Tuesday, October 28, 2008

When is a Terrorist not a Terrorist?

One of the insanities on the war of terror is the idea of stopping terror, a dumb concept as I bet most people can't agree on what is and is not a terrorist - freedom fighter/insurgent/terrorist - depends on your point of view. The Nazi's called the French resistance fighters 'terrorists' - I'd call them freedom fighters. On this subject:

Two white supremacists allegedly plotted to go on a national killing spree, shooting and decapitating black people and ultimately targeting Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, federal authorities said Monday....It's a horrible and sordid story of idiots with guns, but in scanning the various news sources, there is a curious but obvious word missing — a word that normally our media and government fling about with unscrupulous abandon.

Indeed. I would apply the same logic to the UK and US use of extra-judicial killings in Iraq and beyond - state terrorism. This is also interesting - that Sarah Palin refused to acknowledge the existence of right-wing domestic terrorists in her NBC interview that aired last night.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Expanding (and Failing) War or Terror

As the twilight of the failed Bu$h presidency comes to a close, the war of terror that is his legacy is spinning out of control. We can see cross-border raids, counter to international law in Syria (and analysis);

The Bush administration seems to be ratcheting up action against Syria during its last days in power. The cross border raid undertaken on Sunday, which killed eight people, seems to fit into a broader pattern of the Bush administration initiating cross boarder attacks into countries that it is not officially at war with.

In Pakistan, in an attempt to prop-up the failing war in Afghanistan;

[In] Afghanistan another 33,000 embattled American troops (and tens of thousands of NATO troops), suffering their highest casualties since the Taliban fell in 2001, are fighting a spreading insurgency backed by growing anger over foreign occupation. The disintegration seems to be proceeding apace in that country as the Taliban begins to throttle the supply routes leading into the Afghan capital of Kabul, while the governor of a province just died in an IED blast. "President" Hamid Karzai was long ago nicknamed "the mayor of Kabul." Today, that tag seems ever more appropriate as the influence of his corrupt government steadily weakens....In the meantime, in Pakistan, a new war, no less unpredictable and unpalatable than the last two, develops, as American strikes fan the flames of Pakistani nationalism. Already the Pakistani military may have fired its first warning shots at American troops. Part of the horror here is that much of the present nightmare in Afghanistan and Pakistan can be traced to the sorry U.S. relationship with Pakistan's military and its intelligence services back in the early 1980s.

Possibly in Iran:

I think it is too late now for the 'bomb Iran' networks that are deeply dug into various portions of the US political elite to launch an 'October surprise,' i.e. a military action against Iran designed to escalate tensions in the Gulf region-- and also, crucially, toincrease the climate of fear within the US in a way that would push voters to rally round John McCain....However, it is not too late for an 'inter-regnum surprise', that is, a military attack against Iran designed to escalate tensions in the Gulf region to the point that that region and the whole world system become a chaotic stew of catastrophe that would then be handed to President-elect Barack Obama to deal with, come January..

All this in the face of the former head of MI5 pointing to the war in Iraq bringing MORE nor LESS security:

She challenges claims, notably made by Tony Blair, that the war in Iraq was not related to the radicalisation of Muslim youth in Britain. Asked what impact the war had on the terrorist threat, she replies: "Well, I think all one can do is look at what those people who've been arrested or have left suicide videos say about their motivation. And most of them, as far as I'm aware, say that the war in Iraq played a significant part in persuading them that this is the right course of action to take." She adds: "So I think you can't write the war in Iraq out of history. If what we're looking at is groups of disaffected young men born in this country who turn to terrorism, then I think to ignore the effect of the war in Iraq is misleading."

All this while the media are busy with the financial crisis made in part by the cost of the war of terror and the leaders who fostered it.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

For God's Sake...

The religious right in the US, unbelievable....

Minutes ago I spoke with friend Dr. Norman G. Marvin, M.D. and he is so concerned at what he has learned about Barack Obama's family in Kenya that he is calling a special prayer meeting in his home to pray against the witchcraft curses attempted by them against John McCain and Sarah Palin.

Riiight - the witchcraft curses, well known political ploy. Now I did have to go to church a bit as a kid, but I don't seem to remember the bit in the Bible where Jesus advocates terrorism. You could not make this shit up...

A friend recently sent me this article about a "gay-friendly" high school. If we were living in a biblical society, homosexuality would be punishable by death so such a school would be unnecessary. Although I'm against the special accommodations, perhaps this new trend of segregation will protect straight kids from these predators. With any luck, some radical will blow up the gay school. No, I'm not condoning vigilantism--I'm merely saying that it would be poetic justice.

