Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

Our Jerome Goes Anti-Blair in the FT!

by LondonYank Mon Feb 4th, 2008 at 03:49:35 PM EST

The Blair project gains momentum

Financial Times: February 4 2008 19:20

Rumours grow ever stronger that Tony Blair might want to run Europe now that the ex-prime minister has stopped running the UK. The British press reports that Blair met former top aides at Davos last month to plot a pitch for the new job as a permanent president of the European Union. Up till now countries have taken turns in the chair but after the Lisbon treaty is ratified there will be one person at the top for a fixed term.

Yet opposition to a man many see as a warmonger and US stooge is already growing. European Tribune, a website run by the liberals behind the Daily Kos in the US, is starting a petition against his yet-to-be declared candidacy.

It was conceived at the weekend, and by Monday night the petition had been translated into nine languages and two website domains - including stopblair.eu - had been reserved.

"This was a spontaneous idea that caught on among readers," said Jerome Guillet, a Paris-based investment banker who prefers not to reveal his employer. (No, it is not Société Générale.)

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Bandar Bush the Black Ops Bagman

by LondonYank Wed Jun 13th, 2007 at 02:09:46 PM EST

Old CIA hands like Bush 41 and Robert Gates had a problem in the early 1980s.  Congress had outlawed CIA funded deathsquads, assassinations, false flag operations and other methods beloved of black ops specialists.  

What to do?  Go to your closest ally, Britain, whose like-minded leader, Thatcher, will help you set up an arrangement for plausible deniability.  Go to your favorite like-minded Saudi intelligence thug Prince Bandar to act as procurement agent and bagman for the terrorist cells, assassinations, deathsquads, false flag operations and coups you want engineered.

Wrap the project up as the Al-Yamamah contract to sell jet fighters from near-bankrupt UK defense company BAe (formerly British Aerospace) to Saudi Arabia with kickbacks to accounts of Bandar for spending on black ops worldwide.  Then give BAe lots of Pentagon contracts to fund the process.

Voila!  You can start funding Saddam, the Taliban, Al Qaeda, Osama Bin Laden, the Nicaraguan Contras and other pet projects with no fingerprints!

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Cyclone Gonu Shuts Strait of Hormuz - Fill Your Tanks

by LondonYank Wed Jun 6th, 2007 at 10:24:16 AM EST

We've spent most of the past four years wondering what would happen if the warmongering idiots holding office in Iran or the USA shut the Strait of Hormuz.  That narrow body of water - only 70m deep in the shipping channel - is the artery for 40 percent of the world's exported oil supply.  

Wonder no more.  God is in the game, and he's showing us how it's done with a storm more destructive than any in the historical record for the region.

The map above is from stratfor.com (subscription required). As of this morning Oman is taking a pounding from Gonu.  Although Gonu has weakened in intensity overnight, the Category 1 storm has also shifted direction so that it looks like running along the coast of Oman, headed for the Strait of Hormuz.  Oil and natural gas shipments will be severely disrupted, according to The Oil Drum.

From the diaries - whataboutbob

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BBC: 3 CIA Black Ops at RFK Assassination - Why?

by LondonYank Tue Nov 21st, 2006 at 05:11:49 AM EST

BBC Newsnight last night showed a film compiled by Shane O'Sullivan which asserts that three CIA agents closely tied to covert operations against Cuba and other Latin American countries were present at the Ambassador Hotel the night Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated.  The film and original footage from 1968 are available at the Newsnight website.

The conviction of Sirhan Sirhan has always been subject to speculation as the autopsy report showed that the fatal shot had come from behind RFK.  Sirhan Sirhan had stood some distance in front of RFK, face to face with him at the time of the shooting.

One of the CIA agents present at the Ambassador Hotel that night was seen in the lobby and in the ballroom throughout the evening.  David Sanchez Morales hated the Kennedys.  He later told his lawyer that he had been present in Dallas when JFK was killed as well as in Los Angeles when RFK was killed.

