Saturday, October 25, 2014

A date with Democracy

If you're like me, you probably receive lots (and lots and LOTS) of fundraising emails from the Democratic Party and allied groups. Each of these emails has a headline designed to entice the reader to read the message.

I've noticed something strange about those headlines. If you slightly re-arrange the order, they form a kind of narrative poem. The story they tell is not political. Rather, it's...

Well, to be frank, it's a story that reminds me of a time when I was younger. And single.

(Each line below is an actual headline, copied and pasted from actual Democratic fundraising emails.)

* * *

Please, Joseph
will you?
Joseph, I'm urging you
I need you
URGENT
begging...BEGGING
pleading...PLEADING
Today We Stand For Love
Start Up and Go!
!!!!!!!
ASTRONOMICAL
PUMMELED
WE'RE GOING CRAZY HERE, Joseph
we are still grinding away
you're amazing
this is it Joseph
FINALLY (it happened!)
S-T-U-N-N-I-N-G!!!
Boehner SCREAMING (look)
done
disappointed
Boehner's MELTDOWN
we. fell. short.
everything we had...it wasn't enough
Boehner's devastating defeat
Hopes Dashed
I'm pleading (again)
YOU WON'T BELIEVE THIS!!
we weren't expecting this
STUNNING Comeback
MIRACLE (!!!)
get this HUGE surprise
A seat we CAN win
This could be the end
..not in a good place...
SCREAM
painful
terrifying
even more of a shock
Boehner's GIANT mistake
Whoa!
☺ double-dose of great news!
BEST...EVER...
Keep 'em coming
WOW
I-N-C-R-E-D-I-B-L-E
just keep on coming
Commitment
Joseph, we've tried everything
the final one
BEST...EVER...
We've got nothing left
Boehner DEFEATED
Boehner OUT
SAD BOEHNER
disappointed joseph
feeling of regret
kiss any hope goodbye
It's over. It's done. Go home.

* * *

To be honest, I can't claim that my dates really went like that. But that is how they ended.

(You know what's really frightening? Some of those emails were signed "Robert Reich.")
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Friday, October 24, 2014

News round-up: Election non-fraud, Syria, academia, Hong Kong and more...

The Arizona ballot-stuffing scam: I wrote about this incident a couple of days ago. Turns out that our friend A.J. LaFaro left out an important part of the story: The alleged "ballot stuffer" was delivering absentee ballots collected legally. In other words, he issued propaganda which conveyed the impression that a perfectly legit activity was Filth Incarnate.

A real piece of work, LaFaro is. Keep an eye on this guy. He wants attention and he will get it. I suspect that he won't quit until he has infuriated the entire nation.

Leslie Gelb: He's CFR, he supported the Iraq war, and he's Establishment All The Way -- but on Syria, he's 100% right.

Incidentally, he also happens to be 100% in agreement with the brutishly bloviating Alex Jones, with the brilliantly beautiful Syrian Girl, and with the bewilderingly bizarre Joseph Cannon. Who'd a thunk it...?
In the short term the only way to check ISIS, as the self-declared caliphate is widely known, is for the United States to work with Bashar Assad’s Syria, and with Iran. It is a tricky and perilous path, but there are no realistic alternatives.

In short, here’s why: First, air power alone can’t stop, let alone, defeat ISIS. Even those who now demand an escalation of the overly restrained U.S. air campaign don’t argue that it is a solution. Second, neither Iraq nor American-backed Syrian rebels can field viable ground forces, at least for some time. Just look at their performance to date and see if the U.S. can afford to pretend otherwise.
Sing it, Brother Gelb! I certainly feel like less of an oddball when a mainstream Serious Thinker says the same things I've been saying all along.

It's time for us to stop interfering in Syrian affairs. Yes, Bashar Assad is a dictator, and all dictators are bad news -- but American imperial overreach is even worse news. We cannot hope to understand the history of the Middle East when most of us barely understand our own history. Let's face it: Our track record in that part of the world is pretty miserable.

Occupy Hong Kong: I haven't yet talked about the Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong. This site compares the way the HK authorities have treated their protestors with the way US authorities have treated the American Occupy movement.
One of the most striking differences between Occupy Hong Kong and Occupy Wall Street is the temperance of the police if you will or the lack of slashed, destroyed tents. In Hong Kong, the protestors are being taken seriously and their possessions (private property) is not being seized and destroyed as the Zucotti Park or other OWS patrons were.

During Occupy Wall Street protests, the U.S. government refused to meet with protestors or to acknowledge their grievances with government – conversely the Chinese government wishes to talk to the protestors. Also, the U.S. media seems to side with the protestors, the hypocritical opposite of the news media with the Occupy Wall Street protestors.

The Hong Kong protestors do not contend with NSA Mossad Prism in their homes, cellphones and laptops.

At the 2011 Occupy Camps, two men were fatally shot at Occupy Oakland and Occupy Burlington, respectively. A third man survived being shot in the head with a tear gas round by Oakland Police. The Police in Hong Kong are so far much less brutal than the U.S.A. paramilitary police were as they busted up the 2011 Occupy camps in America. Hypocritically, the U.S. is calling for “a swift investigation into Hong Kong Police Brutality”.
Land of the Free, Home of the Brave, and I think I want to be sick.

Academia is a racket: A long time ago, I mentioned my drawing teacher Nancy Ohanian, the finest pen-and-ink draftsperson I've ever met (and I've met quite a few). Check out this portrait of Alexander Haig! Back when I was in her classes -- we're talking the late Carter years -- she was (aside from being a superb artist and teacher) an adorably sweet religious person in a blue cashmere sweater who didn't really know much about politics, even though she illustrated the Opinion pages of the Los Angeles.

Well, I got in touch with her a couple of weeks ago, and guess what? Nowadays, she's roughly a zillion times hipper than I am when it comes to politics. (And she's welcome to take over this blog when I finally decide to stop annoying the world with my presence.) She directs our attention to this interview with Noam Chomsky on the corruption of American academia. This is a subject she knows very well, since the university has been her professional habitat for a number of years.

Here are some excerpts. I've added a few paragraph breaks to increase readability...
If you have to control people, you have to have an administrative force that does it. So in US industry even more than elsewhere, there’s layer after layer of management—a kind of economic waste, but useful for control and domination. And the same is true in universities. In the past 30 or 40 years, there’s been a very sharp increase in the proportion of administrators to faculty and students; faculty and students levels have stayed fairly level relative to one another, but the proportion of administrators have gone way up.
But using cheap labor—and vulnerable labor—is a business practice that goes as far back as you can trace private enterprise, and unions emerged in response. In the universities, cheap, vulnerable labor means adjuncts and graduate students. Graduate students are even more vulnerable, for obvious reasons. The idea is to transfer instruction to precarious workers, which improves discipline and control but also enables the transfer of funds to other purposes apart from education. The costs, of course, are borne by the students and by the people who are being drawn into these vulnerable occupations.
If you go back to the early 1970s when a lot of this began, there was a lot of concern pretty much across the political spectrum over the activism of the 1960s; it’s commonly called “the time of troubles.” It was a “time of troubles” because the country was getting civilized, and that’s dangerous. People were becoming politically engaged and were trying to gain rights for groups that are called “special interests,” like women, working people, farmers, the young, the old, and so on.

That led to a serious backlash, which was pretty overt. At the liberal end of the spectrum, there’s a book called The Crisis of Democracy: Report on the Governability of Democracies to the Trilateral Commission, Michel Crozier, Samuel P. Huntington, Joji Watanuki (New York University Press, 1975), produced by the Trilateral Commission, an organization of liberal internationalists. The Carter administration was drawn almost entirely from their ranks. They were concerned with what they called “the crisis of democracy,” namely that there’s too much democracy.

In the 1960s there were pressures from the population, these “special interests,” to try to gain rights within the political arena, and that put too much pressure on the state—you can’t do that.

There was one special interest that they left out, namely the corporate sector, because its interests are the “national interest”; the corporate sector is supposed to control the state, so we don’t talk about them.

But the “special interests” were causing problems and they said “we have to have more moderation in democracy,” the public has to go back to being passive and apathetic. And they were particularly concerned with schools and universities, which they said were not properly doing their job of “indoctrinating the young.” You can see from student activism (the civil rights movement, the anti-war movement, the feminist movement, the environmental movements) that the young are just not being indoctrinated properly.

Well how do you indoctrinate the young? There are a number of ways.

One way is to burden them with hopelessly heavy tuition debt. Debt is a trap, especially student debt, which is enormous, far larger than credit card debt. It’s a trap for the rest of your life because the laws are designed so that you can’t get out of it. If a business, say, gets in too much debt it can declare bankruptcy, but individuals can almost never be relieved of student debt through bankruptcy. They can even garnish social security if you default.

That’s a disciplinary technique. I don’t say that it was consciously introduced for the purpose, but it certainly has that effect.

And it’s hard to argue that there’s any economic basis for it. Just take a look around the world: higher education is mostly free. In the countries with the highest education standards, let’s say Finland, which is at the top all the time, higher education is free. And in a rich, successful capitalist country like Germany, it’s free. In Mexico, a poor country, which has pretty decent education standards, considering the economic difficulties they face, it’s free.

In fact, look at the United States: if you go back to the 1940s and 50s, higher education was pretty close to free. The GI Bill gave free education to vast numbers of people who would never have been able to go to college. It was very good for them and it was very good for the economy and the society; it was part of the reason for the high economic growth rate. Even in private colleges, education was pretty close to free.

Take me: I went to college in 1945 at an Ivy League university, University of Pennsylvania, and tuition was $100. That would be maybe $800 in today’s dollars. And it was very easy to get a scholarship, so you could live at home, work, and go to school and it didn’t cost you anything.

Now it’s outrageous. I have grandchildren in college, who have to pay for their tuition and work and it’s almost impossible. For the students that is a disciplinary technique.
There's much, much more. Even if you're not a Chomsky fan, I strongly urge you to give this one a read.

By the way: I was shocked to discover the cost of community colleges here in Maryland. How can working people afford these outrageous per-unit fees? Back in California, community colleges have begun to get pricey, but  my home state's schools remain dirt cheap compared to their east coast counterparts.

And let's not even talk about what they're teaching the kids in today's art schools...! Here in Batimore, MICA is supposed to be one of the most prestigious schools in the country, but the kids who go there have given me the impression that their "classes" are really more like therapy sessions. No-one cares about the fundamentals. They don't even know who Jacques Maroger was -- and he taught there!

