London Bomb--What a Crock of Crap!!

punditman says:
Finally, someone who knows what they are talking about, unlike the total hysteric misinformation flow we get from the Big Media whenever an event like this occurs...

London Bomb--What a Crock of Crap!!
by Larry C Johnson

So I turn on the telly this morning and find breathless CNN anchors hyperventilating over the nuclear suicide car weapon of mass destruction discovered smoldering outside of a London nightclub. One report from the scene notes that:

London police were contacted when witnesses saw a Mercedes being driven erratically near London West End night club Tiger Tiger, and the driver jumped out of the automobile and ran away. The car was reported to have two gasoline canisters and be full of nails.

CNN adds:

Explosives officers discovered the fuel and nails attached to a "potential means of detonation," inside the vehicle. Officers "courageously" disabled the trigger by hand, he said. Security sources told CNN that the "relatively crude device" in the first car contained at least 200 liters, or about 50 gallons, of fuel in canisters.

You know what you call a vehicle with 50 gallons of gas? A Cadillac Escalade. The media meltdown over this incident is simply shameful.

For starters, gasoline is not a high explosive. If we were talking 50 pounds of Semtex or the Al Qaeda standby, TATP, I would be impressed. Those are real high explosives with a detonation rate in excess of 20,000 feet per second. Gasoline can explode (just ask former owners of a Ford Pinto) but it is first and foremost an incendiary. If the initial reports are true, the clown driving the Mercedes was a rank amateur when it comes to constructing an Improvised Explosive Device aka IED. Unlike a Hollywood flick the 50 gallons of gas would not have shredded the Mercedes into lethal chunks of flying shrapenal.

The fact that "officers courageously disabled the trigger by hand" coupled with the report of the smoke in the car leads me to believe that the mad London "bomber" tried to construct a Molotov cocktail of sorts and lit a cloth fuze. Fortunately he left the windows in the car up and there was not enough oxygen to really get the fire going. Looks like the brave British police reached in and snuffed the flame.

Judging from the overreaction to this non-incident I think we can safely conclude that Osama Bin Laden will remain holed up in Pakistan and let the fear mongers at CNN, MSNBC, and FOX do the dirty business of scaring the shit out of people.

UPDATE: Ahh, the panic continues. Yuppie terrorists are on the loose. Now we're being told there are two cars (both Mercedes I might add) with a Rube Goldberg contraption consisting of propane tanks, some petrol, a light bulb (or maybe light bulb filaments), etc. A propane tank explosion makes a hell of a noise but does not create widespread shrapnel dispersion. Busted eardrums and broken glass are more likely. Getting these tanks to explode is difficult. The ones I have witnessed occurred when a house under construction caught on fire. But there is nothing in two 25lb propane tanks inside a Mercedes that will detonate with sufficient force to shred the automobile and send hundreds to meet their Allah, God, Buddha, or whatever. Still a crock of hype and over-reaction. Let the police do their job. Investigate the culprits and get these nitwits out of circulation before they harm themselves.



Grateful Dead 03-14-1993 Throwing Stones SBD pt.1

Grateful Dead 03-14-1993 Throwing Stones SBD pt.2

Picture a bright blue ball just spinning, spinning free
Dizzy with eternity.
Paint it with a skin of sky, brush in some clouds and sea
Call it home for you and me.
A peaceful place or so it looks from space
A closer look reveals the human race.
Full of hope, full of grace, is the human face.
But afraid, we may lay our home to waste.
Theres a fear down here we cant forget hasnt got a name just yet
Always awake, always around singing ashes to ashes all fall down.
Now watch as the ball revolves and the nighttime calls
And again the hunt begins and again the bloodwind calls
By and by again, the morning sun will rise
But the darkness never goes from some mens eyes.
It strolls the sidewalks and it rolls the streets
Stalking turf, dividing up meat.
Nightmare spook, piece of heat, you and me, you and me.
Click, flashblade in ghetto night. rudies looking for a fight.
Rat cat alley roll them bones. need that cash to feed that jones
And the politicians throwing stones
Singing ashes, ashes all fall down.
Commissars and pin-striped bosses role the dice
Any way they fall guess who gets to pay the price.
Money green or proletarian gray, selling guns instead of food today.
So the kids they dance, they shake their bones
While the politicians throwing stones
Singing ashes, ashes all fall down.
Heartless powers try to tell us what to think
If the spirits sleeping, then the flesh is ink.
Historys page, it is thusly carved in stone
The futures here, we are it, we are on our own.
If the game is lost then were all the same
No one left to place or take the blame.
We will leave this place an empty stone
Or this shinning ball of blue we can call our home
So the kids they dance, they shake their bones
While the politicians are throwing stones
Singing ashes, ashes all fall down.
Shipping powders back and forth
Singing black goes south while white comes north
And the whole world full of petty wars
Singing I got mine and you got yours.
And the current fashions set the pace.
Lose your step, fall out of grace.
And the radical he rant and rage, singing someone got to turn the page
And the rich man in his summer home,
Singing just leave well enough alone
But his pants are down, his covers blown
And the politicians are throwing stones
So the kids they dance they shake their bones
Cause its all too clear were on our own
Picture a bright blue ball just spinning, spinning free
Its dizzying, the possibilities. ashes, ashes all fall down.

