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Sweeping 'Patriot' Laws Passed As Jordan Fears Uprising and ISIS

by Oui Wed Jun 25th, 2014 at 06:22:02 AM EST

The most important succes of any terror threat is imposing fear. Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda have certainly left its legacy on the United States and the Western world measured by the political prowess of Fear Inc. USA, a broad group of Islamophobes. Although King Abdullah was a fervent supporter of the West to overthrow Assad in Syria, it's feeling the heat of an impending backlash as fighters return, bringing along some foreign mates.

Jordan's Islamists and the Rise of ISIS in the Hashemite Kingdom

Situated between viral conflicts in Syria and Iraq, Jordan's relative anonymity may be drawing to a close. A beacon of stability in the Middle East, the Hashemite Kingdom is perpetually challenged by the need to moderate between the monarchy's pro-Western orientation and the Islamist tendencies of the country's population. For decades the Muslim Brotherhood has remained the most prominent political rival of the Hashemite regime and its impact was significantly amplified in 2011-2013 by the organization's region-wide ascent following the uprisings of the Arab Spring. However, the deposition of the Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt and suppression of the Brotherhood's pan-Islamic aspirations significantly diminished the organization's domestic influence. Now, al Qaeda-linked factions fighting in the Syrian civil war supply the most attractive brand of Islamist ideology for direct import into Jordan. As a result, the Kingdom faces immediate challenges from the country's nascent Salafist Jihadist Movement, and a long-term threat for the evolution of domestic Islamist militancy.

Reemerging in 2009, the Salafist Jihadist Movement in Jordan maintains a constituency of nearly 5,000 adherents, residing predominantly in the town of Zarqa, hometown of al Qaeda's former second-in-command and chief of al Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab Zarqawi. Claiming responsibility for three coordinated suicide bombing attacks targeting Amman hotels in 2005, Zarqawi was later killed in a joint U.S-Jordanian counter-militancy operation in Iraq. While recently non-violent, the war in neighboring Syria has provided Jordan's Salafi population with a training ground for militarization, with reports indicating that up to 2,000 Jordanian citizens are presently fighting in the ranks of hard-line Islamist factions, including the al Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front and Islamist State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). As a result, the Kingdom has implemented a series of U.S.-backed security protocols to limit the cross-border movement of militants between the two countries, highlighted by an April 16 Jordanian Air Force strike likely targeting an ISIS convoy attempting to infiltrate from Syria.

"Victory of the Islamic State," Battle Cry in Ma'an Jordan (Fallujah) during recent demonstration

However, recent events in the southern town of Ma'an suggest that the region's most notorious and emergent jihadist faction, ISIS, has found a base of support in the restive southern city, situated 40 km (25 miles) from the heavily visited destination of Petra. On April 23, clashes between local residents and central government security forces broke out in Ma'an.

True Jihadist Threat in Jordan

Continued below the fold ...

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The Misrepresentation of the Hacking Trial Verdicts (updated)

by ceebs Tue Jun 24th, 2014 at 09:06:32 PM EST

The Trial of the Century is mostly over, barring a couple of charges and the press would have it that Everyone has walked away apart from Andy Coulson and that the CPS has thus failed utterly in bringing a malicious prosecution against a group of upright citizens who should never have been there in the first place, on top of this they are claiming that the Crown have spent through lawyers and police a total of £30 million on an unnecessary trial.

This argument will be pushed by a whole selection of papers in the next few days as it is in their interest. If the charge can be shown to be spurious then much of the justification for the reforms suggested by Lord Leveson are obviously unnecessary.

However there are several details that the magicians of the press don't want you to look at while they trot out their card trick.

Read more... (4 comments, 728 words in story)

Townhall Meeting Ms Clinton with CNN's Amanpour

by Oui Tue Jun 24th, 2014 at 02:38:04 PM EST

No surprise here, both Amanpour and Ms Clinton are advocates for neocon foreign policy and were trying to outdo each other. What expression is used when two women are in a contest of being more hawkish? I checked the transcript how often the progressive word peace was used during the long interview and Q&A session ... just once as in 'peace of mind.'