Bottom line: Academia is a racket. Modern art is a racket. Art schools therefore give you two rackets in one.

And finally: You know what's starting to bug me? The phrase "wreak havoc." Isn't there something else we can wreak other than havoc? Why is it that the verb "to wreak" never affixes itself to any other noun? Is it possible to wreak order? (My ex often tried to do just that, but I defied her at every turn.)
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Comments:
Isn't there something else we can wreak other than havoc?

Of course there is. One can "wreak vengeance", for example. It may, in fact, mean "to avenge" all by itself.
 
Sounds right, Prop. Can "wreak" be an intransitive verb? On many occasions, I've been told that I wreak.

I see now that they meant it as a compliment.
 
"In the short term the only way to check ISIS, as the self-declared caliphate is widely known, is for the United States to work with Bashar Assad’s Syria, and with Iran. It is a tricky and perilous path, but there are no realistic alternatives".

Oh, my. I sense some kind of very high dimensional strategic multi layered diversionary conceptual kabuki going on in that sentence there.
 
Great post, Joe, but I'd point out that that the protesters in Hong Kong were attacked with state-developed malware designed to capture key strokes, passwords, etc. The malware was found to have been coming from popular protest-centric websites, so it makes sense to point out that while our overlords do indeed spy on our every communication, so too do the Chinese overlords.
 
Joseph, we went to the local "art fair" put on by the JC every year. I think every exhibitor had less skill than me when it comes to drawing. However, they were tackling some mighty impressive topics. Dovetails with your idea about art criticism being oriented to literature rather than actual skill and execution. I think it is kind of sad, really what they are being taught. Frankly, if I want to tell a story I will write a short story, novella or even a full fledged novel as I am quite capable. Literature is its own separate art form and sometimes I just want to draw a flower and paint the darned thing to the absolute best of my ability.
 
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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Is it the oil?

The Ghawar oil field in Saudi Arabia is the world's largest. If Ghawar were to vanish tomorrow, civilization would totter -- and, perhaps, topple. In 1975, experts said that the field contained 60 million barrels of recoverable oil. To date, 65 billion barrels have been pumped out. The Saudis don't like to talk about how much is left.

In 2012, Citigroup issued a report which stated that Ghawar could run dry as early as 2030. That's why Saudi Arabia is investing in solar energy and nuclear power.

The 2012 report reflects a series of earlier pessimistic assessments. Right after these forecasts started to emerge, Saudi Arabia and its allies initiated furious efforts to topple Syria, a Shi'ite government with close ties to Iran. In recent months, the proxy war against Syria morphed into a proxy war against Iraq, another Shi'ite government with ties to Iran.

Both Iraq and Syria happen to have very large Sunni populations.

ISIS and the Nusra Front were funded by Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other Sunni powers. The goal is to carve out a Sunni superstate, funded by oil and poised to strike Iran.

Why did the Saudis fund ISIS? Most people find motive in the traditional antagonism between Sunni and Shi'ite. But those two factions have been in conflict for centuries. Why has an ancient quarrel suddenly become grounds for a massive regional war?

Syria doesn't have a tremendous amount of oil, although the country may possess reserves that we mere mortals do not know about. Right now, ISIS controls perhaps 11 oil fields, and they are selling the product for cut-rate prices -- as low as $25 a barrel. ISIS-brand oil may be one small reason why you are paying less at the pump. The larger reason: The Saudis have gone on a price-slashing binge, which seems to be a rather desperate -- and temporary -- strategic maneuver.

I think that the rulers of Saudi Arabia want a Sunni superstate to emerge out of Syria and Iraq. The Saudis probably think that they can control this new regional power. I'm not sure that they can, but I'm pretty sure they think they can.

In other words, the Saudis needed more territory -- more resources -- so they hired ISIS to function as their proxy army. A Saudi/IS superstate would be well-poised to take on Iran.

Too often, this blog (like many other blogs) has focused on Israel, which has its own reasons for seeking regime change in Syria. Although Israel is a key player in this game, it is not the only player.
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Comments:
From the linked article;

P Escobar "... oil is less than 20 percent of Iran’s revenues, so it’s not essential for them. Gas is much more important."

Qatar has massive gas holdings which they want to deliver to the European market by a pipeline through Saudi Arabia. Assad is supporting Russia by holding out for an Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline. Don't forget that Qatar is Saudi Arabia's partner in funding ISIS.

http://orientalreview.org/2013/03/30/qatars-great-power-games/
 
i'm with cbarr.. the reason they want to get rid of assad is so there can be an alternative supply of gas/oil from qatar thru syria to the european market.. much of the geopolitics in this area is about the petrodollar, but if you can screw russia, or saudi arabia or whoever else in the process - i am sure they don't care.. james
 
I agree with the other commenters: it's about the (proposed) pipeline
 
Some people think the Saudis are doing this at the behest of the United States in order to take down Russia's economy. But as Pepe Escobar points out, low petroleum prices will tank the U.S. fracking boom (which is a ponzi scheme anyway). If this lasts it will bankrupt the deep water drilling industry too. Looks like the Suadi's are in this for themselves.
 
If this move of cut rate Saudi petroleum goes on long enough it could have the effect of a Wahhabi suicide bomb upon western civilization. This cheap oil will undermine developing alternative and renewable energy sources, causing them to fold, and forcing developers to seek employment elsewhere. Extreme petroleum extraction methods such as fracking, and deep water drilling would suffer the same fate as the world habituates to cheap Saudi oil.

This is puzzling when one considers the possibilities and rumors of depleting Saudi petroleum reservoirs. So we may enter into the future of post peak oil by eliminating our infrastructure and knowledge base for alternate energy and alternate petroleum technologies. In effect, entering a serious future struggle for civilizational survival with both hands tied behind our backs, totally unprepared for the new energy reality. If one wanted to return to medieval times, this is a good start.
 
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The shooter -- and his father

The Parliament Hill shooter in Canada has been identified as a Michael Zehaf-Bibeau. There's a discrepancy regarding this man's name. Reuters:
Some U.S. government sources said the shooter was born Michael Joseph Hall but changed his name to Zehaf-Bibeau.
However, we read in The Globe and Mail that...
Mr. Zehaf-Bibeau was born in 1982 and was the son of Bulgasem Zehaf, a Quebec businessman who appears to have fought in 2011 in Libya, and Susan Bibeau, the deputy chairperson of a division of Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board. The two were divorced in 1999.
So he was born Zehaf-Bibeau. Where did the name "Michael Joseph Hall" come from?

There seems to be little or no trace of this young man on the internet, as either Hall or Zehaf-Bibeau.

At some point, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau traveled to British Columbia for as-yet unknown reasons, where he got into trouble with the law. (He seems to have had fairly minor problems with the police throughout his life.) In BC, he was charged with a robbery but pled guilty to a lesser offense and served only one day.

It also appears that MZB spent time in Libya, of all places...
Mr. Zehaf-Bibeau grew up in Eastern Canada, including Ottawa and Montreal, and had spent time in Libya before moving to Western Canada to become a miner and labourer, according to friend Dave Bathurst.
His father, Belgasem Zahef, also went to Libya in 2011, around the time of Gaddafy's fall. Fascinatingly, the father was quoted by the conservative Washington Times, in a story about the Libyan civil war published on August 20, 2011.
Zawiyah is the site of a key oil terminal that supplies the Libyan capital. Residents and rebels said the oil flow was shut off late last week.

Rebels succeeded in clearing the city of pro-Gadhafi snipers, some of whom had been holed up in a hospital in the southeastern part of the city. Most of the snipers were believed to be black African mercenaries loyal to the regime.

“There is a disaster in Zawiyah. All the buildings have been damaged; residents have been killed in their homes,” said Belgasem Zahef, a Zawiyah native who recently returned to his home in Montreal after spending over a month in detention. He was arrested in Zawiyah where he had gone to fight alongside the rebels.

Mr. Zahaf said the main prison in the city was overflowing with inmates who were forced to live in sub-human conditions and routinely tortured by their captors.
“In Tripoli people are scared because of NATO bombings,” said Mr. Zahef, who has been urging his family to leave the city. People are fleeing by using back lanes and farm roads, he added.
In sum: It would appear that the elder Zahef was raised in Libya, had family in Tripoli, moved to Montreal and married an immigration officer, whom he divorced in 1999. (There is a significant Libyan expat community in Canada.) This story refers to Zehaf as a businessman who ran a Montreal establishment called Café Tripoli. In 2011, Zehaf returned to Libya to take part in the civil war.

Did he take his son with him? This story (posted just a few minutes ago) indicates that MZB did indeed take part in the rebellion against Gaddafy. (Oddly, the same account repeats the "Michael Joseph Hall" claim.)

The robbery in British Columbia took place on December 16, 2011. The chronology allows for the possibility that MZB was in Libya earlier that year. (Gaddafy was killed in October.)

The above-cited Globe and Mail story claims that, during his stay in British Columbia, MZB showed signs of a psychological breakdown, perhaps related to his experiences in Libya.
He said his friend frequently talked about the presence of Shaytan in the world – an Arabic term for devils and demons. “I think he must have been mentally ill.”

Mr. Bathurst last saw Mr. Zehaf-Bibeau praying in a Vancouver-area mosque six weeks ago. He spoke of wanting to go to the Middle East soon.
Apparently, his passport was seized. It seems fair to speculate as to whether his inability to travel led to his subsequent act of violence.

Added note: More than one witness described the shooter as "overweight." The images of Michael Zehaf-Bibeau available online do not depict a man with a notable weight problem.

Added note 2: An alleged ISIS-linked Twitter account displayed a picture of MZB firing a rifle and dressed in a fashion similar to that reportedly worn by the Parliament Hill shooter. The word "convenient" comes to mind: The image appeared just as MZB's name first appeared in news reports. The Twitter account was suspended an hour later.
Military Studies told Heavy.com that the same Twitter account was followed by Martin Couture-Rouleau. On October 20, Rouleau killed a Canadian soldier by hitting him with his car.
Added note 3: The release of the name was strange. Look carefully...
CBS News quoted U.S. officials when reported Bibeau’s name. CNN and other outlets reported earlier that Canadian officials had shared the name with the FBI. According to the New York Times, the U.S. government has no record of Bibeau’s behavior.
So the NYT has access to all government files? Good to know! Actually, the NYT story at the other end of that link does not say what Heavy says it says.