So who would Jesus bomb? The gays apparently. Idiots. But wait - there's more!

Oh. My. God. Says everything really - and it seems to be this is thinly veiled racism - can't vote for the guy 'cos he's got a funny name. Idiots.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Funny Money

As it all melts away, this story made me laugh...

The boss of a successful US hedge fund has quit the industry with an extraordinary farewell letter dismissing his rivals as over-privileged "idiots" and thanking "stupid" traders for making him rich.

Andrew Lahde's $80m Los Angeles-based firm Lahde Capital Management in Los Angeles made a huge return last year by betting against subprime mortgages.

Yesterday the 37-year-old told his clients that he had hated the business and had only been in it for the money. And after declaring he would no longer manage money for other people, because he had enough of his own, Lahde said that instead he intended to repair his stress-damaged health; he made it clear he would not miss the financial world.

"The low-hanging fruit, ie idiots whose parents paid for prep school, Yale and then the Harvard MBA, was there for the taking," he wrote. "These people who were (often) truly not worthy of the education they received (or supposedly received) rose to the top of companies such as AIG, Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers and all levels of our government," he said.

"All of this behaviour supporting the aristocracy only ended up making it easier for me to find people stupid enough to take the other side of my trades. God bless America."

A perspective I had not considered - that moneyed elites giving jobs to the boys were taken for a ride by smarter traders...
Afghanistan on the Slide

Ooops - Afghan fighters, trained by the infamous Blackwater security/mercenary company have been taking their weapons and defecting to the Taliban...


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Climate Change Update

Here is a good round up of the latest news. The met office has broken ranks to declare that global warming deniers have 'their head in the sand'. I agree. This view poses a great threat, and Jeffrey Sachs draws a line between this, failure in Iraq and the Republican view;

By anti-intellectualism, I mean especially an aggressively anti-scientific perspective, backed by disdain for those who adhere to science and evidence. The challenges faced by a major power like the US require rigorous analysis of information according to the best scientific principles. Climate change, for example, poses dire threats... that must be assessed according to prevailing scientific norms... We need scientifically literate politicians adept at evidence-based critical thinking to translate these findings and recommendations into policy and international agreements.

On this subject, why does climate change not push our buttons in the way, say terrorism does? I question I have pondered. Now there is an answer... I recommend both of these videos that look deep into human psychology and understand how we understand threats; Part 1 & Part 2.

Plus on the lighter side...

It’s disappointing that Crikey, like others in the liberal media, have fallen for the nonsensical line that the so-called "financial crisis" is either real or requires urgent action. Anyone who disputes this claim, which is advanced with evangelical fervour by its advocates, is howled down as a heretic and a "denialist". The days of the witch-hunt are truly back.

Put simply, there is no evidence of a human-induced financial crisis, regardless of the hysterical claims advanced in trendy films like Al Gore’s Inconvenient Loot. The financial environment moves through cycles unrelated to human activity. Financial records from the distant past demonstrate that key indices have previously been much lower than they are today, and move up and down of their own accord. Man’s contribution to these movements is dwarfed by the natural rise and fall of markets....


Monday, October 13, 2008

Afghanistan Falls Away

I was listening to Start the Week this morning and they had Christina Lamb on - she has been reporting from there for almost 20 years. She reports how the situation there is getting worse and not better. One interesting point she made was that the British have been pursuing a strategy of killing senior Taliban commanders, however this 'decapitation' strategy had resulted in the replacement (by death) of commanders who were focused on Afghanistan with new commanders from Pakistan focused on the global jihad. Ooops. Sounds to me like what happened in Chechnya where the killing of moderate commanders by the Russians pushed the command to ever more hardline Muslim jihadists. The Russians have had to use former rebels (combined with massive destruction of the cities) to keep a modicum of control (though I checked the news to see how it is going, and one solider and one fighter killed over the last couple of days, so it is still a low-intensity conflict).

The thought also occurs, that in the jihadist mindset where everything that happens, happens because 'god wills it' - does this mean that they see the collapse of the global economy as god's will? While I don't believe in god at all, from a tactical point of view, the way the insurgents will win is to force the occupying forces to retreat - and one of the ways of doing that is to bankrupt them. For the occupying forces fighting half-way around the world, the most minor things costs a huge amount. Could the empting of the treasuries of the west force them from the fight?