Friday, May 20, 2011

Strauss-Kahn Screws Africa

Strauss-Kahn Screws Africa by Greg Palast

The Times article quotes an IMF crony of Strauss-Kahn saying DSK gets his way by "persuasion" not "bullying." Tell that to the Greeks.

It was DSK who, last year, personally insisted on brutal terms for the so-called bail-out of Greece. "Strong conditionality" is the IMF term. Strauss-Kahn demanded not just a devastating cut in pensions and a deliberate increase in unemployment to 14%, but also the sell-off of 4,000 of 6,000 state-owned services. The DSK IMF plan allowed the financiers who set the financial fires of Greece to pick up the nation's assets at a fire-sale price.

I still tend to tell people that Naomi Klein's "The Shock Doctrine" is the best book to read to understand the world today. In that book, she describes the deliberate targetting of 'state' or 'public' assets. These are things that have value, and have been built up by the people of an area over time. And these have been targetted by financiers who want to make easy money for at least 40 years now.

The scam that Ms. Klein traces all the way back to at least Pinochet's Chile in the early 1970's goes like this. There is some sort of crisis. At first, these were from outside causes, but once the financiers realized the usefulness of a crisis as cover for their robberies, they also appear to have become good at causing the crisis. As a solution to the 'crisis', its presented to the people that they must sell off the assets they own in their public or state companies. And that this has to occur quickly and at prices far below what they are worth.

All around the world, people have been systematically robbed in this fashion. The collapse of the Soviet Union was a prime example, as the oligarchs we see today in Russia got rich by being able to acquire state assets at bargain prices. The book is a wonderful reference as it lays out the history of these robberies and thus gives new vision by letting one see them in a pattern instead of as unique instances.

So, DSK was a partner of some of these latest crimes as head of the IMF. That's not a surprise, because that's basically the job description these days of being the head of the IMF. They are there to facilitate these robberies. They are the gun that's held to the head of the victim. The victim is forced to agree because they need money to deal with the crisis they are facing, and the IMF is how the world has decided to disperse that money. And for decades now, the only way countries get the money is to submit by being robbed by being forced to sell off their assets at very cheap prices.

At best, DSK might have been a robber with a bit of a conscience as he was talking about 'reforming' the IMF away from such practices. Of course, that hadn't moved past the talk stage yet, so its impossible to tell if having a so-called socialist as head of the IMF and making sweet speaches about 'reform' wasn't just a part of the con to keep the robberies continuing during this target-rich time for the bankers.

Here in the US, the IMF isn't used so much as the gun held to our heads. Instead, its more likely the 'markets' in general. Remember how the Wall Street bailouts of Bush in 08 and Obama in 09 were sold? The markets will collapse and we'll all be destitute and destroyed if the bankers don't get money today. And how it was a major crisis if the money was delayed even from Tuesday to Thursday? If you remember that, then you remember how the US people had close to a trillion dollars taken from them to go support the banks in their hour of need because of the crisis that was caused by their speculations and manipulations of the markets to begin with.

And of course, they aren't done stealing. They've got their eyes on all the retirement money in Social Security, and through both Democratic and Republican politicians they are determined to get their hands on it.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Did NATO Massacre Libyan Religious Leaders?

Did NATO Massacre Libyan Religious Leaders? by Thomas C. Mountain via Counterpunch

According to the charges made by Moussa Ibrahim, on Friday, May 13, over 150 of Libya’s most senior Imams gathered in Brega to hold a peace conference on how to end the fighting in Libya. Brega was chosen for the site because it is the closest government held town to the rebel-held stronghold of Benghazi and the Imams planned to send a delegation to Benghazi with a peace proposal following the conference.

Early during the evening of Friday, May 13, NATO forces bombed the conference site, killing at least ten and hospitalizing over 40 Imams. Libyan television showed the site, which was clearly demolished. Moussa Ibrahim described it as the oil industry’s temporary residential complex or guest quarters and later provided the Google Earth coordinates for viewers to confirm the location.

Statements were made by two Imams who had driven through the night from the Brega site to Tripoli for the press conference to condemn the NATO bombing of their brethren.

Is NATO so desperate for war to remove Ghaddafi that they deliberately bombed a peace conference of the nation's religious leaders? NATO claims that this 'guest housing' at a Libyan oil facility was really a 'command and control center'.

Does this photo (from Google Earth) look like 'guest housing for the oil industry', or mysterious 'bunker'?  Hint, housing is usually above the ground, while a 'bunker' is usually beneath the ground.