America, your president is about to launch World War III

punditman says:
It sure looks like all the pieces in the puzzle are falling into place. Is it too late to awaken people from their stupor?

by The Canadian

The facts:

1. Iranian Revolutionary Guard (IRG) have been spotted by the British on at least three occasions crossing the southern Iran/Iraq border nearest Basra and deploying spec. troops. On the Iranian side are the bulk of Iran's Province of Khuzestan's oil fields. These oil fields would be prime targets in the event of a U.S.-led invasion. The IRG specialist troops have the task of attacking communications, command, control, and intelligence facilities, and causing general chaos in the event of war.

When the Roman Empire was collapsing, the Emperor decided to avert the Mobs' attention by holding a year's worth of fantastic games and slaughters in the Coliseum.

Meanwhile the Barbarians were on the border.

2. Iran has rationed fuel to its population causing riots and discontent which have been widely reported in world media.

3. Hugo Chavez of Venezuela has dramatically escalated his socialist policies, and actually nationalized all of the Orinoco production facilities, where large US oil and gas companies have literally billions invested in infrastructure.

4. Hamas has taken over the Gaza strip.

5. Hez b'Allah have begun aggressively reasserting itself in Lebanon.

6. Syria has significantly bolstered its troops and moved these troops closer to the Golan Heights much as they did prior to war in '73 (Yom Kippur).

7. Turkey has massed more than 50,000 troops on the northern Iraq border against the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). Note, however, that NW Iran borders SE Turkey.

8. The Arab Gulf States have openly declared they are preparing/prepared for a U.S./Iran conflict this Summer.

9. Significant U.S. politicians are openly advocating war with Iran. These war advocates are Republicans, however, no voice of dissent is being heard from the Democrats.

10. Anti-Iranian propaganda is in full-swing of late.

11. The largest naval armada assembled off the coast of Iran since the 2003 Iraq war commenced is assembled and waiting. A 4th US Carrier fleet will secure the Suez.

12. The US Strategic Petroleum Reserve is full.

13. Next round of U.N. sanctions are on the way.

14. Politicians on all sides of this conflict have a vested political interest in war as a means of political survival. They are all hard-liners.

15. Moscow has released nuclear fuel to Iran for the Bushehr reactor.

16. Israel has recently and successfully launched its Ofeq-7 spy imaging satellite which gives it a great view of Iran (amongst others).

Conclusion: War is close.

Understanding that Iran is oil rich, but refinery poor, it is still quite an unusual event for them to ration petrol. They knew that it would cause public discontent and would be covered widely in world media. Despite the embarrassing news of riots, Iran knows that rationing petrol is a strategic preparation for war.

A military cannot function without petrol. And Venezuela's Chavez knows he cannot supply Iran, but he can help starve the U.S. of oil (but not for long ...)

The Canadian


CAUGHT ON TAPE: Cheney Claims Vice President Is ‘An Important Part’ Of Executive Branch

by- Suzie-Q @ 5:55 PM MST

New evidence bolsters the case that Vice President Cheney himself considers his office to be part of the executive branch (except when he is attempting to avoid accountability and oversight).

Yesterday, ThinkProgress noted Cheney’s claim in 2001 that a congressional probe into his energy task force “would unconstitutionally interfere with the functioning of the executive branch.” Today, a White House video emerged showing Cheney acknowledging:

It’s really a function of the last 50 years or so that the vice president’s become an important part of the executive branch.

Watch the video

UPDATE: It’s worth noting that Politico’s Mike Allen published an article today claiming that Cheney’s office has “thrown in the towel” and will no longer argue that the VP’s office is not part of the executive branch. As emptywheel and Kagro X explain, this is simply not true.



Harper Finally Able to Read the Writing on the Wall

Canada's Kandahar adventure is effectively finished. Canadian soldiers will continue to die in Afghanistan's south until the mission reaches its official end, 19 months from now. But even Prime Minister Stephen Harper has acknowledged that our efforts there can't be sustained.