Hillary Clinton's CNN Town Hall, Joint Interview with Bret Baier and Greta Van Susteren

CNN Transcript

CLINTON: It's pub -- it's public information that they -- that the United States government, along with allies, are looking at ways to help support the -- the moderate -- what the moderate opposition is. They are badly outnumber by both the Assad forces and the extremists. I think now, there are more than 1,000 Europeans who are fighting in Syria...
CLINTON: -- for the extremists...

AMANPOUR: -- and I was going to ask you this, because I -- after all the reporting I've done on this and the blow-back and the back splash and all of those fears, the police commissioner of New York City summed it up the best recently, in a way that Americans can understand, that this is the most dramatic threat since 9/11 and perhaps even bigger...
CLINTON: Um-hmm.
AMANPOUR: -- that there could be an attack on New York and the United States in general...
CLINTON: Um-hmm.
AMANPOUR: -- and also around many foreign capitals.
You were turned down -- your idea and your plan, with all those national security officials that you mentioned, was turned down. Do you believe that if it hadn't been, you would have been able to prevent what's happening now, isolate the extremists, as you said was your goal...
CLINTON: Um-hmm.
AMANPOUR: -- prevent them from going across to creating an al Qaeda state in Iraq...
AMANPOUR: -- 14 years after 9/11?

CLINTON: It's very difficult, in retrospect, to say that would have prevented this. There were a lot of forces at work, as you well know. There were many different sources of -- of revenue coming into these disparate extremist elements -- Russia, Iran, Lebanese Hezbollah were supporting Assad. There were already many players in this very dangerous space. [does this statement make any sense at all, Ms Clinton refuses to name the allies giving support to Salafist extremists: Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Egypt (under Morsi), UAE, Kuwait and Qatar - Oui]

But I did believe then, and I believe now, that it is important for us to know what's happening on the ground in these places. And unless you build relationships with people who you think are at least hopefully sharing some of your same goals and objectives, you lose -- you lose contact. You don't know what's happening...
AMANPOUR: And this is (INAUDIBLE)...
CLINTON: -- and that leaves it even more dangerous.

AMANPOUR: -- your own ambassador, the person you appointed, Robert Ford, to Syria, resigned and he told me in his first interview that he did so in protest and on principle because he could no longer defend the Obama administration's policy. And we see where we are in the world because of this.

Continued below the fold ...

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Lakes & mountain-slides

by DoDo Mon Jun 23rd, 2014 at 09:49:07 AM EST

In this last photo diary based on my two holidays in Switzerland last year, I show the northern side of the Alps, where the north-south Gotthard railway passes big lakes and dangerous mountain-sides.

A Swiss State Railways (SBB) RABDe 500 on a southbound InterCity-Neigezug (ICN) service tilts into the big curve below Wassen

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Welcome to the Pornocracy (Part One): the UK Economic Miracle

by ChrisCook Fri Jun 20th, 2014 at 11:07:19 AM EST

I am coming to the irresistible conclusion that the Coalition government is a modern day version of the late Byzantine Pornocracy - government by harlots. This facebook quote was the final straw.

You might not know that job centres and work programme providers are encouraging claimants to take up self-employed status on the basis they can pretend they're working, claim Working Tax Credit and get the same money as they would on Job Seekers Allowance but with no hassle or fear of sanction.

That's where all the new 'jobs' are coming from Cameron crows about, that's why there's a boom in so-called self-employment, and that's why productivity's so low per capita, these people aren't working at all. I assume this is why Ian Duncan-Smith still has a job despite the ongoing absolute chaos at the Dept of Work & Pensions as he's set this all up.

So as automation and austerity do for the UK middle class what Thatcher did for the working class we see an exponentially growing class of intellectual value flowing to a shrinking number of skilled workers (who are next in line for automation) and the holders of the relevant intellectual property.