Sky News, aka Rupert Murdoch's equivalent to Fox News in Britain, has a very strange article where their correspondent, who admits he stays in his hotel room in Tripoli and never leaves, says he's exchanged emails with a Dutch engineer who claims to have build a bunker at this site.  The story uses a image from Google earth of this site, but it has two 'pins' shown in the map.  The misleading impression is that the image shows the bunker, which is the question I leave to the reader in this image above.

What the image on Sky News really indicates is just that the location supposedly given by this mysterious 'Dutch engineer' happens to be close to the location given by the Libya government as the site of this atrocity.  Of course, anyone can 'give' coordinates, so the fact that the two pins in the Sky News image are close together is meaningless BS spun from Rupert Murdoch's lair.

BTW, I'm giving you a much larger image than Sky News, which made their image so small that its hard to see much besides the two 'pins' that they themselves create.  The coordinates come from another image from the Sky News story which purports to show the exact note given to them by the Libyan government with the coordinates for the site where the religious leaders were bombed by NATO.  If anyone has another source for these coordinates, I'd appreciate a comment with a lead, as I hate using a Rupert Murdoch source unconfirmed.

The question is, does this look like a bunker to you?  Or, does it look like the sort of meeting room/housing type of facility at which 150 religious leaders might gather had to hold a meeting?  I think this looks like the sort of meeting room/guest housing facility that its claimed to be, and I don't see anything in these images to support the strange Fox/Sky report of a mysterious engineer claiming to have built a bunker here.

The Libyan government claimed the bombed building was also near a mosque and a clinic.  I can't verify a clinic from these satelite photos, but the golden dome of a mosque a block away is obvious in this rotated view from Google Earth.  And the mosque appears to be in a central area surrounded by housing, so I can easily believe that in a planned community built for oil workers, a clinic would also be in the same central area.

Someone in Google Earth has posted an image of the mosque.
The overall area in Google Earth appears just as its described by the Libyans. It appears to be an oil facility, with refineries and storage tanks and an area marked as a Pipe and Valve facility.  This area appears to be housing for workers.  Why on earth would anyone build a bunker there is left a mystery from Google Earth?  

There is a separate area of buildings and parked vehicles as a part of the oil complex that might be a guess for where the HQ buildings for the complex might be located.  I'm not quite sure why Exxon would have spent the money on a bunker in the 1980's, but one might guess that the bunker might be located near the HQ building complex.  Its hard to imagine Exxon making the bunker convenient for the Imams at the local mosque, while making their executives run half a mile from the HQ to get there.

I've more to say about this Sky News story, but I put this in the comments as this piece is already long on the front page.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Did He Really Say That?

Every once in awhile you have to just stop and shake your head and ask, "did he really just say that?"

Rick Santorum: John McCain 'doesn't understand' enhanced interrogation

“And so this idea that we didn’t ask that question while Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was being waterboarded, he doesn’t understand how enhanced interrogation works. I mean, you break somebody, and after they’re broken, they become cooperative.”

For whoever's been under a rock for the last 30 years, John McCain was held captive by the North Vietnameese and tortured for years. I'm just guessing here, but I kinda think John McCain has a bit of an idea as to how 'enhancement interrogation' works.

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Obama Deception: Why Cornel West Went Ballistic

The Obama Deception: Why Cornel West Went Ballistic by Chris Hedges.

Maybe in another lifetime I'll be able to write and speak with the power and eloquence of Dr. Cornel West. Between the voices of Mr. Hedges and Dr. West, this article is an excellent read.

“But it became very clear when I looked at the neoliberal economic team. The first announcement of Summers and Geithner I went ballistic. I said, ‘Oh, my God, I have really been misled at a very deep level.’ And the same is true for Dennis Ross and the other neo-imperial elites. I said, ‘I have been thoroughly misled, all this populist language is just a facade. I was under the impression that he might bring in the voices of brother Joseph Stiglitz and brother Paul Krugman. I figured, OK, given the structure of constraints of the capitalist democratic procedure that’s probably the best he could do. But at least he would have some voices concerned about working people, dealing with issues of jobs and downsizing and banks, some semblance of democratic accountability for Wall Street oligarchs and corporate plutocrats who are just running amuck. I was completely wrong. -- Dr. Cornel West”

The entire article is fascinating, including insight into how Obama handles personal relations. Or, at least personal relations with people on the left. Obama seems to love to talk with bankers and Republicans.

One fascinating exchange is this ....

Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to the president, has, West said, phoned him to complain about his critiques of Obama. Jarrett was especially perturbed, West says, when he said in an interview last year that he saw a lot of Malcolm X and Ella Baker in Michelle Obama. Jarrett told him his comments were not complimentary to the first lady.

BTW, this appears to be a repeating story. The Obama White House staff trying to intimidate critics from the left into silence.

Now, maybe most people don't know that Ella Baker was a heroine to the civil rights movement in the sixties. She helped organize and start the North Carolina lunch counter sit ins. She's legendary and loved and remembered amongst the civil right community, or at least she was when I still lived in Atlanta. Now we find out that Ms. Obama is offended when Dr. West tries to compliment her by saying he sees some of Ella Baker in Ms. Obama.

“I said in the world that I live in, in that which authorizes my reality, Ella Baker is a towering figure,” he says, munching Fritos and sipping apple juice at his desk. “If I say there is a lot of Ella Baker in Michelle Obama, that’s a compliment. She can take it any way she wants. I can tell her I’m sorry it offended you, but I’m going to speak the truth. She is a Harvard Law graduate, a Princeton graduate, and she deals with child obesity and military families. Why doesn’t she visit a prison? Why not spend some time in the hood? That is where she is, but she can’t do it.

“I think my dear brother Barack Obama has a certain fear of free black men,” West says. “It’s understandable. As a young brother who grows up in a white context, brilliant African father, he’s always had to fear being a white man with black skin. All he has known culturally is white. He is just as human as I am, but that is his cultural formation. When he meets an independent black brother, it is frightening. And that’s true for a white brother. When you get a white brother who meets a free, independent black man, they got to be mature to really embrace fully what the brother is saying to them. It’s a tension, given the history. It can be overcome. Obama, coming out of Kansas influence, white, loving grandparents, coming out of Hawaii and Indonesia, when he meets these independent black folk who have a history of slavery, Jim Crow, Jane Crow and so on, he is very apprehensive. He has a certain rootlessness, a deracination. It is understandable.

“He feels most comfortable with upper middle-class white and Jewish men who consider themselves very smart, very savvy and very effective in getting what they want,” he says. “He’s got two homes. He has got his family and whatever challenges go on there, and this other home. Larry Summers blows his mind because he’s so smart. He’s got Establishment connections. He’s embracing me. It is this smartness, this truncated brilliance, that titillates and stimulates brother Barack and makes him feel at home. That is very sad for me.

“This was maybe America’s last chance to fight back against the greed of the Wall Street oligarchs and corporate plutocrats, to generate some serious discussion about public interest and common good that sustains any democratic experiment,” West laments. “We are squeezing out all of the democratic juices we have. The escalation of the class war against the poor and the working class is intense. More and more working people are beaten down. They are world-weary. They are into self-medication. They are turning on each other. They are scapegoating the most vulnerable rather than confronting the most powerful. It is a profoundly human response to panic and catastrophe. I thought Barack Obama could have provided some way out. But he lacks backbone.

Although I love Dr. West's words, I'm really sick of this 'he lacks backbone' nonsense. This is Dr. West still failing to come to grips with what he actually clearly stated in the first paragraph I quoted. Dr. West needs to take to heart his own words where he understands that he was "misled on a very deep level". Its not a case of Obama not being the progressive Dr. West wanted him to be because he lacks backbone. Instead, Obama was lying and mis-leading when he announced progressive ideals, and the rich, savvy white guys he looks up to have controlled him for a very long time. Dr. West, you were indeed misled. But, please take that to heart and drop this nonsense that Obama lacks backbone.

By the way, don't blame me, I voted for McKinney. I wish Dr. West had spotted the Wall Street millions in Obama's accounts and understood the implications of those millions as to the type of president that Obama would become. I wish Dr. West had instead made 65 appearances for Cynthia McKinney's campaign for President. I don't know if that changes the election results. But, getting a chance to hear Dr. West and Cynthia McKinney speak back to back at a rally would have been a lot of fun!

“Our last hope is to generate a democratic awakening among our fellow citizens. This means raising our voices, very loud and strong, bearing witness, individually and collectively. -- Dr. Cornel West

“The major job was getting people to understand that they had something within their power that they could use, and it could only be used if they understood what was happening and how group action could counter violence…” - Ella Jo Baker

Still More Catastrophe

Reports: 20 ‘Nakba’ Protesters Killed as Israeli Troops Attack from

Israeli soldiers shot and killed at least 20 Palestinian protesters today, and wounded several hundred others, during Nakba rallies around the region. Nakba commemorates the expulsion of Palestinians from Israeli territory during the founding of the Israeli state, and is officially illegal to commemorate inside Israel.