The reasons are twofold and intertwined. First, NATO's war against Afghan insurgents is not succeeding. Second, there is not enough political support for that war here at home.


punditman says:
Not unlike Iraq, we have a situation in Afghanistan where occupation forces simply can not sustain a losing strategy. It is not working. The politicians know this. Otherwise, they would not be talking about ending Canada's current combat mission and reverting back to a mainly defensive, reconstructive role. The Harper government is asking young men and women to continue to die for a cause that has no actual end-game strategy.
For the next 19 months, they want Canadian troops to continue to search and destroy and possibly be killed, even though they know that this is probably making matters worse. But hey, it pleases their neo-con buddies in Washington, and they will use this falsified patriotism to try to win the next election! And that's all that really matters.


For Cheney, Office's Relocation Out Of Executive Is Nothing New

by- Suzie-Q @ 9:23 PM MST

While news of the re-location of the Vice President's office outside of the executive branch surprised many political observers Thursday, earlier news reports reveal that Dick Cheney and his staff have long maintained that for the purposes of certain laws, the Office of the Vice President is a unique part of the government that is not part of the executive or legislative branches.

In 2005, the Center for Public Integrity reported that Cheney's office has considered itself outside the executive branch since 2002 when it argued that it was exempt from disclosing trips taken by its employees paid for by non-federal sources.

"Instead of making disclosures like most of the White House, Cheney's office since March 2002 has periodically responded to [Office of Government Ethics] inquiries by stating that it is not obligated to file such disclosure forms for travel funded by non-federal sources," wrote Kate Sheppard and Bob Williams. "The letters were signed by then-Counsel to the Vice President David Addington...In the letters to the Office of Government Ethics, Addington writes that the Office of the Vice President is not classified as an agency of the executive branch and is therefore not required to issue reports on travel, lodging and related expenses funded by non-federal sources."

Tom Fitton of the group Judicial Watch went on to tell the CPI that for Cheney and his staff, "Their view is that the vice president is a constitutional office that is not subject to the laws that others in the executive branch are. They have been consistent in that."

Earlier this year, the blog Talking Points Memo also highlighted the Office of the Vice President's unwillingness to disclose the names of its staff-members in a resource known as the "Plum Book" that is published by the executive branch. In place of the Vice President's staff, the Office published an entry outlining Addington's constitutional argument.

"The Vice Presidency is a unique office that is neither a part of the executive branch nor a part of the legislative branch, but is attached by the Constitution to the latter. The Vice Presidency performs functions in both the legislative branch (see article I, section 3 of the Constitution) and in the executive branch (see article II, and amendments XII and XXV, of the Constitution, and section 106 of title 3 of the United States Code)," the section noted.



10 years On: Hong Kong Still Marches To Its Own Beat

by- Suzie-Q @ 6:17 PM MST

HONG KONG - A decade after Hong Kong returned to China's control, the steamy tropical air of this money-churning enclave has grown more polluted. Residents exercise outdoors at their peril, and during the latest spring marathon, thousands of runners were left gasping for medical treatment.

On city streets, the singsong-y Mandarin Chinese spoken by millions of visitors from the mainland is intruding now on the guttural local Cantonese dialect.

But in most other regards, it's business as usual, and in some ways it's better than ever. Hong Kong's economy is firing on all cylinders, churning out new millionaires and even billionaires.

Last month, with the stock market listing of a leading footwear company, Belle International, two people joined Hong Kong's list of 21 billionaires. Some 67,000 people - 1 in about every 100 - are millionaires.

Its stock market sells more shares of newly listed companies than the New York Stock Exchange. Workers keep erecting impossibly tall buildings along Hong Kong harbor.

Most experts agree that China has largely stuck to its "hands off" pledge for the former British colony, allowing the territory to retain its separate laws, currency and way of life.

Before the 1997 hand-over, uncertainty gripped the territory, sparking an exodus of hundreds of thousands of residents. Fortune magazine forecast "The Death of Hong Kong" on its cover. Yet questions about the city's vitality slowly dissipated.



Everyone the US fights in Iraq is now "al-Qaida"

punditman says:
...and everyone Canada fights in Afghanistan is "Taliban."
The analysis below is an excellent example of how the propaganda system works.

by Glenn Greenwald

Josh Marshall publishes an e-mail from a reader who identifies what is one of the most astonishing instances of mindless, pro-government "reporting" yet:

It's a curious thing that, over the past 10 - 12 days, the news from Iraq refers to the combatants there as "al-Qaida" fighters. When did that happen?

