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Total number of comments: 169 (since 2013-11-28 14:42:42)

JamesL

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  • The Last Days of Kobani Loom as ISIL Closes in on Syrian Kurds with Murder on its Mind
    • City states, in other words? Strong-man feudalism being the net result of current international policies?

    • I don't know when if ever the world powers will recognize that it is no longer simply whether 'our guy' wins, but what is left standing when the win is declared. The BBC phrase 'fighting is raging" in Kobane tells of the destruction occuring. No government can function without buildings or functional infrastructure. I suppose Putin has some reason to spend some of his slowly acquired personal capital (Putin with a bear, Putin in a race car, Putin bare-chested) innationalistic obstructionism; the US has provided many examples of how that is acceptable for a world leader, no matter the cost. But there will be no winner if a nation's cellular struicture dissolves. No King Putin, Bush, or Obama can put Humpty back together again, Humpties now in the plural in the mid Eat and Africa. All that comes of it is runaway social gangrene. Enough of that and the infection becomes a world war just because no one can remain outside the effects. One of the hardest things about being an American is watching this all progress as Congress shouts and gambles on nits and Obama attempts to negotiate between the gamblers.

  • Why Obama underestimated ISIL in Syria and Iraq
    • There is a much more chilling application to the word 'generational' in US foreign policy. When the US military does another pinpoint strike and kills a few extra people, as is admittedly the norm, the ripple is intercepted by the Atlantic and US media and hardly a pulse remains as it hits American shores. But like any leader, Mr. Obama included, targeted leaders of ISIS, IS, and all the other acronyms we attack are usually surrounded by not by the hoi polloi, but by important people who often are just trying to get along with the nearest strongman. When those non-IS people get fragmented the ripple is a lot bigger, and lasts a lot longer. Because America on the move looking for work and the big payoff no longer has a cultural core of family, church, locale adherences and loyalties anything like other nations who are less 'advanced', especially in the mid-east, it can no longer comprehend the magnitude and effects of loss of important locals. This disjunct is odd considering what the death of a single American can be built up into when US media gets hold of a juicy story, but it is unfortunately true. American compassion has a lot of strong limitations, and those prevent acceptance of the fact that the grief and suffering of those collateral dead dudes we disregard live on in the emotions of people we say we are helping as hatred and distrust of America the land of the free.

      Mr. Obama and his military have determined some collateral damage body count numbers that are acceptable to them. But those numbers are hardly acceptable to those we are pinpointedly attacking. Those who approve of necessary extraneous deaths need to answer whether they are ready to drop their long held empathy, high regard, and frequent worship of past Americans who stood up to a foreign power. Current US policy is ensuring generations of distrust and hatred and one must wonder why we keep doing the same thing over and over.

      The clock is ticking on Obama and the US government, and the countdown is not on the topics most in evidence in US media or the lips of politicians.

      link to theguardian.com

    • Thanks for the good post, but you (and Obama) managed not to mention the tremendous destruction of basic Iraq infrastructure by the US military under Bush, not to mention ethnic cleansings, that as a national stressor was piled on top of the instant loss of jobs and disbanding of the Iraq military that was part of the Bush/Rumsfeld/Bremer catastrophe. That's a little like arguing that the population despondency rate of New Orleanians is not due to religions differences but rather lack of jobs or opportunity, without mentioning the total infrastructure losses and recapitalization necessary post Katrina. What you are really saying is that, along with Assad on Syria and Israel on Palestinians, the US is currently a top world leader, perhaps THE world leader in downward mobility of its foreign policy recipients while preaching freedom to the faithful and less than attentive back home. Obama is merely fumbling once again, live on tv, for a workable sound bite to paper over the cognitive dissonance between the myth of a benign US and the trail of destruction it actually leaves behind wherever it goes to help out. I couldn't say this without the commonalities of government razed neighborhoods in Syria, Gazans live as a fish in the barrel tv series, and if the US had actually repaired all the damage it caused in Iraq, which of course never happened and amounted only to a PR line to compliant US media, albeit a lucrative profit center for the jackals of war. Generational conflict is real, but ISIS, and probably Al Qaeda, could not have come into being with the power they exerted without US contributions in the creation of a social petri dish ideally tuned for radical extra-government entities.

      The person who observed at the time that attacking the 250,000 or so people in Fallujah to kill a few thousand 'rebels' would be like a proportionately sized armored division attacking Los Angeles to finally weed out the Crips and Bloods.
      Even though Bush et all were responsible for the deaths of more Iraqi's in five years than Hussein killed in 25, Americans today just can't accept the reality that Iraq under Hussien was a first world country with things like streets, buildings, sewers, education, health care, water, electricity, and no large groups of armed religious radicals.

  • Syrian Media Hail America as Damascus Ally, Support UN Ban on Foreign Fighters
  • Iraq: If Terrorists hit Southern Iraq oil fields, $5-$7 a gallon Gas?
    • Nothing new here. The US is tottering along with the idea that cheap gas will last forever and the stock market is all that matters. Guzzler, high performance, and 3500# Significantly Unefficient Vehicle sales continue strong while EV sales that could save the nation grow but remain a tiny percentage. Who ya gonna bomb when the Percipitative Event eventually happens that jacks up fuel 20, 50, or 80%? How does the disintegration of Mid East nations make fuel supply more assured? How do you choose between plastic whatzits, road asphalt, and getting to work? When, not if, the next jump comes a lot of people will be whining.

  • Highway Patrol Officer aims Knockout Punches at Woman along Freeway
    • This man should be permanently removed from any position of public authority, and his authorization to carry any kind of firearm should be similarly, and permanently, removed. Authoritarian personalities are increasingly populating America's expanding authoritarian security and police systems, adding to the weight of the MIC's authoritarianism. Freedom of individual Americans in an increasingly authoritarian state is inexorably shrinking.

  • Can Tony Blair Mess up Egypt even Worse?
    • Blair as advisor to Egypt is brilliant. Accept the advice. Do the opposite. Guarenteed success.

  • Why you need an EV: Radicalism in Iraq Menaces the World's most Important Oil Fields
    • Stan, change begins with first steps. As a nation we do not have the option of not changing. Degrade the economics of transportation and you instantly alter a consumerist economy. Six months ago I leased an EV. The monthly cost of the lease is nearly identical to the cost of gasoline alone burned in my 10 year old car, not counting the cost and hassle of filters, oil changes, antifreeze, exhaust, miles of wiring, plumbing, and troubleshooting complexity to make the engine burn a little cleaner, not to mention pollution and military and war costs spent trying to keep hold of someone else’s oil. Electrical fuel for an EV costs roughly 10% of a gas car. EV’s don’t work for everyone in every situation, but they work for 90% of the people 90% of the time. We kept the old gas car for trips. Now it just sits there. The value to America's future of EV’s is a no brainer.

  • Mass Sunni Uprising in Iraq: Sectarian Blowback of 2003 U.S. Invasion (Cole on Democracy Now!)
    • Glad to have you on the air Juan. I know hindsight is more acute but I think it's worth it to the American public (or was it ‘audience’) to be reminded of the amount of damage to Iraqi societal infrastructure the US did beginning right away with Shock and Awe, better termed Dissembling and Demolishing. BushCo physically destroyed and socially tore apart Iraq as a functioning first world (education, medical ability, that kind of stuff) country for years, most pointedly including Fallujah II where "put a hole in it is there isn't one already' was no secret. Destruction included bridges, water systems, sewer systems (quote of the time: “it’s a new form of germ warfare”) and square miles of buildings that Americans forget where the Iraqis Bush was supposedly saving lived and worked.

      US “contractors” stepped in to take the money while the taking was good but managed to not accomplish much. And whatever happened to that missing $9B? Lost in the mists of time.

      Bush made sure Iraq had little functioning physical infrastructure by the time he declared victory, but then kept right on destroying in futile hammer and anvil, pincer, and whack a mole games after victory. What might help American perspective is a block by block video review today of the cities Bush liberated, and an on the spot review of how many Iraqi families still crowd neighboring countries in camps of squalor, grief, and anger. But then it’s probably too dangerous for American news crews, and too unimportant to American news ratings.

      Maliki can be blamed but he hasn’t exactly been playing with a full deck after Bush stole his face cards and half of the rest.

      Blair should be picking up Iraqi bricks in prison stripes the rest of his life for just his part in it.

  • The Second Iran-Iraq War and the American Switch
    • Spyguy's last paragraph would make sense if politics were rational.

      But since they are not I really can't pass up the opportunity to blame Obama. What's needed is clear vision, a steady hand, and a steely eye. No wimping. And Obama has a unique chance to do exactly that by coptering the Bush Cheney negotiating team right into downtown Baghdad in one of Barak's new choppers. With G&D involved again the Republicans could not help but endorse such a bold initiative, with the Democrats trailing behind saying whatever Dems say when trailing behind. Chances are a big chunk of the Tea Party would sign on too which would amount to a global rapprochment not seen since Nixon walked the Big Wall. I personally would like to see Iraq turn around, and from Dick C's tv interviews since he moved his operations out of DC, I'm sure he's just itching to get into the thick of things again and show those naysayers how it's done one more time.

