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European Salon de News, Discussion et Klatsch – 14 October

by Fran Sat Oct 13th, 2007 at 11:57:03 PM EST

On this date in history:

1888 - Louis Le Prince films first motion picture: Roundhay Garden Scene.

More here and here


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EUROPE
by Fran on Sat Oct 13th, 2007 at 11:57:56 PM EST
Ahead of Talks, Merkel Stresses Good Relations with Russia | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 13.10.2007
In her podcast on Saturday, Oct. 13, Chancellor Angela Merkel stressed the need for Russia and Germany to cooperate on international issues. Merkel will meet with Russian President Putin on Sunday in Germany.

In Chancellor Angela Merkel's weekly podcast, she said that Germany and Russia had a "strategic partnership," and that despite many differences of opinion, the two countries also shared several common positions on topics.

Merkel and Russian president Vladimir Putin are scheduled to meet Sunday on the sidelines of the Petersburg Dialogue in the western city of Wiesbaden. The conference began on Saturday, Oct. 13 and runs through Monday.

"I have already had many open, honest and very intensive conversations with President Putin and I am pleased that we will be able to do this again," she said.

by Fran on Sat Oct 13th, 2007 at 11:59:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Al Jazeera English - News - Polish Pm Loses Ground In Tv Debate
Polls have shown the leader of Poland's opposition to have been a clear winner of a live TV debate with the country's prime minister ahead of key elections.

On the offensive for much of the hour, challenger Donald Tusk accused Jaroslaw Kaczynski of damaging the country's ties with neighbours Germany and Russia.
He also said Warsaw's strong alliance with the US in Iraq, had brought the country few benefits.

Kaczynski's conservative Law and Justice party is running neck-and-neck with the pro-business Civic Platform group led by Tusk in the run-up to parliamentary elections on October 21.
by Fran on Sun Oct 14th, 2007 at 12:00:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Rice says Kremlin's consolidated power endangers democracy - CNN.com

MOSCOW, Russia (AP) -- The Russian government under Vladimir Putin has amassed so much central authority that the power-grab may undermine Moscow's commitment to democracy, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Saturday.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice listens at a news conference in Moscow on Friday.

"In any country, if you don't have countervailing institutions, the power of any one president is problematic for democratic development," Rice told reporters after meeting with human-rights activists.

"I think there is too much concentration of power in the Kremlin. I have told the Russians that. Everybody has doubts about the full independence of the judiciary. There are clearly questions about the independence of the electronic media and there are, I think, questions about the strength of the Duma," said Rice, referring to the Russian parliament.

Telephone messages left with Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov were not immediately returned Saturday evening.

The top American diplomat encouraged the activists to build institutions of democracy. These would help combat arbitrary state power amid increasing pressure from the Kremlin, she said.

by Fran on Sun Oct 14th, 2007 at 12:01:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Al Jazeera English - News - Rice Meets Russian Rights Leaders
The US secretary of state has met Russian human rights leaders and said she wanted to help them build institutions to protect people from the 'arbitrary power of the state'.   Condoleezza Rice, who held the meeting during a visit to Moscow, said she wanted to help them build institutions that are respectful of "universal values."
Rice met the eight prominent rights campaigners at the US ambassador's residence in Moscow on Saturday.   The talks are likely to annoy the Kremlin, which is sensitive to Western accusations it has rolled back democratic freedoms.
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Moscow also suspects foreign governments of trying to influence the outcome of next year's presidential election.
by Fran on Sun Oct 14th, 2007 at 12:02:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Just imagine Lavrow meeting in Washington DC with the anti-war movement.
by Fran on Sun Oct 14th, 2007 at 12:03:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Russian foreign minister has met American human rights leaders and said he wanted to help them build institutions to protect people from the 'arbitrary power of the state'. Sergei Lavrov, who held the meeting during a visit to Washington, said he wanted to help them build institutions that are respectful of "universal values."

Lavrov met the eight prominent rights campaigners at the Russian ambassador's residence in Washington on Saturday. The talks are likely to annoy the White House, which is sensitive to Foreign accusations it has rolled back democratic freedoms.

Washington also suspects foreign governments of trying to influence the outcome of next year's presidential election.

We have met the enemy, and it is us — Pogo

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Oct 14th, 2007 at 01:34:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is hardly possible because Russia adopted non-interference policy and usually refrain from meddling in other countries domestic affairs. It's not that Russia  does not interfere - former Soviet countries are good examples of Russian attempts to make influence but the rule is almost universal - that meddling bring in boomerang effect when desired goals are not achieved.
Americans should be aware of this but they seem to be blinded by velvet color revolutions in 1990s and attributed them to their intrigues. Besides their actions are ideology-driven which hardly makes good policy.
by FarEasterner on Sun Oct 14th, 2007 at 02:04:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, it may be against Russian policy, but the point is that the Bush regime is open to exactly the same criticism it levels at others.

We have met the enemy, and it is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Oct 14th, 2007 at 02:06:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The American government under George W. Bush has amassed so much central authority that the power-grab may undermine Washington's commitment to democracy, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Saturday.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov listens at a news conference in Washington on Friday.

"In any country, if you don't have countervailing institutions, the power of any one president is problematic for democratic development," Lavrov told reporters after meeting with human-rights activists.

"I think there is too much concentration of power in the White House. I have told the Americans that. Everybody has doubts about the full independence of the judiciary. There are clearly questions about the independence of the electronic media and there are, I think, questions about the strength of the Congress," said Lavrov, referring to the American parliament.

Telephone messages left with White House Press Secretary Dana Perino were not immediately returned Saturday evening.

The top Russian diplomat encouraged the activists to build institutions of democracy. These would help combat arbitrary state power amid increasing pressure from the White House, he said.

We have met the enemy, and it is us — Pogo

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Oct 14th, 2007 at 01:33:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How long untill the reservoir of goodwill for the US that makes everybody think as a first reaction that this is silly is emptied?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Oct 14th, 2007 at 03:34:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
At this rate, just before January 2009, when another POTUS will inherit the manure truck from W.
by Bernard (bernard) on Sun Oct 14th, 2007 at 04:14:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is silly?

We have met the enemy, and it is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 15th, 2007 at 05:32:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Rearview mirror.  A broken one.

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.
by metavision on Sun Oct 14th, 2007 at 07:08:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Fran:
"In any country, if you don't have countervailing institutions, the power of any one president is problematic for democratic development," Rice told reporters...

Oh my aching sides.

I'm wondering if she's really completely clueless, or whether this was actually a deadpan dig at Georgie back home.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Oct 14th, 2007 at 08:48:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hard right's hero shakes up cosy world of Swiss politics | World | The Observer
Hard right's hero shakes up cosy world of Swiss politics

Christoph Blocher's party is the largest in Switzerland but its noisy broadsides against immigrants and crime have caused deep divisions ahead of next week's elections. Peter Beaumont reports from Bern

'It's not like we're England,' said the old woman sharing a flask of coffee with her middle-aged daughter on the train from Geneva to Zurich. 'They had the colonies, and we didn't,' she adds, to explain the nature of Britain's racial mix and why Switzerland does not need one. Her daughter considers this for a moment. 'I worry,' she says, 'there will be a putsch against him.'

The him in question is Christoph Blocher, the populist and right-wing leader of the Swiss People's party (the UDC): lawyer, industrialist, admirer of Winston Churchill, collector of mawkish Swiss art and, if his opponents and critics are to be believed, a man with leanings towards the fascist fringe of the right.

by Fran on Sun Oct 14th, 2007 at 12:07:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
swissinfo - Swiss sociologist Kurt Imhof says violent protestors are "normal youngsters".
Today's youth has not become more violent according to Swiss sociologist Kurt Imhof. He says rioting, as seen recently in the capital Bern, is not a major problem.

Last weekend's violence was triggered by a planned rightwing march through the city. But Imhof tells swissinfo that the members of the Black Block group that caused so much trouble aren't really motivated by ideology.

 

The events left 21 people injured and caused more than SFr100,000 ($85,000) damage after protestors tried prevented a rightwing Swiss People's Party march from reaching the parliament building.

 

The Black Block is a loose grouping of anarchists and extreme leftwing activists.

  swissinfo: Do these violent demonstrators have an ideology?

 

Kurt Imhof: The ideological basis is very thin. It is built upon a specific understanding of a social criticism that has its roots in Marxism. This helps create a set of values for these youngsters. Rioting is for them a concrete application of their radical-Marxist convictions. They get the feeling they are doing something that makes sense. Young adults between the ages of 17 and 25 are particularly receptive to religious or political values - a phenomenon that is not new.

  swissinfo: Who are these youngsters?

 

K.I.: They are a mixed bunch - apprentices, high school and university students, second-generation foreigners who grew up here. They are perfectly normal - young men who give their mothers flowers. They have a double life, just like most youngsters their age.

 

by Fran on Sun Oct 14th, 2007 at 12:08:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
in Berne, in the Spanish Basque Country...  Strange comparison.

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.
by metavision on Sun Oct 14th, 2007 at 07:05:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
that's impartial all right.

Not holding my breath for a hero of the poor shakes up cosy world of Western politics about Chavez.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Oct 14th, 2007 at 03:33:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Brown putting EU at terror risk - Barroso | World | The Observer
The president of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, has launched a rare attack on Gordon Brown, warning that the Prime Minister is putting the international fight against terrorism at risk.

Ahead of the crucial Lisbon summit on the European Union reform treaty this week, Barroso said that Britain's insistence on 'opt-outs' from clauses to create greater co-operation on law and order was setting back the fight against European terror networks.