This charade is of course fine to carry the Pornocracy through to the next election. After which, another crackdown on workshy shirkers while Serco, G4S or whoever is Blame-Taker of the Week.

Comments >> (27 comments)

Letter to my local Member of Parliament.

by Frank Schnittger Tue Jun 17th, 2014 at 12:17:47 PM EST

Stephen Donnelly is one of five TD's (Members of Parliament) elected in my local constituency of Wicklow.  He is the sole Independent elected together with 3 Fine Gael and one Labour TD.  Remarkably neither Fianna Fail nor Sinn Fein won a seat, so he is the only opposition member from the constituency.  

Since his election he has shown a wide range of competence on economic and social issues  challenging the Government's austerity policies and representing an articulate voice for alternative policies.  Recently the Government screwed up and failed to secure a majority on the long delayed banking inquiry Dail Committee.  To rectify this situation, the Government later appointed two additional members. Stephen resigned in protest.

Whilst he had an arguable case, I think, on balance, he made a mistake. All Dail Committees are voted in by the Dail, and there is no constitutional bar to the Government holding a second vote if it manages to lose the first one.  Sure, the committee might have been seen as being more genuinely independent had it not had a Government majority, but at the end of the day all committee findings have to be approved and acted on by the governing Dail Majority.

Now, without Stephen Donnelly, the Committee will have a lot less credibility and impact. I don't think the short term gain of embarrassing the Government outweighs that loss. Stephen has also said he is thinking of joining a political party in order to gain more influence and power in politics.  I think that would be a major mistake at a time when Independents are gaining an ever greater share of the vote. Hence my letter to Stephen below:

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Israel Is Not Our Partner for Middle East Peace

by Oui Tue Jun 17th, 2014 at 09:36:09 AM EST

Repeatedly US policy has aligned itself with Israel and repeatedly this has led to military and political failure. The last time the US decided otherwise was during the presidency of Eisenhower and the 1956 Suez crisis. Here we go again ...

BTW A strange message was sent by Israeli security reporter Yossi Melman:

    #Baghdad collapses. Shells on US & Iran Embassies
    Premier Maliki left. Chief of Staff escaped yo Germany.
    Heavy casualties to Iran forces.

NY Times - Sectarian violence returning to Baghdad with  extrajudicial killings and kidnappings

"The fighting is creeping closer to Baghdad and the offensive is being led by Sunni fighters drawn from the Sunni militant groups the 1920 Revolution Brigades and the Islamic Army, according to an Iraqi Intelligence source. Both of those groups have long had a presence in Diyala Province and were involved in some of the bloodiest fighting during the sectarian battles of 2005-2007. The 1920 brigades was formed from disaffected Iraqi Army officers who were left without jobs after the Americans dissolved the military in 2003."

Israel concerned about any US-Iran cooperation over Iraq

Continued below the fold ...

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Humans and hierarchy

by das monde Sun Jun 15th, 2014 at 09:49:41 AM EST

There was a brief incomplete discussion the other week here on macho dominance, hierarchy enforcement, power dynamics. I had lived pretty ignorant of social status games for long - but recently I realized that hierarchy interactions, instincts and emotions have to be taken seriously. Let me shake similarly your rational onlooker premises about power and human nature.

Read more... (132 comments, 1226 words in story)

Syria War and Shiite Government of Maliki to Blame

by Oui Sat Jun 14th, 2014 at 02:38:53 PM EST

In addition to a new article yesterday, the reporter followed the developments as the sectarian violence increased due to a failed policy of PM Maliki who has estranged the Sunni minority in Anbar province. Don't obfuscate the issue by denying the direct link to the Syrian civil war started three years ago. [Links added are mine - Oui]

See my earlier diary - Michael Ledeen from Trotsky to Mussolini - Our Freedom Betrayed.