  • Top 3 White Terrorist Attacks in America this Week
    • When governmental trends are rapidly toward increasing secrecy, it is hardly a neutral perspective to speak of growing citizen paranoia without also speaking of growing governmental, security, police, and military paranoia. The latter will inexorably produce the former. Citing citizen violence without mentioning governmental violence fundamentally misleads as to causes. The standard policy of secret organizations is to mislead, lie, and accumulate power beyond citizen control. It is simply not possible to have a functional democracy with multiple large, proliferating, secret, militarized organizations. The proper, neutral perspective that is being missed here is how to reverse the trends of secrecy and militarization of organizations in everyday contact with normal life. What is increasingly absent is trust.

      link to nytimes.com

  • Palestine's Abbas finally says will Go to UN over Israeli Squatters
    • It's about time. Isreal is completely unreliable as a peace partner and in fact opposes peace. It is not interested in peace. Why the US should consider Israel an ally is beyond belief. The US should end any support of Israel and let it see for itself how well its attitude toward the world holds up. There may be people of peace in Israel but until they manage to throw out the current government and keep any others like it out of power they are without doubt headed toward disintegration. Israel on its current course is headed directly toward its own self induced end.

  • Is Russia a "Regional Power" or "Geopolitical Threat"? Obama argues with Romney from the Hague
    • Russia is aso a neighbor on an over crowded globe. A wise president would say that out loud. Rants of foes here, there, and everywhere helps create foes. Given our probable future, we don't need foes, we need friends.

  • Nancy Pelosi Admits That Congress Is Frightened of The CIA
    • US intelligence now owns America. What it can surveille is unknown and uncontrolled. Its funding is secret. What it can share, with whom and what, is secret. Those who protest or reveal are persecuted. Those who become subservient and cooperate are rewarded. Protestations of limits, law, civilian control, and transparency by the intelligence community has consistently and nearly completely been shown to be lies, with reality of surveillance depth still unknown. The privatization of intelligence has allowed that information to be circulated in secrecy into the hands of those whose intent is not national security but personal or organizational profit and power, extending far into the grasp of corporations. Given what little we know so far, all of Congress, heads of foreign states, Wall Street, and corporations globally have been the subject of intelligence gathering at the whim of intelligence leaders, for reasons far afield of national security. The office of the Presidency, like those of Congress, has been seduced by the carrot of information and power, but is itself unable to be completely certain it is not a target. The mere bulk of data gathering eliminates any timely investigation, rendering moot any efforts toward balance or control by any of the branches of the government. US media is moribund with investigative journalism at low ebb and repression of the press aggressive, effective, and pervasive. We have come to the point where the intelligence networks designed to protect the American people have made Americans themselves targets, and much more vulnerable than before the rise to power of intelligence networks and technology. Having been instituted, what has become clear is that there is no functional governmental mechanism to investigate, limit, curtail, disempower, defund, or end these secret structures. What also has become clear is that Americans, and in fact America as we know it, or like to think we know it, will be sacrificed before intelligence will be sacrificed. The willingness to sacrifice the citizenry in favor of a minority seeking absolute information and power, will either soon, or already has ended democracy in America. Perhaps worst of all, the intent of the intelligence community is to seek and identify enemies. With this constant intent, that is what will be found. Ever more enemies, and ever fewer friends. Ever more reason to seek more power.

  • Obama as Unreliable Narrator on Climate Action: from SOTU to NSA spying at Copenhagen
    • We don't have 15 years. All the fancy planning you read about by business, manufacturing, local, state and national government about where they are going to be in 2030 or 2040 is bullshit. The writing is on the wall, the corner is not ahead but here, and American is watching tv. Obama is unimaginative and rudderless.

  • Massive War Crimes: Syrian Regime Tortured, Starved, Murdered 11,000 Prisoners
    • Syria’s descent into gang level violence could have been and was forecast as a probable result of international inaction. Arguments that worse would come by doing nothing, clouded by what may now be seen rather temporary political positioning, were not as effectively made as they should have been to avoid the present.

      In the interest of fairness, without which we cannot claim to be impartial or just, I would like Dr. Cole to finally comment citing evidence his conclusion why he has rejected the claims in this and similar previous stories:

      link to rt.com

      Yes it is from Russia Times, but the opinion is by a former UN weapons inspector. As far as I am aware, countering arguments, confused by certainty that Assad forces performed gas or biological attacks, have relied on assertions.

  • The Hubris of the Syria Interventionists
    • US intervention in Iraq resulted in more Iraqi's killed in a shorter time than Saddam was responsible for. The conflict created an Iraqi brain drain of people needed to rebuild, huge numbers of refugees in desert camps the US ignored, and huge populations of refugees fleeing to neighboring countries which upset their stability no small amount. Iraq's borders became porous for arms and Al Qaeda fomenters because the Iraq military was disabled from keeping them, and the US didn't care and didn't even try. In its flawed attempt to "fix" Iraq the US destroyed tremendous portions of Iraqi infrastructure which it then abandoned as too costly for the US to fix. Hardly a humanitarian effort. But a good predictor for what the US would do in the future.

  • President Obama's Doubtful Grounds for Military Action against Syria
    • Your first two lines could be said in support of Zimmerman. Is Juan obtuse because his judgement about what is known and suspected differs from your certainty that you have complete and clear understanding of all the facts? Putin appears to be pretty good at simultaneously playing chess, monopoly, PR-is-Me, and the Russian version of Oil Barrel Polka while walking his mastiffs. Obama's game, hampered by his enablers, appears to be catch-up.

    • >There was never a serious question about who launched the attack.

      No one knows who launched the multiple gas attacks. No one knows. There is reasonable information suggesting three attack sources having motivation and ability: Assad authorized, Assad military unauthorized, and anti-Assad forces, to bring in the US white hats. By now the probability is that more than one side did, for more than one reason. Things are a bit stressful in Syria right now and if one's You Tube connection had been lopped off a month ago by artillery or some more normal but unresolved catastrophe, and one's respected neighbor or cousin is just freshly killed by whoever, and one has a rifle standing in the corner and good reasons as far as one is concerned, any parallel of rational thought to a distant American far away sitting quietly at the keyboard just might not be a widespread phenomenon. Obama hasn't mentioned that he would bomb the anti-Assad forces if it were proven they launched attacks, which debilitates his one sided argument. If I missed that specific key Obama phrase please offer a citation. You again hang your argument on your own assertion.

    • Stalin's great move of troops and war materiel toward the Japanese front corroborates Hasegawa from the Truman perspective, which was also good reason for the nukes to be dropped right then. The US had had enough of fighting and a US re-deployment in force (by sea) to a brand new Eastern front with the US pitted against the very tough Russian army in contention over Japan was seen to be not be a good thing. The end of the Japan war was hastened by the bomb but ultimately enabled by the decision not to prosecute the Emperor. Had that US decision to except the emperor not been made, Japan as a nation would have fought on. And on the military side, the near military coup that last day is another indicator that Japan the nation was more dear than Japanese suffering.

  • Johns Hopkins University Orders Cryptography Professor's Blog Posting Removed for Classified NSA Links (Larson & Elliott)
    • So...What is the NSA logo? Why is a logo top secret? Why does the NSA need a logo? The NSA is top secret. Logos, wiki is there to remind, are to aid and promote instant public recognition. If a person were to aid and promote public recognition of the NSA they would be in trouble. It would seem NSA's own logo breaks NSA rules. How much money did they spend designing this logo? What security classification was necessary for the artists involved? How many prototype logos were vetted? Was the initial rendering in house or farmed out? How many writers with what security classifications wrote, edited, and approved the NSA rulebook sections on permissible use, non-permissible use, and penalties for non-permissible use of the NSA logo. Does not the writing of rules specifying NSA logo use mean the resulting rules must have the lowest possible NSA security clearance? If the rules specifying NSA logo use are classified above the level of some NSA employees, can an NSA employeed be fired, rendered, tortured, shunned, or executed for a mindless doodle on a piece of paper? IF so is there any difference between NSA policies and formally randomized penalites? What published NSA procedures exist for the answering of questions about NSA logo use? Who gets to see them? Is there a phone number an NSA person can call, or a logo information clearinghouse to rectify unclear logo use rules, misprints, flyspecks, or sheer editorial stupidity? Does the logo have a sunset provision?

      The application of simple curiosity to this surveillence/police state oddity reveals the degree to which farce is a key element of the NSA. Would the grave insistence on all of the above by an individual human be more or less likely to be regarded as proof of the individual's sanity?

  • How US Grand Strategy in Syria led to the idea of Missile Strikes
    • This post has been up a while, maybe too late to add but...Obama grasps at Putin's straw. If Putin convinces Assad to the chem-weps and let the UN take 'em away, Obama bends the story so that now the imminent attack has somehow evaporated and there won't even be a congressional vote so he can pursue some diplomacy. A vote that was looking like he was going to lose anyway. Diplomacy which he always could have had it he really wanted it. A tomorrow which without Putin would have been grim. Putin as Obama savior. Hell to pay for Obama if Assad says no, nothing for Putin to pay, but Putin now as the deal maker that Obama couldn't be. Obama as the perfect example of how to immobilize yourself by shooting both your feet. Well at least the chances of attack are down, even if Assad says no.

