Tuesday, October 30, 2007

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

Time Porn

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

The Freedom to Serve and the Freedom to Starve

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

Friday, October 19, 2007

Ruling Class/ History

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

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


Thursday, October 11, 2007

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

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

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


Greenhouse gas emissions hit danger mark

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

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

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

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

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


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

- continues here

Monday, October 08, 2007

October 9, 1967

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

Revisionist Daydreaming

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

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

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

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

Friday, October 05, 2007

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

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

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

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

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

Exclusive by LUCY ADAMS, Chief Reporter October 03 2007

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

America: A Corporation Before It Was A Country

Thursday, October 04, 2007