Capitalism Will Eat Itself

Indeed, analysts warn that the nation’s next financial crisis could come from the staggering cost of battling the current one.

Might be a problem that, d’you think? Also what does that sound like? Reminds me of the accelerating health crises of an addict nearing bottom. However the rich will not suffer, we will for their systematic failures. The games up but the trickle up aspect is so useful for the ruling class to hoard for the future it will be kept going. Economics schools still churning out assimilated clones of corporatism, the lure of power, jobs and approval by authority keeping security forces and the military in recruits. Now I’m not up for that, I really think those responsible should be responsible, rich people call such a simple demand class war from unwashed envious plebs. And it’s important the goons in uniforms buy that so they will break heads reliably. Which is why stuff like this conservative praising Obama for essentially being conservative -and every fool many ‘progressives’ included, clap at the pragmatism and nonideological nature of his team- is those responsible celebrating yet another free pass as they consolidate into safe positions (food, water, land) ahead of among other things credit default swaps reaching critical mass (well done Blythe Masters!).

So once again avoiding their comeuppance and we haven’t even got to the torturers yet. Or put it another way, you might be losing your job or your welfare buys even less food, but Tom Friedman will not be losing his house even as he blames you for his denuded capital-


Phillipe Sands On 24’s Pro-Torture Role

This relates to Careerists about a Dutch singer who prospered under the Nazis, who believed he has done nothing wrong. It is what he did not do, he did not stand against it. People involved in 24 bear some moral culpability for the torture the US has engaged in… and those who enjoy watching it also need to reflect-

Redemption, the 24 prequel, hits British screens this evening, on Sky 1 — “the first new material from 24 producers in nearly two years”, according to the Sky preview.

But what Sky doesn’t tell you is this: during that period information has emerged to confirm the real, negative effects of the series, which spins the pernicious message that “torture works” and is a legitimate tool in the fight to protect national security. Nor does the preview tell us if the next series of 24 (Day 7) will stay on message or shift direction. The impacts of 24 on real events – for example on the abuse of detainees at Guantánamo and at Abu Ghraib – had long been a matter of speculation. It was explored in detail in an important article by Jane Mayer published in the New Yorker magazine in February 2007. Mayer described a conversation with Joel Surnow, the co-creator and executive producer of 24. “There are not a lot of measures short of extreme measures that will get it done,” he told her, adding: “America wants the war on terror fought by Jack Bauer. He’s a patriot.”

I accidentally stumbled across the connection between fiction and reality, and wrote about it in my book Torture Team and a related article for Vanity Fair magazine. In early 2007 I interviewed Diane Beaver, the lawyer who had been the staff judge advocate down at Guantánamo when, in the autumn of 2002, decisions were being taken on the authorisation of 18 new techniques of interrogation for a detainee who was thought to be the 20th hijacker. The second series of 24 went to air on October 29 2002, at the very time these decisions were being taken. Beaver described to me how the series was shown at Guantánamo. I noted what she described to me, writing on a pad “24 – Becker”. It didn’t ring any bells, I’d never seen the programme.

Later, I went back to my hotel and typed up my notes. Not recognising the words I’d written down, I put them into the Google search engine, which responded “Did you mean: 24 – Bauer”, and directed me to the Fox TV website. Bauer had many friends at Guantánamo Bay, Beaver told me the next time we met, and “gave people lots of ideas”. “We saw it on cable,” she explained. “People had already seen the first series, it was hugely popular.” Others who were at Guantánamo at the time confirmed her account. Some described to me how the series contributed directly to an environment encouraging those in the interrogation facility to see themselves as being on the front line, and to go further than they otherwise might have. 24 also made it more difficult for those who objected to the abuse to stop it.

My writings on this subject have generated a decent mailbag over the past few months. But the most interesting correspondence came just last week. “I’m a US actor, living in Los Angeles,” wrote the author. “In September of 2007, I was offered a role on 24.” The actor told his agent to reject the offer, because he objected to the programme’s message. His agent told him that Howard Gordon, the principal executive producer, wanted to speak. The actor sent Gordon an email, expressing his concerns about the positive depictions of torture on the programme. Apparently, a lengthy exchange followed, in which the two debated the morality of torture and the potential impact of 24 on the moral sentiments of its millions of viewers. The actor offered to make the dialogue public, and Gordon apparently responded with “some enthusiasm”, until Fox’s publicity department stepped in and warned him against any exposure of the exchanges.