  • American Jews Divided on Syria Strike, Many Oppose AIPAC
    • Why we fight...quote of Vijay Prashad by Escobar at Asia Times:

      Exhibit A: Saudis have put ''on the table'' their offer to pay for the entire US assault on Syria. Exhibit B: in case of an attack on Syria, the price of oil is slated to go from $109 to $125 per barrel (base case scenario), with an upside scenario of $150 per barrel. Saudi Arabia will produce 9.8 million barrels of oil a day. Which means if the spike is only the base case scenario, Saudi will gross a super-profit of $156.8 million per day. If it is the upside scenario, then the Saudi super-profits will be $401.8 million per day. Not a bad arbitrage game from Mr Bandar and his gang of Saudi "democrats".

      link to atimes.com

      And a reminder that for every 10 cent increase in the price of fuel America has about $10B fewer dollars to economically recover and prepare for a day when the oil baseline is 50 or 100% higher than today. Oops, that might be in a couple of weeks when Obama's trigger finger has a spasm. Ah well, unprepared again.

  • Obama Isolated at G20 on Syria, No 'Coalition of the Willing'
  • Former Iranian President Slams Syria for Gassing own People: Sign of deep Divisions in Tehran
    • Eurofrank is right. Dr. Cole was one of the first to apply the accepted definition of civil war to Iraq, years ahead of US media. Given the stupidity of US actions, Iraq could be argued to have been on a course to civil war six weeks, two months, six months, or a year after the US invasion. Each passing year made it clearer that US media and military exclusive, interchangeable and erroneous application of the terms 'rebel', 'dead-enders', and 'Al Qaeda' to any Iraqi bearing a weapon was out of kilter with reality, far past the time when any rational person could see the country had dissolved and Iraqis were just trying to stay alive. But despite all the blood and bombings, the clearest signpost that cemented violent contention as Iraq's future far past the forseeable future was the bombing of the Golden Mosque. By comparison Bush's Surge was hilariously inconsequential. But the Golden Mosque was largely ignored by US media and military, papered over by a continuing line of new PR rollouts and attendant media fawning over those mythical 'pivotal' events and hammer blows that once turned or pounded would usher in peace and plenty and a benificent sun shinging on all Iraq. The infrastructural damage to his own people by Assad clinging to power may have by now already sent Syria over the edge into long term unrecoverability a la Iraq. But destruction of a site of cultural importance now would bring a guarantee.

      Iraq was a good example of the question: Is any national leader more important than the advent of a dissolved nation with no law, no justice, no stability, no economy, no borders, no employment, no rest, no help, no hope, and a steady supply of weapons? Gee whiz, sounds like Gaza. Assad's unwillingness to cede power or negotiate, his steady destruction of Syria's infrastructure, and his bloody attacks on entire sections of his own population pose the question of why Russia and China would prefer the establishment of a highly contagious national disease source--a Typhoid Mary to nations--to the departure of a leader whose ultimate fall by now is sealed even if he 'wins'.

      This isn't about Syria as much as Iran, and not about Iran as much as Israel. Iraq was far enough away that Israel didn't have to feel the effects of an Iraq made porous and dangerous by US stupidity. Syria is a different story. Destabilization of Syria by the elegantly inexpensive action of inaction by Russia and China applies pressure on the US toward actions it would rather not take but is politically compelled to to protect Israel. Obama has allowed himself to be surrounded by red lines. He has had time to recognize them and form positions where the tangle of red lines might be lessened, but he hasn't. About the only appendage he has free is his right foot, and people like Graham and McCain, and the US military keep pushing the red button in under his toes and telling him to relax into his presidential power.

  • Iraqi Government Rejects US Strike on Syria, Fears Civil War
    • Example? Obama is the defender here:
      link to youtube.com

    • If McCain and Graham are the main 'hammers' then the definition of hammer needs rehabilitation. Because those who knowledgably wield hammers know there are thousands of discreet, appropriate, and useful applications, and that there are millions more inappropriate useages. Pedal to the metal is not a permanently survivable phrase. Why are these two quoted as being important? They are the most predictable and least comprehensively aware. Why quote the most limited minds?

  • Invoking International Law Against Obama: Old Europe, New Europe and NeoCon Fail
    • Obama's pullback today from his stated Syrian strike of yesterday is a double, or maybe triple whammy for him, all major self inflicted wounds. He looks like a fool having finally done the right thing, but in doing the only reasonable thing demonstrating a lack of clear thinking and certainty, which was the danger of his silly red line in the first place. Who was advising him Thursday and Friday?? They should be canned. Which reminds...what has Obama ever canned for non performance in all of his 'tenure'. Whammy two is that Congress is likely to not give him support, given Republican tendency to counter everything Obama wants, and the clear national sentiment showing that Americans want another one of those war thingies with no backout plan or even clear intention or benefit about as much as they'd like another deep recession or elective proctologist exam. Whammy three is the Obama/Kerry ventriloquist act where Kerry-delivering-Obama-news photos looked like Kerry's head was on crooked, while Obama was again buried in conference somewhere to let #2 turn on the spit try to make sense out of the Obama position. I thought: Look at you Kerry. Look at how far you've fallen.

  • The Ghost of Iraq haunts Obama on Syria as British Parliament Defects
    • The boy who cried wolf is the most powerful factor here. Having so thoroughly incorporated lies and aggressive misinformation into their personal and governmental platforms, no one is believable. Assad, Obama, Bush, "The Wolf" Wolfowitz, Netenyahoo, NSA, the list goes on and the after affects, just like long term radiation, just won't go away. Shouting boys or wolves all around and enthusiastic media attention to both. The American ideal shows itself as tattered and tawdry when Putin's high ground position and cojones are top international news, and China's economic and business outreach shows itself to be more effective than US military outreach, while Obama continues to row the boat of imaginary middle ground compromise behind the scenes. What is it that so reliably makes the protective DC bubble a cage? What voter sector is Obama hoping to placate by attacking Syria? I can't think of any humans, only artificial humans, the ones that eat dollars and don't need food, water, or air.

      I see the NSA has started paying networks for surveillence access, pulling from the imaginary bank of American childrens' debt, and the networks have grudgingly accepted. Another closed circle income stream with unlimited growth potential and no oversight, a pyramid lover's wet dream: unapproved human debt of future generations to secret accounts to other secret organizations with profit as rule one, all supervising each other secretly. Or not. What kind of regulatory hoops did the NSA have to jump through to construct that kind of dollar geyser? Can I have one too? I could use some spare cash. Could everyone have one? How about just the poorest American families, out of a house and a job gone offshore and living in their car, who need the most help? Or is the access boundary human vs artificial human? Better idea: a VAT on all surveillence. Proceeds to national debt reduction of course. I can feel a laugh coming on.

      link to theatlanticwire.com

  • NSA abuses include Stalking ex-Girlfriends
    • There's a great recent quote to the effect that there is no surviellence method that cannot be hacked. A lot of the best human hackers aren't Americans. A related twin quote would be that there is no intel that cannot be bought or loaned as a favor, either from government employees or the many contracted non-government security businesses whose prime fundamental is to produce profit. Which by the way is how so much of that top secret and astronomically expensive military gear Americans paid for by eating and educating less managed to get into enemy hands and kept the international playing field even enough and fearful enough to support never ending calls for more military R&D. Freedom of the people has been left far behind as a meaningless but handy-for-hicktown political slogan in both instances. American citizens, who are supposed to control the system in America, are the ones most kept in the dark and least able to affect any change. Privacy of thought and therefore freedom is becoming....quaint. The Constitution offers as much power as the Dead Sea Scrolls. America as an idea is effectively dead as a doornail, and lot of Americans, like the diehard early American supporters of the King whom American mythmakers have erased from history, heartily approve, including an astonishing number of po' people not fortunate enough to have access to a bulging security teat. Amerika indeed. Onward Fox, breakfast newscast of champions!

  • Syria: Will Killing of Hundreds with Sarin Gas force Obama's Hand?
    • No. Obama would prefer to do nothing than to have his hand forced.

      link to atimes.com

      World learns to manage without the US.
      Spengler isn't perfect but his title is spot on. Russia, China, and Saudi Arabia have been collaborating for much longer than a year. In fact most of the other nations of earth have been collaborating at increasing pace for more than a decade, following the clear disaster of the US occupation and implosion of Iraq. The appearance of the global security state is just the most recent icing on a spam cake. Friends don't let friends blunder around the communal china shop with hammers or gigantic quantities of munitions, or repeatedly shoot themselves in various appendages. They go into the kitchen and talk about what they are going to do about how they are going to manage with a dumb dangerous former friend on the loose. Such things aren't spoken in the king's castle. But in the countryside it is common knowledge.

  • New Hot Zones now cover 5% of Earth; Only Fix is Halting CO2 (Lazare)
    • Every little bit contributes:
      Excerpts: European forests are showing signs of reaching a saturation point as carbon sinks, a study has suggested.