It's certainly interesting that the Canadians shared the info with the Bureau, who told it to CBS, who told the world. You'd think that the Canadian government would be allowed to make a decision of that sort.

Added Note 4: What that above-linked NYT story does say is noteworthy:
On Twitter, followers of the Islamic State praised the attack — and warned of more to follow.

In an audio message last month, the Islamic State’s spokesman, Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, exhorted sympathizers to carry out revenge killings and included Canadians on the list of target nationalities.
Time to point out the obvious: From a practical and tactical point of view, ISIS has no reason to commit or to encourage such acts. ISIS-inspired violence in the US or Canada can have but one result: Granting Obama the political maneuvering room necessary to send American combat troops to Iraq and Syria. So why did al-Adnani make that statement? Why would he want ISIS to face American ground forces? Sure, ISIS is crazy -- but are they really that crazy?

Adnani's real name is Taha Subhi Falaha; he's from Syria. His September statement was quite drole:
“If you can kill a disbelieving American or European – especially the spiteful and filthy French – or an Australian, or a Canadian, or any other disbeliever from the disbelievers waging war, including the citizens of the countries that entered into a coalition against the Islamic State, then rely upon Allah, and kill him in any manner or way, however it may be,” he said.

“Smash his head with a rock, or slaughter him with a knife, or run him over with your car, or throw him down from a high place, or choke him, or poison him.”
Here's the bit that everyone seems to be ignoring:
However, it has not been verified yet if the recording is genuinely from the terrorist group.
I wonder why he chose the name "Adnani"? Was he hanging out with you-know-who in Monaco?
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Comments:
Well, it seems the droll (note c.s.) message to "run them over with cars" was heeded in at least one case.

I don't know, Joseph....the descriptions seem to indicate one shooter, with a dark jacket, white scarf and long hair. The "overweight" part could have been an illusion from the jacket?

I do wonder about the gun. Was that "double barrel shotgun" capable of "sustained" gunfire? That portrait of the killer was convenient indeed.

 
UK telegraph says he is a Roman Catholic Libyan French Canadian convert.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/canada/11183993/Ottawa-gunman-told-fellow-Muslim-convert-the-devil-is-chasing-me.html

Many of these cases are done by converts.

Next question to ask the guy, are you Opus Dei, Muslim Brotherhood or a Nazi? Gladio?

What's the game? Breaking the balls off of the American Empire for the benefit of the world's Royals & Elites by seducing USA back into the Middle East with another Great Lie. Gotta break them balls off the American Empire before it's gets outta control ya know. And stomp that American/French Democracy shit out of people so elites can MAKE 'MO MONEY. DESTABILIZE THE AVERAGE JOE YO! KEEP THE HEIFERS HUNGRY... and therefore under control.

Who wants that to occur? I suspect MANY are in collusion in this Grand Ol American Ball Busting.



 
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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Ottawa shootings: ONE guy...?

Let's quickly run through what we know about the Parliament Hill shootings in Canada: One gunman has been killed, but there are substantive reports of multiple shooters in multiple locations.

The Globe and Mail has released video capturing the sound of gunfire within Parliament itself, as police close in on...someone. We hear what appears to be one large burst -- a shotgun? -- followed by what seems to be reports from multiple handguns. The latter seem to be sounds of policemen returning fire.

The only reported victim was a soldier standing guard at the National War Memorial.

What I fear is the recurrence of a pattern we've seen rather too often here in the states: Initial reports always speak of multiple shooters, while the final story pins everything on just one guy. The map above (gratefully stolen from the National Post) shows the geography. I find it impossible to believe that one many could do so much over so wide an area.

Obviously, security must be very heavy in and around that building. How could a shooter at the Memorial get inside?

(We have vague reports of gunfire in still other locations.)

If the Toyota is indeed the killer's vehicle, then why did he head southwest to the memorial before going northeast to Parliament? And why would he enter the building from the northeast corner?

The Rideau Center is a shopping mall. There are conflicting reports as to whether shots were actually fired. The following comes from the National Post...
One suspect was described as “5’9-5’10, overweight and wearing a dark jacket, with a white scarf around his face,” by Stuart Barnable, a Liberal staffer who said he witnessed the events from East Block.

A Dutch tourist said he heard at least four shot and say the assailant running towards Parliament Hill, carrying a large rifle.

A Toyota Corolla, with no plates on it, was left outside of Parliament Hill. Multiple witnesses said they saw a gunman get out of it and attack the soldier. Bomb locating robots have been deployed by police near the car.

Witness Scott Walsh told the Canadian Press he was working near the East Block when he saw a man with long, black hair, his face covered with a white scarf and wearing a black jacket.

“He had a double-barrelled shotgun, he was about five feet from me, and he ran right beside us, ran past the woman with the stroller and child,” he said.

Walsh said the gunman then hijacked a dark car at gunpoint and started driving towards the Peace Tower.
The BBC has reported that crowds ran screaming from the Rideau center. If the map shown above is accurate, the incident at the Rideau center took place at 12 pm. I find it hard to believe that the shopping center would be anything other than empty roughly two hours after the attack at the War Memorial.

The New York Times has published a tweet indicating that more than one gunman was involved. Security personnel have told Parliament staffers that there were three gunmen.

No reports have discussed motive. However...
The incident comes just two days after two Canadian soldiers were run over — and one of them killed — in Quebec by a man with jihadist sympathies.
An "iffy" website printed a comment which said that the dead shooter was a French Canadian convert to Islam. This report was attributed to the BBC. However, I have not found confirmation on the BBC's website.

From NBC News:
Soucy, from the Ottawa police, told MSNBC that witness descriptions of the shooter or shooters had ranged “from wearing a scarf around their head to dressed in all black, so we’re looking at everyone.”

The motive for the attack was not clear, but it came days after Canada raised its domestic terrorism threat level. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police have said that they are watching at least 90 known ISIS sympathizers.
The RCMP Twitter feed has sounded some notes that seem almost deliberately calculated to induce paranoia. There may be legitimate reasons for asking the public not to post photos or videos of the incident, but at face value, this request looks like an attempt to control information.

Interestingly, we have reports that shots were fired after the events depicted in the video referenced above:
Conservative member of parliament Stephen Taylor tweeted that the suspect had been shot and killed just after 10:30 a.m. Though just after 20 minutes later, Rosemary Barton of CBC reported that further shots had been fired.
There are also reports that another security guard was shot inside the building.

At this time, it is difficult to get a clear idea of the timing. Taylor, above, tweeted that a suspect was killed at 10:30 a.m.; however, another MP, Gerry Byrne, tweeted:
At 9:55am I was in a meeting on the 5th floor of centre block in the Leader's office when I heard shots fired. RCMP response was immediate.
So when was the video taken, exactly? The camera should have placed a time stamp on the footage.

Weirdly enough, there have been power outages in Ottawa which, we are told, have no relationship to the shooting incident. 
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Comments:
Hello Joe. I've walked around the area in question before and from reading a random collection of statements I'm quite convinced there was only one shooter. However, there may be an accomplice who drove with the shooter to the memorial (as per witnesses). He was said to be unarmed and headed south away from parliament. If i were to guess he may have been there to document the heinous crime and may be responsible for the much discussed mystery photo. Just my theory.
 
As I've written about many, many times, eyewitness testimony is just awful. 90% of what you hear is NOT what happened and this appears to be yet another case of that. This is the same thing with the Mike Brown case which is falling apart as numerous eyewitness accounts do not jibe with the evidence now, something I was vilified for suggesting months back. It would appear that in this case, the lone gunman theory may be the best, perhaps copycatting the attack from Monday from yet another Muslim nutbag. The shots fired from the shopping plaza is said to be nothing and I see little reason t doubt this. It is funny to see Canadian news no better than our own when it comes to getting accurate info out to the public.
 
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Re-killing the messenger

Most of you have heard about Gary Webb. Back in the 1990s, this excellent journalist penned an important series about contra/CIA involvement in the dope trade. In response to his revelations, the purchased piglets of the mainstream media slammed Webb the way they had earlier slammed Jim Garrison and Richard Sprague. (In more recent times, Glenn Greenwald has received a softer variant of The Big Smear.)

The attack on Webb was savage. Pitiless. Hideous. And spectacular. It had the barbaric majesty of an Aztec sacrifice.

I briefly corresponded with Gary Webb about a year before he committed suicide. By then, of course, he had already committed professional suicide. My expressions of support may have added to his depression, since they probably seemed like premature bereavement cards. My basic message: I admire what you tried to do, Mr. Webb. But they screwed you with obscene ferocity, and right now, I can't think of any way to make things better.

Those may not have been comforting words, but what else was there to say?

The Washington Post is still publishing lies about Gary Webb in order to undermine the new Webb biopic Kill the Messenger. The film stars Jeremy Renner, who was the main force in getting this film off the ground. (Hawkeye is suddenly my favorite Avenger.)

The WP piece is written by one Jeff Leen. If you want some background on this guy, visit Narco News, which has all the dirty details:
Why are we telling you about this Jeff Leen character? You’ve probably never heard of him or read any his work or, if you did, found it important or memorable, not even during his 17 years at the Washington Post. You might be able to name other Post writers and columnists, including people who’ve been there far less time than Leen. But for good reason, you’ve never heard of this guy.
Leen apparently burst a spleen when he saw “Kill the Messenger” on the silver screen. There was the late Gary Webb. Although he never made the “millions” Leen said back in 1997 that he aspired to win through journalism, Webb is suddenly occupying the heroic space in Hollywood’s star pantheon that Leen told us in 1997 was his dream to fill. And so Leen took his butthurt grievance to the Washington Post editorial pages last Friday.
This piece offers much more. A terrific read.

You should also take a look at Robert Parry's response to the WP's variegated deceits.
Leen insists that there is a journalism dictum that “an extraordinary claim requires extraordinary proof.” But Leen must know that it is not true. Many extraordinary claims, such as assertions in 2002-03 that Iraq was hiding arsenals of WMDs, were published as flat-fact without “extraordinary proof” or any real evidence at all, including by Leen’s colleagues at the Washington Post.

A different rule actually governs American journalism – that journalists need “extraordinary proof” if a story puts the U.S. government or an “ally” in a negative light but pretty much anything goes when criticizing an “enemy.”