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Bob Gates Armed Saddam

by LondonYank Wed Nov 15th, 2006 at 08:29:01 AM EST

The story behind our intelligence services arming Saddam is pretty clear, and Robert Gates was in it up to his eyeballs as a driving force.  Howard Baker also, but then we knew that.

I don't have much confidence in the Iraq Study Group after what I've written here.  Too many names are the same as those that created and covered up the mess.

If we are ever going to know how to get out of Iraq, we are going to have to know how we got in to Iraq.  It appears that Bob Gates knows a lot more about that than he has explained so far.

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Keep Your Torturing, Extrajudicial Police State At Home, Please

by LondonYank Tue Nov 14th, 2006 at 07:18:16 AM EST

As if it's not bad enough that one of my nations is a lawless, torturing, extrajudicially arresting and detaining without recourse police state, it is now operating on the turf of my other nation.

Here's the story in a nutshell:  The Department of Homeland Security decided to target a fellow at Durham University with a sting operation because he happens to be the former Iranian ambassador to Jordan.  There's no evidence he has ever committed any crime or had any links to terrorism or arms dealing.

from the diaries (with a paragraph moved below the fold. -- Jérôme

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Italian Spymaster Arrested - NeoCons Soil Themselves

by LondonYank Wed Jul 5th, 2006 at 11:34:53 AM EST

Italy is beginning to clean house over illegal renditions and torture:

ROME (Reuters) - Police arrested two officials from Italy's military intelligence agency on Wednesday and a judge issued arrest warrants for four Americans over the alleged CIA kidnapping of a terrorism suspect in 2003, officials said.

Three of the Americans were alleged CIA agents and the fourth worked at the U.S. military air base in Aviano, northern Italy, a statement from the Milan prosecutor's office said.

It said Marco Mancini, director of a division of the Sismi military intelligence agency, and another Sismi official, had been arrested.

The new arrests and the warrants relate to the abduction of Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, also known as Abu Omar. He says he was seized on a Milan street in broad daylight, bundled into a van and driven to Aviano.

He says he was then flown to Egypt and tortured under questioning.

An Italian court has already issued arrest warrants for 22 suspected U.S. agents over the abduction.

Promoted by Colman

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Meet My Next Car - Zero Polluting, Cheap and Cute

by LondonYank Mon May 15th, 2006 at 03:10:21 AM EST

Meet my next car, the MiniCAT.

I don't expect to buy another car for a while (my lovely Rover 75 diesel will last ages and gets 60 mpg on the freeway, 40 mpg in town).  When I do next buy a car, however, it will likely be one that runs on compressed air technologies rather than fossil fuels.  The engines are simpler, lighter, waste less energy, have fewer parts to fail, and are zero polluting when running on compressed air alone (hybrid models enable higher freeway speeds).

Compressed air technologies are developing strongly outside the USA, particularly in Europe and Australia.  A gallon of gas here in the UK is already $8, so we have more incentive than Americans to seek alternatives.  Also, parking space is at a premium in our crowded European cities.  The cars are cheaper as they have fewer parts (likely price $8,000).  And we like style too!  The MiniCAT wins on all counts.  

Best of all, the fuel is freely available anywhere you can plug in the in-car compressor (4 hours and $3) or even fill 'er up using a compressed air pump at your local garage (3 minutes but requires infrastructure).

From the diaries ~ whataboutbob

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Zurich to Johannesburg

by LondonYank Sat May 13th, 2006 at 05:48:54 AM EST

I spent last night in Zurich as my onward flight to Johannesburg was cancelled and rescheduled for the following morning.  While flying in over the trim houses and neat farms in the twilight I wondered how much contrast there would be between my stay in Zurich and my stay in Johannesburg.  The likely answer is not much.  CNN is everywhere.  Reuters is everywhere.  WiFi is everywhere.  Heineken is everywhere.  The road warriors of global finance are everywhere too.

Most flights to Johannesburg from Europe are red-eyes because it takes 10 hours or more.  This was my first daylight flight and it was inspirational to see the planet pass below me.  We soared over the Swiss Alps, down along the west coast of Italy, over the tip of Sicily, across the gleaming blue Mediterranean and into the golden wastes of the Libyan Sahara.  I watched the golden, tan, white and brown sands shaped into outlandish forms by wind and wear with deep satisfaction.  Like the prophets of old, I feel closest to God in the desert.