In an unusual rebuke of an EU member state, Barroso says Britain's stance amounted to double standards. 'I am not happy,' Barroso told The Observer, days before Brown travels to Lisbon to secure tough new 'red lines', designed to guarantee that the UK will not be forced to take part in new EU law and order regulations.

by Fran on Sun Oct 14th, 2007 at 12:10:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The president of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, has launched a rare attack on Gordon Brown, warning that the Prime Minister is putting the international fight against terrorism at risk.

I don't know how "rare" that kind of "attack" is. At the Lib Dem conference last month I heard the complaint the UK's opt-outs from the EU's pillar of "Police and Judicial cooperation on Criminal matters" and "Common Foreign and Security Policy" was hurting both the UK and the EU. And this was coming, obviously, from Britons.

Maybe they're surprised because they actually believe this:

Guardian Unlimited Politics Blair sets out red lines on EU constitution (June 18, 2007)

However, it will be for [the incoming] prime minister, Gordon Brown, to deal with the aftermath of the summit next week. The Brussels meeting takes place this Thursday and Friday, while Mr Brown takes over as PM next Wednesday.

Mr Blair pointed to the elections of Nicolas Sarkozy in France, Angela Merkel in Germany and José Manuel Barroso as president of the European commission as evidence that the EU was coming round to Britain's way of thinking.

even in the face of
Last night, at a pre-summit dinner of foreign ministers in Luxembourg, France and Spain agreed to push for more majority voting and moves to turn the EU into a "single legal personality", effectively giving it greater clout on the world stage.

...

But the surprising new alliance - between a country which voted no (France) and a country which ratified the constitution (Spain) increases the pressure on Britain at Mr Blair's final European summit.



We have met the enemy, and it is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Oct 14th, 2007 at 01:22:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]

But the surprising new alliance - between a country which voted no (France) and a country which ratified the constitution (Spain)

How anyone could call any alliance between France and Spain on important European matters "surprising" is beyond me (or beyond the Channel).

But the attack on Brown is "rare", thus all the more notable and shows his weakness, presumably -  the new meme since he frustrated journos by withholding the elections from them.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Oct 14th, 2007 at 03:38:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Jerome a Paris:
the new meme since he frustrated journos by withholding the elections from them.

might it not be more going back to this warning last year?

Murdoch hints at election backing for Cameron | Special Reports | Guardian Unlimited Politics

Rupert Murdoch, head of News International, has warned Gordon Brown not to call a snap election when Mr Brown takes over from Tony Blair, adding it is quite possible his newspapers will back David Cameron at the next election...

Mr Brown should leave at least 12 months before calling an election, to give voters a chance to compare him with Mr Cameron, he said. Opinion polls have suggested voters would like to go to the polls soon after a handover of power.



Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Oct 14th, 2007 at 07:05:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So the king maker had a quiet word, and all is well again.

Brown will run out the clock, Murdoch will crown whatever clown the Tories dredge up to replace Cameron as the new boy king - you can bet it won't be someone with a moderate agenda - and we can look forward to at least four years of Tory insanity, probably with serious discussions about an exit from Europe.

The only bright prospect is that Murdoch is getting on a bit now, and may be dead before then.

Brown had a very brief window of opportunity to win an election without Rupert's backing earlier in the year. He wasn't savvy enough to take it, so he'll be playing poodle now, like all the other prime minister's we've had since Thatcher.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Oct 14th, 2007 at 08:56:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
swissinfo - Unions call strike at Gotthard tunnel
Workers on the 57km Gotthard base tunnel, Europe's largest construction site, have downed tools for 24 hours over a collective labour agreement, according to unions.

However, constructors described the action as an unconstitutional blockade by the unions and said not one worker had gone on strike.

 

Industrial action began on the New Railway Links through the Alps (NRLA) at 8pm on Friday when, according to the Unia, Syna and OCST unions, workers on the late shift in the sites of Faido, Bodio and Amsteg went on strike.

 

The unions said workers had blocked the entrances to the mining galleries with their machines and were protesting against a lack of contracts in the construction sector.

 

At 4am on Saturday miners at the NRLA site of Sedrun also began industrial action, according to the unions, who said the workers "were confirming their determination to fight against the diktats of the Swiss Construction Association and for a new national covering contract".

 

They said this initial warning strike, which by Unia and Syna estimates involved a total of around 600 workers, would continue until 8pm on Saturday.

by Fran on Sun Oct 14th, 2007 at 12:12:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
WORLD
by Fran on Sat Oct 13th, 2007 at 11:58:16 PM EST
The new Taliban | World | The Observer
n a swath of territory across Afghanistan and Pakistan, a wild and lawless new state is being born. As warlords struggle for control and Islamic militants pour in, Jason Burke travels deep into the region to reveal hidden forces fuelling a growing conflict in the front line of the 'War on Terror'

Sunday October 14, 2007
The Observer


The bomb was far from the biggest seen on the North-West Frontier but it did its job well. Placed in a water cooler, it ripped through the Nishtar Abad music market, sending shards of glass and splintered CDs in all directions. 'Miraculously, no one was killed,' said Mohammed Azam, who was shopping for presents for the Muslim holiday of Eid this weekend. Twenty people were injured, three seriously, and a dozen shops gutted.
by Fran on Sun Oct 14th, 2007 at 12:04:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Afghanistan 'is going down fast' | The Australian

THE bloodshed in Afghanistan has reached levels not seen since the 2001 invasion as anger at bungling by an ineffective Government in Kabul and its foreign backers stokes support for the Taliban and other extremist groups.

The death of Trooper David Pearce underlines the rising dangers for Australia's 1000 soldiers in Afghanistan, most of them deployed in the Taliban's southern heartland -- a region some of Canberra's NATO allies consider too dangerous to fight in.

"This place can only go up or down, and it's going down fast, which is something the international community simply will not understand," said a security analyst who has been working in and out of Afghanistan for 30 years.

Almost six years after the hardline Islamist Taliban were ousted, their insurgency is gaining strength, fuelled by resentment at NATO bombing of civilians, billions of dollars of wasted aid, a lack of jobs and record crops of opium, the raw material for heroin.

The fighting is spreading to places once relatively safe, including the capital and the western and northern parts of the country.

"This is a guerilla movement but it does seem to have a real momentum behind it at the moment," said Joanna Nathan, an analyst for the International Crisis Group, a Brussels-based think tank headed by former foreign minister Gareth Evans.

[Murdoch Alert]
by Fran on Sun Oct 14th, 2007 at 12:23:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]

fuelled by resentment at NATO bombing of civilians, billions of dollars of wasted aid, a lack of jobs and record crops of opium


"This is a guerilla movement but it does seem to have a real momentum behind it at the moment,"

The relevant information is there, but it's not processed into the proper conclusion, which is that the West is failing, and thus not directed into the  right question - could it have been any other way, and an actual debate into the legitimacy of our invasion.

But no. It's outside forces that are bringing Afghanistan down, or local incompetence. Sleep safely.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Oct 14th, 2007 at 03:43:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Australian PM announces election
Australian Prime Minister John Howard has announced parliamentary elections for 24 November.

The PM earlier visited Governor-General Michael Jeffery, the representative of head of state Queen Elizabeth, to ask for the dissolution of parliament.

The veteran PM is seeking a fifth term in office but analysts predict a heavy defeat after 11 years in office.

Mr Howard, 68, is badly trailing his Labor opponent Kevin Rudd, 50, after nine months of dismal polls.

The BBC's Nick Bryant in Sydney says the PM now hopes to persuade the electorate that voting for Labor would be a gamble with prosperity.

by Fran on Sun Oct 14th, 2007 at 12:09:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
US tries to halt Turkey attack | World | The Observer
Senior US officials were engaged last night in last-ditch efforts to persuade Turkey not to launch a major military incursion into Iraqi Kurdistan to target armed separatists.

A team was diverted from a mission to Russia to make an unscheduled stop in Ankara yesterday. Against the background of the escalating diplomatic row between Turkey and the US over a congressional resolution that branded as 'genocide' massacres of Armenians by Ottoman Turks in 1915, US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, revealed she had personally urged Turkey to refrain from any major military operation in northern Iraq. The row between the two Nato allies comes against the dangerous background of a threat by the Turkish parliament to approve this week a 'hot pursuit' of the Kurdish separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party, the PKK, across the border into northern Iraq.

Article continues The threat of military action came after last Sunday's killing by the PKK of 13 Turkish soldiers in an ambush in Sirnak province, close to the Iraqi border.

'I urged restraint,' said Rice, on a visit to Moscow, acknowledging 'a difficult time' between the two countries as she described her telephone conversations with Turkey's President Abdullah Gul, its Prime Minister and foreign minister.

by Fran on Sun Oct 14th, 2007 at 12:12:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
New York Times: Analysts Find Israel Struck a Nuclear Project Inside Syria

Israel's air attack on Syria last month was directed against a site that Israeli and American intelligence analysts judged was a partly constructed nuclear reactor, apparently modeled on one North Korea has used to create its stockpile of nuclear weapons fuel, according to American and foreign officials with access to the intelligence reports. <...>

Many details remain unclear, most notably how much progress the Syrians had made in construction before the Israelis struck, the role of any assistance provided by North Korea, and whether the Syrians could make a plausible case that the reactor was intended to produce electricity. <...>

"There wasn't a lot of debate about the evidence," said one American official familiar with the intense discussions over the summer between Washington and the government of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel. "There was a lot of debate about how to respond to it."

The partly constructed Syrian reactor was detected earlier this year by satellite photographs, according to American officials. They suggested that the facility had been brought to American attention by the Israelis, but would not discuss why American spy agencies seemed to have missed the early phases of construction. <...>

Neither Iran nor any Arab government except for Syria has criticized the Israeli raid, suggesting that Israel is not the only country that would be disturbed by a nuclear Syria. <...>

While the partly constructed Syrian reactor appears to be based on North Korea's design, the American and foreign officials would not say whether they believed the North Koreans sold or gave the plans to the Syrians, or whether the North's own experts were there at the time of the attack. It is possible, some officials said, that the transfer of the technology occurred several years ago.