If, for instance, the Post wanted to accuse the Syrian government of killing civilians with Sarin gas or blame Russian-backed rebels for the shoot-down of a civilian airliner over Ukraine, any scraps of proof – no matter how dubious – would be good enough (as was the actual case in 2013 and 2014, respectively).

However, if new evidence undercut those suspicions and shifted the blame to people on “the U.S. side” – say, the Syrian rebels and the Ukrainian government – then the standards of proof suddenly skyrocket beyond reach. So what you get is not “responsible” journalism – as Leen tries to suggest – but hypocrisy and propaganda. One set of rules for the goose and another set for the gander.
Actually, the situation is even worse than that. I recall an NYT opinion piece published in the late 1980s which scoffed at the paranoid fools who thought that the CIA had tried to kill Fidel Castro -- a story which the New York Times had itself broken in the 1970s. Insert standard Orwell reference here.

The best, most detailed, most hard-hitting piece on Webb you are likely to read is by Jim DiEugenio. If you have time to read only one study of the Webb affair, Jim's article is a must. I had hoped to publish Jim's words on this very blog, but I need the permission of his publisher to do so, and Bob Parry is hard to reach. These excerpts will have to suffice:
Although the initial assaults on Webb’s series were mounted by the right-wing news media, including the Washington Times, the MSM soon prepared its own withering counterattack against Webb. It began on Oct. 4, 1996, with a front-page story, with sidebars, in the Washington Post. The lead article was written by Walter Pincus and Roberto Suro, entitled “The CIA and Crack: Evidence is Lacking of Alleged Plot.”

A relentless offensive followed designed to crush the populist uprising in its infancy. In short order, the New York Times joined in. Then came the Los Angeles Times with the most deliberate and vicious attack. Editor Shelby Coffey commissioned the equivalent of a journalistic SWAT team. No less than 17 reporters prepared a three-day series that was actually longer than Webb’s original “Dark Alliance” series. Internally, it was known as the “Get Gary Webb Team.” (LA Weekly, 9/29/14)

As the team worked, its common chorus was: “We’re going to take away this guy’s Pulitzer.” The hit team was headed by Doyle McManus and Leo Wolinsky. (A few months later, Coffey promoted Wolinsky to assistant managing editor.)
I recall that barrage very well. Representatives of the LAT hit team appeared in every public gathering that would have them, and their obvious lies generated palpable hostility from audiences. Whenever KPFK broadcast a "forum" featuring their voices, I came that close to tossing my radio out of my second-floor window.
But was there more to all this than just a vendetta against a reporter from a smaller northern California newspaper unearthing a huge scandal on the Los Angeles Times’ home turf? While professional jealousy clearly played a role in the cruelty inflicted on Webb, the intensity of the counterattack also reflected the symbiotic relationship between the U.S. national security apparatus and Washington-based national security reporters who are dependent on official background briefings to receive pre-approved information that news organizations need, especially during foreign crises when access to on-the-ground events is limited.
This next section is important.

Seriously. I implore you to read these words with care, and to keep the message in your memory. I'll return to this theme in a few upcoming posts, including one on the heroic and embattled Syrian Girl.

(In the following excerpt, all emphases were added by me.)
A recently released CIA document on how the counterattack against Webb was promoted is revealing in this regard. Entitled “Managing a Nightmare: CIA Public Affairs and the Drug Conspiracy Story,” the six-page internal report. described the CIA’s damage control in the wake of the publication of Webb’s story.

The report showed how the spy agency’s PR team exploited relationships with mainstream journalists who then essentially did the CIA’s work for it, mounting a devastating counterattack against Webb that marginalized him and painted the Contra-cocaine trafficking story as some baseless conspiracy theory.

Crucial to that success, the report credits “a ground base of already productive relations with journalists and an effective response by the Director of Central Intelligence’s Public Affairs Staff [that] helped prevent this story from becoming an unmitigated disaster.”

The Agency convinced friendly journalists to characterize Webb’s series as presenting “no real news, in that similar charges were made in the 1980’s and were investigated by the Congress and were found to be without substance.” That, of course, was a lie. In fact, Kerry’s investigation confirmed many of the Contra-cocaine allegations first reported by Parry and Barger for the Associated Press.

According to the CIA’s “Managing a Nightmare” report, journalists were advised to read Webb’s series critically and the CIA considered the initial attack by the Washington Post the key moment in blunting Webb’s story. The CIA distributed the negative stories to other members of the press.

From there, other papers refused to pick up Webb’s articles, but they often carried the articles attacking him. The CIA’s report noted that the tide of the public relations battle had fully turned by October and soon became a rout. Even the American Journalism Review, which – like similar publications – is supposed to stand up for honest journalists under fire, instead joined the all-out charge against Webb.

The Agency crowed how easy it was to work with journalists to first blunt and then turn around this negative national security story.
Are they going to go after Jeremy Renner the same way they went after Gary Webb? If they do, let's turn the attacks to our advantage. Jot down names. Anyone who targets Hawkeye goes on the list of scribblers who keep questionable "Company."

Bottom line: I've never before seen American journalism in such wretched health. Citizens who want to know what's going on in the world are given only these three options:

1. Mainstream journalism. Largely corrupt. Too many professional newsfolk have established "productive relations" with the CIA and other arms of the government.

2. Fox News and environs. Worse than corrupt. The far-right media infrastructure exists to send gullible, resentful proles into ecstatic trances of rage-gasm.

3. The conspiracy entertainment complex. (That useful term was coined by the proprietor of Rigorous Intuition.) The Clown-King of this surreal realm is, of course, Alex Jones. We're talking about an infuriating gaggle of high-decibel screwballs and bleary-eyed Illuminati-spotters who think that they're the hippest of the hip, even though they unwittingly serve as faithful functionaries of the American intelligence establishment. The conspiracy entertainment complex exists to bring discredit to anyone who questions the worldview presented by the mainstream media and the Fox Newsers.

If you look beyond those three categories, you can still find a few real writers -- seekers of truth who possess courage, insight and professional standards. These brave few have a patron saint: Gary Webb.
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Comments:
Joe--As a full-time film critic and part-time spook hunter, I genuinely liked and admired "Kill the Messenger"; but as I told Jim DiEugenio in a recent email, I was shocked that it was written by Peter Landesman--the director of the recent JFK-assassination movie "Parkland." That stillborn 2013 flick was adapted from Vincent Bugliosi's lone-nut opus "Reclaiming Hisatory." Landesman has called Bugliosi's piece of shit "a mastetrpiece"; yet neither he nor producer Tom Hanks (a good-if-misguided guy), seem to have read anything else about the JFK case. (Nor do they acknowledge that Bugliosi's book was gently shepherded by the Agency's David Atlee Phillips and ghost-written by the disreputible Fred Haines and Dale Myers. Bugliosi never even visited Dallas to interview surviving witnesses!)

As far as I know, the Agency has never tried to recruit or seduce me, because I'm a small fry. But I do beleive that its surrogates have whispered in the ears of my publisher, and thus my editors. Some topics are just too hot to handle.

So I wonder about Landesman. He himself was on the receiving end of the Webb treatment when he wrote a sensational story about sex-trafficking for the New York Times Magazine called "The Girls Next Door." Other media outlets questioned his sourcing, and Landesman resigned from the Grey Lady.

There's a strange phenomenon wherein mainstream reporters move forward and backward fromn too-hot truths. Consider George Lardner at the Washington Post, who pre-emptively attacked Oliver Stone's "JFK:--yet subsequently reported on a British acoustics study that confirmed the HCSA's conclusion that there was a Grassy Knoll shooter.

Waddya think--is telling some of the truth, some of the time, a minor-key component of the Mighty Wurlitzer?
 
OIC

/me rendering
 
It's at least gratifying to see that the comment's on the Washington Post piece are unanimously condemning Leen for his sucking up to the powers that be and continuing to smear Webb, probably because of how Webb embarrassed him and showed what flunky he was for the powers that be in their debate years ago. Leen was obviously an establishment man from the get go (fame and fortune, rather than pursuit of the truth, were his goals as a "journalist"). Webb was a REAL journalist, and he paid for it with his life (while still alive, which led to his suicide).
 
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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

An obvious fake

File this one under "Who do they think they are kidding?"...

A man wearing a Citizens for a Better Arizona t-shirt brazenly stuffed a ballot box with hundreds of ballots in that state, in full view of a video camera. Although Citizens for a Better Arizona identifies itself as non-partisan, their website encourages actions against anti-gay laws, and they spearheaded an effort to recall the outlandish Sheriff Joe Arpaio. (As we shall see, America's most (in)famous sheriff plays an important role in this story.)

BuzzPo (a right-wing site) identifies the ballot-stuffer as a "Democrat." I feel quite certain that he was no such thing.

The ballot stuffer engaged in a memorable bit of dialogue with one A.J. LaFaro, the Maricopa County Republican Party Chairman (and Arpaio crony), who just happened to be in that particular precinct at that very moment.
Guy: “Stop watching me. You’re annoying me.”

LaFaro: “One of your ballots isn’t sealed.”

Guy: “It’s none of your business. What’s your name?”

LaFaro: “I’m the chairman of the Maricopa County Republican Party. What’s yours?”

Guy: “Go f*** yourself. I don’t have to tell you who I am.”
"One of your ballots isn't sealed"...!

As if someone committing a crime would wear an identifying t-shirt!

Are we really supposed to believe that a ballot stuffer would bring in a box of ballots, and do his dirty work openly? Are we supposed to believe that he did all of this under the gaze of a party chairman, who identified himself as such, yet did nothing to stop the stuffing?

Even a small child should be able to see that this incident was nothing more than an unconvincing exercise in theater.

If you have any talent at all for reading between the lines, you can figure out what really happened from scanning the coverage in the ultra-conservative Arizona Daily Independent:
A.J. LaFaro, Chairman of the Maricopa County Republican Committee testified at the 2013 hearings before the Arizona State Legislature regarding election reforms that eventually became HB-2305. At the time of its passage, opponents claimed the law would suppress the vote and disenfranchise the mostly Hispanic community.

In February 2014, the Arizona legislature, caving to pressure from special interest groups, repealed the law.

Fast forward to August of 2014, and it appears as if the fears of those who initially supported the legislation were real, not the delusions of right-wing kooks.
Tell me, dear reader: Does Mr. LaFaro suddenly seem very suspicious to you? Have you formulated a hypothesis as to who might have masterminded this patently obvious frame-up job?