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Diego Garcia: Blair order 'unlawful', 'irrational' and 'repugnant'

by LondonYank Fri May 12th, 2006 at 07:44:32 AM EST

Two British judges held yesterday that the orders made by the UK government to deny Chagos Islanders return to their islands so that the United States could have absolute control around the Indian Ocean military base on Diego Garcia were irrational, unlawful and repugnant.  They dismissed the Blair government argument that the government could exercise discretion in applying royal prerogative to the islands and was immune from judicial scrutiny of its actions.

From the diaries ~ whataboutbob

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China = Peacemaker / USA = Warmonger

by LondonYank Wed Apr 26th, 2006 at 05:04:38 AM EST

My diary at the weekend, Saudi's got a New Best Friend - China!, was a tongue in cheek glimpse of Saudi Arabia's ecstatic welcome of Hu Jintao and its blossoming romance with China.  Today we'll look at the deadly serious outcomes of Hu's charm offensive and the practical implications for the Middle East, Africa, Israel and for Americans.

China is racking up bilateral agreements for supply of the minerals, energy and markets China needs to sustain its rapid development.  China's sales pitch is security and stability for ruling elites and prosperity for local populations.  America demands democratic regime change and threatens war, overthrow and embargoes unless its corporate kleptocrats are given free reign to exploit natural resources.  

Americans can hold the moral high ground and say that China doesn't care about human rights or civil rights.  That is true, but our performance in Iraq makes our hypocrisy transparent.  Americans will find the high ground increasingly cold and dark if we're denied energy for heat and light, so we need to be at least objective in assessing our situation.

From the diaries - whataboutbob

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Saudi's got a new Best Friend - China!

by LondonYank Mon Apr 24th, 2006 at 03:34:47 AM EST

Remember how you started junior high thinking that every kid was bigger than you and missing the security of the 30 kids you knew from kindergarten?  But it was okay because you still had your bestest friend!  Well, that was until you saw your best friend holding hands with a more athletic, more popular, hipper, smarter, richer girl from the primary across town who just showed you up as a doofus in P.E. by blocking all your kickballs.

That's how Dubya must feel if he's allowed to see the pictures of Hu Jintao coming out of Saudi Arabia this morning.  It's the end of the Saudi-American romance because Saudi has a new best friend now.

It should worry the hell out of the Bushistas that Hu flew straight to Saudi from Washington and immediately on landing signed agreements on energy, defence cooperation and security with our best friends in the Middle East.

Pictures and press excerpts on Black Gold Diplomacy below the fold.

From the diaries ~ whataboutbob

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A Penny Is More Than One Cent

by LondonYank Sun Apr 23rd, 2006 at 05:05:57 AM EST

Yesterday the price of copper set new records on traded markets, rising 8.5 percent in one day - about $3 a pound - on top of a rise of 40 percent this year.  The metals in a penny are now worth .8 of a cent (manufacture is a further .6 of a cent).  

I remember the last time the price of the metals in a penny exceeded the value of the coin.  I joined millions of Americans - children and grown-ups - in hoarding pennies rather than spending them.  A few months later the US economy tanked as all the businesses squeezed by high commodities prices pulled back, closed down or moved abroad.  Prices collapsed.  I bought lots of candy.

Unlike gold and silver, which are primarily used for jewellery and a savings alternative to paper-money assets, copper has no value unless it is transformed into something useful like wires, pipes or cookware.  The industries using copper are already screaming from the pain.  This week they demanded an inquiry into this year's high prices from the London exchange and regulators.  They will be told that the market is fair and orderly, speculation isn't.