Until a few days ago, the combatants in Iraq were "insurgents" or they were referred to as "Sunni" or "Shia'a" fighters in the Iraq Civil War. Suddenly, without evidence, without proof, without any semblance of fact, the US military command is referring to these combatants as "al-Qaida".

Welcome to the latest in Iraq propaganda.

That the Bush administration, and specifically its military commanders, decided to begin using the term "Al Qaeda" to designate "anyone and everyeone we fight against or kill in Iraq" is obvious. All of a sudden, every time one of the top military commanders describes our latest operations or quantifies how many we killed, the enemy is referred to, almost exclusively now, as "Al Qaeda."

But what is even more notable is that the establishment press has followed right along, just as enthusiastically. I don't think the New York Times has published a story about Iraq in the last two weeks without stating that we are killing "Al Qaeda fighters," capturing "Al Qaeda leaders," and every new operation is against "Al Qaeda."



Exposed: The Anatomy of a Torture Scandal

by- Suzie-Q @ 1:42 PM MST

Where does the buck stop when it comes to torture?

Not long before Lynndie England ever stepped foot in Iraq, long before she became the poster-child for torture, she was a whistleblower at Pilgrim's Pride chicken factory in Moorefield, W.Va. -- a notion that doesn't quite fit with her current image.

In the wake of the Abu Ghraib scandal, Americans were offered two kinds of analysis. We were given a choice regarding the horrendous abuse of those detained in Abu Ghraib (70 percent to 90 percent of which, according to the Red Cross, were arrested by mistake or had no intelligence value): Was it just a few bad apples -- a crazed night shift of sadists that raped, sodomized, beat and electrocuted prisoners (including women and children) -- or was it systemic, based on orders that came straight from the top?

Tara McKelvey's new book Monstering: Inside America's Policy of Secret Interrogations and Torture in the Terror War offers a more nuanced and in-depth exploration of how and why incidents of abuse and torture like Abu Ghraib happened (and continue to happen) in the war on terror. Namely, that it took both lower-level bad apples, and high-level hypocrites to produce such violence. Confronting the fact that both choice and command played a part in Abu Ghraib forces us to face a more complex and unsavory truth. But anything less simply doesn't make sense. If it were only a few bad apples, why haven't all of those few been prosecuted? In the famous prisoner pyramid photograph, there are 32 boots visible. Yet, only seven soldiers were charged, with Charles Graner and Lynndie England effectively serving as the poster couple for the abuses. Furthermore, how could it possibly be just a few bad apples when even the Army's own investigations have called the torture systemic and illegal. Similarly, to claim that those participating in the abuse were only following orders doesn't mesh with the fact that there are, as McKelvey states in the book, those who refused to take part in abusive practices and faced no reprimand.



The Internet and the Anti-War Movement: The Jury is Out

The very fact that you are reading this blog means that at some level, I have faith in the power of the internet to affect positive change. But lately I am beginning to question this belief. In North America, internet penetration approaches 70 %. But maybe this very fact is partially to blame for the lack of concrete citizen action in areas of global importance, such as the war in Iraq.

How on earth, in this incredibly informed and interconnected world can we still put up with the Bush administration calling the shots? The internet is awash with sites outlining the high crimes and misdemeanours of this administration. There is even a book on the topic written by former Nixon White House counsel John Dean of Watergate infamy. Dean spent four months in prison for his role in the Watergate cover-up, so he ought to know a thing or two about corruption and high crime. The fact that there have been no impeachment proceedings launched in the United States, a country built upon the rule of law, speaks volumes about the current political culture. But more to the point it says something about *virtual* power -- or lack thereof.

The web is a great information gathering system, but it sucks at getting people to actually do something with all this knowledge. Fear, of course, is a great motivator to do the following: Keep your mouth shut and mind your keystrokes. According to the OpenNet Initiative, "With respect to online surveillance, the United States may be among the most aggressive states in the world in terms of listening to online conversations." Rebels take note: it is a fact that they are not just listening to Jihadists.

Just because bloggers and internet junkies find the time to write and do research on the internet, not everybody does. Nor do they care to. For most people, computers are a way to forward silly emails to their friends, play games, plan a trip, download music...oh, and let's not forget the all pervasive perusing of porn. Have I missed anything? Check your Inbox. Believe it.

But even if the internet is the new “majority media” there are plenty of sites out there that make the mainstream media look downright sane. There are legions of people who loyally read neo-con and racist blogs. The only saving grace is that they are no more noticeable in the real world than anyone else. Their impact is felt mostly in their acquiescence to power.