(By the way, the Arizona Daily Independent website is quite unusual. Even though I called it up on four different browsers, I was not able to select and copy text. A temporary technical problem, perhaps? The quotation above had to be typed in by hand, just as we used to do in the pre-internet days.)

Quite the character, our A.J. is. A little research reveals that Mr. LaFaro is a Tea party sympathizer known for his outrageous antics. In a story published last year, The New Times pegs "wild man" LaFaro as a close associate of the nationally notorious Sheriff Joe Arpaio (who is, among many other things, America's most prominent birther).
In it, LaFaro does his best to fire up the Teabagger faithful by telling all and sundry that our aged autocrat Sheriff Joe Arpaio is under siege and requires the assistance of a toothless brigade of Yosemite Sam-lookalikes: You know, to dog the "domestic terrorists," now out pounding pavement in hopes of scoring the needed signatures to recall his sorry ass.
If you have the sheriff on your side, all sorts of opportunities become available to you. You need not fear arrest.

I hope that Sheriff Joe announces that he will move heaven and earth to identify the ballot box stuffer. The hunt for this miscreant will no doubt be as fruitful as O.J.'s search for "the real killer."
So the pro-Joe goobers are holding a meetin' come Saturday to figure out how to organize a "`shadow army' of `shadow warriors'" willing to "stand toe-to-toe" with the "paid progressive socialists...collecting petition signatures."

And you know what this means: Ornery, white geriatrics, Glocks strapped to their pear-shaped hips, ready to do battle with unarmed signature gatherers.
"Paid progressive socialists" was LaFaro-speak for -- you guessed it! -- Citizens for a Better Arizona. They are the people who headed the recall effort against Arpaio. LaFaro despises that group. Yet we are supposed to believe that LaFaro did nothing as he watched a guy wearing a Citizens for a Better Arizona t-shirt commit a crime.

Ironically, LaFaro came to state-wide prominence when he launched a petition drive against the openly gay mayor of Tempe.

Here's a tongue-in-cheek New Times "endorsement" of LaFaro and his political associates:
He calls the slate "Team LaFaro." Wags call it the "Crazy Town" ticket.

That's because LaFaro has an impressive record of moon-howlin' antics and reactionary statements stretching back more than a decade.

Hell, I could write oodles about the guy. He has the potential to be a great villain.
You should read the rest of the article; it's a lot of fun. But if you prefer to read an assessment from a more "old school" publication, consider this story published in the venerable Arizona Republic:
He called Gov. Jan Brewer a “Judas” for betraying Republican principles.

He likened GOP senators’ support of Medicaid expansion to Pearl Harbor’s “day of infamy.”

He said state GOP leaders were lucky there weren’t gallows in the town square.

All the barbs came from A.J. LaFaro, the improbable head of the Maricopa County Republican Party. All the barbs were about fellow Republicans, though LaFaro would insist the targets of his ire had abandoned the true principles of their party.
LaFaro allies himself with right-wing conspiracy buffs. As you know, plot-spotters of that sort are forever caterwauling about "false flag" attacks. Is it possible that, after hearing so much "false flag" talk, a lightbulb went off over LaFaro's head?

The planners of this frame should have known better than to include that t-shirt. Way too obvious. Even James O'Keefe (who was never Mr. Subtlety) would have known better. As Matt Murdoch said of another frame-up in a famous issue of Daredevil: "It was a nice piece of work, Kingpin. You shouldn't have signed it."
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Comments:
Thank you! I've seen this bullshit story posted all over the internet this morning. Thanks for doing your research and writing this great article.
 
99% of the charges conservatives level against progressives are essentially just them projecting their own crimes onto the opposition.

If they wanted to have a serious conversation about voter fraud then they need look no further than the 2000, 2002, and 2004 elections. Their side didn't "win" a single one of those contests at the ballot box; they "won" them behind the scenes where the votes were counted, or mis-counted, as it were.

We could look into the GOP-specific IT company that used to be run out of Knoxville, TN where Ohio re-routed its votes for tabulation; the same company that conveniently "lost" all of the Bush administration's emails. Of course, it would be easier to look into that company if its owner, Michael Connell, hadn't died in an unexplained small plane crash just days before he was due to be deposed.

We could look into the activities of Nathan Sproul & Associates in the run-ups to the aforementioned elections and ask why he was padding the GOP's voter roles with so many names of people who thought they'd registered as Democrats. Of course, it's harder to tell a lot of votes have been shifted in certain races when the pre-election voter rolls show fraudulent increases in GOP voters.

To talk about these crimes as things that the progressive side of the aisle takes part in is to play into the right's feeble games. They're stealing elections, gerrymandering districts, enacting poll taxes, and all the while accusing the Democrats of the same.

When one side is compelled to play by the rules while the other flaunts the rules with impunity you end up with a tilted playing field, which is what we've got now. I'm not sure how to right this ship outside of something drastic like a general strike, but something's got to give.
 
Is it normal for people to be filmed when they're voting? And what's a party man even doing in the room where people cast their ballots, let alone approaching a voter who's on his way to cast? Strange country!
 
b: "Strange country" should be "strange COUNTY." I've never heard of such things occurring anywhere else.

Your points only underscore the bogus nature of this staged incident. I can't believe that anyone would be dumb enough to fall for this charade, but apparently many people are just that stupid.
 
It's not a fake video. It's just routine surveillance tape that AJ LaFaro requested. But it's also not fraud: the man in the video is returning early ballots in accordance with Arizona law. Wonkette did a piece explaining the whole sorry pile of rightwing lies about this video
 
What this guy is doing is PERFECTLY LEGAL in Arizona. That's why nobody stopped him.

"After they have securely sealed the voted ballot inside the early ballot return envelope, voters may voluntarily give their voted early ballot to a person of their choice for delivery to the Recorder or a polling place. The designated person shall not tamper with the envelope or the ballot and shall not deliberately fail to deliver the ballot to the Recorder or a polling place within the voter’s county of residence."

http://www.azsos.gov/election/Electronic_Voting_System/manual.pdf
pg 59
 
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Monday, October 20, 2014

Is "meritocracy" another word for plutocracy?



A new article in the WP bewails the fact that a child born to money is more likely to succeed than a child born into a poor family, even when the rich kid is a total screw-up and the poor kid "does everything right."
Specifically, rich high school dropouts remain in the top about as much as poor college grads stay stuck in the bottom — 14 versus 16 percent, respectively. Not only that, but these low-income strivers are just as likely to end up in the bottom as these wealthy ne'er-do-wells. Some meritocracy.

What's going on? Well, it's all about glass floors and glass ceilings. Rich kids who can go work for the family business — and, in Canada at least, 70 percent of the sons of the top 1 percent do just that — or inherit the family estate don't need a high school diploma to get ahead. It's an extreme example of what economists call "opportunity hoarding." That includes everything from legacy college admissions to unpaid internships that let affluent parents rig the game a little more in their children's favor.

But even if they didn't, low-income kids would still have a hard time getting ahead. That's, in part, because they're targets for diploma mills that load them up with debt, but not a lot of prospects. And even if they do get a good degree, at least when it comes to black families, they're more likely to still live in impoverished neighborhoods that keep them disconnected from opportunities.
We've known this for a while. America used to be the land of class mobility, but no longer. Europe -- filthy, socialist "old" Europe -- is way ahead of us in that department.

What bothers me here is the use of the term "meritocracy." That's the problem, right there -- that word. The fact that we have internalized "meritocracy" as an ideal demonstrates how and why we have betrayed our principles. To understand what I'm talking about, check out the Chris Hayes lecture embedded above. Yes, I know that many of you watch Hayes all the time on cable news, and a few of you probably want to bitch about this or that aspect of what he does and what he represents. This lecture (presented a couple of years ago) is quite good, and I would advise you not to judge it until you've heard it.
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Comments:
As bad or worse http://www.econ.yale.edu/conference/neudc11/papers/paper_099.pdf5850
 
(first posted unsigned by mistake - please delete)

The term "meritocracy" was coined by social democrat Michael Young, who drafted much of the British Labour Party's famous manifesto of 1945.

Saw what you like about Clement Attlee, Bessie Braddock, etc., but subsequent Labour leaders Callaghan, Kinnock, Blair and Brown haven't been fit to lick their boots. (Harold Wilson and Michael Foot I'd be less rude about, but still - not a patch on Bevan and Cripps.) Attlee went down to Victoria Station to meet the surviving British worker volunteers when they arrived back from the lost war against fascism in Spain. He must have had something good about him at that time even if later he didn't seem to have a problem with joining NATO and UKUSA. Aneurin Bevan was the best prime minister we never had. Wish I'd realised that 30 years ago, but there you go.

Later, Michael Young was the main man behind the foundation of the Open University. The idea was sound. Would that that institution had become 100 times bigger!

He introduced the term "meritocracy" in his 1958 book Rise of the Meritocracy, 1870-2033. I haven't read it, but I'm told he describes a future where the meritocracy, having 'risen', craps on the downtrodden majority something rotten. I don't know whether he shows them getting overthrown; he may do. The book is online.

I'll read it. Nothing much worth reading seems to be written about the future nowadays. There's a lot of shit about artificial intelligence, 'the singularity' (give it a rest!), and 'transhumanism' (neo-Nazi or non-neo-Nazi, take your pick). Behaviourism on steroids, John von Neumann faction. Then there's the Turner Diaries. Some anarchists in London once did a cartoon book that went down well among some of those characters who like to wear black clothes and throw rocks for a year or two. I can't remember the last time I had an intelligent discussion with anybody about the future, the next 5, 10, 20 years. Or consumed a decent cultural production with that as a theme, even. Greenwash has got a lot to answer for. Youngsters in particular seem mainly not to have the sheerest fucking clue of how to begin to think about the present historical dynamic. Most of them just can't make the effort even where big megacorps like Google and Facebook are concerned.

One of my personalities is shrieking at me: "WRITE YOUR OWN BLOG, YOU ARSEHOLE!"
 
Not bad advice, b. In fact, didn't I give you that very advice, like, ten years ago?