From the diaries ~ whataboutbob

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Dollar Dump: Central Banks reduce dollar reserves

by LondonYank Sat Apr 22nd, 2006 at 04:31:48 AM EST

I had a long series of Dollar Dump diaries on DailyKos in late 2004 following a weakening dollar.  I was humiliated in 2005 by the FX markets ignoring my brilliant rationale and Warren Buffett's dire warnings.  Instead they preferred dollars to less frothy currencies, buying into the Bubbles Greenspan (Jerome's moniker) myth of a new paradigm where trade and fiscal deficits don't matter and housing bubbles are not really dangerous.

Now that Greenspan is gone, the housing bubble is rapidly deflating, and the Fed is nearing the end of its interest rate raising cycle, the markets are once again fearing for the fate of the greenback.  Central banks hold dollars as reserves, so stand to lose two ways if the dollar declines - in asset value and support for their own currency's strength.

Today we learned that the Riksbank, the central bank of Sweden, has cut its dollar reserves from 37 percent to a mere 20 percent, favoring the euro instead.  Reuters is already fanning the embers of concern into the flames of panic by asserting that this may indicate a broader trend - especially if China gets stroppy.

From the diaries ~ whataboutbob

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Zbig Brzezinski: Time to Plan for Iraq Withdrawal

by LondonYank Wed Apr 19th, 2006 at 08:33:50 AM EST

In today's Financial Times Zbigniew Brzezinski, Secretary of State under Jimmy Carter, presents a four point plan for US military withdrawal from Iraq and normalisation of governance there under authentic Iraqi leadership (as distinct from the Bushco imported kleptocrats).

He makes me nostalgic for the sort of principled, reasoned, forward-looking leadership on foreign affairs that the United States once offered on the world stage under its Democratic presidents.  

The only omission I find surprising is that no where in the plan does he mention a role for the United Nations, the most experienced and successful hand at nation building of ruined states riven by tribal strife and impoverished by corruption.  He seems to assume that the Shia, Sunni and Kurds in Iraq will magically come together to agree on internal governance as soon as a withdrawal date is agreed.

More on the plan and the curious omission of the UN below the fold.

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The Carry Trade: Borrowing from Yoshi to Pay Ahmad and Ping

by LondonYank Wed Mar 15th, 2006 at 07:29:25 AM EST

When my mom struggled with credit card bills, she would "borrow from Peter to pay Paul" by writing a check on one card to fund payment on another.  As long as there was credit, we could live beyond our means.  

America has been borrowing from Yoshi (Japan) to pay Ahmad (oil states) and Ping (China).  The Bank of Japan's quantitative easing of the last 5 years may become a cautionary tale of unintended monetary consequences.  Within Japan growth was slow and inflation subdued, but outside Japan asset bubbles started popping up in real estate markets, bonds, equities and commodities.  The linkage between Japan's ultra-loose credit and foreign asset bubbles was the Carry Trade - borrowing in yen and swapping into other currencies for investment.

Now the Bank of Japan senses growth at home and is tightening liquidity and hinting at higher interest rates.  The last time there was a threat to the yen/dollar carry trade - in 1997-98 - we had the Asian currency crisis, the Russian debt default and the collapse of Long Term Credit Management hedge fund.  And that was a false alarm.  

From the diaries - whataboutbob

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Attacking us THERE so they don't have to attack us HERE

by LondonYank Mon Mar 6th, 2006 at 09:19:04 AM EST

Osama Bin Laden strikes me as a reasonable, intelligent enemy when I read the full text of his speeches.  If you can put emotion aside, he makes many fair points about American and Israeli hypocrisy and the 80 years of exploitation of the Middle East.  Above that, OBL displays an outstanding grasp of political jujitsu, expertly turning his enemies' strengths against them.

Bin Laden believes that he helped to destroy the Soviet empire by impoverishing it militarily and economically in Afghanistan.  He believes that he is successfully destroying the American empire by depleting it militarily and financially in Afghanistan and Iraq.  He is probably correct.

The latest revelation of a change in strategy is particularly worrying.  OBL and Al Qaida seem to have realised that they can strangle the American empire by choking off its blood supply - oil - rather than by spilling the blood of its citizens.  And the beauty is that Al Qaida can attack the oil installations OVER THERE so that they do not need to attack Americans over HERE.

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