Meanwhile, folks everywhere are still glued to CNN (or whatever TV networks in whichever country). The reasons for this are complex, but that’s the damn straight truth, and the advertising dollars tell the story.

What's more, there is an elitist tone, detectable among some lefties and libertarians as they preach to their converted flocks online. The assumption is that anyone who is anyone no longer watches the mainstream media. But the mainstream media, (which they call MSM and expect everyone to know what that stands for), is not all the same and it is not all bad (I say that as a bona fide media critic). Where I live there are some great programs on TV and radio, you just have to sift through the garbage, which is everywhere (but then that’s the way of the internet nowadays as well, perhaps even more so).

Nevertheless, possessing information on government corruption, lies and hidden agendas is apparently not enough to make people act decisively and collectively. The recent resignation of anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan tells the story. Writing about her son Casey, whose death in Iraq galvanized her into a life of real anti-war activism, she states:
Casey died for a country which cares more about who will be the next American Idol than how many people will be killed in the next few months while Democrats and Republicans play politics with human lives.

Is all this permeative multi-media--TV, radio, video games, phones with ring tones, downloadable music (which I love), and yes, the blogosphere -- actually a vast, luxurious distraction for us First-Worlders? Even those times when we are getting a good dose of important, inspiring media, our failure to act upon such information means we are really just amusing ourselves--or more likely, others--to death, in some cases quite literally. There's no shortage of hunting and gathering going on. But to what end?

Part of the problem is that it is impossible to be doing two things at the same time.

Occupying real, physical space and taking real action to challenge systems of propaganda, coercion and illegitimacy is more difficult than *virtually* doing it from the confines of one's bedroom.

The old Russian socialist query: "What is to be done?" rings as true today as ever. Strikes, boycotts, sit-ins, massive street demonstrations--yes these are old-fashioned, but they may stand a better chance of actually having an impact than what is happening in the wired, atomized world. They are also more risky and more public for those involved. In countries where the stakes are much higher, citizens appear to have no problem pouring into the streets, and at much greater personal risk. In North America, despite all the internet networking, it still takes months of organizing. Perhaps then, what is needed most, is courage. Courage to use the old methods as well as the new technology more effectively.

In the meantime, punditman says (with more than a touch of irony): *They* have got us right where they want us: seized up in cyberspace, gazing at our navels.


As Baghdad Burns, Calgary Booms

punditman says:
As Naomi Klein points out, as Baghdad burns, destabilizing the entire region and sending oil prices soaring, Calgary booms. The Iraq War has led to one of the largest oil booms in history. But it is occurring in Alberta, not Iraq, and the mining of the tar sands will result in an environmental catastrophe.

How many people make this connection? How many people earning the big bucks out west would even give a damn?

Nuking Iran: The Republican Agenda?

punditman says:
The Bush doctrine of preventive conventional war is bad enough because it mocks international law and norms of behaviour built up over centuries; but preventive nuclear war is a crime of cosmic proportions that mocks civilization itself. The fact that these crazy Republicans are even acknowledging it as an option against Iran means that they are unstable and unfit to govern. Thankfully, one lone candidate, Senator Ron Paul is talking some sanity to the American people. Hopefully he has some spillover effect in couch-potato land.

For further evidence of what is being planned, read this:
If You Think Bush Is Evil Now, Wait Until He Nukes Iran

And this:
US Foments Unrest and Spurns Overtures: Countdown to War on Iran

Let this be yet another wake-up call, folks.


Arkansas GOP head: "All we need is some attacks on American soil like we had on [Sept. 11, 2001] and naysayers will come around..."

punditman says...
Dennis Milligan, who happens to be the head of the Republican party in Arkansas, appears to be saying openly what many an unrepentant neo-con must be secretly praying for: another spectacular terrorist attack on US soil. They got their "new Pearl Harbor" with 9-11 (as they mention in their own PNAC documents), and the people rallied -- for awhile, that is, until Shrub decided to invade Iraq for reasons that had nothing to do with 9-11.

Punditman thinks that such an attack would in fact improve Bush's pathetic standing because all opposition would be rendered mute by political pressure and fascist measures aimed at quashing dissent, already in law, ready to be enacted in such an eventuality. Such is the only remaining hope for a hopelessly failed presidency. So, in a very twisted way, this guy is right, although I doubt his bosses in Washington wanted him to put his foot in his mouth (or shall we say, "let the cat out of the bag").


Seymour Hersh on U.S. funding Lebanon and Gaza violence

punditman says...

Award-winning journalist Seymour Hersh explains the US "redirection" policy in the middle east, the explosive repercussions and how the press just gobbles it up.