Because of the classified status imposed by the Israeli and U.S. governments on the incident, all sources in the article are "anonymous".

Would be very interested in learning what Joseph Cirincione and Lawrence Wilkerson would have to say about this article.

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.

by marco on Sun Oct 14th, 2007 at 12:36:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The early analysis was that Syria had just received a shipment of SCUD missile parts from North Korea. Funny, how that morphs into a nuclear program. From the NYT article:

Many details remain unclear, most notably how much progress the Syrians had made in construction before the Israelis struck, the role of any assistance provided by North Korea, and whether the Syrians could make a plausible case that the reactor was intended to produce electricity...

"There wasn't a lot of debate about the evidence," said one American official familiar with the intense discussions over the summer between Washington and the government of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel. "There was a lot of debate about how to respond to it."

Translation: there was just as much evidence of a Syrian nuclear program as there was Saddam Hussein's WMD program in Iraq in 2003. The Bush administration 'knew' where the WMDs were.

And, of course, George W. Bush is advocating for the nations of the world to build more nuclear power stations to address global warming. I'm reminded of this reaction to Bush's plan.

Bush's proposal to expand nuclear energy to fight climate change and his statement that carbon dioxide emissions would be much higher today if it weren't for the 439 nuclear power plants worldwide was sharply criticised by [German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel].

"I don't it's particularly clever to give the world the message: build new nuclear plants," Gabriel said. "First you urge people to expand nuclear energy and then you send in NATO to bomb the nuclear power plants because they did the wrong thing -- that isn't particularly intelligent politics."

NATO, Israel, whomever... no debate on the evidence. No proof offered. Shoot first. Never ask questions.

Haven't we been here before with both the NY Times and the Bush administration?

by Magnifico on Sun Oct 14th, 2007 at 02:05:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Haven't we been here before with both the NY Times and the Bush administration?

Precisely what Joseph Cirincione and Lawrence Wilkerson ask:

The real story is how quickly the New York Times and the Washington Post snapped up the bait and ran exactly the story the officials wanted, thereby feeding a mini-media frenzy. It appears that nothing, not even a disastrous and unnecessary war, can break this Pavlovian response to an "intelligence scoop."

Joseph Cirincione quoted in North Korea-Syria nuclear ties: déjà vu all over again? (2007/9/14)

The administration seems to be -- and I'm growing more concerned every day -- hell-bent to start a shooting confict, a hot war, with Iran at some level.  And it's disconcerting, because it looks as if the same kind of public diplomacy, public affairs campaign is being conducted to excite the American people to this conflict as was being conducted before we went to war in March of 2003 with Iraq.

Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson in Worldview: "An Insider's View of the White House" (2007/9/21)

Then there is something that really made my ears perk up:

So it's been very mysterious as to what actually did happen.  I still think it's more psychological, sort of a psy-ops thing, than anything more substantial than that.

Neil King, Jr. (The Wall Street Journal's diplomatic reporter) on The Diane Rehm Show: News Roundup - Hour 2 (2007/10/12)

Cirincione says claims of a nuclear reactor being built could still be verified:

The Syria-North Korea story continues to spiral out of control, based as far as I can see on hyperbole and speculation. Its tiny spark has been repeatedly fanned by The Washington Post into what the paper yesterday called "the boldest act of nuclear preemption" since Israel's attack on the Iraq reactor at Osirik in 1981. <...>

If the United States, Israel or any nation seriously believed there was prohibited or suspicious nuclear activity, they could have called for a special inspection. They still could. Any nuclear material--even after a bombing--would leave traces that IAEA inspectors could detect. This is precisely why we have international agencies--to provide independent, rapid verification of suspect activities. The Washington Post's encouragement for states to shoot first invites a more unstable, less secure world for all.

Joseph Cirincione in Syria had nuclear facilities? Prove it. (2007/9/21)



Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.
by marco on Sun Oct 14th, 2007 at 03:02:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is starting to look like 'I suppose we'll have to give up on blowing shit up in Iran. I know - Syria! No one gives a crap about Syria. They barely have an army. They don't control any oil. Let's blow some shit up in Syria instead. Yaay!'
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Oct 14th, 2007 at 09:24:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You know, I'm really not sure it's that simple.

For one thing, Syria is believed  by some to have chemical weapons.    Much of that "intel" seems to come from the CIA, and we know how accurate they can be.  But the point is that it is likely that Israel believes this as well.

Several (relatively well-informed) people I know in Lebanon think that's the reason why Israel didn't bomb Syria last summer when it was blasting the fuck out of southern Lebanon.  Although another answer to that question could be because Israel was a little busy blasting the fuck out of southern Lebanon, and it wasn't going so well, so even their apparently common-sense-impaired leadership could tell that opening a second front might have been a bad idea.

After last year, I have completely given up on the idea of the Israeli military doing things that make sense.  So who knows, maybe they are just looking to bomb something.  And you're right, Syria doesn't have a lot of friends.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Sun Oct 14th, 2007 at 10:25:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well it would be interesting to look at the wind direction on the night of the bombing, If the wind is blowing towards Israel, (or perhaps any major city) then it wouldn't be Chemical weapons.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Oct 14th, 2007 at 10:54:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't actually think that's what it is regardless.  The reports (for what they're worth) say there are four to five production sites, and missiles already equipped with Sarin, so if Israel believes that then it would also know that a single strike on one facility wouldn't really achieve much.

My point was that Israel, if it believes Syria has chemical weapons, should be hesitant to engage Syria in a wider military confrontation.  But this comes with the standard disclaimer that I realize that the IDF and Israeli political leadership have by now well established that they have no problem doing things that make absolutely no sense.

The nightmare scenario, of course, would be:
Israel bombs Syria => Syria uses chemical weapons on Israel => Israel nukes Syria => World ends.

(I have an anecdote tangentially related to this that I would love to share, but it's not internet-appropriate, so will have to wait for real-life-over-a-beer-conversation.)

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Sun Oct 14th, 2007 at 11:49:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The `Good Germans' Among Us - New York Times

"BUSH lies" doesn't cut it anymore. It's time to confront the darker reality that we are lying to ourselves.

Enlarge This Image Barry Blitt

Ten days ago The Times unearthed yet another round of secret Department of Justice memos countenancing torture. President Bush gave his standard response: "This government does not torture people." Of course, it all depends on what the meaning of "torture" is. The whole point of these memos is to repeatedly recalibrate the definition so Mr. Bush can keep pleading innocent.

By any legal standards except those rubber-stamped by Alberto Gonzales, we are practicing torture, and we have known we are doing so ever since photographic proof emerged from Abu Ghraib more than three years ago. As Andrew Sullivan, once a Bush cheerleader, observed last weekend in The Sunday Times of London, America's "enhanced interrogation" techniques have a grotesque provenance: "Verschärfte Vernehmung, enhanced or intensified interrogation, was the exact term innovated by the Gestapo to describe what became known as the `third degree.' It left no marks. It included hypothermia, stress positions and long-time sleep deprivation."

Still, the drill remains the same. The administration gives its alibi (Abu Ghraib was just a few bad apples). A few members of Congress squawk. The debate is labeled "politics." We turn the page.

by Fran on Sun Oct 14th, 2007 at 01:06:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"...It included hypothermia, stress positions and long-time sleep deprivation."

From an article in today's New York Times that Magnifico caught this morning:

The evidence against Mr. Wu consisted mainly of written testimony and his own confession. The judges rejected a request by Mr. Wu's lawyer to summon prosecution witnesses for cross-examination.

Mr. Wu told the judges in open court that the police had deprived him of food and forced him to stay awake for five days and five nights in succession, relenting only when he signed a written confession. He said that the confession was coerced and that he was innocent. The judges ruled that since Mr. Wu could not prove that he had been tortured, his confession remained valid.

In China, a Lake's Champion Imperils Himself



Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.
by marco on Sun Oct 14th, 2007 at 03:24:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Book Faults Israeli Air War in Lebanon  |  New York Times

A study of the 2006 Israeli-Hezbollah war commissioned by the United States Air Force and to be published this month concludes that Israel's use of air power was of diminishing value as the fight dragged on because it was used without enough discrimination.

Although the war was widely criticized in Israel and abroad for relying too heavily on the air force, the study argues that air power remains the most flexible tool in fighting groups like Hezbollah, because ground forces alone could not have achieved Israel's aims. Israel's error, the study concludes, was insufficient discernment in its airstrikes.

By bombing too many targets of questionable importance for its aims, and not explaining why it bombed what it did, Israel lost the war for public opinion, according to the author of the study, William M. Arkin, an expert in assessing bomb damage. "Israel bombed too much and bombed the wrong targets, falling back upon cookie-cutter conventional targeting in attacking traditional military objects," Mr. Arkin wrote. "Individual elements of each target group might have been justified, but Israel also undertook an intentionally punishing and destructive air campaign against the people and government of Lebanon."

There's so much that's disturbing about this article, I don't know where to start.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Sun Oct 14th, 2007 at 01:22:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I would start with this
In debating proportionate use of force and civilian casualties, Mr. Arkin says it is a mistake to rely too heavily on witnesses "as a means of judging war crimes."

He said Hezbollah fought effectively. "But when human rights organizations and much of the international community showed up or commented, they seemed to act as if the force Israel was battling was nonexistent," he wrote. "As for the critique of air power, the connotation was that somehow a full-fledged ground war with the same mission against this same tricky and dug-in force would have been both more successful and less destructive."

Once a government decides that it is fighting a moral war, "debating the morality of individual strikes is just wrong," he said. "If you bomb the right target for a specific military purpose, it's intrinsically legal."