I have tried to help those who have sought to start their own blogs. I've even tried to help people whose views differ markedly from mine.
 
thanks for the post joseph and the link to the chris hayes talk... i liked watching it.. trust is a big deal and people don't have it in much of anything at this point. he mentions how the military is trusted most and congress the least... i don't know about life in the usa, but here in canada we don't have the same fanatic veneration of the military/police that folks in the us seem to have.. i don't know if it is still the same, but my viewpoint is based on living in canada.. the fact trust is missing in so many areas were it might have been taken for granted is very true.. chris covers it quite well..

meritocracy is not another word for plutocracy...the idea of reward based on merit has an idealistic ring to it, but it is more idealistic then realistic.. same goes for ideas of democracy and freedom.. i don't watch tv, so i have never seen this guy chris hayes before.. he is touching on an number of important issues, trust being but one of them.. thanks - james
 
As I suspect b knows, Nye Bevan and Sir Stafford Cripps were never leaders of the Labour party. Nye Bevan was the intellectual leader of the left wing faction known as the Bevanites, but Gaitskell was the leader of the party.

Cripps was just one of the Cabinet after the 45 election, like Ernie Bevin or Chuter Ede.

Attlee was okay, but he was limited by the condition of Britain after the war. Reverse Lend-Lease and the other provisions of the Lend-Lease agreement and the Anglo-American Loan Act created a disastrous economic situation, along with the weakened military which allowed the creation of Israel.
 
Oops - posted anonymously by mistake again. Apologies!
 
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Saturday, October 18, 2014

In the news...

Ebola. I've avoided this issue because the whole debate has degenerated into one of those inane partisan screech-fests, with right-wingers yowling that Obama wants us all to die because he's a Marxist or a Moooslim or a Marxist Moooslim. Trying to argue with the people who spew this nonsense is like trying to reason with Cujo.

Nevertheless, let's address the calls for a flight ban from Liberia and other nations suffering from Ebola. Nate Silver points out what should be obvious: Such a ban would solve nothing, since there are no direct flights from "hot zone" countries. Travelers from Africa usually go through Europe. Riverdaughter made much the same point a couple of days ago.

Also, as The New Republic points out, a travel ban would make it difficult for doctors to get to (and leave) the hot zone. Further economic pressures would cause refugees to leave the country en masse, thereby spreading the disease.

Leon Panetta and Hillary Clinton. The former CIA Director and Defense Secretary has written a book called Worthy Fights, which I should read but probably won't. Apparently, the book offers tepid-but-telling criticisms of Obama while warmly praising Hillary Clinton.
Hillary Clinton “is somebody that I’ve seen who’s dedicated to this country. She’s smart, she’s experienced, and she’s tough. What the hell else do you want?” in a president.
Simple, Leon: I want someone who favors the policies I favor. To be specific: I want someone who is as allergic to neoconservatism as I am.

Is that too much to ask for? Haven't the neocons done enough damage to this country?
It all makes for a pretty tidy narrative, unless you actually read the book. That’s because Worthy Fights itself offers little specific evidence of Clinton’s smarts, toughness, or luminosity as secretary of state. Panetta notes that they agreed about (1) sending more troops to Afghanistan in 2009, (2) launching the raid to kill Osama bin Laden, (3) not swapping Guantanamo Bay prisoners for Bowe Bergdahl, and (4) arming Syria’s rebels.
Let's take a closer look at all four of Panetta's points.

1. Hillary's hawkishness on Afghanistan, as outlined in previous "inside" accounts of the Obama administration, is the main reason I have begun to back away from Hillary.

2. Lots of people would have preferred a raid to capture and try Osama Bin Laden. The fact that he was targeted for death from the get-go indicates that he knew secrets which would have embarrassed this government. "Embarrassed" may be too gentle a word...

3. In exchange for Berghdal, five prisoners were sent to Qatar, with restrictions on their movements. The Republicans spread a rumor that these prisoners became ISIS fighters, but that claim turned out to be a lie. Here's the really weird part: The five prisoners were key Taliban personnel who had been reported as released well before the Berghdal swap. I smell something funky about this whole affair, and until that smell goes away, I can't agree with Panetta or Clinton or Obama or his critics or, well, anyone.

4. "Arming Syria's rebels": Good lord, is Panetta kidding?

The Syrian disaster will go down in history as Obama's most foolish decision -- and Hillary, by her own admission, pushed Obama to pursue this disastrous course.
Hillary Clinton favoured arming Syria's rebels early in the country's civil war but was overruled by Barack Obama, the former secretary of state said in her new memoir, according to CBS News.
She said she returned to Washington from an overseas trip convinced that the training and arming of moderates among the Syrian rebels was the best way to turn the tide against the country's president, Bashar al-Assad.
Once again: We had no business intervening against Assad. He posed no threat to us.

When we decided that Assad had to go, we were toadying to the Saudis, the Israelis and the neocons.

The "moderate" Free Syrian Army is a loose-knit grouping of bloodthirsty warlords who have often worked with ISIS and Nusra. Remember those beheading videos? The FSA captured those guys and handed them over to ISIS. Those are Hillary's "moderates," folks: Even the Pentagon now confesses that they can't work with the FSA.

Syria is a disaster -- a disaster caused by the neocons. I truly hate to admit it, but facts are facts: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton listened to the neocons and must therefore be counted among their number.

Speaking of the neocons: The brilliant Robert Parry, one of the few real journalists left in this world, argues that neoconservative pursuit of empire and regime change now threatens the world economically. I hope Parry won't mind if I quote him at length, because this is must-read material:
The neocons and their “liberal interventionist” junior partners have kept the “regime change” pot boiling with the Western-orchestrated overthrow and killing of Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, the proxy civil war in Syria to oust Bashar al-Assad, the costly economic embargoes against Iran, and the U.S.-backed coup that ousted Ukraine’s elected President Viktor Yanukovych last February.

All these targeted governments were first ostracized by the neocons and the major U.S. news organizations, such as the Washington Post and the New York Times, which have become what amounts to neocon mouthpieces. Whenever the neocons decide that it’s time for another “regime change,” the mainstream U.S. media enlists in the propaganda wars.
Parry goes on to point out that this country would be far more prosperous if we didn't have to pay for the previous neocon disaster, the Iraq war. That was a very expensive old do: $2 trillion by this estimate, and the actual cost may rise to $6 trillion.

Back to Parry:
But Obama didn’t do himself (or the world) any favors when he put much of his foreign policy in the hands of Democratic neocon-lites, such as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Bush holdovers, including Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Gen. David Petraeus. At State, Clinton promoted the likes of neocon Victoria Nuland, the wife of arch-neocon Robert Kagan, and Obama brought in “liberal interventionists” like Samantha Power, now the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

In recent years, the neocons and “liberal interventionists” have become almost indistinguishable, so much so that Robert Kagan has opted to discard the discredited neocon label and call himself a “liberal interventionist.”
How about "imperialist"? A little too on-the-nose?

Parry goes on to point out that the necons tried to engineer us into the war against Assad in 2013. Had Obama taken the bait, ISIS might now control all of Syria.
By late September 2013, the disappointed neocons were acting out their anger by taking aim at Putin. They recognized that a particular vulnerability for the Russian president was Ukraine and the possibility that it could be pulled out of Russia’s sphere of influence and into the West’s orbit.

So, Carl Gershman, the neocon president of the U.S.-funded National Endowment for Democracy, took to the op-ed page of the neocon-flagship Washington Post to sound the trumpet about Ukraine, which he called “the biggest prize.”

But Gershman added that Ukraine was really only an interim step to an even bigger prize, the removal of the strong-willed and independent-minded Putin, who, Gershman added, “may find himself on the losing end not just in the near abroad [i.e. Ukraine] but within Russia itself.” In other words, the new neocon hope was for “regime change” in Kiev and Moscow.
Across the Continent, populist parties from the Right and Left have been challenging establishment politicians over their inability to reverse the widespread unemployment and the growing poverty. Important to Europe’s economy was its relationship with Russia, a major market for agriculture and manufactured goods and a key source of natural gas to keep Europe’s industries humming and its houses warm.

The last thing Europe needed was more chaos, but that’s what the neocons do best and they were determined to punish Putin for disrupting their plans for Syrian “regime change,” an item long near the top of their agenda along with their desire to “bomb, bomb, bomb Iran.”
Parry then tells the now-familiar story of the American-backed coup in Ukraine, which brought neo-Nazis to power.
Pressured by the Obama administration, the EU agreed to sanction Russia for its “aggression,” touching off a tit-for-tat trade war with Moscow which reduced Europe’s sale of farming and manufacturing goods to Russia and threatened to disrupt Russia’s natural gas supplies to Europe.

While the most serious consequences were to Ukraine’s economy which went into freefall because of the civil war, some of Europe’s most endangered economies in the south also were hit hard by the lost trade with Russia. Europe began to stagger toward the third dip in a triple-dip recession with European markets experiencing major stock sell-offs.

The dominoes soon toppled across the Atlantic as major U.S. stock indices dropped, creating anguish among many Americans just when it seemed the hangover from Bush’s 2008 market crash was finally wearing off.

Obviously, there are other reasons for the recent stock market declines, including fears about the Islamic State’s victories in Syria and Iraq, continued chaos in Libya, and exclusion of Iran from the global economic system – all partly the result of neocon ideology.
Let's return to Leon Panetta's question. What do we want from a President?

We want a President who openly decries neoconservatism. We want a liberal, not a "liberal interventionist." We want no more coups and needless wars. We want no more more hellish partnerships with neo-Nazis and Islamic jihadists. We want an end to the current madness.
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I fully understand the dream of actually electing a progressive for President, but I believe all we'll get is another pawn for the Empire. Someone who works for the coming " Global Plantation". Sad!

P.S. Great blog. Thanks!
 
Both Senegal and Nigeria seem to have contained their Ebola situation. Senegal has been declared "Ebola Free" by the World Health Organization, and Nigeria will be declared the same if no new cases appear before this coming Monday.

I think of Hillary as being a war monger.

As for the Bin Laden assassination story, Sy Hersh told the Guardian, "Nothing's been done about that story, it's one big lie, not one word of it is true,". Wonder when his book will be ready?