      Since 2005, the amount of atmospheric CO2 absorbed by the continent's trees has been slowing, researchers reported. Writing in Nature Climate Change, they said this was a result of a declining volume of trees, deforestation and the impact of natural disturbances.....Carbon sinks play a key role in the global carbon cycle and are promoted as a way to offset rising emissions.....Acer autumn leaves (Image: BBC) Many of Europe's forests are reaching an age where growth, and carbon uptake, slows down....Writing in their paper, the scientists said the continent's forests had been recovering in recent times after centuries of stock decline and deforestation....The growth had also provided a "persistent carbon sink", which was projected to continue for decades.....However, the team's study observed three warnings that the carbon sink provided by Europe's tree stands was nearing a saturation point...."First, the stem volume increment rate (of individual trees) is increasing and thus the sink is curbing after decades of increase," they wrote....."Second, land use is intensifying, thereby leading to deforestation and associated carbon losses....."Third, natural disturbances (eg wildfires) are increasing and, as a consequence, so are the emissions of CO2."

      Co-author Gert-Jan Nabuurs from Wageningen University and Research Centre, Netherlands, said: "All of this together means that the increase in the size of the sink is stopping; it is even declining a little...."We see this as the first signs of a saturating sink," he told BBC News.

      link to bbc.co.uk

  • India, China Defy US Congress' War on Iranian Oil
    • Bill, you again treat your own assertions as fact. Every modern military has contingency plans in place. It gives them something to do during peace. But plans are, thankfully, not "always" policy, else humanity would have been evaporated in the enthusiasms of the Cold War. Roosevelt and Hull were complicit in Japan's final decision to attack Pearl Harbor by opting for and maintaining a hard line approach including not just the squeezing of oil supplies but the freezing of assets. Roosevelt's position was based not only on Japan's invasion of China but also on the strategic complications of the European war and Churchill's repeated demands for more American assistance. Had Roosevelt not gradually acceded to Churchill's requests, pulling resources from the Pacific to the Atlantic, Pearl Harbor security would likely not have been weakened by the fuel surfeit that virtually eliminated limited long range aerial reconnaissance of the Japanese approach sector, and which increased the number of US ships sitting in harbor rather than at sea. With warning of Japan’s approach the Pearl fleet would have blunted if not crushed Japan’s attack, and the course of the following war would have been markedly altered.

      Japan's outward thrust that began at Pearl was enabled only by the Japanese military’s persuasion of the Emperor that oil supplies were finite to only a number of months, and that survival of the nation necessitated an attack on the US. If Japanese oil supplies had been deemed completely adequate the military's argument for attack would not have been persuasive. See the little book Pearl Harbor and the Coming of the Pacific War by Akira Iriye, and that other exhaustive bible on Pearl, at Dawn We Slept. Your assertion is not supported by these sources.

  • "Capturing football fields" of power - Offshore Wind-Wave Energy Farms in Japan and California
    • Wave, tide, and wind power together offer the most achievable, sustainable, and ample power sources for a technical society and require no new technology. They are not a 100% solution, but nothing is a 100% solution. The two hand-holding impediments to these solutions are regulatory and corporate which place profit and control priorities over national survival. When technology becomes an addiction, and improvement becomes an end goal, attainment of the goal never occurs. A solution never arrives. Simple answers are never good enough. Sustainable energy sourcing is a necessary goal for survival of any modern society. If a society does not attain that goal, it will not survive. Period. To solve any problem a goal must be attained, not eternally homed in on. The problem with the major US political parties is that both place large corporations and regulatory power fastened to a dead reality above survival. By doing so, neither can provide a survivable national future.

  • Top Ten Ways Bradley Manning Changed the World
    • The media Snowden and Manning epic is closely following the script co-written by the NSA and military PR branches where right is on the side of might and so is Fox. The real story is locked in a dark closet somewhere surrounded by about two million guards, corporations, and hangers-on. The real Snowden Manning epic is whether, despite these two men and others past and to come, the US is going to glide smoothly and noiselessly into the slippery embrace of an authentic full scale techno-totalitarian nation which would have no higher purpose than to continue re-playing the fear hit parade into the infinite eternal war profit future. Which in reality is, as history suggests, going to prove to be extremely finite, incredibly short, and probably a really big surprise to the security first types who think they will always be one of the good guys. Growing a healthy and aware child may require the efforts of a healthy and aware village, but slipping into the jaws of a modern totalitarian state literally requires no effort at all. All you have to do is stay tuned and have a good day. Ideally I would prefer an equally epic public dialog initiated and sustained by the US military about how in the world it is going to keep itself from going full bozo totalitarian given all the toys it has to play with these days and the lack of brakes on Congress’ wheelchair. But not even a wisp of smoke in a cartoon dialog balloon has come out of the mil on this, so I must assume they would love to see things continue to progress as they have to date, with more and more new toys and bad guys to hunt. Snowden and Manning had the story line right, but the script the big dogs are using is an old one about power, greed, moral frailty, and extreme myopia.

  • Glenn Greenwald: Growing Backlash Against NSA Spying Shows Why U.S. Wants to Silence Edward Snowden
    • link to guardian.co.uk

      Excerpt:
      “John C Inglis, the deputy director of the surveillance agency, told a member of the House judiciary committee that NSA analysts can perform "a second or third hop query" through its collections of telephone data and internet records in order to find connections to terrorist organizations….."Hops" refers to a technical term indicating connections between people. A three-hop query means that the NSA can look at data not only from a suspected terrorist, but from everyone that suspect communicated with, and then from everyone those people communicated with, and then from everyone all of those people communicated with.”

      “Three hops” really means four if you count them in Inglis’ statement. If you recall the theory of six degrees of separation, three hops is more than halfway to everyone single American. But that “three hop” process is only one inquiry. If one then picks three random people (not to mention 3 x 10 to the third, fourth, of fifth), investigates them, and correlates the contacts, the number of people investigated is virtually 100%, except for perhaps cave dwellers and hermits. “Sweep it all up” Rumsfeld said, intending to find a justification stream for for pro-war PR. Total Surveillance is a very exact phrase.

      Surveillance growth apologists and participants delude themselves to believe that THEY will never be targets of the system, or will never run afoul of someone who would like them targeted by the system for revenge, advantage, or profit, all three of which are rampant in all governments. But once out of the system, participants-- no longer insiders--frequently and understandably are paranoid.
      Total Surveillance is not about terrorists, not any more, if it ever was. It is about population control which current unsustainable government policies are ensuring will be necessary when the house of cards labeled Economy, Energy, Manufacturing, Military Overreach, Debt, Education, Health, Environment, Oversight, Technology, Food, Justice, and so on finally collapses.

      It is time to ask whether the American security state is more important than the American people, because Americans are its target. It is time to ask whether the American security state is really a cancer, and if so whether the patient has any remaining ability to cure himself. With outsourced corporate security analysis now a norm, expanding secrecy preventing just oversight, and a Congress either inept or obstructionist, who will in the future get jobs, education, help, and funding, or electronic minders, targeting, and harm will increasingly and secretly be dictated by revenge, advantage, and profit, the common elements whose strengths in our system remain strong.

  • How America has Failed African-American Youth, by the Numbers
    • I'm confused. Do you mean black women or white women or Asian women or military women or Muslim women or gay women or raped women or women who divorced their husbands while in prison, or Republican Women or only women without doctorates that live more than 200 miles outside the Beltway and have never accepted so much as a single sperm gift from a current or former member of Congress, Congressional aide, military officer, corporate lobbyist, or state governor? Who did I miss? Including virgins? Lady Madonna?

      But, great idea! Could bring back chastity belts and eunuchs. But no birth control, heavens no. And DEFINITELY no health care! Losers.

  • Why Cheney is the Traitor, and Why we Can't Believe Obama on Safeguards (The Ultimate Clip of Gov't Lies)
    • ......anyone with access to the database can use it for his or her purposes – for good or for ill.

      And with thousands (or is that tens of thousands?)now parked in the unregulated security/military/corporate/politico revenue manipulation stream, and thousands more sure to join one of America's few 'growth industries', you can be absolutely certain they will. For good, and particularly for ill.

  • Its the Corporations, Stupid: Why we are 2nd Amendment Fundamentalists but the 4th Amendment doesn't Count
    • Edward Snowden illustrates another duh fact of the growth of secret surveillence agencies. More people working in secrecy means more people having access to that information. Some, perhaps most, of the most severe historical impacts on US "security" were due not to nasty outsiders, but to intelligent, classified, greedy insiders selling not merely politically embarrassing information, but defense engineering. Snowden is the moral opposite, acting to uphold the Constitution and allow Americans to know what their government is doing in their name, knowing his actions place him in permanent danger. The government is therefore targeting Snowden because secrecy is more important than truth. Obama obfuscates in saying that you can't have 100% security and privacy. No living thing has 100% security no matter how powerful the state. But ever increasing, permanent secrecy dooms a nation, America being no exception.

  • We Misunderstood Barack: He only wanted the Domestic Surveillance to be Made Legal, not to End It
    • I echo Kizelbash's first line.

      The unitarian Presidency is alive and very well.