We have met the enemy, and it is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Oct 14th, 2007 at 01:27:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah.
by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Sun Oct 14th, 2007 at 01:51:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Migeru:
"If you bomb the right target for a specific military purpose, it's intrinsically legal."

surely that contradicts

"debating the morality of individual strikes is just wrong,"


Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Oct 14th, 2007 at 07:20:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think the overall message they want to send is a big, fat STFU to the likes of us.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Sun Oct 14th, 2007 at 08:16:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think the overall message is that this is all you'll ever get from the authoritarian right.

They believe in blowing shit up. Blowing shit up is a valid and moral end in itself.

It doesn't matter if they blow the wrong shit up, or the strategic effects are counterproductive, or if by any reasonable standards blowing shit up counts as a war crime.

None of that matters, because the 'moral' point is to demonstrate that you can blow shit up. Because you can. And that's far as the argument goes.

These are immature playground bullies, not adults. There's nothing adult about them, and they can't be expected to calculate consequences as adults might, because emotionally they're 14 years old, and always will be.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Oct 14th, 2007 at 09:07:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
well going back to http://www.eurotrib.com/comments/2007/9/26/13377/4289/28#28 for furher evidence that the future is designed by people with the mentality of Teenagers.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Oct 14th, 2007 at 09:43:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Isn't it a shame then that we're a bunch of ignorant bastards who won't be told to STFU.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Oct 14th, 2007 at 10:56:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Top Story
  • The Hill - "A new poll [by InsiderAdvantage/Majority Opinion poll] shows former Vice President Al Gore's entry into the Democratic presidential race might not have such a large impact on Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) after all. In fact, it might help to further solidify her frontrunner status... [It] shows Gore taking heavily from undecided voters and the other candidates - not Clinton."

USA
  • Miami Herald - "International human rights watchdog group said Friday that it plans to investigate allegations of mistreatment among immigrants held in the nation's detention centers. ¶ The interest from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, or IACHR, a branch of the Organization of American States, comes just a week after a House subcommittee held its first hearing to look at complaints about healthcare in the detention centers, including one in Miami. ¶ The enhanced scrutiny of the facilities that hold both undocumented immigrants and legal immigrants who are being held for deportation and other proceedings comes as the number of detainees increases, along with a crackdown on illegal immigration."

  • WaPo - "At least 108 countries have "full-fledged procurement networks that work through front companies, joint ventures, trade delegations and other mechanisms to methodically target our government, our private industries and our universities as sources of this material," Assistant Attorney General Kenneth L. Wainstein told reporters last week. The Pentagon last year reported a 43 percent increase in suspicious foreign contacts with U.S. defense firms. ¶ The biggest offenders are Iran and China, U.S. law enforcement officials say. Since 2000, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers have launched more than 600 investigations into illicit Iranian military procurement efforts and more than 540 investigations into illegal exports of restricted U.S. weapons technology to China. Additional investigations have been launched by other U.S. agencies, with overall cases doubling in recent years." Oh, I dunno. Maybe stop selling weapons to other countries first place?

  • NYT - Ahh... Too bad. Republicans in Congress are demoralized. "Under fierce attack on children's health insurance, beset by politically inconvenient retirements and uncertain if another scandal lurks around the corner, Congressional Republicans are feeling a bit under siege as even one of their former leaders predicts 2008 could be a Democratic year... ¶ The twist is that the issue Republicans had feared most in the fall, the war in Iraq, has played out legislatively in their favor for the moment... ¶ But Republicans say they have lacked a similar cohesive plan to counter the Democratic assault over the children's health insurance program that will be the subject of a veto override vote in the House on Thursday. President Bush's veto of an expansion of that program and the strategic failure have exposed vulnerable Republicans to a backlash and allowed the party to be painted as uncaring." Excuse me, allow them "to be painted as uncaring". This batch of Republicans ARE uncaring and it is about time America wakes up to this realization.

  • WaPo - "A former Qwest Communications International executive, appealing a conviction for insider trading, has alleged that the government withdrew opportunities for contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars after Qwest refused to participate in an unidentified National Security Agency program that the company thought might be illegal. ¶ Former chief executive Joseph P. Nacchio, convicted in April of 19 counts of insider trading, said the NSA approached Qwest more than six months before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, according to court documents unsealed in Denver this week."

  • The Hill - "Four powerful House chairmen sent a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Friday, charging that her department has stonewalled probes into corruption in Iraq. The corruption 'may be fueling the insurgency, endangering our troops, and undermining the chances for success,' said Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), Ike Skelton (D-Mo.), Tom Lantos (D-Calif.) and David Obey (D-Wis.), in the letter. The quartet also expresses concern over the 'refusal of State Department officials to answer questions about the extent of corruption in the government of Iraq.' Oh no! A sternly worded letter! I'm sure Sec. Rice is sweating.

  • Newsday - "Rudy Giuliani on Friday offered his strongest defense yet of Bernard Kerik, his former close associate and top New York City cop now targeted in a federal criminal probe, calling him an "excellent police commissioner" and..." steady... wait for it, wait for it... "praising him for being courageous on Sept. 11, 2001. ¶ Kerik is facing possible bribery and obstruction of justice charges as soon as next month. Giuliani rejected the idea those charges would harm his campaign and said on balance Kerik had done a good job... ¶ Giuliani has admitted he made a mistake in recommending Kerik to... George W. Bush for homeland security chief in 2004... Giuliani argues that overall, the hundreds of people he appointed produced more successes than failures. And he hopes to convince voters that he'd do an even better job of picking people based on his mistakes with Kerik. As for Kerik's problems, Giuliani said, 'I take the responsibility that we should have known about them.'"

  • NPR - Sen. Barack Obama, in an interview with NPR, said the difference between himself and Sen. Hillary Clinton regarding Iraq is "I opposed this war from the start and Sen. Clinton did not." When asked if this was relevant today, Obama said, "Because what it shows is judgment. We can't anticipate what challenges we're going to face in the future. Nobody knew that in 2001, our foreign policy would fundamentally be transformed. And the question is, how are you going to react to the new challenges and the new opportunities that present themselves in the years to come? And on the most important foreign policy issue of a generation, I got it right and others did not. And that has bearing in terms of how I will approach and assess the critical choices that lie ahead."

  • Salon - American flag pins are for idiots
    This generation doesn't sacrifice or even pay for our wars. No, all we do is sport pins and bumper stickers.
    By Bill Maher

    New Rule: Show me a man wearing an American flag pin in his lapel, and I'll show you an asshole. I'm sure there are exceptions, but in general people need to remember that lapels aren't for wearing pins to create the illusion that you're supporting the troops. They're for wearing ribbons to create the illusion that you're helping cure a disease.

    Last week we had the first genuine controversy of the presidential campaign: the shocking news that Barack Obama doesn't wear an American flag lapel pin, so apparently he and America are no longer going steady. "No lapel pin, Senator? It's like not wearing pants. Why don't you just stab the Statue of Liberty in the eye while bitch-slapping a 9/11 widow?" Another in a series of bullshit non-stories that have zero effect on the troops, the war or anything in the real world -- or, as Fox calls it, "Breaking News."

  • WaPo - "Gopher tortoises are made for digging burrows. Their front feet are shovel-like, their back limbs elephantine and perfect for bracing. Fatally, however, they cannot pierce asphalt and concrete. Over the past 16 years, thousands of the animals have essentially been buried alive by Florida developers who were given permits under a little-noticed state program to build on top of the creatures' subterranean homes. ¶ Once the tortoises were trapped in the process known as 'entombment,' their slow metabolism meant it might take weeks or months before they died of thirst or starvation."

  • Seattle Times - "New maps from the U.S. Geological Survey bring Seattle's earthquake risk into sharper focus and add some unsettling details to what was already a grim picture. Recent surveys discovered a probable fault line running under Lake Washington south of the Interstate 90 bridge. The fault appears to have ruptured about 1,000 years ago, thrusting upward as much as 12 feet and creating a kind of sloshing tsunami that engineers will have to consider as they plan a replacement for the Highway 520 floating bridge."

  • Star Tribune - "An unusual $2 million no-bid contract issued the day after the Interstate 35W bridge collapse will allow state officials to get a confidential report on what could have caused the disaster months before the National Transportation Safety Board completes its investigation. ¶ The arrangement... is raising fresh questions about a contract that already has been criticized by some legislators as unnecessary, given the federal NTSB's official inquiry into the Aug. 1 collapse. ¶ The new questions are aimed at whether [Minnesota] Gov. Tim Pawlenty and other state officials could use the confidential findings for political purposes."

Europe
  • Observer - "Senior US officials were engaged last night in last-ditch efforts to persuade Turkey not to launch a major military incursion into Iraqi Kurdistan to target armed separatists. ¶ A team was diverted from a mission to Russia to make an unscheduled stop in Ankara yesterday. Against the background of the escalating diplomatic row between Turkey and the US over a congressional resolution that branded as 'genocide' massacres of Armenians by Ottoman Turks in 1915, US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, revealed she had personally urged Turkey to refrain from any major military operation in northern Iraq. The row between the two Nato allies comes against the dangerous background of a threat by the Turkish parliament to approve this week a 'hot pursuit' of the Kurdish separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party, the PKK, across the border into northern Iraq."

  • McClatchy - "Following contentious and unproductive encounters with Russian officials on Friday, Defense Secretary Robert Gates Saturday said he isn't certain that Russia is interested in cooperating with the United States to defend Europe against Iranian missiles or whether Moscow simply wants to stop the U.S. from building missile defenses in Eastern Europe... ¶ Gates said he believes that Russia is asserting its resurgence in the post-Cold War period. ¶ 'I think President Putin is coming back and saying you know you have to take us into account on all these things. In essence: 'We are back. We've got a lot of money. And we are a key player.' ¶ 'I'm putting words into his mouth. He didn't say these things. This is my interpretation of perhaps his thinking: 'And you will need our help to solve problems. And if you won't seek our help, we can prevent problems from being solved,'' Gates said."