Of the 20 killed, 10 protesters were slain inside southern Lebanon when Israeli troops opened fire on demonstrators they decided had drawn too near a border fence. The other 10 were killed along the Syrian border, as Palestinians rallied to the border with the Occupied Golan Heights.

In addition to the killings along the northern border, Israeli forces shelled protests in the Gaza Strip, wounded scores of Palestinians there. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak warned that he believes the protests are “just the beginning” of a series of rallies against the occupation of the Palestinian territories and the Golan Heights.

Note that these are in addition to the reports from ISM that I'd highlighted earlier. The ISM reports are on Israeli attacks inside the West Bank. The death of one 17 year old and the 20 people who were injured, some very seriously, were all from West Bank protests. The 20 additional deaths in this story are from Israel opening fire on unarmed protesters who are protesting near Israel's borders.

And, that's yet another catastrophe to anyone who isn't a cold-blooded killer who cheers on murder and destruction.

UPDATE (5-16-11)
Franklin Lamb provides a first person account from the Lebanon protest that hasn't been censored by the Israeli government. This is outstanding and I highly recommend following the link to read the full piece.

However as the world soon learned, 10 Palestinians were killed by Israeli snipers and more than 120 wounded, some critically. None of the demonstrators had weapons. Those murdered were all civilians from the camps and were shot in cold blood as they nonviolently as placed Palestinian flags at the fence and gave the peace and victory sign.

White House: Israel Right Over Border Killings from

White House spokesman Jay Carney praised Israel for its “restraint” and said that the Netanyahu government had every right to kill those people “to prevent unauthorized crossing at its borders.”

After the killings of the unarmed protesters, the Israeli foreign ministry issued instructions to its staff to try to blame the killings on Syria.

That message appears to have reached the White House as well, as Carney was quick to blame the Assad government for “inciting” the protests, and said that “such behavior is unacceptable.”

From the first-person account from Mr. Lamb, the 'unacceptable' behavior for Palestinians who were ethnically cleansed from their land is for them to go peacefully and unarmed up to the fence and place a Palestinian flag there. Or to give 'peace and victory' signs. Israel and Obama's White House both state that these are death penalty offenses. Obviously unacceptable behavior, at least to the sort of White House that shows a President rapturously following the progress of his death squads on the monitor. I wonder if Obama asked Netanyahu to send him a live feed of these killings so Obama could microwave some popcorn and put his feet up and enjoy this show?

Israel killing at least 21 people who try to mark the Nakba, ie, the 'Catastrophe' of the Palestinian people losing their land to the Israelis, doesn't seem to deter Obama from going over to pay homage to AIPAC.
Obama expected at pro-Israel gathering

President Obama is expected to address the giant pro-Israel group AIPAC's annual policy conference next Sunday

Did you expect change?

UPDATE (5-18-11)
The ISM now lists the total of the casualties of this latest catastrophe as 16 dead and 400 wounded.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Dubya is Indeed Gone

Dubya is gone.  Dubya has completely retired from the public stage with no plans for any sort of comeback.  That was clearly announced this week.  What, you didn't hear that?  Sure you did, I think everyone heard it.

What you heard was the story about how Obama called Dubya to gloat that he was the one who got Bin Laden.  And, what you heard was that when Obama called, Dubya was eating a soufle.

That tells you Dubya is retired from the public stage, and has no interest in maintaining his fake campaign image any longer.  Dubya was eating a French dish like a 'soufle' when Obama called?

If Dubya wasn't retired, then we'd have been told that Dubya was eating Bar-Bee-Que and washing it down with a Budweiser when Obama called.

From the left, it was always easy to see how fake the 'good-ole-boy' image that Dubya projected really was.  Dubya was the son of a millionaire who became President. Dubya was an Ivy Leaguer.  But, this doesn't help Dubya get elected, so there was the fake Dubya image that was created.  Dubya down on the ranch, eating Bar-Bee-Que.  Dubya as the guy you'd like to drink a beer with.  Hmm, which type of beer goes with soufle?

What most on the left don't seem to be able to understand is that the Obama 'rock-star progressive' image of the last campaign was just as much as a fake as the image of an Ivy Leaguer like Dubya down on the ranch always was. Its the same fakery, on both sides.  The idea is to create an image that voters will like.  Truth has nothing to do with it.

Obama is as much a 'progressive' as Dubya is a 'cowboy' down on the ranch.  Cowboys don't eat soufle. Progressives don't assassinate.