Petraeus Takes Over US Military Central Command

General David Petraeus, the former commander of US forces in Iraq, has taken charge of the US military’s Central Command. Petraeus, 55, will now oversee US forces in the Middle East, east Africa and Central Asia after being sworn in at a ceremony at the centre’s headquarters in Tampa, Florida, on Friday.

Presiding over the ceremony, Robert Gates, the US defence secretary, praised Petraeus as “the pre-eminent soldier-scholar-statesman of his generation and precisely the man we need at this command at this time. Under his leadership, our troops have dealt our enemies in Iraq a tremendous blow. Now, he will take aim at our adversaries in Afghanistan,”

Gates then went to say- “David invented the computer, the space shuttle, he will soon release cures for cancer and AIDS and is a shoe in American Idol ’09. Just because several generals refused the Bush regimes insanity and Davey was the first careerist fundamentalist Christian to do whatever was asked and put a political spin on it (and big D, I’m right there for you on the Palin/Petraeus ’12 ticket) does not in any way mean he is a cack handed yes man dominionist who nevertheless is revered as a god by our cheerleading bloodthirsty corporate media (as am I, hey you never hear my name tagged with Iran-Contra, result!). Also he can fly and is bullet proof. Becky, I’m leaving you.”

Bush Rejects Iranian Diplomacy

Via Monte @ Stop the Second Holocaust

Asia Times, Kaveh L Afrasiabi – By announcing that the United States is no longer interested in opening a consular office in Iran, the George W Bush administration has forfeited a golden opportunity for a timely diplomatic breakthrough with Iran. Instead, it prefers to exit the White House with a veneer of foreign policy consistency, given Bush’s labeling of Iran as a member of the “axis of evil”, along with Iraq and North Korea.

This announcement came a day after a major foreign policy speech by Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York at which he used the opportunity to reiterate Iran’s genuine interest in this possibility.

Responding to a question, Mottaki even went further and expressed his frustration with the US government, wondering aloud how much longer Iran should wait for Washington’s “official request” to open an interest section in Tehran. Not only that, Mottaki also stated clearly and unambiguously Iran’s willingness to consider a “freeze-for-freeze” option on its nuclear program. In terms of this, for six weeks or so Iran would freeze its uranium-enrichment activities in exchange for a reciprocal freeze in the implementation of sanctions on Iran. Iran’s envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, has echoed Mottaki on this subject and, yet, Iran’s new signs of compromise have fallen on deaf ears in the US.

One can only speculate on the stated and hidden reasons behind the White House’s decision to discard a realistic step toward rapprochement with Iran and to completely ignore Tehran’s strong signals welcoming this idea. US commentators have focused on the opposition by Republican presidential hopeful Senator John McCain, who in his debate with his Democratic rival, Senator Barack Obama, reiterated his steadfast objection to any direct contacts with the Islamic Republic of Iran. Had Bush given a green light to a diplomatic presence in Iran, it would have undermined McCain’s foreign policy objectives, benefiting Obama.

But, more than the election concerns, the role and influence of pro-Israel lobbyists deserves consideration. This is in light of Israel’s constant alarms about Iran’s nuclear program and a seeming growing willingness to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities in the name of Israel’s national security.

Whatever the primary reason behind Bush’s decision not to initiate a mini-breakthrough with Iran during his waning days in office. it simply means that no major changes in the US’s Iran policy will be introduced under the outgoing administration and the policy options on Iran remain wide open for the next president.

Bush’s decision is yet another blunder that ranks with the negative reaction of the White House to an Iranian peace initiative in 2003. The US scolded the Swiss diplomats who had funneled the comprehensive peace proposal, and then rejected it without a pause for reflection.

John ‘Death Squad’ Negroponte Visits Iraq To Enforce SOFA

(AFP) — US and Iraqi officials are “very close” to an agreement on a controversial security pact that would decide the future of US forces in Iraq, US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte said here on Saturday.

“Negotiations are still on and there are very few issues still pending,” Negroponte told reporters in Arbil after meeting Massud Barzani, the president of the northern Kurdish administration of Iraq.