  • Daily Record - "The castle said to have inspired the legend of Dracula has been closed to the public. Slains Castle, near Cruden Bay, Aberdeenshire, [Scotland] has become a safety risk to the hundreds of tourists who visit it each year. Irish author Bram Stoker is said to have written part of his horror tale in 1895 while staying nearby... ¶ The 16th-century castle has lain derelict since being sold by the Earl of Errol to pay death duties."

Africa
  • CS Monitor - "A growing number of Kenyans [are] tapping into a service called M-PESA - M for 'mobile' and pesa for 'cash' in Swahili. Launched this year, it's one of the world's first cellphone-to-cellphone cash-transfer services for people who lack access to conventional banks. ¶ Most banks have found it far too costly to set up services for the billions of poor people in developing countries. But with cellphone banking, which eliminates most administrative costs, banks could soon find it worth their while to serve the poor... ¶ The technology is not new and the setup is simple: a customer selects from a short menu on the cellphone screen, including 'send money' and 'withdraw cash.' The person receiving the transfer on his or her phone can visit an M-PESA agent or participating gas stations or store to pick up the money."

  • WaPo - "Gamal Mubarak, son of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and the man most widely expected to succeed him, had not made much of an impression. Then again, Egyptians say, Gamal Mubarak probably doesn't have to. ¶ Egyptians have never experienced a democratic transfer of presidential power. As Hosni Mubarak, 79, begins the 27th year of his rule this month, many say they expect Mubarak's family and ruling party, military officers and security officials to decide on his successor. ¶ Egypt's National Democratic Party is now the only party legally eligible to field a presidential candidate; an independent candidate would need to secure approval to run from commissions dominated by ruling party members.

Middle East
  • NYT - More evidence from the September 16th Nisour Square shooting in Baghdad. "The three witnesses, Kurds on a rooftop overlooking the scene, said they had observed no gunfire that could have provoked the shooting by Blackwater guards. American soldiers who arrived minutes later found shell casings from guns used normally by American contractors, as well as by the American military... ¶ The Kurdish witnesses said that they saw no one firing at the guards at any time during the event, an observation corroborated by the forensic evidence of the shell casings. Two of the witnesses also said all the Blackwater vehicles involved in the shooting drove away under their own power. ¶ 'I call it a massacre,' said Omar H. Waso, one of the witnesses and a senior official at the party, which is called the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan. 'It is illegal. They used the law of the jungle.'"

  • LA Times - "The Shiite heir apparent to a key U.S. political ally added his voice Saturday to calls for the division of Iraq into semi-autonomous regions based on sect and ethnicity, throwing down a gauntlet on an issue that has stirred fierce emotions in Iraq. ¶ Ammar Hakim's appeal before hundreds of supporters gathered for prayers marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan came just weeks after passage of a nonbinding Senate resolution calling for a devolution of power to three self-governing regions for Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds... ¶ Ammar Hakim urged U.S. forces to exercise greater caution when targeting militants, pointing to recent bombings that have killed civilians. He also ruled out the idea of permanent U.S. bases. The Bush administration denies it is seeking permanent bases in Iraq, but officials have spoken of keeping a reduced number of troops here for a prolonged period of time."

  • LA Times - "Iraqi Kurdistan has grown into a powerful incubator of Kurdish ambitions and nationalism... ¶ From their autonomous enclave carved out after the 1991 Persian Gulf War, Iraqi Kurds have for years quietly undermined attempts by Syria, Iraq and Iran to halt their community's cultural and political aspirations, throwing open the doors to their brethren in neighboring countries. In doing so, they have also provided shelter to the separatist groups fighting the Turkish and Iranian governments... ¶ Kurdish officials say they have urged foreign movements to relinquish violence and band together with other opposition groups to achieve a more feasible vision: the same type of decentralized government that gives Iraqi Kurds autonomy without formal statehood."

  • Xinhua - "Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khameneion Saturday urged the Muslim countries to boycott the upcoming Mideast peace conference in the United States, accusing Washington of trying to save Israel and to hurt the Palestinians."

South Asia
  • Times of India - " AJMER: For the past 796 years, Eid was announced in a special way at the 13th century dargah of sufi saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti. The sound of nakkaras (drums) and jhanjh, a brass instrument that helps maintain rhythm, would reverberate across the shrine to indicate that the festive moon had been spotted. ¶ On Saturday that age-old practice was broken for the first time. Those associated with the practice for generations said they decided not to play the instruments as a mark of respect for those who lost their lives in the Thursday blast. "It was the call of our conscience," says Muzaffar Bharti, who belongs to the select group of traditional musicians called nakkarchis and is also secretary of the Dargah Hereditary Staff Association."

  • AP - "Pakistan will deploy 3,500 police and paramilitary troops to guard former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who faces death threats from Islamic militants on her return from self-imposed exile... ¶ Security personnel will be deployed at Karachi International Airport and along roads where Bhutto is expected to lead a rally... A shipping container fortified with bulletproof glass has been prepared for Bhutto to sit on during the rally".

  • Herald - "British troops in southern Afghanistan came under Taliban fire 1279 times in the 11 months to the end of August - an average of four attacks a day... A total of 34 soldiers died in Helmand and Kandahar provinces during the period for which figures are available, with eight further deaths since then. Overall, 82 British service personnel have been killed there since 2001. A further 245 have been wounded in action since last year, including 68 with life-threatening injuries."

  • Independent - "Large numbers of US private military personnel are expected to arrive in Helmand, the focal point of British involvement in Afghanistan, as part of a new effort to promote reconstruction and development in the war-torn province. ¶ The US has contributed the largest sum to the new aid effort, over $200m. But British officials striving to win 'hearts and minds' in the conflict against the Taliban have expressed concern over the potential influx of military contractors... ¶ As Nato troops reclaim territory from the Taliban, the movement has increasingly resorted to suicide attacks and roadside bombings. 'The worry is that there will be a blast, and some contractors will panic and open fire, as happened with Blackwater in Baghdad. That is the very last thing that Helmand needs at the moment,' said a Western diplomat.

  • The Observer - The new Taliban
    In a swath of territory across Afghanistan and Pakistan, a wild and lawless new state is being born.
    By Jason Burke

    For some, the ongoing violence in south-west Asia is simple to explain: the Taliban, reconstituted after the defeat of 2001, and with the help of al-Qaeda's Osama bin Laden and his key lieutenants such as Ayman al-Zawahiri and Abu Yahya al-Libi, are battling their way back to power in Afghanistan and, perhaps worse, fast making progress towards seizing power in nuclear-capable Pakistan. But the reality is far more complicated...

    Across an area that stretches through Pakistani cities such as Peshawar, Islamabad and Karachi, through Kabul and Kandahar, to remote villages and Nato bases in southern Afghanistan, it is possible to unpick the intricate detail of the battle for the strategic centre of the War on Terror. What emerges is a picture not of a single movement or insurgency called 'the Taliban', but of a new state without formal borders or even a name, a state that is currently nothing more than a chaotic confederation of warlords' fiefdoms spanning one of the most critical parts of the world and with the potential to escalate into a very real presence - with devastating consequences for global security.

Asia-Pacific
  • NYT - According to Amnesty International, the Myanmar junta has captured U Htay Kywe, a former student leader and the last remaining leader of a group called the 88 Generation Students Group. He had helped organized the recent protests in Burma. "Two other members of the group were also arrested, as well as another dissident... Although the report could not be independently verified, members of Burmese exile groups in Thailand said they believed it to be true. ¶ One of the people reported to have been arrested is Daw Mie Mie, 35, who was prominent in photographs and videos of the first small demonstrations that had been smuggled out of the country. She appeared in those shots with her fist raised."

  • SMH - "Prime Minister John Howard has announced the election will be fought on the economy and his experience as leader as he prepares Australians for polling day on November 24."

  • SMH - "Young voters, fearful about jobs, are poised to deliver a savage blow to John Howard's fifth-term election prospects, an exclusive Sun-Herald/Taverner poll has found. The Prime Minister will visit Yarralumla today to advise Governor-General Michael Jeffery of his wish to dissolve Parliament and call a federal election for... November 24... He will do so as the devastating poll reveals his long-time critical support among older voters has also eroded dramatically."

  • Stuff - A proposed wind farm in North Canterbury, New Zealand has been estimated to add between NZ$152 million and NZ$136 million "into the region's economy over its 25-year life, according to an economic impact study. The projection, which is dependent on the size of the turbines used, was released yesterday by MainPower, the company proposing to build the wind farm on the Mount Cass ridgeline, east of Waipara... It was estimated the wind farm could provide electricity for 24,000 homes by producing up to 69MW".

  • NYT - Lake Tai, near Zhoutie, China, erupted in May with a toxi cyanobacteria, aka pond scum. "The stench of decay choked anyone who came within a mile of its shores. At least two million people who live amid the canals, rice paddies and chemical plants around the lake had to stop drinking or cooking with their main source of water. ¶ The outbreak confirmed the claims of a crusading peasant, Wu Lihong, who protested for more than a decade that the region's thriving chemical industry, and its powerful friends in the local government, were destroying one of China's ecological treasures." However, local authorities had arrested Wu "shortly before the algae crisis" and sentenced him to three years. Wu stated he was tortured into confessing.

  • NYT - "After intensive bargaining, China's Communist Party has approved a new leadership lineup that denies President Hu Jintao the decisive consolidation of power that his supporters hoped would allow him to govern more assertively in his final five-year term as China's top leader. ¶ The party's Central Committee agreed to elevate four senior officials to the ruling Politburo Standing Committee, but only one of them, Li Keqiang, the party secretary of Liaoning Province, clearly owed his rise in the hierarchy to Mr. Hu's patronage, people told about the results of a Central Committee meeting said Friday." The Independent has a good rundown of 17th Communist Party Congress which may be shaping up to be "a fight for the heart and soul of China's Communist Party".