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/10/senegal-is-declared-free-of-ebola/381608/
 
hmmm....The Pentagon's Failed "Terrorism Futures Market" Is Now a Ukranian Bookstore?

http://motherboard.vice.com/blog/the-pentagons-failed-terrorism-futures-market-is-now-a-ukranian-bookstore
 
regarding your comment 'still paying for the iraq war'.... it is only funny money - us$.. until it is knocked off it's defacto world currency position, the funny money can spend however it sees fit.. it is not based on anything real, but instead debt! financial sanctions on other countries is a first line of action against other countries, followed by wars on these same countries.. the bully will continue to bully with it's funny money until enough countries round the globe refuse to do business with the funny money anymore.. getting oil denominated in something other then the funny money is the big challenge.. that little plum was set back at bretton woods before nixon took the us$ off the gold standard.. cheers james
 
If it is true that children were intentionally gassed, that is a reason for concern.

However, a lot of children were equally hurt in Iraq by US bombs, so that does cloud the issue.

Neo conservatism is just as unreasonable as progressivism. For the moderate middle to back in power, they cannot ignore either platform.
 
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Friday, October 17, 2014

The CIA says that this trick never works. So why do we keep doing it?

The NYT published a genuinely fascinating story the other day. It discusses a CIA study (to which Obama once made oblique public reference) on the usefulness of an "astroturf" rebel army, in those cases when the American government wishes to see a foreign government toppled and replaced. The CIA admits that this gambit rarely succeeds.
The still-classified review, one of several C.I.A. studies commissioned in 2012 and 2013 in the midst of the Obama administration’s protracted debate about whether to wade into the Syrian civil war, concluded that many past attempts by the agency to arm foreign forces covertly had a minimal impact on the long-term outcome of a conflict. They were even less effective, the report found, when the militias fought without any direct American support on the ground.

The findings of the study, described in recent weeks by current and former American government officials, were presented in the White House Situation Room and led to deep skepticism among some senior Obama administration officials about the wisdom of arming and training members of a fractured Syrian opposition.
May I ask the obvious question? If the trick rarely works -- if the CIA told Obama "Don't expect this trick to work" -- then why did we fund a rebel army in Syria?

(Actually, many reports hold that the rebels were funded by our allies, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey. But those nations would not have acted against our will; they may even have functioned as middle-men for our CIA.)
One exception, the report found, was when the C.I.A. helped arm and train mujahedeen rebels fighting Soviet troops in Afghanistan during the 1980s, an operation that slowly bled the Soviet war effort and led to a full military withdrawal in 1989. That covert war was successful without C.I.A. officers in Afghanistan, the report found, largely because there were Pakistani intelligence officers working with the rebels in Afghanistan.

But the Afghan-Soviet war was also seen as a cautionary tale.
Like, duh. If the creation of Al Qaeda counts as success, I'd hate to see failure.

Nevertheless, we (defining "we" broadly) did indeed create a rebellion against Assad. We made sure that these rebels got stores of weapons from Qaddafy's Libya. We trained them in Jordan. We allowed all sorts of assorted maniacs to hop aboard commercial aircraft and fly to the war zone, even though these clowns should have been on the "no fly" lists. We never complain when Israel works with the Nusra front, the Syrian variant of Al Qaeda. Whether or not we intended ISIS to become what it has become, the fact remains that they got their mitts on a whole lot of American weaponry. And they'd use it to blow us away, if given the chance.

So why did we do it? The CIA said "Don't do it!" -- yet we did it. Why?

Assad is a dictator, sure -- but he's no worse a dictator than the guys running Saudi Arabia, and we think they are just peachy. Assad was not directly threatening our interests. He let the Christian community in Syria live in peace. Looking at the situation from a "What's in it for us?" viewpoint, I see no upside for America (not even for corporate America) when it comes to this government's mania for toppling Assad.

Moon of Alabama suggests:
It could also have been a policy driven by the neocon/liberal-interventionist urge to just "do something" - i.e. to achieve some self-satisfaction.

Or the plan was never to win. If the aim was and is the "destruction of the infrastructure, economy and social fabric of Syria" then arming all kinds of insurgents was and is a sane and successful policy.
In other words, Washington no longer wants to see certain countries ruled by pliant dictators. We would rather see mere anarchy loosed upon the world.

Maybe we really have become the military arm of a Saudi/Israeli alliance. They say "jump" and we jump. They say "bomb" and we bomb. They say "create a rebel army" and we create a rebel army. In Steinbeckian terms, they are George and we are Lenny -- the big, strong goombah who does whatever the smart guy says.

Future generations will see the supreme irony of this situation: Roughly a dozen years after 9/11, we have become the financial angels and weapons dealers to Al Qaeda, or at least to the maniacs who have inherited the Al Qaeda movement.

And guess what? We are making the same mistake all over again.
John Allen, the retired Marine general in charge of coordinating the U.S.-led coalition’s response to the Islamic State, confirmed Wednesday what Syrian rebel commanders have complained about for months – that the United States is ditching the old Free Syrian Army and building its own local ground force to use primarily in the fight against the Islamist extremists.

“At this point, there is not formal coordination with the FSA,” Allen told reporters at the State Department.
This time, Allen said, the United States and its allies will work to strengthen the political opposition and make sure it’s tied to “a credible field force” that will have undergone an intense vetting process.
Uh huh. Over the past couple of years, haven't journalists been telling us that we were "vetting" the Free Syrian Army? Readers of the NYT and the WP got the impression that we were vetting the hell out of those guys.

Have you noticed what's missing in the current scenario? Okay, lots of things are missing: Rationality, hope, peace, democracy... But I'm referring to something else, something that used to be an important ingredient in the familiar American "regime change" recipe.

There's no false leader. No Syrian pseudo-messiah. No "our guy." No poster-boy. No one to fight for.

In the old days, we would pick "our guy" and build him up -- and if he later got too big for his britches, we would tear him down. Think: Ramon Magsaysay, Ferdinand Marcos (and later Corazon Aquino), Anwar Sadat (and later Hosni Mubarak), The Shah of Iran, Carlos Castillo Armas, Augusto Pinochet, Boris Yeltsin. Fidel Castro? Yep, he belongs on this list. Osama Bin Laden? Yes, him too. Some puppets snip the strings early on.

We tried the "false Messiah" trick one last time in Iraq, but Ahmed Chalabi never could pass the laugh test.

Is there a Syrian analog to Ahmed Chalabi? I don't see one. Well, there's the leader of ISIS, Abu-Bakr al-Baghdadi -- whoever the hell he really is. But I don't think that our intelligence community ever wanted him to rule huge chunks of Syria.

Here's a weird thought. Had history gone just a bit differently, the lovely "Syrian Girl" might have made for an interesting Joan of Arc figure. Her family was prominent in Syria, and had come afoul of Assad in years past. (I don't yet know the full story.) But "Mimi" (as she sometimes calls herself, although that is not her real name) has taken a resolutely anti-American position. And who can blame her? Hers is the only reasonable position to take, given the fact that America has been backing Al Qaeda in her native land.

At any rate, for all of the planned training and vetting and vetting and training of the New and Improved Free Syrian Army, everyone in the world knows that the true leader of the New and Improved Free Syrian Army will be the President of the United States. I don't think that many Syrians want to fight and die for Uncle Sam.
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Comments:
The overriding goal of the American and Western European elite is not really different from that of any of the elites of empires past: keep the barbarians from coming together, keep the resources flowing to the centre, keep assimilating them into the system. Sometimes the elite can do that by buying into the local power structures, sometimes the best thing to do is to kill everyone and cover their land with salt.

That the Western elites are more and more unable to play this game with an acceptable degree of efficacy is indeed an indication that their dream of world domination is being vexed to nightmare.
 
The officer who replaced me as commander of a CIDG unit in Vietnam was a Cuban who had been a Bay of Pigs POW. He had been ransomed for a farm tractor and given a commission in the US Army for his pains.
 
It's pretty clear ISIS/ISIL/IS was created & funded by Saudi Arabia to serve as that most repressive regime's Wahhabi Sunni Army. And decades of Middle East disasters shows America has long been Saudi Arabia's bitch. That makes some weird double act, wouldn't ya say?
 
It's very astute of you, Joseph, to recognize the lack of a poster boy in the US's Syrian effort. Note we have the same situation in Iraq--we're told that the current Shiite government in Iraq is unacceptable and not worth defending, but that we need to bomb ISIS anyway.

If there is a plan, perhaps it is to let those on the ground who are full of passionate intensity bleed each other to death and the swoop in with our Messiah when the dust clears. Or perhaps the plan is to get us all used to the idea of fighting endless wars for no reason except our refusal to admit their pointlessness.

Your analysis left out two benefits to "us" or, rather, to the interests out government serves: 1)the alleged benefit of denying the Russians a military port on the Mediterranean (do they have another? I don't think so.) And then there's always 2) the benefit to the military-industrial complex of military operations making the MIC seem useful and necessary.





 
Propaganda can be a big war aim nowadays.

On a smaller scale, there is commercial propaganda for weapons sales. Saw that in Georgia and Libya - wars which otherwise made no sense. The west had already taken over Libya, and Georgia never had a chance against Russia.

On a larger scale, yes the MIC - in a context of the "profound cultural changes" required in the desired "world war". (Quoting Ephraim Halevy.) Will it go biological first or nuclear?

Whatever, Google Glass is going to be big!

The US "Saudi Arabia's bitch"? That's what Michael Moore was saying, to avoid mentioning the power of Jewish interests over the US.

Where's the money in it for the Saud family in Syria? Heroin? Been too little mention of heroin in the discussion of that country.
 
Look what these bastards did to Syrian girl!!!
http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/10/17/the-kardashian-look-a-like-trolling-for-assad.html


 
This comment has been removed by the author.
 
Anon: You can be sure that I'll soon have much more to say about THAT.

b: From all that I've read, Saudi detestation of the great Shiite powers -- Syria and Iran -- is genuine.
 
"(C)ommercial propaganda for weapons sales" is at least part of what's happening with the Swedish "submarine hunt".

Lots of references to the Swedish Visby-class corvette - which, as the newspapers keep telling us, is armed with brand-new stealth technology, being one of the world's first "stealth ships". Shiny marketing photos in the news reports.

I'm not arguing post hoc ergo propter hoc. We've seen this before.

I'm itching for the submarine story to merge with the MV Arctic Sea story. Both involve reported events in Swedish waters.

What could be hidden on or near some of the thousands of islands in the Stockholm archipelago, I wonder?

On Saudi: I think everyone hates the Saud family except some of the leaders of other royalist-despotic Gulf Arab regimes.