What We Left Behind

(The New Yorker) Apr. 28, 2014 - When the last American soldiers left Iraq, at the end of 2011, the bloody civil war between the country's Sunni and Shiite sects had been stifled but not resolved. Now the sectarian violence had returned, with terrifying intensity. For more than a year, thousands of Iraqis, nearly all of them members of the Sunni Arab minority, had been gathering to rail against Maliki's Shiite-dominated government. Although the protests were mostly peaceful, security forces responded harshly, detaining thousands of Sunni men without charges and, in one encampment, touching off a spasm of violence that left hundreds of civilians dead. Across the Sunni heartland, north and west of Baghdad, the town squares filled with angry crowds, and the rhetoric grew more extreme. In Ramadi, protesters raised black jihadi flags, representing the extremist Al Qaeda offshoot that had dominated the city during the American occupation. "We are a group called Al Qaeda!" a man shouted from a stage in the protesters' camp. "We will cut off heads and bring justice!" The crowd cheered.

Speaking into the television cameras on Christmas, Maliki ordered the protesters to disband. Largely ignoring his own men's excesses, he claimed that the protests were dominated by extremists. "This site has become a base for Al Qaeda," he said, filled with "killers and criminals." Maliki ended his speech with what for him was a flourish of emotion, lifting a hand from the lectern. "There will be no negotiations while the square is still standing." [Another dark Christmas for Iraq's Christians]

In the protests at Ramadi, a Sunni member of parliament named Ahmed al-Alwani had inflamed the crowds, accusing Maliki of being in league with the Iranian regime, the region's great Shiite power. "My message is for the snake Iran!" Alwani shouted into a microphone, jabbing his finger into the air. Referring to Maliki and those around him as "Safavids" and "Zoroastrians," terms that denote Iranian invaders, he said, "Let them listen up and know that those gathered here will return Iraq to its people!"

Obama, al-Maliki discuss fighting al Qaeda

Continued below the fold ...

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Sun Money

by gmoke Thu Jun 12th, 2014 at 08:53:48 PM EST

Solar is power and currency not only as energy, electricity, heat but also as politics,  economics, and sociology.  Solar energy is, by definition, local production, swadeshi, what Gandhi called the "heart of satyagraha," soul force, non-violent action.

Gandhi would spin for an hour each day, usually producing a hundred yards of thread, and helped develop a simple spinning wheel (charkha) that allowed many to do the same. He believed that spinning was the foundation of non-violence. I believe this type of practical labor has to be the core of any sustainable ecological action.

We need a solar swadeshi, an ecological practice on a daily basis that allows us to live within our solar income. Gandhi used the charkha, the spinning wheel. What would be an ecological charkha, a solar charkha?

from http://solarray.blogspot.com/2005/05/solar-swadeshi-hand-made-electricity.html

Could we do with electricity what Gandhi did with cloth, at least for emergencies and disasters? Can hand-made electricity, 21st century khadi cloth, provide real electrical power to the people and a survival level of energy independence and autonomy?
from http://www.dailykos.com/story/2010/11/10/919251/-Personal-Power-Production-160-Solar-from-Civil-Defe nse-to-Swadeshi

Here are some examples where solar energy is building economies that are closer to the practices of a Gandhian economics, a non-violent economics, a solar swadeshi, a kind of sun money.

Read more... (141 comments, 1127 words in story)

World Cup Betting

by DoDo Thu Jun 12th, 2014 at 03:41:54 PM EST

Which are your picks for group winners and second-placed?

What about the knock-out round?

Read more... (29 comments, 207 words in story)

Monetary policy in the Germany Media

by rz Thu Jun 5th, 2014 at 10:47:55 AM EST

As certainly everybody here knows inflation across Europe is running way below target. This month it has come in at only 0.5%. Now how did SPON (Spiegel Online) a big and influential news page react to this news? Well it gave us a report about Sparkassen-Präsident Georg Fahrenschon who demands higher interest rates...because currently the 'German Saver' is not high enough interests on his saving. And this is going to threaten peoples retirement savings.

Now, could it possible that low interest rates are a product of the collapsing European economy? Would it not be prudent focus on the amount of goos produced in Europe, instead of focusing on how much you get for your savings? Should we demand that you actually have to take some risk if you want to have a high interest rate?