  • Xinhua - "The Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) had recently held a seminar to solicit the advice and suggestion from non-Communist members and personages with no party affiliation on the draft political report to be submitted to the 17th CPC National Congress." Hu Jintao "presided over the seminar, at which members of China's non-Communist parties and the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce, and non-party personages were invited to voice their opinion."

  • SMH - "Updated satellite imagery on Google Earth has revealed new evidence of China's nuclear submarine capability. The discovery of what appears to be a second and possibly a third Jin class nuclear-powered submarine at a naval shipyard in north-eastern China" gives further evidence of China's "operation sea-based deterrent".

Americas
  • BBC News - "Opposition protesters in Mexico have torn down a bronze statue of the former president, Vicente Fox, just hours after it was erected. They threw eggs at the monument in Boca del Rio in the state of Veracruz, before putting a rope around its neck and pulling it to the ground... ¶ More than 100 angry protesters are reported to have attacked the statue on Saturday morning, just after it had been put up by workers. An inauguration ceremony scheduled for Sunday has now been cancelled." Heh. Of course, Blackwater is going to be providing security for the Bush library.

  • WaPo - "Rosendo Radilla was the Renaissance man of Mexico's 1960s and '70s social justice movement." One day in August 1974, "soldiers arrested Radilla, then 60, and took him to a military prison without formally charging him. There, other witnesses say, he was tortured. After a month or so, he disappeared and has not been seen since. ¶ More than 33 years later, Mexican human rights experts say Radilla's case is likely to be the first from Mexico's "dirty war" to go before an international human rights court. Attorneys involved in the case say it will be submitted next week to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, which is composed of judges elected by member nations of the Organization of American States. ¶ The Radilla case could be a watershed for a Mexican human rights movement plagued by setbacks."

  • NYT - "Energy is the Achilles' heel of the governments in Brazil, Argentina and Chile, which are struggling to maintain sufficient natural gas supplies after several years of strong economic growth... ¶ Energy concerns are at the top of the agenda for the region's incumbent leaders, most of whom have high popularity ratings, thanks mostly to buoyant economies riding a wave of higher commodity prices. ¶ But the steady economic growth has only increased energy demand, while governments have failed for a decade to invest enough in natural gas exploration and new power plants to expand their energy supplies."

  • Bloomberg - "Brazil's Senate President Renan Calheiros requested a 45-day leave of absence after opposition lawmakers started a probe of his alleged abuses of power and key allies withdrew their support... ¶ The new probe of Calheiros, an ally of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, is the fifth ethics investigation he has faced and comes a month after the Senate rejected a committee recommendation that he be expelled... ¶ The investigations have distracted the Senate from legislative business, such as dealing with Lula's push to extend a financial transactions tax that accounts for about 10 percent of government revenue. Calheiros leave of absence will allow lawmakers to resume legislative debate of the key tax bill."

  • AP - "A landslide at a makeshift mine in southern Colombia killed at least 21 people and injured another 18 on Saturday after local residents began digging for rumored deposits of gold, authorities said. Efforts were under way to find about 10 people missing and presumed trapped under the wave of dirt and rock in the open pit mine, located near the town of Suarez, 220 miles southwest of the capital, Bogota."

  • NYT - "Canadian airlines are balking at a Department of Homeland Security plan that would require them to turn over information about passengers flying over the United States to reach another country. The proposal, which appears at odds with Canada's privacy laws, would mostly involve Canadians who join the annual winter exodus to Mexico, Cuba and the Caribbean. It is also viewed by the Canadian airline industry as a rejection of several costly measures already taken to assuage American concerns."

Space
  • Guardian - "Astronomers may be on the brink of discovering a second Earth-like planet, a find that would add fresh impetus to the search for extraterrestrial life, according to a leading science journal... ¶ Writing in the US journal Science, astronomers from six major centres, including Nasa, Harvard and the University of Colorado, outline how advances in technology suggest scientists are on the verge of being able to detect the presence of small, rocky planets, much like our own, around distant stars for the first time. The planets are considered the most likely havens for extraterrestrial life."

By the numbers
  • Bush has 463 days left. 3,823 U.S. and 4,129 total coalition confirmed deaths in Iraq. Over $459,707,000,000 has been spent on the Iraq invasion and occupation. The U.S. federal debt is now over $9,047,660,000,000.
by Magnifico on Sun Oct 14th, 2007 at 01:51:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]

President Bush's veto of an expansion of that program and the strategic failure have exposed vulnerable Republicans to a backlash and allowed the party to be painted as uncaring."

Excuse me, allow them "to be painted as uncaring". This batch of Republicans ARE uncaring and it is about time America wakes up to this realization.

This is an unsubstantiated fact, and not really relevant. But Democrats saying they are uncaring is actual political news. And writing "allowed the party to be painted as uncaring" is smart journalism, waiving news into timely analysis. Don't you understand how this works?

Sigh...

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Oct 14th, 2007 at 03:53:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Don't you understand how this works?

No. I'm having an off night.

But, really I don't understand how journalism works anymore.

by Magnifico on Sun Oct 14th, 2007 at 04:24:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A big caveat on the 'top story' poll.

My apologies. This poll was done by Newt Gingrich's pollster Matt Towery. (Hat tip and thanks to Patel1946.)

by Magnifico on Sun Oct 14th, 2007 at 04:22:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]

'I think President Putin is coming back and saying you know you have to take us into account on all these things. In essence: 'We are back. We've got a lot of money. And we are a key player.' ¶ 'I'm putting words into his mouth. He didn't say these things. This is my interpretation of perhaps his thinking: 'And you will need our help to solve problems. And if you won't seek our help, we can prevent problems from being solved,'' Gates said."

Now can we get the candid version of US policy?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Oct 14th, 2007 at 04:24:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
New York Times: After Rebuff, U.S. Visitors Reach Out to Russians

Mr. Gates, for his part, delivered an unusual speech to the General Staff Academy, attended by the future elite of the Russian military, and followed it with a lively exchange of questions and answers with 500 officers.

<...>

He noted that Mr. Putin also emerged from the intelligence services. "Although he is considerably younger than I am, clearly his career has been more successful," Mr. Gates said. What was intended a joke elicited approving murmurs of the audience.



Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.
by marco on Sun Oct 14th, 2007 at 07:18:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Magnifico:
Excuse me, allow them "to be painted as uncaring". This batch of Republicans ARE uncaring and it is about time America wakes up to this realization.

The real news is that the Democrats are only marginally more caring.

(Does anyone care about caring any more?)

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Oct 14th, 2007 at 09:10:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Magnifico:
Obama said, "Because what it shows is judgment. We can't anticipate what challenges we're going to face in the future. Nobody knew that in 2001, our foreign policy would fundamentally be transformed. And the question is, how are you going to react to the new challenges and the new opportunities that present themselves in the years to come? And on the most important foreign policy issue of a generation, I got it right and others did not.

He may be right. So why does this sound so petulant and childish?

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Oct 14th, 2007 at 09:17:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Is that a trick question?
by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Sun Oct 14th, 2007 at 09:19:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Nobody knew that in 2001, our foreign policy would fundamentally be transformed.

the fundamental transformation was "gloves are off" - and it was predicted by many on 11 September 2001 (and explicitly wished by many more).

So yes, I vote for petulant child.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Oct 14th, 2007 at 09:52:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
New York Times: Banks May Pool Billions to Avert Securities Sell-Off

Several of the world's biggest banks are in talks to put up about $75 billion in a backup fund that could be used to buy risky mortgage securities and other assets, a move designed to ease pressure on a crucial part of the credit markets that threatens the broader economy.

Citigroup, Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase, along with several other financial institutions, have been meeting to come up with a plan to create a fund that could prevent a sharp sell-off in securities owned by bank-affiliated investment vehicles. The meetings, which began three weeks ago, have been orchestrated by senior officials at the Treasury Department, and the discussions have intensified in the last few days. <...>

While there are signs that the broader credit markets have begun to stabilize after the Federal Reserve lowered interest rates last month, a pocket of the commercial paper market remains under siege: structured investment vehicles, known as SIVs. The fear is that problems with these vehicles could infect the broader economy.

SIVs, which issue short-term notes to invest in longer-term securities with higher yields, are often organized by banks but are not actually owned or held by them. They are supposed to be financed through the issuance of commercial paper backed by pools of home loans and credit card debt, but the loss of confidence in the quality of subprime mortgage bonds has also tainted these securities. <...>

The proposal being floated calls for the creation of a "Super-SIV," or a SIV-like fund fully backed by several of the world's biggest banks to provide emergency financing. The Super-SIV would issue short-term notes to finance the purchase of assets held by the SIVs affiliated with the banks, with the hope of reassuring investors.

But whether the banks would buy the assets directly or just buy the short-term debt is still unclear, according to people briefed on the situation. So are other aspects, like the amount of capital each bank would need to contribute, how it would be administrated, and the fee structures and cost burdens.



Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.
by marco on Sun Oct 14th, 2007 at 03:51:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
bruno-ken:
structured investment vehicles, known as SIVs

Or as DeAnander might say - FIVs.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Oct 14th, 2007 at 09:26:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
New York Times: Spies, Lies and FISA

Mr. Bush and his team say they have safeguards to protect civil liberties, meaning surveillance will be reviewed by the attorney general, the director of national intelligence and the inspectors general of the Justice Department and the Central Intelligence Agency. There are two enormous flaws in that. The Constitution is based on the rule of law, not individuals; giving such power to any president would be un-American. And this one long ago showed he cannot be trusted.