  • PRISM: The US Government is mad at Bradley Manning for doing to it what it is Doing to All of us
    • Defenders of ever more intrusive government surveillance who just a day or two ago were saying "Nah it was limited, wasn't that bad, don't be silly' must rely on people not remembering the next time they say "Nah it was limited, wasn't that bad, don't be silly". And in America today they usually get their wish.

      The rapid dynamic and ever extending reach of secret government intrusion via technology into everyday lives is nothing less than a tsunami flowing around every person 24/7/366 faster than humans can mentally run. We can be certain that we do not know all there is to know about how Americans are being surveilled. There is no planned cessation of surveillance overreach, no sunset laws or even intention, no public oversight, no motivation whatever for secret organizations in cooperation with corporations having profit as their fundamental morality to do anything except seek more information, power, money, and secrecy. Those who feel that current intrusions and those to come are somewhere in the distant future, safe, controllable, unbiased, legal, constitutional, and American as apple pie suffer from an exceptionalist delusion that THEY are on the right side and THEY will never be a target, though they already are. No one becomes safer with secret intrusions. There is no less safe situation than not knowing but being suspicious of one’s neighbor.

      With the surveillence systms already in place, not to mention next year's improvements and extensions, all that America needs to become the greatest fascist nation in the human history is a ruthless charismatic--a more handsome Hitler--and some international contention (oil, weapons, water, resources, technology, drugs, food, monopoly) to make fire with.

      Compared to the ancient America of 1960 (not to mention 1860) being in no way constrained by fact is today an asset to presidential seekers. One should indeed dwell on the many ways the current and future US surveillance web would be asked to serve the wisdom, experience, knowledge, equanimity, generosity of spirit, and humbleness toward all human-kind of charismatics Bachman and Palin, or the generation of hopeful charismatics now jockeying to become B&P’s more successful successors.

  • NSA-Verizon Surveillance: Welcome to the United States of Total Information Awareness
    • RBTL you imply there is only one kind of fascism and on that the experts don't agree. There's this type and that type and the types take on the labels of the nations in which they reached their peak. Mussolini fascism--collusion of government and corporations-- isn't far from what the US has. And American public sentiment about national security and expanding government powers to ensure security could be likened to Nazi Germany midstream in fascism's rise.

      But then was then and isn't now. Today's technologies have created a far more dangerous potential a for sudden departure into overt fascism than the long road Hitler walked. So has the phenomenal growth of secret US organizations.

      It might be useful to rank the importance of the American people compared to the organizations that hold secret and technological power. The US military has a lot of secrets it keeps from the public, some worthy of protection, a lot of others just to protect itself from public outcry shoudl the public really learn all that the military does. Would the US military sacrifice itself for the American people? Or vice versa? It's not a trite question. A prevalent in-house suggestion of moral superiority, borne out by polls of military people, does not offer solace of a certain answer. Congress and corporations too have, in Cheney's words, "other priorities". Other than human, in other words.

      An interesting phrase came up the other day in reference to current security overreach, something like "traditional use". If we live with this level of invasive "security", it becomes traditional. We'll continue the present level of invasiveness simply because that's the way they've been done, and we've gotten used to them. If one dates that change of thought to September 11, one sees that America now has a generation of kids who have known only the kind of overt security measures and intrusions that would have been excoriated as unAmerican decades ago, if they had been from another country. America already acts in many ways like the Soviets forty years ago, which at the time the American press ridiculed. We liked to ridiculed the Italians too, for keeping in place a non-functional government, which is what America has at present. Professor Cole is correct.

  • Syria needs a dozen S-300 batteries to protect itself - Russian general; Kerry Denounces Plan
    • And regarding Rusia's concern about Syria's ability to protect itself: is it 'itself' or 'himself'?

    • Thanks to JTMCPHEE. Every new Russian missile advance is always met by US military exceptionalists as "not as good as they say, we're better". The more impotant dynamic is that new weapons neutralize old ones and that until you have a real 'contest', you don't know. Israel may have thought it learned a lot about the S300 ystem, but the ignorance lodged within its exceptionalism permits the glossing over of what the Russians learned courtesy of Israel, and by now have thought long and hard about how to counter the counter. "Never underestimate your enemy" may be a theoretical dictum but history seems to suggest it always has trouble getting very far out of military classrooms.

      Every US war game includes force pawns that are 'killed', and while the human participants can joke about it afterward, because it was just a game, in the real contest they would dead as a doornail. It's a good time to recall just how horribly expensive the F35 magic bullet is, how many we have, and what the pond ripples might look like with the loss of even one.

      All this emphasis on technical superiority also continues to pile more compost on top of the media grave of Paul Van Riper who didn't need an F35 or an S300 to make the US military, not to mention Israel, wince.

  • Falsely Accused Pot Mom Released in Mexico; Case Argues for Decriminalization
    • Hanging the self-medication label on pot is a misleading drug war ad phrase, the kind of label that like propaganda is accurate in a limited sense but broadly inaccurate outside the narrow use of the labeler, the kind of label that disrupts rational thought and needs to be junked. Without exception, every American adult, every human adult, self-medicates, be it on prescription drugs, illegal drugs, alcohol, gambling, tv, you tube videos, electronic games, endorphins, adrenaline, blogs, politics, news, texting, and an endless list of all events, foods, emotional situations that produce psychological effects that could or definitely will limit the person’s ability to make the best decision in the myriad complex and dangerous physical and relational situations that a technological society places us all in. Men who seek a more advanced hard on pop a pill even thought the list of side effects is long and frightening if rationally considered. Parents who think two, four or fifteen children are enough self medicate to limit the number of new humans they produce.

      We all rely on self medication. Drug companies and doctors rely on self medication. The government could not function without citizen self medication. You self medicate every time you take a drink of water or breathe dirty air. But self medication is a term that properly should be replaced with ‘responsibility’. It is personally and socially irresponsible to engage in ordinary life in an ordinary way after ingesting some foods, poisons, drugs, emotional encounters, and/or information, with the “and” of and/or being increasingly important when synergistic potentials are recognized.

      Personal security is best enhanced by neighbors you trust, and who trust you. If my horse is stuck in a bog and my neighbor has a big tractor or the right information to get my horse out, I need to trust that neighbor to simply tell me “I’d help you but I just finished a quart of whiskey” or, “I just took some meds and I can’t operate machinery worth a hoot, or do any heavy lifting.” “Self medication” drives a wedge between people. What’s he on? Drunk again? Whatever you do don’t get angry. I better not mention his ex wife. So they finally fired you, eh?

      If you think self medication is bad, I suggest you go complain to the US military which offers, suggests, or mandates the use of psychoactive drugs all the time. If you just spent five years in an arduous quest to be a top navy fighter pilot and you find yourself airborne at night and have a problem four hundred miles from your carrier, you may well pop an upper soon enough that it can give you a little insurance for your landing, so that landing doesn’t end up being your last one as a top gun, not mention an extant human. Which means you may well follow it with a downer to get some sleep once on board. If you are on watch at an isolated Afghan FOB it’s no secret that military uppers and downers are there to help you, day after night after day. And you better complain about the mandatory drugs like larium that are known to produce or encourage violent or ‘touchy’ behavior in an identifiable percentage of humans who are present are armed to the teeth in a country they don’t understand with a language they don’t comprehend. Don’t trust me. Go talk to the larium vets and families. The US military has no moral superiority to Judy Garland’s handlers.

      We all rely and hope that rational decisions be made in any situation that could cause harm. That outcome necessitates accurate knowledge, self awareness and personal honesty, not a fuzzy default to an ad slogan.

  • Rafsanjani's Exclusion from Iran's Presidential Race a Sign of Creeping Totalitarianism
    • So are you saying that Iran is ruled by billionaire elites wearing religion like a cape who are assembling a titular government while pushing Iran into totalitarianism? Then there’s no problem at all. Iran is simply becoming more like us. If we simply leave things alone we will end up exactly alike. People always try to make things more complicated than they are.

  • Dear Oklahoma: We Feel for you, we love you, but do us some favors
  • Revenge of the Bear: Russia Strikes Back in Syria (Cole @ Truthdig)
    • Became livid? Harangued? Read the riot act? Can't possibly be Obama.

      Obama and the US are simply reaping what they've sowed. Obama as supposedly even-keeled negotiator in fact gave away positions before the political battle was joined, then was always somewhere else when words flew. Anything “unwinnable” or "won't play" he abandoned in a flash, along with the voters who voted for him to hold or, dare I say it, expand those positions. Obama wasted his gift of oratory by not using it when presented with the tallest bully pulpit in the land. Obama would not have been a figure of significance in the time of George Washington.

      The US has been pissing away its political and military vigor with little change through Obama from George II. The first of two outcomes of more than a decade of military/economic expansion/settling in (why don't we call military bases 'settlements'?) is a pile of debt so horrendous it must be hidden from public view and protected from revelation by persecution of those brave enough to try. The second is of the growing but intentionally ignored numbers of people of many nations who now fear the US more than any other nation. Add to those people many others whose patience with US has run dry, replaced by hate because their kids, family, village, area, nation, or resource was either a target or an oops of US blunder or economic pillage, and like good boy and girl soldiers everywhere, figure the sacrifice of their life in the protection of their own would be a life well spent.

