?

Simpletons? Check. X
Lunatics? Check. X
Fanatical neocon ideologues? Check. X
War profiteers, i.e., Big Guns, Big Oil, and Big Wartime Contractors? Check. X
Sociopathic, Nuremberg-caliber war criminals? Check. X

Are these “deciders” actively seeking Armageddon on the hill of Megiddo? Or are they yearning for a Wagnerian Götterdämmerung?

Or are the U.S. “deciders” simply incurious about the likely consequences of their actions and incapable of considering alternatives? The late historian Barbara Tuchman, author of The Guns of August and The March of Folly, had a word for such behavior: wooden-headedness.

No matter what Cheney and Bush decide to do with the massive U.S. destructive power that they have deployed to the Persian Gulf, the geopolitical tectonic plates have begun to slide swiftly. Will the plates arrive at a new equilibrium with–or without–the shock of a regional (and perhaps global) cataclysm that would be triggered by a U.S. assault on Iran?

in Other news…

Welcome to a weekly roundup of news related to the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, and otherwise “Other” community.

  • Starting with the good news… 2007 is a record year for the number of openly queer candidates running for political office in a year with no federal elections: a whopping 71, if you can believe that.  This includes people like Pam Bennett, a transgender politician running for city council in Colorado.  Only six states still have no openly gay or lesbian elected officials at any level…  including my home state.  Hoorah!
  • Now for more sobering news… In the course of the last 20 years, HIV/AIDS has gone from a mysterious “gay cancer” to an international crisis to a celebrity cause to background noise.  Most of what we hear in the news today involves skyrocketing rates in Africa and the debate over condoms, which is why the 2005 report by the Center for Disease Control is all the more sobering: among MSM (that’s “men who have sex with men”) in urban areas, 21% of whites and 46% of blacks have HIV.  If you live near D.C. and are interested, the NIH Office of AIDS Research Advisory will be holding an open meeting on October 24th, focusing specifically on the spread of HIV in minority communities.  More info here.
  • And some heartwarming news… counter to the largely negative story about living out in nursing homes that I posted last week, consider this: a 93 year old British man who recently came out in The Old Vicarage Nursing home has written a novel about forbidden love, The Heart Entrapped (h/t Towleroad).  Says author Mike Soper:

    “When all the old ladies heard about the book, they asked if they could read it. So I had to tell them I was gay and that it was a gay-themed novel.”

    Mr Soper, a former academic at Christ Church, Oxford, until 1981, said it had been nice to be honest about his sexuality after so many years.

    • Over at bloggernista, an excellent interview with Donald Powell, director of the advocacy group Gay Men of African Descent:

      GMAD was founded at a time when there were no opportunities and physical spaces for black gay, bisexual and transgender men to meet socially and address issues that affected them. Despite major improvements that have taken place in the lives of our community, black gay men still face enormous challenges around acceptance, discrimination, health issues that make the work of GMAD still very relevant.

    • Homophobia is an odd route to world peace, but frothing hatred knows no national boundaries.  Consider Watchmen on the Walls, an international anti-gay group that will be meeting in Washington state later this week.  An odd union of American holocaust deniers, Latvian evangelists, and Russian reactionaries, the group is following on the successes of its conference in Novosibirsk with a conference in Lynnwood… Hoorah!  Box Turtle Bulletin has more.
    • Congratulations to Pam’s House Blend for being targeted by the Christian Civic League of Maine as a “leading source of radical homosexual propaganda, anti-Christian bigotry, and radical transgender advocacy.”  If I were Pam, I’d have that printed out on t-shirts for all my readers to wear.
    • I’m ENDA’d out at the moment, so no news on that front.
    • This has nothing to do with queer news, but I’ve been obsessed all week with the new Radiohead album, which is worth every penny – especially since you decide how much you want to pay for it.  Here’s my pick for best track, “Reckoner“.  The harmonies make me melt into a puddle of gooey happiness.  And hey, the album cover is vaguely rainbowesque, so it kinda relates? 

      Enjoy!

    Apologies for this, but I will not be around to discuss these stories in the comments: most of my Wednesday will be spent en route to a conference.  Have a good day, and thanks for reading.