Obviously, these are questions not asked in the German Media.

front-paged by afew

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Keynes was wrong

by cagatacos Wed Jun 4th, 2014 at 01:54:26 AM EST

When, many years ago, I joined this site (at that time still will using my real name - such naïveté), I believed - very strongly, I might add - in two things:

  1. That the symbol at the top-left corner of this site was someting good
  2. That the debt overhang that I was forecasting (and correctly so) would end up in hyperinflation.

Clearly I was completely wrong on both counts. Regarding point 1, the EU and the Euro are destroying Europe in front of our eyes...

But I am here to talk about point 2.

I always looked at Paul Krugman as a man with the heart in the right place, but not understanding anything about economy (mind you, they give the economics "nobel" to all kinds of people - that is never an argument). How could he not see the coming hyperinflation? So I read him, with both love and contempt.

Again, I was totally wrong: it is quite obvious how things pan-out: Keynesian macro got things mostly right. It was really interesting to read Paul over the years and just see how his predictions turned out mostly right (and mine mostly wrong).

Now, I understand that this might be confusing: how can I suggest - in the title - that Keynes was wrong and say all this?

front-paged by afew

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Infrastructure against delays

by DoDo Sun Jun 1st, 2014 at 12:57:55 PM EST

Low rolling resistance, long train lengths and high capacity are the main advantages of rail over other transport modes. However, in some situations, these same characteristics turn into disadvantages: for example, they can aggravate bottlenecks and cause delays to cascade. While at first sight, these situations may seem traffic nuisances to be addressed by more efficient dispatching, a truly efficient solution involves the construction of special infrastructure.

Below the fold, I will show three of these situations, explain why they are a special problem for railways, and show the respective solution, all of it thoroughly illustrated.

Both the international express (on the right) and a local (in the distance on the left) are stopped at red lights because a third train is crossing in front of them

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Syria Blow-back: French Jihadi Arrested In Brussels Shooting

by Oui Sun Jun 1st, 2014 at 06:49:19 AM EST

h/t Tikun Olam - Under arrest in Marseille, France: Brussels killer of Israeli couple, who worked for Israeli intelligence, was French jihadi who fought in Syria last year.

Israeli PM Netanyahu feeding the Islamophobic trolls, blamed rising anti-semitism in Europe for attack on Jewish Museum in Brussels. Watch Geert Wilders, Robert Spencer, Pamela Geller and all the idiots "protecting" Israel from Islam.

France arrests suspect in Brussels Jewish Museum shooting

(Al Arabya/Reuters) - French police have arrested a man suspected of being involved in the shooting deaths last weekend of four people at Brussels' Jewish Museum, official sources in Belgium and France said on Sunday.

The 29-year-old Frenchman was arrested in the southern French city of Marseilles on Friday and had a Kalashnikov and another gun with him, a French police source said. The man, from the northern city of Roubaix, had been in jail in 2012. [Suspect was named as Mehdi Nemmouche]

French media reported that the man was suspected of having stayed in Syria with jihadist groups in 2013.

"This is a relief," Joel Rubinfeld, head of the Belgian League against Antisemitism told BFM TV, saying he had received confirmation of the news.

"But this is also worrying us ... it is is crucial that countries who have citizens who have gone to Syria take all necessary measures to make sure this does not happen again."

Mehdi Nemmouche, un Roubaisien djihadiste arrêté

Continued below the fold ...

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Counting the MEPs

by A swedish kind of death Sat May 31st, 2014 at 02:10:28 AM EST

We often hear about the great advances of the far right in the EP election, but seldom any concrete numbers. Now, I am a bit sceptical as we started hearing about this long before the election. Join me in estimating the numbers of MEPs each group will have after the sorting is done, and lets see if there really was a far right advance, and if so how big.

front-paged by afew

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Perma-slump and Project

by afew Thu May 29th, 2014 at 02:41:44 AM EST

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard has been consistently right about the euro, and he's right (no pun intended) again here:

Europe's centre crumbles as Socialists immolate themselves on altar of EMU - Telegraph

By a horrible twist of fate, Europe's political Left has become the enforcer of reactionary economic policies. The great socialist parties of the post-war era have been trapped by the corrosive dynamics of monetary union, apologists for mass unemployment and a 1930s deflationary regime that subtly favour the interests of elites.