      It didn’t have to be this way. We did this to ourselves, or our leaders did it to us while waving the flag to plaster over any real discussion of whether it would be a good thing. The US could have made international friends by the boatloads and actually be a friend of the world if it had spent a mere tithing amount of the dollars that it has blown militarily not to mention environmentally. What would have happened to US prestige if in 2003 the US had announced that it was going to invest just some of the six trillion dollars with a ‘t’ that we will end up having spent on the Cheney/Bush/Wolfy Iraq board game into flagging world economies, world trade, and sustainable energy production for all humanity? For one thing Iraq would not be the debris field and breeding ground it is today. What if instead of elaborately kitted, sunglassed, armed, and exceptionalist trained quick-triggers who could not speak the native tongue and keeled over in their kit in 120 degree weather the US had instead sent teachers, suits, international exchange students, public health experts, business propositions, financing, and bales of dollars?

      Come to think of it, that is what China has been doing. Investing its national profit into home business, international outreach, international student exchange, business deals, financing, and a reputation as a low cost manufacturing giant in solar, thin film, integrated circuits. Ok, so public health isn’t any Chinese government priority, but neither is it for American Republicans who never or miss an opportunity to try to cut funding for human (but not corporate) health, and consider a dollar spent on education as subversive.

      China has largely avoided the limelight in this outward, non-military push, which is the same sort of frog-in-water method used on America voters to increase overall American non-functionality. While Americans can be occasionally stand being reminded that the water is heating up all around them, it is something they prefer not to keep in mind—too depressing. The fact that there are other cooks with other perspectives in the kitchen, equipped with spices and the intention for a tasty meal when the frogs are medium rare is beyond them, and far beyond the US military whose culinary judgment gives the biggest, shiniest, most impressive blue ribbon to the latest high tech field rations.

      Dr. Cole, you have written that Obama has done some good things—is not all bad. That is true, but we have gotten where we are also because Obama was not as good as he could have been, or needed to be in these times, or that he endlessly hinted while campaigning that he could be if given a chance. I’m reminded of Bush II proclaiming that his crushing few-percent election victory had gifted him with political capital, and that by George he was going to use it. The hope for Obama’s second term was supposed to be that he could have no further re-election agenda and so could act freely. What happened to that? Headlines by other cooks.

      Putin (and Russia and China) in ascendancy is only a measure of Obama (and the US) in descent. Putin can label Anti-Assad forces as terrorists because of US enthusiasm for applying that label, and in doing cripple any US rejoinder by means of America’s own actions.

  • Solar Impulse sun-powered Plane flies from California to Phoenix, AZ on way across America (Video)
    • The numbers of small general aviation aircraft flying (not sitting), and the number of active GA pleasure pilots have been in steady decline for decades with an equally steady shift to much more expensive toy planes for the rich. Solar planes will fly, but it will be by government, municipality, military, and corporations, not everyperson. Lindberg and the barnstormers are long dead, Musk is where it's at, and Europe and eastern Europe are where most light planes are produced now.

  • Is it Racism? Why did we Ignore New Orleans but obsess about Boston?
    • Why indeed does US media cover what does, how it does…linked via Ed Wallace and originating not in the US, but the British Guardian. There was video for this too, but it was too short to loop. Excerpt:

      Four weeks ago today, Adair Grain Inc's fertilizer plant in the small rural town of West in central Texas caught fire and exploded. Fourteen people died, most of them first responders, and 200 more were injured. The Insurance Council of Texas estimates that damage to surrounding homes and businesses totals $100m. Of the 157 homes in the area closest to the plant, building inspectors determined that only three were safe for habitation……..

      Following the Oklahoma City bombing, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) created a voluntary program with The Fertilizer Institute to encourage people in agriculture to report any suspicious behavior or thefts around sites that housed the compound (no one has reported that ATF was ever contacted about West even though "sheriff's deputies were called more than 10 times to West Fertilizer in the 11 years before the blast" with "multiple calls involv[ing] suspicion that anhydrous ammonia was being stolen"). More recently, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) proposed the Ammonium Nitrate Security Program in order to keep better track of large supplies of ammonium nitrate so that it did not end up being used in an act of terrorism.

      Adair Grain told the Texas Department of Health Services in late February that its plant in West had the capacity to store 270 tons of ammonium nitrate, which is, according to Reuters, "1,350 times the amount … that would normally trigger safety oversight by" the DHS. The plant had no sprinklers, no fire walls, and no deluge systems, according to the Associated Press. The insurance policy on the plant was only for $1m. Texas does not have liability insurance mandates for plants like the one in West in case people are injured or killed. It does, however, require those liability mandates for all kinds of businesses like those that rent out inflatable bounce houses for kids' birthday parties and air-conditioner repair outfits.

      In Adair Grain's 2011 report to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), it stated "no" under fire or explosive risks. The worst possible scenario, the report said, "would be a 10-minute release of ammonia gas that would kill or injure no one". This report was filed after Adair Grain had received a $2,300 fine in 2006 from the EPA for "failing to have a risk management plan that met federal standards". The EPA has said that it does not expect plants to disclose levels of ammonium nitrate because the compound does not affect the Clean Air Act, which is its concern.

      The Occupational and Safety Health Administration (OSHA) had not been to the site since 1985, when it fined the plant $30 for "a serious violation for storage of anhydrous ammonia," a gas that also has the potential to explode and which was on stored at the plant. OSHA not inspecting the site more regularly is no surprise. According to Bryce Covert at Think Progress, "a workplace only gets a visit from OSHA inspectors every 99 years on average, with some state programs even worse". Due to Texas' more lax oversight, a plant there "can only expect an inspection every 126 years".

      Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) inspected the site only two years ago and fined Adair Grain over $10,000 for "for missing placards, transporting anhydrous ammonia in non-specification tanks, and not having a security plan in violation of Hazardous Materials Regulations." The company was also fined in 2011 by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for not having the correct licensing. Donald Adair, the current owner of the plant, has owned it since 2004.
      Another reason the national media may not be paying much attention to West is that a lot of it is a Texas story. Conservative politicians have responded as many expected – that there is no reason to increase regulation or oversight – thus feeding an idea that this tragedy could only happen there (or in states with similar permissive laws).
      More at:
      link to guardian.co.uk

      Longer video at You Tube

    • Professor I am more than a little surprised by your and the other comments. Boston was a ready-made infotainment bonanza. Many 'news' orgs were already in place, hundreds of people had cameras and phones for subsequent cherry picking, and Boston has an American Independence aura New Orleans will never have that made the terrorism label just that much more tantalizing. We had footage of the Actual Explosion immediately. The Breaking Situation kept breaking again and again and again through the afternoon and dark night with copters buzzing about, streets closed, people milling around behind police barriers, a plethora of police and guns and security and emergency services of all types. It was a quick copter ride to insert more and more news crews for more footage for producers to put on the broadcast merry go round, each with breathless (even suitably disheveled) ‘we don’t know yet’ reporters uttering inanities and relaying the latest gossip before the switch to the next reporter on the scenes which multiplied, rather than one New Orleans street corner. And it all was looped endlessly, endlessly— the explosion, a new shot of the explosion, blood, chaos, screams, sobbing people, interviews, the explosion, a new shot of the explosion, blood, chaos, screams, sobbing people, interviews, the explosion, a new shot of the explosion, blood, chaos, screams, sobbing people, interviews……Can you imagine the ratings!!!

      An important story that came and went was how the media handled this. If this was a good and not excessive example of reportage, would twice as much been good too? Three or four times as much? This was coverage by tape looping and looping is what it does to the mind’s wiring too. This was media gossip gone wild. The young man supposedly on the run as well as the young completely innocent man not on the run but under media suspicion were being tried equally by the media. That you should have noted. In one single way the reporters were accurate. They didn’t know jack.

      If you were in the middle of a South Dakota wheat field on a tractor you missed all this. You found out when you got home and got a synopsis and then watched some loops for yourself for a while. If you were picking avocados or digging a ditch or not instantly hooked into the streaming images you had a different experience of Boston than if you had been glued to the tv.

      I happened to be trying to eat dinner in an urban buffet/bar with about six large screen monitors blinking that afternoon. The human brain isn’t wired to ignore blinking lights so I had to look until I realized it was 80% replays and 2% information. Looking around the room I saw lots of singles nursing their drinks, utterly transfixed and unblinking as the loops rolled. If I had been sitting in a room of troglodytes it would have been no different. They all would have been zoned out on the blinking lights and quick scene changes. The use by media of these techniques is informed and intentional. They don’t want you to learn anything, they just want a ratings burst and the ad income it can bring. I media can transfix you like a caveman, it doesn't hesitate.

      At the table the conversation was brief and to the point: “kill the fuckers” were the direct quotes all around. At that point one of the suspects was dead and the room wanted the other one dead too. I said “Killing the other guy is the LAST thing you want to happen. He is the only witness. Kill him and you eliminate all ability to ever find out what happened and why. Boston will become just another conspiracy theory that generates general mistrust.” I think we are extremely fortunate that the suspect eventually captured was not filled full of holes by the assembled security masses. Now it is possible to know, not guess, what happened.