Wasn't the Alawite self-categorisation as Shiite tactical, though? Or even locally takeover-oriented? But probably they're all Shiite vermin as far as the Saud family go.
 
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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Atrocity -- or psyop? What made Steven Green go mad?

Here's a follow-up piece I had hoped not to write. In 2006, an American soldier in the 101st Airborne -- Steven Green, of Midland, Texas -- led a group of fellow soldiers on a murder mission near Mahmoudiya, Iraq. They entered the home of a humble grocer and murdered everyone there. Green brutally raped a 14 year old girl named Abir Hamza, who was killed and set afire. (The photo to your left shows her at the age of five; the color photo below shows her at a later age.)

Here's what I wrote on an earlier occasion:
I hope every American sees this girl's face. Are our red-state Jesusmaniacs so blinded by their anti-Muslim bigotry -- so blinded by the lies told by our war-loving president and his propagandists -- that they cannot recognise the humanity and innocence in that little girl's eyes? This war has had many victims; let her face represent those we cannot see.
The UK's Daily Mail has published a follow-up story on Steven Green, who resides in a federal prison in Tucson, Arizona. A convert to Catholicism, he is now fighting his sentence on the grounds that he should not have been tried in a civilian court.

The military did not charge Green when the crime happened. He was diagnosed with a personality disorder and let go.

The new interview with Green contains important information about what happened but doesn't cover all of the mysteries that some bloggers noted at the time. Here's what the Daily Mail has to say:
The military placed Green with the Fort Campbell-based 101st Airborne. Upon arriving in Iraq, Green said, his training to kill, the rampant violence and derogatory comments by other soldiers against Iraqis served to dehumanise that country's civilian population.

A turning point came on December 10, 2005, Green said, when a previously friendly Iraqi approached a traffic checkpoint and opened fire.

The shots killed Staff Sgt. Travis L. Nelson, 41, instantly. Sgt. Kenith Casica, 32, was hit in the throat. Casica died as soldiers raced him aboard a Humvee to a field hospital.

Green said those deaths 'messed me up real bad.'

The deaths intensified Green's feelings toward all Iraqis, whom soldiers often called by a derogatory term. 'There's not a word that would describe how much I hated these people,' Green said. 'I wasn't thinking these people were humans.'
Here's the intriguing part. Green was given unspecified drugs before he committed his crime.
Over the next four months, Green sought help from a military stress counsellor, obtaining small doses of a mood-regulating drug - and a directive to get some sleep before returning to his checkpoint south of Baghdad.

In the interview, Green described alcohol and drugs being prevalent at the checkpoint. Green said soldiers there frequently felt abandoned by the Army and were given little support after the deaths of Casica and Nelson.

Spc. James P. Barker of Fresno, California, testified that he pitched the idea of going to the al-Janabi family's home to Sgt. Paul E. Cortez of Barstow, California, who was in charge of the traffic checkpoint.
Cortez testified that Barker and Green had the idea of having sex with the girl and that he didn't know the family would be killed.

Green, then a private,saidhe had 'an altered state of mind' at the time. 'I wasn't thinking about more than 10 minutes into the future at any given time,' Green said. 'I didn't care.'

At the Iraqi home, Barker and Cortez pulled Abeer into one room, while Green held the mother, father and youngest daughter in another.

Pfc. Jesse V. Spielman, of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, stood guard in the hall. As Barker and Cortez raped the teen, Green shot the three family members, killing them.

He then went into the next room and raped Abeer, before shooting her in the head. The soldiers lit her remains on fire before leaving. Another soldier stood watch a few miles away at the checkpoint.
The article does not specify what happened to the other participants.

Lingering mysteries. At the time this matter first came to light, I wondered whether this atrocity had a hidden side.

Reports at the time indicated that a much larger raiding party was involved. Eyewitnesses said that "10 to 15" men entered the home.

The media told us that the incident came to light only after Green confessed during therapy. But that is not true. American soldier knew all about the massacre directly after it happened, and they lied about the perpetrators:
Here's the part of the story most Americans do not yet know: The authorities soon put a (rather threadbare) cover-up into place.
"After three hours the [American] occupation troops surrounded the house and told the people of the area that the family had been killed by terrorists because they were Shi'ah. Nobody in town believed that story because Abu 'Abir was known as one of the best people of the city, one of the noblest, and no Shi'i, but a Sunni monotheist. Everyone doubted their story and so after the sunset prayers the occupation troops took the four bodies away to the American base.
If Steve Green was the only guilty party -- if we must place all blame on a classic "lone nut" -- then who authorized the official lie? How can we believe the claim that the crime remained unknown until after Green was diagnosed, when an official falsehood went out within hours of the massacre? Are we really supposed to believe that four privates could initiate such a strike and put a cover-up in place?
The Americans also told the hospital workers who received the bodies that the family was killed by "terrorists." The cover story didn't work because ill-educated Americans were unclear on who was Sunni and who was Shi'ite.

In this period, the American military made many efforts to stir up tensions between Iraq's Sunnis and Shi'ites. Americans thought it better to see the nation torn apart by sectarian violence than united in opposition to the occupation.

Thus, this eight-year-old crime has direct relevance to current events in Iraq -- see, for example, this article by Patrick Cockburn.

If I may quote again from my earlier piece:
Initial reports said that Green and the others changed into civilian clothes before the attack. Why? Obviously, they did not intend to pass as American tourists. Obviously, authorities would not give a cover story for an atrocity commit by four Americans disguised as civilians. Obviously, the soldiers hoped to pass as Iraqis -- as mujahideen.

Was this whole operation a bungled psy-op? Were the soldiers instructed to commit an atrocity while posing as insurgents? That theory may be speculative -- but to me, it makes more sense than does the official story.

Think about it. A group of Ameican soldiers leave base -- supposedly without their commanding officer's knowledge. They are dressed as insurgents. They commit a despicable act. They return. Other military men immediately come to the scene and ascribe the crime to the insurgency. The cover story falls apart because the Americans foolishly got the victims' religion wrong.

If you don't like the psy-op theory, feel free to come up with another one that covers all of these facts.
On a later occasion, I added this:
Personally, I find absurd the idea that the murder party did not include anyone of a rank higher than private. The house, it seems, is near a checkpoint; weren't there any soldiers there to investigate the sounds of gunfire? If all of the soldiers assigned to that checkpoint were involved in the crime, then why didn't someone in charge of that unit -- a corporal, a sergeant, a captain -- make sure that these men were doing their job? After the crime, wouldn't investigators ask the guys manning the checkpoint if they heard gunshots?

And I'm still trying to understand why the perpetrators dressed in dark clothing. Seems to me that they would gain entry more easily dressed as soldiers. The civilian clothing is consonant with the theory that they were trying to pass as insurgents.
We now know that Green was identified as psychologically troubled before the crime. I'd like to know just which drugs Green received, and just what kind of "therapy" he underwent before he went on his murder spree.

Even if you cannot buy the theory that Green was a manufactured killer, it certainly seems clear that the American military tried to make opportunistic use of the crime.

If another journalist ever gains access to Green, I hope the following questions are asked: Just what kind of treatment did Green receive before the killing? How did the drug affect his thinking? Did he fall unconscious? Does he have any memories -- even hazy ones -- of receiving instructions? How many people participated in the crime? Who was in charge? Why were the soldiers dressed in black civilian clothing? Were the soldiers trying to pass as Iraqis? Why did the military try to blame the massacre on sectarian violence?
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Comments:
Don't forget the reports of British troops dressed in local garb who were pulled over in Basra either driving a car bomb or firing on locals. Either way, when I read it at the time I assumed they were acting as agent provocateurs in an attempt to inflame sectarian violence in Iraq.
 
Here's a link to a Global Research article talking about the British soldiers in question. It turns out they had been arrested planting bombs around Basra and were only freed because of a full on helicopter and tank attack on the jail that had been holding them.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/were-british-special-forces-soldiers-planting-bombs-in-basra/994
 
In the wake of the Green incident - which was a truly horrifying assault on the lives and dignity of that family - the Army also lied about about a series of revenge killings against members of that outfit. The Army knew full well why several soldiers were kidnapped and killed, but framed those incidents as inexplicable terrorist events.
 
Depending upon which drug or drugs he was given, Green may have a defense. He was given pills by a counselor?

Interesting article on untested antipsychotic drug combinations possibly given to Robin Williams and their possible role in his suicide.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-suicide-of-robin-williams-why-we-need-a-grand-jury-inquest-to-investigate-it/5397645
 
@CBarr,

Absolutely ridiculous. Robin Williams did not commit suicide as the result of any drug or combination of drugs. He may, MAY, have committed suicide due to a Parkinson's Disease diagnosis and prognosis, a painful and fatal disease. Additionally, countless people commit suicide everyday, there is nothing so special about Mr. William's suicide, other than being an idol of film and pop culture. The premise that suicides only occur as the result of drugs is a flawed premise. Just because someone committed suicide does not mean they were influenced by drugs (legit drugs, ie. prescriptions, or illicit drugs). Internal struggles and torment, combined with an observation that the world is not a worthwhile place but a hell, is more than enough thought to lead to suicide, no drugs required. The death of Robin Williams does not need a grand jury, it needs to be left alone. If Robin chose not to live in this world anymore, not only is that totally understandable and relatable, but that decision should be honored and acknowledged. Who are you to force someone to stay here against their will? Other than a self-righteous and pompous jackass.
 
Geeze Jay, no one "forced" Robin Williams to stay on this earth, obviously. The questions about medications are completely valid......you realize that most anti-depressants list suicidal thoughts as a possible side effect right? You know that people, who otherwise showed no sign whatsoever of suicidal tendencies, have killed themselves after starting or being on such drugs for a short period. This is not a controversial issue. However, you may well be right about Robin Williams, and I would agree that there isn't really any point in opening an investigation. If it was the result of medications, there isn't much chance of proving that one way or the other, and he certainly had had problems over the years and had quite a number of reasons to be depressed and possibly suicidal. There is no question that not all suicides are the result of medication side effects, but there is also no question that some, in fact, are.
 
"The premise that suicides only occur as the result of drugs is a flawed premise."

Where did you get this premise? I never stated it, nor was it contained in the article I linked to.

"Who are you to force someone to stay here against their will? Other than a self-righteous and pompous jackass."

Project much? You don't know me nor my life. Again, this was not contained within my statements, nor the article I linked to. Did you even read it?
 
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