The actor shared with me some extracts of Gordon’s views. He told the actor that “I lack the conviction that torture is, under any circumstances, an unacceptable option”. He lacked that conviction because “I lack the knowledge, I just don’t know enough about the efficacy of torture”. I’ve no reason to doubt that Gordon is a thoroughly decent man. He’s smart; he went to Princeton. Through his work he would have access to a great number of lawyers, any one of whom would have told him, if he had cared to enquire, that torture is illegal in all circumstances. His own convictions, or lack of knowledge, are a total irrelevance.

Gordon also told the actor about his belief that it was “essentially true that … 24 posits that torture is a necessary evil that works and is therefore acceptable”. There was also an indication of concern. “I would hate to think,” wrote Gordon, “that I’ve somehow been the midwife to some public acceptance of torture.”

Well, the reality for Gordon, on the account given to me by Diane Beaver as well as others, is that he seems to have become the very midwife he feared. And not just to the public acceptance of torture, but to its actual use on real, living human beings.

Perhaps this might give Gordon and his colleagues some pause for thought. Perhaps this might encourage a rethinking of the entire thrust of the programme. Perhaps Day 7 might do the right thing and embrace reality: that torture is not justified, that it can never be lawful, that it produces unreliable information, and that it serves as one of the best recruiting tools for those who seek to do us serious harm. In short, torture doesn’t work, and it’s not a legitimate tool in the fight to protect national security.

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A Warm Passage

The Canadian Coast Guard has confirmed that in a major first, a commercial ship travelled through the Northwest Passage this fall to deliver supplies to communities in western Nunavut.

For a ship to be able to travel through the Northwest Passage, which has historically been impassable with thick ice, had some wondering if the MV Camilla Desgagnés is heralding a new era in Arctic shipping.

Louie Kamookak, the director of hamlet housing and public works in Gjoa Haven, said tugboats and barges usually deliver supplies from the west. Residents were surprised to see the MV Camilla Desgagnés come in from the east, he said.

“Looks like it’s going to be more shipping or ships travelling, with the ice clearing up north of this area,” Kamookak said.

Rayes, who was on the vessel during its trip through the Northwest Passage, said the company informed the coast guard, which put an icebreaker on standby.

“They were ready to be there for us if we called them, but I didn’t see one cube of ice,” he said.

“They were informed about our presence [and] they were ready to give us the support needed. However, since there was no ice whatsoever, the service was not needed, we didn’t call for it.”

And down South it’s a tad toastier too-

Scientists have identified new rifts on an Antarctic ice shelf that could lead to it breaking away from the Antarctic Peninsula, the European Space Agency said. The Wilkins Ice Shelf, a large sheet of floating ice south of South America, is connected to two Antarctic islands by a strip of ice. That ice “bridge” has lost about 2,000 square kilometers (about 772 square miles) this year, the ESA said.

If the ice shelf breaks away from the peninsula, it will not cause a rise in sea level, because it is already floating, scientists say. Scambos said the ice shelf is not on the path of the increasingly popular tourist ships that travel from South America to Antarctica. But some plants and animals may have to adapt to the collapse. The ice shelf had been stable for most of the past century before it began retreating in the 1990s.

Freighters, tourist ships, hell, business is good. What could possibly go wrong?

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The prime minister has defended raising the tax bracket for top earners, saying that they must “share the sacrifice”. A new 45% higher income tax rate is proposed for earnings above £150,000 from April 2011. The move was made “not on the basis of envy but to share the sacrifice that’s necessary to take us through difficult times,” Gordon Brown said.

2 and a half years from now…giving ample time for the accountants people who earn such amounts habitually use to structure systems that avoid liabilities, if that’s sacrifice then what is deciding between eating and having the heat on? Please I’d like to know. Also Gordon, way to endorse the right wing idea progressive taxation and redistribution of decades of ill gotten gains is the politics of ‘envy’. Anyway, enjoy the rest of this report about the bullshit Progress (subtitle- Towards Hell) tame ‘think’ tank sponsored wank session including such progressive ideas as-

Speakers at the conference urged the government to radically overhaul the benefits system – including making more single parents work, funding universal childcare and providing higher maternity leave payments. Other plans include giving private firms and charities the right to bid to run more public services.