      Informed Comment is important because it rightly prefers informed understanding that enables a well reasoned prioritization of action, over breathless conjecture and adrenal poking image jumps. Boston was reported differently than New Orleans because it was an ideal setup for media exaggeration, just like airliner crashes and bloody murders of famous people. The global bee population and its relationship to the human need to eat food is a much more important story, but it’s impossible to be breathless around bees and they don’t tape loop worth a damn. Online news has become important because at least a sector of the population has recognized that media news is largely bullshit, and they really want to know what’s going on. With profit and the manufacture of consent as significant drivers of broadcast media, the media will not control itself to serve the nation’s best interests. But the media does have a weak spot. You can turn it off.

  • Bibi's $127,000-bed in the Sky: PM Sleeps in the Clouds as he Plans Austerity for Israelis
  • Has the Obama administration Given into Russia on Syria?
    • I don't generally read much into instances where one head of state keeps another waiting, but I did with Putin stalling Kerry. Another Kursk emergency or mine disaster requiring immediate Putin action? Oops, not Kursk. Putin appears to have learned from his Kursk debacle and has been pushing his personal PR for the past year or two like a permanent male Cosmo personality series. Putin in the forest, Putin in the snow, Putin in a Formula 1 car, Putin with his dogs, Putin roughing it, Putin being cool, Putin in the sky somewhere, Putin in command in command, get used to it. Contrast this with Obama whose photos have graduated from tepid hoop competition to sober greying statesman implicitly making profoundly wise decisions. Except of course that Obama has not gained a reputation from any political sector as a wise or profound President. Although they shouldn't, photos of heads of state make a difference. Reagan's smile, Ike making a putt, Kennedy at Hyannis, Clinton glad handing, Nixon looking dour. Putin is shown as dynamic, Obama as anything but. These days Israel is also in the equation somewhere, pulling levers behind the curtain that mostly head west and not northeast.

  • Another view of Baghdad: Timelapse Video
  • Unsustainable: The American Empire Project and the Health of the Planet (Engelhardt)
    • America's unsustainability goes far beyond military overreach. Technology itself is driving much of our inability to sustain what we think our comfy norm should be. Breakfast cereal and potato chips used to be the technological yardsticks of successful capitalism: air could be sold for a profit. We now do that with steel, and with information--no air at all. When an essential replacment component of a vehicle or appliance costs $130 to the customer, and $430 installed, and has a manufacturing cost of $7.34, a transportation and logistics cost of $27.65, and a significant failure rate at the nominal 30% lifespan of the device, you have a society that has shifted its operating costs to the fourth and sixth owners--those least able to pay the maintenance costs. The largely hidden effect of this is to accelerate the rot of essential devices of technological life. Patient waiting for economic recovery ignores the fact that the rot rate is faster than recovery because maintenance costs cascade with component failure. America's overall societal dynamic is toward increasing infrastructure rot. The answer to this is not more "jobs" (which will insure accelerating inner rot) but a different design criteria. That America has absolutely no interest in. You could bring America's entire global military outreach home tomorrow and assign its focus and effort at rebuilding America, and the dynamic toward societal decay would not be altered.

  • UN has strong suspicions Syrian Rebels used Sarin Gas
    • If sarin was used by anti Assad forces, where did it come from? Assad's stockpile? Made in someone's apartment? Was it used in reaction to previous use by Assad? Is/are the suggested rebel use incident(s) the only one where sarin might have been used? So far we have a tiny bit of one half of a story. The international acceptance of a long term conflict there has encouraged brutality to become universal. That a general increase in brutality would happen in an extended conflict could not have been unanticipated by China and Russia.

  • Syria's Neighbors have Rising Anxiety about Crisis (Three Aljazeera Videos)
    • Multiple stories today confirming Israel's airstrke in Syria. If the US and other nations are concerned that outside military force applied to Syria is unwise, why do stories about Israel doing the same avoid including the same arguments? What makes it ok for Israel to bomb in Syria? What reason do Americans have to believe Israel's justification for that strike? Israel is absolutely no more accurate in their bombing than the US, is probably less concerned about collateral damage, and may well have agendas other than stated. Is the chemical weapon/WMD excuse in action again? WMD's are a great cover. As per the other active post on this site, what, if anything, changes if the strike had been performed by a drone? If we can't draw distinctions between the offensive use of manned and unmanned aircraft we have no ability to judge how to use drones.

  • Our Terror: US Drone Strikes in Pakistan and Yemen, April 2013:
    • The morality of drone use will never be a simpler question than it is right now. Americans do not have the luxury of time to help them decide if drones are a good thing or not, or how they should be managed. Almost no one in the US government (or probably any other government) is in a hurry to do anything except expedite the delivery of more drones into widespread use. Public acceptance without effective comment—that is, acquiescence--regarding drone use for 'security' reasons is itself a moral decision, as is the moral decision (acquiescence) for their ongoing use made by Congress supposedly representing the American people. In not acting we are making the moral decisions, or allowing them to be made for us.

      If by contrast you feel we as a nation are struggling mightily but to little avail today to discern how and when drones can or should be used, we will have no chance whatever in the tomorrow of drone future. What would be the national moral debate on 25,000 fly-sized drones shotgunning an area in Farawaystan to poison, innoculate, or neurologically disable or cripple a group of people someone in power thinks is bad (say ‘terrorist’ in public)? Or as Churchill enthusiastically considered, inoculate the local food source or water supply? Do we similarly acquiesce to drone use by China and Russia? Britain and Germany? Indonesia and Nigeria? North Korea? How does the nature of a false flag operation change with drones in the equation? What would be the public face of a hot background war between two fly-sized drone armies?

      Neither the US Congress nor most human Americans are up to these moral decisions now and probably will never be. The moral permutations are too numerous. This national discussion should be pushed by the leader/president, but he has shown he prefers using drones so he is not a solution. Corporations however will jump to push the technology and find the one of the newest black funded teats on mama dollar. And the usual technology transfer via “industrial spy”, hacking, or multinational will further spread some of the latest technology to Anotherstan who will use it with enthusiasm as a low tech answer to high tech militarily expansionist nations. Leaders in drone tech components like China, highly invested in controlling its own billions, will themselves be stolen from and will cover that trail with the same diligence that American compartmentalized 'security' agencies use to CYA.

  • Why Obama doesn't want to intervene in Syria
    • The public verbage is for public consumption. For real action there's the CIA, black military, pseudo military, any number of MIC corporations, and a long line around the corner of entities eager to take American dollars and arms from the US Debt Machine to do our many secret biddings, to 'spare the pain' of 'what needs to be done'. Americans find out about this months or years later when some then-retired participant has a burst of conscience. Then its a done deal--dollars blown, actual participants hinted at, blowback stacked high--and the Real Patriots believe it is a false liberal conspiracy and buy more guns. Plausible deniability for the masses. Blackwater--that's a fatal disease of the kidneys, isn't it?

  • The Failure of Gun Legislation in the Senate Tells us we Need to fight for our Democracy (Graeber)
    • America's guns aren't going away, so yes that's a bad example. There's too many guns and at this point too many Americans are not going to give them up to a government they don't trust any farther than they can throw the national debt. Gun ownenship issues can't be solved until these (and many other)larger issues are solved:

      link to pewstates.org

      link to nationofchange.org

      The CIA has been predicting resource wars for 15 years at least, but those predictions have always implied it would be the other guy who had the problem--another nation, another country, far away, like we like our wars: not here. But intra-national resource wars are close at hand, right now and in the very immediate future.

    • I guess this piece is about democracy, or that we don't have it and were never intended to. Something about Obama too. But it reads like a first draft badly in need of editing and sharpening, not what I expect to find here.

  • Are Chemical Weapons use in Syria really Obama's Red line? (Feaver)
    • Good comment. A line breached is a loss of position and power, an unwise initial position chosen to placate hometown political factions. Except for Cheney who made his own reality and wouldn't miss an opportunity to double down or have someone pull some trigger. You know where that got him. Make that us.

  • Israeli Gen. Charges Syria Chem Weapons Use: Is Israel Allying with Sunnis to overthrow Alawites, cut off Iran?
    • >Israel and Iran both wouldn’t mind if Syria is split up after Assad’s fall. It would serve their security interests.

      Identical to the Bush cabal's 'a little destabilizatin might be a good thing'. Well that has worked out pretty well hasn't it. Israel's policies are myopic. The Bush doctrine for Iraq pusued every opportunity to divide and conquer every power faction, bad and good--manipulate them all because we know best. In the end Bush conquered none of them and left a country in ruins that formerly had attributes American's generally approve of, like education, health care, clean water, a middle class, economic and social infrastructure that worked, and international trade.

      Divide and conquer in Bush practice meant divide and fester because because he authorized the deliberate destruction of basic societal infrastructure (war crime), and reconstruction was never more than a PR scheme to conceal contractor profiteering. A septic, gangrenous Iraq will be the Bush legacy and if Israelis doesn't change course by throwing out the yahoos in charge the same scenario will be its downfall. The end game will be Israel surounded by septic 'states' filled with understandably angry fathers, mothers, children, and grandparents--that's pretty much everyone isn't it--with no border control (fluid situation), titular dysfunctional 'governments' (the good guys), plenty of weapons (economic aid), violently contentious factions (the bad guys), no economy (sanctions), and plenty of Al Qaeda clones (metasticizing security needs--remove your underwear please). All the weapons in the world won't save your leg if it is green from toe to hip.