Last week, The Times reported that the C.I.A. director, Gen. Michael V. Hayden, is investigating the office of his agency's inspector general after it inquired into policies on detention and interrogation. This improper, perhaps illegal investigation sends a clear message of intimidation. We also know that the F.B.I. has abused expanded powers it was granted after 9/11 and that the former attorney general, Alberto Gonzales, systematically covered up the president's actions with deliberately misleading testimony.

Mr. Bush says the law should give immunity to communications companies that gave data to the government over the last five years without a court order. He says they should not be punished for helping to protect America, but what Mr. Bush really wants is to avoid lawsuits that could uncover the extent of the illegal spying he authorized after 9/11. <...>

Ever since 9/11, we have watched Republican lawmakers help Mr. Bush shred the Constitution in the name of fighting terrorism. We have seen Democrats acquiesce or retreat in fear. It is time for that to stop.



Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.
by marco on Sun Oct 14th, 2007 at 04:07:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
New York Times: The Capital of Capital No More?

What does all this diffusion mean for New York's economy? Potentially, a great deal. Steve Malanga, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, estimates that there are 175,000 securities-industry jobs in New York, which pay an average wage of $350,000. The Committee on Capital Markets Regulation notes that the securities industry accounts for 4.7 percent of the jobs in New York City but 20.7 percent of the wages. But the impact is even larger, since the spending of Wall Street hotshots supports a huge number of other jobs. Between 1995 and 2005, the sector grew at an average annual rate of 6.6 percent in New York and provided more than a third of business income-tax revenues, according to McKinsey. "There's no doubt that much of the financial and fiscal and economic revival of the city in the 1990s and then again after 9/11 can be attributed to the health and in fact dominance of Wall Street internationally," Malanga says. A long-term decline, in which the financial-services business slowly moves offshore or out of state over a period of years, would certainly inflict great damage. Without a manufacturing base, New York would become more dependent on its other large sectors like tourism, health care, government and education, none of which possess Wall Street's capacity for spinning enormous profits.

It seems inevitable that we will see many more studies about the loss of New York's status. Unless they can persuade Congress to stop globalization and the free flow of capital around the globe, there isn't much New York's billionaire financiers can do to stop the city's relative decline.

Oh, the irony!

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.

by marco on Sun Oct 14th, 2007 at 07:11:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Who says markets are always wrong? :)
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Oct 14th, 2007 at 09:21:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
THIS, THAT, AND THE OTHER
by Fran on Sat Oct 13th, 2007 at 11:58:42 PM EST
Official: the French do less housework than anyone else - Independent Online Edition > This Britain
But Britons aren't too keen either. And wherever you look, it's still women who do most of the chores

British couples spend fewer than three hours a day on housework, including preparing meals, according to a study published this week. Research based on people in 34 countries shows that the average couple in Britain spend 19 hours a week on household tasks - the fourth-lowest figure. Despite their reputation for gourmet home-cooked food and chic living, the French put in the least time of all - fewer than 16 hours. Chileans are the most house-proud, putting in more than 47 hours a week.

According to the report, women in Britain still do 71 per cent of the housework. Men contribute less than an hour a day, half the time put in by their counterparts in Mexico. The number of hours put in by women varies with national levels of equality, while men's contribution goes down with increasing wealth. Women's hours may also go down when they have obligations outside the home.

"We argue that women's housework efforts might be more sensitive to female empowerment, and men's to the dynamics of economic activities," say the researchers from the University of Stavanger, and the Institute of Sociology, Bergen, Norway, whose study will be reported in the European Sociological Review. The survey, based on questionnaires completed by more than 17,000 people, asked how many hours they and cohabiting partners put in each week, not including time spent on childcare or leisure activities. The overall average was 29 hours a week.

by Fran on Sun Oct 14th, 2007 at 12:09:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Fran:
British couples spend fewer than three hours a day on housework,

I'd guess for most people, after a ten hour day - including commuting - it's hard to find the enthusiasm to pick up the hoover.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Oct 14th, 2007 at 09:28:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well if you need an excuse not to

BBC NEWS | Health | Housework 'can cause asthma'

Giving your house a weekly clean could be enough to give you asthma, according to research.

A study found using household cleaning sprays and air fresheners as little as once a week raised the risk of asthma.



Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Oct 14th, 2007 at 09:31:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's not the cleaning but the use or aerosols and volatile aromatic compounds.

We have met the enemy, and it is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Oct 14th, 2007 at 09:47:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Shhhh don't let on, I'm getting away with it so far ;-)

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Oct 14th, 2007 at 09:49:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | Programmes | From Our Own Correspondent | Flying from a different perspective

Last week I flew in a Zeppelin.

And from the spot, Friedrichshafen by Lake Constance in southern Germany, where the very first Zeppelin ascended back in 1900.

We just cruised for 40 minutes, but could open the windows, speak without effort, enjoy watching the world go by 1,000 ft (300m) below, and tell ourselves what it must have been like when far bigger airships were having their heyday. Such as the Graf Zeppelin which went around the world in 1929 in four hops, starting from the US, touching down in Germany, then in Japan, and then in California.

What a flight, with meals in the dining room, cabins to sleep in, and our beautiful planet not six miles down and invisible but usually a mere 1,500 ft (450m) below.

Think of all such trips.

by Fran on Sun Oct 14th, 2007 at 12:15:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I so do want to take a Zeppelin holiday. I would love to voyage around the world beneath the belly of a giant Zeppelin. Sign me up.
by Magnifico on Sun Oct 14th, 2007 at 01:53:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If you don't mind, I'll join you! :-)
by Fran on Sun Oct 14th, 2007 at 01:57:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not at all, that would be wonderful! Maybe we could have a Euro Trib charter? We could travel to all the capitals of Europe.
by Magnifico on Sun Oct 14th, 2007 at 02:21:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I wonder if this is the same Zeppelin that hovered over our house last week. (Or maybe there are many, I just haven't seen one since 1982 or so.)

You have a normal feeling for a moment, then it passes. --More--
by tzt (tzt) on Sun Oct 14th, 2007 at 06:28:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
New York Times: Questions You Should Never Ask a Writer

The Times reprints an op-ed from 1992 by Doris Lessing.

The demand that stories must be "about" something is from Communist thinking and, further back, from religious thinking, with its desire for self-improvement books as simple-minded as the messages on samplers.

The phrase "political correctness" was born as Communism was collapsing. I do not think this was chance. I am not suggesting that the torch of Communism has been handed on to the political correctors. I am suggesting that habits of mind have been absorbed, often without knowing it. <...>

A successor to "commitment" is "raising consciousness." This is double-edged. The people whose consciousness is being raised may be given information they most desperately lack and need, may be given moral support they need. But the process nearly always means that the pupil gets only the propaganda the instructor approves of. "Raising consciousness," like "commitment," like "political correctness," is a continuation of that old bully, the party line. <...>

Yes, I know the obfuscations of academia did not begin with Communism -- as Swift, for one, tells us -- but the pedantries and verbosity of Communism had their roots in German academia. And now that has become a kind of mildew blighting the whole world.

It is one of the paradoxes of our time that ideas capable of transforming our societies, full of insights about how the human animal actually behaves and thinks, are often presented in unreadable language.



Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.
by marco on Sun Oct 14th, 2007 at 12:19:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Pentagon Report: Let's Put Solar Power Collectors in Orbit
A Pentagon-chartered report urges the United States to take the lead in developing space platforms capable of capturing sunlight and beaming electrical power to Earth.

Space-based solar power, according to the report, has the potential to help the United States stave off climate change and avoid future conflicts over oil by harnessing the Sun's power to provide an essentially inexhaustible supply of clean energy.

[Aside] from its potential to defuse future energy wars and mitigate global warming, [beaming] power down from space could also enable the U.S. military to operate forward bases in far-flung, hostile regions such as Iraq without relying on vulnerable convoys to truck in fossil fuels to run the electrical generators needed to keep the lights on.

[On] the technical front, solar cell efficiency has improved faster than expected.

[One] critical area that has not made many advances since the 1990s or even the 1970s is the cost of launch.

[Placing] a free-flying space-based solar power demonstrator in low-Earth orbit, he said, would cost $500 million to $1 billion.

A geosynchronous system capable of transmitting a sustained 5-10 megawatts of power down to the ground would cost around $10 billion, he said, and provide enough electricity for a military base.

The report is available via here.

Direct solar power collection might indeed be the only thing that could help to "sustain" the global power consumption. Would that save the climate and environment? Can Pentagon alone be trusted?

by das monde on Sun Oct 14th, 2007 at 01:21:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Things might get kinda messy if that beam started to wander, though.

Which of course means that this technology has a significant weaponization potential.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman

by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Sun Oct 14th, 2007 at 05:21:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I do not see saving the ~30% the athmosphere shaves off as ever compensating for the launch costs in terms of energy.

I'd say they are more looking for a way to decrease supply lines to their military bases, as the article mentions.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Sun Oct 14th, 2007 at 07:56:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This idea has been around since at least the 60s, in one form or another. I remember it being discussed in one of my physics text books at school in the 70s.

Is it even practical? What kind of transmitter design and collector area/material do you need to be able to send and receive 10MW reliably for extended periods?

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Oct 14th, 2007 at 09:37:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It is indeed crucial what is the efficiency of such an energy transfer, and risk level. How much of the collected energy will go actually into grilling the atmosphere? Do we have any technology now that uses "wireless" transfer of energy specifically?

If collecting energy in space must be really the next step of advanced civilization, the delivery to earth must be more subtle. I can imagine a base station in the space with a team of atmosphere divers, using special ships to come to some 10-15 km height and dropping fuel cells from there. And no geostationary positioning is needed.