ZEITGEIST: What do Christianity, 911 and The Federal Reserve have in common?

[Cross-posted from Edgeing]

Zeitgeist is originally a German expression that means ‘the mind of the age’, literally translated as ‘time (Zeit) mind (Geist)’. It denotes the intellectual and cultural climate of an era.”wikipedia

John Fitzgerald Kennedy
Address to the American Newspaper Publishers, 27 April 1961

The very word “secrecy” is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths, and to secret proceedings.

For we are opposed around the world by a monolithic and ruthless conspiracy that relies primarily on covert means for expanding its sphere of influence — on infiltration instead of invasion, on subversion instead of elections, on intimidation instead of free choice, on guerrillas by night instead of armies by day. It is a system which has conscripted vast human and material resources into the building of a tightly knit, highly efficient machine that combines military, diplomatic, intelligence, economic, scientific, and political operations.

Its preparations are concealed, not published. Its mistakes are buried, not headlined. Its dissenters are silenced, not praised. No expenditure is questioned, no rumor is printed, no secret is revealed.

Without debate, without criticism, no Administration and no country can succeed — and no republic can survive. That is why the Athenian lawmaker Solon decreed it a crime for any citizen to shrink from controversy. And that is why our press was protected by the First Amendment — the only business in America specifically protected by the Constitution — not primarily to amuse and entertain, not to emphasize the trivial and the sentimental, not to simply “give the public what it wants” — but to inform, to arouse, to reflect, to state our dangers and our opportunities, to indicate our crises and our choices, to lead, mold, educate, and sometimes even anger public opinion.

Zeitgeist 2007: 1 hr 56 min. Or watch the film in three parts below.

What do Christianity, 911 and The Federal Reserve have in common?

This is the full Zeitgeist production.

“They must find it difficult…
Those who have taken authority as the truth,
rather than truth as the authority.”
Gerald Massey, Egyptologist (1828-1907)

Part 1: 26 min: Greatest story ever told:

This section explores the little known foundations of the Cult of Equinoctial Christolatry (Christianity) which, unannounced to most, rests in the astrotheological belief systems of the ancient world.

Part 2: 33 min: All The World’s A Stage:

9/11/2001 was the production of the century. “and the Emmy goes to…”

Part 3: 47 min: Don’t mind the men behind the curtain:

The Revolution is Now.

Will run? Won’t run? How Al Gore can stop the madness

Crossposted at Daily Kos

Sigh. Look, I’ll be brief. I come here this morning, just a peak ’cause I have other work, seriously, and oh my god, what do I find? Three Gore diaries on the rec’ list, one urging Al to run, one offering in-depth analysis the latest poll data from Gallup on Al’s chances, and one that states categorically as “breaking news” that Gore has ruled out a run completely.. Guess which one made my heart stop? Thankfully, having been on this roller-coaster for a while, I check out the comments and sure enough, Gore has said nothing of the kind , nothing new at all, and who really thinks he would break such a huge piece of news to the Europeans before his own people?

One problem that has been raised, and it’s a very valid point, is how will Gore be able to shift gears from repeatedly insisting, these many months, that  “I have no intention”, “I have no plans” to run for President to suddenly declaring he’s in?  What can he say without losing all credibility and becoming a laughing stock on the evening news? That is what this diary will examine.

What can he say? It’s pretty simple.

Plans can change.

In the light of the worsening situation (insert references to
  – the growing gap between rich and poor in U.S., greatest since the 20’s,
  – the tens of millions and ever-growing proportion of our people who languish without proper healthcare coverage, for themselves and their children
  – the deliberate subversion of our democracy and the systematic dismantling of our constitutional protections ,
  – the unfolding catastrophe in Iraq, where out troops are trapped with no way forward and no way out,
  – the ever-mounting plunder of our treasury by private interests tied to this administration,
  – and the latest scientific data on the planetary emergency which the IPCC report due out next month will reflect),

I feel it is my duty to step forward and run for the office of President of these United States, to serve my country and, with the support and guidance of the American people, should they elect me, to help restore the honour and good name of our great nation.
And that’s just for starters. Now imagine the passion in his voice. I rest my case.

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