  • Can the Boston Bombings increase our Sympathy for Iraq and Syria, for all such Victims?
    • A welcomed post in a sea of early demands for action and retribution. The US should shift gears and try a policy of empathy and compassion for a while. If it weren't for the well paid image makers and thought molders operating 24/7 it should have been apparent years ago that America's COIN operated, full metal jacket whack-a-mole response to global events was completely ineffective and unsuccessful except for wasting vast quantities of money which we don't have and have passed to our children as debt, or in more accurate terms, economic slavery. China arrives in Africa in suits with handshakes, business deals and financing. The US arrives in dark glasses and full military kit with guns, drones, pollution, an agenda of hunting down and killing people they don't know or understand, and a firm conviction that somebody with high clearance in Virginia does know everything necessary to order a former teen gaming phenom in a California trailer to push a button and incinerate a 'local cadre leader' (and four of his six cipher children) who it turns out later was a respected village elder with an extended family of 115 and who also employed 25 people cutting bananas who supported another 55 family members. The recognition of the magnitude of the social waves resulting from this mudball thrown in the local culture pond, along with hundreds of other US triggered mudball waves-- would be clearly visible to Americans if empathy and compassion had any vigorous presence in the modern American soul. But the fact that it isn't visible suggests a serious breach in the American mentality, which your post targets, and for which no cure is visible on the horizon, most certainly not from government leadership. If America is investing in its future, and is spending a thousand or some other order of magnitude times more dollars on ineffective military gizmos and theories than on education or health, you can be pretty sure that our national future--meaning every single one of us-- will be filled and dominated by military waste and ignorance, violent backlash from people who have had it up to here, and increasingly lacking in health or knowledge.

  • Israel at 65: Welcome to the Neighborhood (Map)
    • So Palestinians displaced from their equally, or probably more ancient homeland don't count? There WERE people hanging around in that area long before the Jews. In fact I thought Jesus was a Palestinian. Or is the argument that the Jews were the most original of all people and probably were darker in hue, emanating from Africa? Or vice versa? If you follow the Bible it's hard not to observe that the Jews were the "chosen people" not because they got everything right, but that they were always going off the rails and getting everything wrong thus needing continual guidance from the almighty. In this time of ever mightier explosive toys, it appears we are primed for another teaching moment from the one who rightly cannot be named. The big question is probably whether HE, or maybe SHE, or HE-SHE has watched the goings on decided that this time around there's going to be no help from above.

      What Juan has illustrated is that online comedy of any sort is often a parlous, as somehow differentiated from perilous, endeavor. And though it is nowhere recorded or even inkled, I have great difficulty believing Jesus, Abraham, and the historical host of other Jewish luminaries did not have a sense of humor.

  • Class Hatred and Bad Memories of Thatcher
    • Following the good professor's example of journalistic rigor, I thought I'd save you all some time and excerpt the top world news of today. Be warned this is a densified news burst from which all young people, and most of the rest, are advised to immediately seek shelter or a channel change if the slightest feelings of inadequacy, discomfort, boredom arise.

      killed concern congress Israel Iran China Putin claimed oil invest victim terror reported fire theft unemployed refugee flood earthquake

      That's probably enough to think about for a first session. Or you can simply select an article, go to Tools, Options, and Randomize, and get the same effect, but that wouldn't be an excerpt.

    • >The BBC dealt with the problem by only playing an excerpt of the song.....

      That's simply good news management. Excerpts work. Excerpt of a war, of a massacre of people just like you or me, a speech, of a report, and the follow-on permutations: excerpt of a report on a report, excerpt of an opinion about a report on a report, excerpt by a raving maniac about a report, Fox News Special Report, and so on. It's not about reporting or getting the story straight and un-bent, it's about people management.

      Take today's story about the GCC, not the GOP Gynaecological Control Commission, the other one, where "GCC countries met on Sunday in Saudi Arabia to discuss the risk of radiation spreading over the Gulf if Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant is damaged by another earthquake." What's fascinating about this news is that an earthquake threat to a nuke plant (No! not Diablo) was deemed news, but Israel's thousand or so threats to bomb, attack, lay waste, nuke, or explosively neutralize Iran's 'threat to Mid East security' and generally deliver the world from Iran, albeit under a lingering radiation cloud many times larger than even Fukushima if Israel or its dumb big brother got involved, wasn't. News.

      "...wasn't." Now that's a pithy excerpt of the last paragraph, entirely true and in context, irrefutable and worthy of ABC or an in-depth report by Thirteen Minutes. Fox would excerptize it as "bomb, Iran, attack, Iran, lay waste, Iran" and be absolutely accurate.

  • Donald Trump versus the Aberdeen Wind Farm: Fiddling while Rome Burns
    • The three major arguments against wind energy all have valid answers. The first, of aesthetic blight, depends on the implication that wind generators are unsightly. The answer to this is recognition that wind generators provide an absolutely essential service to society. Dutch windmills became accepted as beautiful because they literally created the airable land on which a society lived and prospered. People survived because of windmills.

      The second reason, of the arguably true negative biological and psychological effects of low frequency sound, exists only because the majority of projects are corporate in origin. Rotor diameters are huge and installations very expensive making iterative design improvements even more expensive, few in number, and low in periodicity. The specific answers to large dimension rotors are aerodynamic and can be sorted out, albeit much more slowly than if individual installations were only 10% as large. Large installations get the most publicity, both positive and negative, but tend to be over-represented in the national wind generator population because of other systemic governmental, economic, and regulator complexities. The choice of large installation size results in extended negative PR because iterative design improvements are slow, faulty, inadequate, or not undertaken at all due to cost.

      In practical terms however, a more productive alternative is to recognize that while generator sizes that are fractional to large installations give up some rotor efficiency, iterative improvements become cheaper and easier, and in addition smaller rotors generate more manageable acoustic signatures and volumes. The easiest way to describe the systemic negatives for large scale wind generation is to compare US design tendency to a China design tendency. The US will tend to opt for big, expensive, and complex installations that claim the last few possible percent of aerodynamic and mechanical efficiency in order to secure a contract and the larger ‘market share’. The China design tendency will tend to opt for huge numbers of smaller installations at much lower cost, a much wider societal distribution, lower efficiency, a higher number of individual failures (but at a lower systemic repair cost), more frequent improvements, more data points, a wider distribution of power generating points lessening the load on central electrical grids and allowing discreet localization of power generation for remote locales, a much wider distribution of theoretical and manufacturing skill, and a much broader manufacturing base. Comparison of these differing attributes shows that the systemic differences between a US and China design and implementation result in a long term advantage to the China approach, with US tendencies being systemically disadvantageous. This systemic difference should be recognized by Americans as extremely relevant to America’s future for both static and transportation energy sources.

      The third major reason also has to do with installation scale but in terms of time. Any national perspective that does not recognize that energy dependency means dependency on other nations, and that time is a critical factor, is fundamentally flawed. Achieving national energy independence requires a time frame within which it will be accomplished. ‘Someday’ and ‘progress toward’ is insufficient. Successful models of this perspective exist in our own past, in the ‘good war’ that Americans like to cite as a peak example of American ability. An easy one is the Jeep which Eisenhower listed as one of the three most important weapons of WWII. An operational specification was created, interested parties were invited to submit prototypes, a ‘best’ design was chosen, and then parties capable of manufacturing were included in manufacturing, with corporate profit specified but limited due to the national need. It is also noteworthy that the Jeep was an efficient, small scale device with respect to fuel usage, manufacturing simplicity, materials consumption, field repair, and capability of multiple uses, attributes shared (and largely exceeded) by Germany’s Kubelwagen that was a military application of Porsche’s KDF People’s car..

      When time is applied to an essential national goal, planning and actions must work backward from the goal date. If this method is applied to wind generation (as only one of a number of other energy generation methods), and the goal is US energy self sufficiency by the year 2025 (which may in fact not be early enough), then we have 13 years in which to achieve the goal, roughly an annual investment of 10% of the total needed. This goal can be (again) roughly met by an initial manufacturing goal plus 10% per year increase thereafter in manufacturing capability (units installed in the field). This kind of goal is possible with a national manufacturing specification and widely distributed manufacturing (jobs). But it is not possible with a manufacturing and design iteration process that is held captive by glacial large scale design iterations.

      America currently does not have any coherent energy self sufficiency plan and therefore will increasingly fall behind other nations which do have plans and are implementing them. Congress is at fault, and particularly Obama who as the supposed national leader has demonstrated no real leadership or imagination, only a willingness to make placating speeches aimed at those Americans who have informed themselves and are rightly concerned governmental cooperation in assuring their future. But we all share some responsibility for thinking, learning, and acting to achieve a goal that if we do not achieve, we will all suffer. Hoping that corporations will be national saviors for America’s future energy needs ignores the fact that corporations do not share that goal.

      The question is not whether wind generation is unsightly, but rather how much you want to be able to drive and eat at some increasingly imminent date, say 2025.

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