Solar cell efficiency is not an important factor at all for the beginning. The construction and delivery cycle would be much slower, hence the solar cells need no hurry. We should rather transform the energy into usable forms (say, hydrogen cells for cars) right in the space. But of course, the initial energy investment into numerous lift-offs is tremendous.

Humanity does not look grown up for the space riches - it would be probably better if it would solve its energy and climate problems staying on Earth for now.
 

by das monde on Sun Oct 14th, 2007 at 10:56:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This idea was intensively discussed in US Science Fiction Fandom circles back in the eighties.  IIRC, the conclusion was it wouldn't work as there was no means of preventing a couple of megawatts (the power beam) from wandering about the landscape.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Sun Oct 14th, 2007 at 12:15:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Space-based solar power, according to the report, has the potential to help the United States stave off climate change and avoid future conflicts over oil by harnessing the Sun's power to provide an essentially inexhaustible supply of clean energy.

File this one under: "Hey, look at all the neato gadgetry we can think up. One of these days someone will think of something really great that will deliver free, clean energy to all. No need to even think about having to give something up. No, no, no. Keep consuming, keep transporting, keep growthing and all will be well."

Hey! It's kinda like when they 'invented' bio-fuels a few years ago!

Yeah, no doubts, solar collectors with space laser transfer has all the idiocy of implausible silver bullet fantasy, with a nice high-tech fancy factor. Surely to be included in the laundry lists of every idiot writing: "Oh we understand that hydrocarbon based fuels are a problem... Let's not do anything rash, though. Mustn't hurt the economy, now. I'm sure we'll invent ourselves out of this hole. Everyone, please keep digging!!"

No one wants to hear about the realistic and boring solution. Then we might not get to see our quantity of lifestyle growthing at the amazing rate we've become used to!

by someone (s0me1smail(a)gmail(d)com) on Sun Oct 14th, 2007 at 12:44:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm a little out of the loop on US news, so I only just found out about this.  It seems that GOP hacks & rightwing bloggers have exposed themselves for the vicious, soulless parasites that they are, by trying to Swift Boat a 12-year-old boy.

Graeme Frost delivered a Democratic weekly radio address (response to the president's weekly radio address) back in September sometime, regarding the S-CHIP program to provide health insurance for children:

It seems that RedState, Michelle Malkin et al. have declared open season on this kid and his family, and they think the Frosts should have bankrupted themselves and sold off all their assets to get medical care for their two critically injured children, rather than ask the federal government for help.

Read this.  And this.  And this.

Grrrrrr.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Sun Oct 14th, 2007 at 01:49:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I read about it on DKos, it was all over - all I could think was - DISGUSTING!!!
by Fran on Sun Oct 14th, 2007 at 01:57:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Financial Times - Beauty and the feast

Mistitled review of four books on Italy.

it is rarely wise to generalise about national characters. If anything, the point that emerges forcefully from the four books under review is that Italy makes little sense unless seen through the prism of its different regions and mentalities, and its fractured and not always happy past as a nation-state less than 150 years old. Italy, dismissed in 1847 as a mere "geographical expression" by Prince Metternich, its reactionary Austrian ruler, became a state 14 years later, but the people of the peninsula have never been entirely certain what it means to be "Italian" - or whether to be proud of it.

Anxiety over identity, some say, is a condition of modern society. In Europe, many people feel defined by their region, province, city or town as much as by their nation. Most feel in some sense European, too. Yet none of these identities seems adequate to cope with the pressures of a world that reinvents itself faster than each new generation reaches maturity. Moreover, in a country such as Italy, where the nation-state has often failed spectacularly to win the respect and loyalty of its citizens, it is national identity, not local or European identity, that is arguably the most vulnerable. <...>

"The main reason why Italians generally eat so well," [John Dickie, author of Delizia: The Epic History of the Italians and Their Food] says, "is simply because eating enriches their sense of where they come from and who they are. Italy's cities are where these links between food and identity were forged." <...>

[Christopher] Duggan [author of The Force of Destiny: A History of Italy Since 1796] finishes his work with the observation: "At the start of the new millennium, `Italy' appeared still too uncertain and contested an idea to provide the emotional core of a nation... that was at peace with itself and able to face the future with confidence."

His conclusion is strikingly similar to that of [Beppe] Severgnini [La Bella Figura: An Insider's Guide to the Italian Mind], who writes: "Our poor, authoritarian country got back on its feet after the war and in sixty years became democratic, wealthy and modern. It shouldn't be afraid of the future. But it is."

I would be curious to read how Italian readers would review these books, especially those by Dickie and Duggan, "who are British academics".

The piece does sound a note that rings true for me:  the notion of nation, nationhood, nationality, etc. is artificial, a provisional expedient for modern society, but one that needs to be kept in the proper perspective.  Duggan seems to think making the concept of Italy "the emotional core of a nation" is a good thing.  Perhaps on balance it is.  But I am leery of tying "emotions" and "nation" together too closely.  One can only hope that humanity at large will evolve to the point where we no longer need such contrived constructs as "nation" and "nationality" for the planet to be at peace with itself and able to face the future with confidence.

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.

by marco on Sun Oct 14th, 2007 at 02:25:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
great points, bruno-ken.

i am so on board with the national identity crisis being future fodder for problems down the line.

roving expats perhaps see this more clearly...

half-breeds too...

most thinking italians i have encountered have very grim opinions of italy, and somewhat pedestalized respect for the anglo values they believe would help get the country moving in the direction they wish.

having lived long in countries that espouse aforesaid values, i am less sanguine.

but i still feel bad for these folks, and wonder if i stay here, if i too will come to similar conclusions.

i also wonder if italy's ungovernability is part of its charm.

i don't mean charm in some folkloric way, but charm as talisman against the skullduggery that has been a hallmark of politics since history began.

perhaps especially italian politics...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Oct 14th, 2007 at 03:20:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Two Are Sentenced to 5 Years in Pornographic Spam Case - New York Times

PHOENIX, Oct. 13 (AP) -- Two men who sent millions of unsolicited pornographic e-mail messages have been sentenced to more than five years in federal prison as part of a prosecution under a federal antispam law, officials from the Department of Justice said Friday.

The men, Jeffrey A. Kilbride of Venice, Calif., and James R. Schaffer of Paradise Valley, Ariz., bought lists of e-mail addresses and sent the owners of those addresses links to pornographic Web sites, prosecutors said.

They were convicted in June of charges including conspiracy, money laundering, fraud and transportation of obscene materials after a three-week trial and were sentenced by a federal judge in Phoenix this week.

A defense lawyer, Steven Goldsobel, declined to comment Friday afternoon.

Prosecutors said that Mr. Kilbride and Mr. Schaffer, both 41, started their spamming business four years ago, earning more than $2 million in commissions.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Sun Oct 14th, 2007 at 05:18:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Maureen Dowd turned her column over to Stephen Colbert today. A must-read:

A Mock Columnist, Amok - New York Times

Our nation is at a Fork in the Road. Some say we should go Left; some say go Right. I say, "Doesn't this thing have a reverse gear?" Let's back this country up to a time before there were forks in the road -- or even roads. Or forks, for that matter. I want to return to a simpler America where we ate our meat off the end of a sharpened stick.


The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Sun Oct 14th, 2007 at 05:48:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Heheheh.  Thanks for the link.  Very funny.

Which reminds me: Before I get started, I have to take care of one other bit of business:

Bad things are happening in countries you shouldn't have to think about. It's all George Bush's fault, the vice president is Satan, and God is gay.

There. Now I've written Frank Rich's column too.

During the TimesSelect era, I had almost completely forgotten that Frank Rich existed.  (Maureen Dowd I can generally take or leave, but she has her moments....)

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Sun Oct 14th, 2007 at 06:09:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
KLATSCH
by Fran on Sat Oct 13th, 2007 at 11:59:03 PM EST
Good morning and enjoy your Sunday. I see you Tuesday. :-)
by Fran on Sun Oct 14th, 2007 at 12:14:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
geeky question...

what i would like to execute on my computer is this:

i want to highlight some text, a link, image, whatever, and then control click it, select option to show 'view source' and have the window include only the part i highlit.

instead of a mammoth page of html i then have to fish through to find what i need.

seems like there should be a way, can anyone help?

on an intel mac, if it matters.

ta!

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Oct 14th, 2007 at 03:28:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What browser are you using? Firefox resolves to the two < p> tags that brackets your selection.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Sun Oct 14th, 2007 at 05:16:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
i'm on tiger, using safari, as it loads faster on dialup than firefox does.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Oct 15th, 2007 at 12:17:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Huh.  That's strange.  I tried this on my Mac to see if I could come up with an answer, but I don't seem to be having the same result.  I highlighted part of your comment, ctrl-clicked, and got this:

<div class="commentbody">
geeky question...<p>
what i would like to execute on my computer is this:</p><p>
i want to highlight some text, a link, image, whatever, and then control click it, select option to show 'view source' and have the window include only the part i highlit.</p><p>
instead of a mammoth page of html i then have to fish through to find what i need.</p><p>
seems like there should be a way, can anyone help?</p><p>
on an intel mac, if it matters. </p><p>
ta!
<br><br><i>

They said, "You have a blue guitar,
You do not play things as they are."
The man replied, "Things as they are,
are changed upon the blue guitar."</i></p></div>

And the original text quote itself was highlighted inside the source window.  I think that's the HTML for your entire comment, but only your comment.  When I did the same thing on a different page, I did get a full page of HTML code, but the selected part was again highlighted and the window scrolled to it automatically.

Maybe it's something Mac has worked out recently?  I only bought this computer a few months ago.  What version of the Mac OS are you running?

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Sun Oct 14th, 2007 at 05:20:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
mac book pro, about 6 months old.

i watched someone do exactly what you described, but can't figure out how to do it at home....grr..

are you on leopard?

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Oct 15th, 2007 at 12:19:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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