The organisation is launching policy reports in five different areas – public services, welfare, immigration, crime and justice and foreign policy. Under the plans, which have been devised by former cabinet minister Alan Milburn, 10-year “franchises” for services such as GPs and colleges would be up for tender.

Torier than thou.

PS. Also a report on the immigration session which is rather revealing of attitudes (and in the language used).

Siege, Cleanse, Repeat

Israel is nearing a wide-scale operation in the Gaza Strip, Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai said Saturday, several hours after eight Israel Defense Forces soldiers were injured in a mortar shell attack on the Nahal Oz base in southern Israel. “There’s no doubt we’re getting closer to a wide-scale operation in Gaza, but it will be different from what took place in the past,” Vilnai said during an event in the southern city of Beersheba.

Addressing the negotiations with the Palestinians, Vilnai said, “Hamas is not a partner for a dialogue as long as it does not recognize us. The only vision we are facing at the moment is Abu Mazen (Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas), but the tragedy is that he’s getting weaker.

“We must know that the only solution is reaching an understanding with the Palestinians. We must work with every element on the Palestinian side we can talk to, but in Gaza there’s no one to talk to and the only language there is military power.”

There is no one to talk to because as he says they refuse to talk to Hamas, again a self fulfilling condition like the truce Israel broke but is reported as being broken by Hamas. What will this wide scale operation be? And there’s really no need for politician’s to make some murmurs of disapproval while doing nothing actually to limit the IDF attack (as in ’06), now is the time to push for talks with Hamas, but no one in power is doing that. So as night follows day we are being warned of the impending deaths of many Palestinians and by previous performance the majority will be ignored civilians.

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Tasers- Open Letter Editorial From Globe & Mail Canada To Jacqui Smith

To: Rt. Hon. Jacqui Smith, British Home Secretary

Re: What you should know about tasers

It has come to our attention that you intend to put 10,000 electric stun guns in the hands of front-line police officers across England and Wales. Pardon our impertinence, but have you considered removing your ubiquitous security cameras first?

Ms. Smith, the police in Canada tell themselves lies about their beloved tasers. For instance, that tasers do not kill. No amount of deaths (22 in five years in this country with some taser connection) will convince them otherwise. In September, a Quebec coroner said tasers should be deemed capable of leading to death, until more is known. Police don’t believe it.

A myth: Tasers are an alternative to guns. The government official who approved the first taser use in Canada – Ujjal Dosanjh, in British Columbia – insists police told him so. (The police deny it.) Anyway, that is certainly not how they are used now. Their range is just 21 feet, and the optimal distance is 15 feet, and they don’t work on anyone in thick clothing. The answer to a gun- or knife-wielding maniac 20 feet away remains the gun.

Tasers are particularly prone to overuse – the Mounties went from 597 incidents in 2005 to 1,400 times in 2007 – and, let’s face it, abuse. Frank Lasser was shot in his hospital bed – he’s 82, for goodness’ sake – because he refused to drop his penknife. Robert Dziekanski was a 40-year-old Polish immigrant left stranded for 10 hours in an airport, unable to find his mother. Four Mounties approached and, within 30 seconds, tasered him twice. He died. (A bystander caught this on video. Very embarrassing.) If tasers are the answer to the stranded and the confused, well, it doesn’t speak very well of human ingenuity. Please, when you train your officers: Show them what not to do. Show them the fatal Dziekanski takedown. And allow tasers to be used only when there’s a real risk of serious bodily harm.

Police use the taser as a ready response to combative individuals – it’s usually safe, especially when officers cross their fingers – but the use of such overwhelming and disproportionate force will sow distrust between the police and the communities they serve. With cameras ubiquitous, be prepared for the excrement to hit the fan.

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(AFP) — George W. Bush hopes history will see him as a president who liberated millions of Iraqis and Afghans, who worked towards peace and who never sold his soul for political ends.

“I’d like to be a president (known) as somebody who liberated 50 million people and helped achieve peace,” Bush said in excerpts of a recent interview released by the White House Friday.

“I would like to be a person remembered as a person who, first and foremost, did not sell his soul in order to accommodate the political process. I came to Washington with a set of values, and I’m leaving with the same set of values.”