He goes on to take François Hollande's performance as French President to pieces, and concludes:

Read more... (114 comments, 389 words in story)

Final notes on Piketty's Capital

by Cyrille Wed May 28th, 2014 at 09:34:59 AM EST

Here is the final instalment of my notes on Piketty's Capital in the 21st Century. Like the previous ones (here, here, and here), it is cross-posted on my blog Anachronicles.

Chapter 12 sees Piketty going global. Having thus far kept a mostly national perspective, he now looks at capital at a wordwide level. That makes sense: colonies aside (and even they fell far short of today's cross-positions), major international investments is a relatively new phenomenon, as is the difficulty of associating a capital to a country.

This is another reason why the elevated levels of r (return on capital) could go on a bit longer: whereas developed countries are awash in capital, in fact probably have too much for their own good, this is not the case of the world as a whole -though the gap is less than one may have thought.

There, Piketty has an extremely interesting line of study. Having shown that the richest people saw their wealth grow faster than everyone else, he examined what caused this divergence (it is true both of highly concentrated and highly diversified massive fortunes, surprisingly) looking at the returns obtained by the dotations of various US universities. The picture is crystal clear: the bigger the amount to invest, the higher the returns it gets.

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More notes on Piketty's Capital

by Cyrille Fri May 23rd, 2014 at 01:34:12 AM EST

Right, I have now finished the book, for which I already published two sets of notes on the way (here and here).

However, there is so much material for discussion in the book after the point where I stopped my notes that, to make it a bit more readable, I will split the final notes in two more installments. I therefore return to part 3, looking at inequalities, from Chapter 9 onwards, and will stop at the end of Chapter 11.

Piketty being the specialist of inequality, there is little surprise that he gives a very good description of its historical evolution.

It's hard to pinpoint one thing in particular, but despite having over the last few years read each of his papers or articles that came my way, I kept finding things I did not know, that will probably alter my views of economics and politics in the future, even if I don't necessarily know in what way yet. For instance, I did not realise that Germany's top 1% had a markedly higher share of revenue than in any other continental Europe country. It is also interesting to look at the very different evolutions of minimum wages in France and USA (although that had very little impact on inequality at the very top, which is what took off of late).

front-paged by afew

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More notes on Piketty's Capital

by Cyrille Wed May 21st, 2014 at 02:01:50 PM EST

Right, I have now finished the book, for which I already published two sets of notes on the way (here and here).

However, there is so much material for discussion in the book after the point where I stopped my notes that, to make it a bit more readable, I will split the final notes in two more installments. I therefore return to part 3, looking at inequalities, from Chapter 9 onwards, and will stop at the end of Chapter 11.

Piketty being the specialist of inequality, there is little surprise that he gives a very good description of its historical evolution.

It's hard to pinpoint one thing in particular, but despite having over the last few years read each of his papers or articles that came my way, I kept finding things I did not know, that will probably alter my views of economics and politics in the future, even if I don't necessarily know in what way yet. For instance, I did not realise that Germany's top 1% had a markedly higher share of revenue than in any other continental Europe country. It is also interesting to look at the very different evolutions of minimum wages in France and USA (although that had very little impact on inequality at the very top, which is what took off of late).

Read more... (4000 words in story)
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News and Views

 19 September 2014

by In Wales - Sep 18, 32 comments

Your take on today's news media

 17 Septembre 2014

by afew - Sep 16, 58 comments

Your take on today's news media

 Midweek Open Thread

by Helen - Sep 17, 14 comments

this monkey's gone to heaven

 Start The Week Open thread

by Helen - Sep 15, 33 comments

Linking my thinking with computer technology.

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