“We are very close to reaching an agreement. It’s not wise to reveal the details until we reach a final agreement, and we hope to reach a final agreement very soon,” said Negroponte, who arrived in Iraq on Friday on a previously unannounced visit.

Generally speaking wherever Johnny boy goes strategically profitable death follows, and look, there’s an election coming up…I think he made them an offer they couldn’t refuse, mmmmm Octobery.

Empire Negotiating Its Chinese Debt

The Pentagon notified Congress Friday of 6.5 billion dollars in possible arms sales to Taiwan that would include advanced interceptor missiles, Apache attack helicopters and submarine-launched missiles.

But war pimps are maybe hoping for more-

Jim Lobe– Just 15 months after being forced to resign as president of the World Bank over a conflict of interest regarding his professional and personal relationship with his girlfriend, former deputy defense secretary Paul Wolfowitz may be involved in another, far more geostrategic conflict of interest.

It involves his dual roles as chairman of the State Department’s International Security Advisory Board (ISAB) and chairman of the US-Taiwan Business Council. Among the latter’s US members are military contractors who have been dying to get the George W Bush administration’s approval to sell about US$11 billion worth of arms to the island to protect it against the threat of an attack by the mainland.

Punk’d!

Robbed fucking blind!

The Federal Reserve will pump an additional $630 billion into the global financial system, flooding banks with cash to alleviate the worst banking crisis since the Great Depression.

The Fed’s expansion of liquidity, the biggest since credit markets seized up last year, came hours before the U.S. House of Representatives rejected a $700 billion bailout for the financial industry.

Vote all you like congress critters, it means nothing to the King, you won’t buy the toxic debt so as consolation the ‘fed’ showers them in cash and check McCain playing the Shock Doctrine card-

When asked about the economic crisis, John McCain called for a sweeping spending freeze.

Sen. John McCain: “How about a spending freeze on everything but defense, veteran affairs and entitlement programs.”

Jim Lehrer: “Spending freeze?”

McCain: “I think we ought to seriously consider, with the exceptions of caring for our veterans, national defense and several other vital issues.”

War Pimps Broke

More good news, as the empire’s elite wrangle over how to fleece the public the blockade of Iran attempt looks to be dead. This combined with the gossip Bush actually chilled out on Israeli plans to attack Iran looks like imperial overstretch, reality and domestic greed have beaten out the bloodlust of the neocons/zionists for now. Also regarding the poo-pooing of the Israeli aggression Socialist Unity has good piece which discusses how this displays a power dynamic neatly summed up with-

Ultimately, then, a stronger case can be made that the nature of the relationship between the US and Israel is akin to that of a vicious bulldog and its master. Whilst the bulldog might be able to pull its master along on the leash for a while, all it takes is for the master to exert sufficient force on the leash to bring it back into line.

If the Guardian story is to be believed, it appears that Israel’s leash has just been pulled.

Update: Jim Lobe on the blockade resolution in detail.

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Wake Up And Smell The Imperialism

As a consequence of identifying growing populations in the developed world as a threat in itself, the strategy document highlights a number of paradigm shifts in the way future wars are to be conducted.

It predicts that “21st Century operations will require soldiers to engage among populations and diverse cultures instead of avoiding them”. The document reveals that new US tactical doctrine provides a template by which air, naval and field commanders will no longer just secure traditional strategic targets such as airspace, seaports and bridgeheads, but will, of necessity, also deploy and fight amongst and against the target population itself to win wars.

Although to be honest are they just stating clearly what was practised anyway, much to the cognitive dissonance of those who think their noble military don’t target civilians [otherwise known as- basic internalised lie of patriotism part 37b].

Potemkin Heroes

At least they have the ‘respect’ to pay some fool to photoshop the US dead (wonder if step backward can go back to Florida 2000 and stop this before it started), they don’t even count the Iraqis-

The Associated Press retracted two government-issued photographs last night after a photographer in Texas alerted the agency that the photos in question appeared to be doctored.

Bob Owen, chief photographer of the San Antonio Express-News, notified the AP that the photos of two deceased soldiers, who died in Iraq on Sept. 14, were nearly identical. Upon examining the photos, Owens noticed that everything except for the soldier’s face, name, and rank was the same. The most glaring similarity, Owen told CJR, was that the camouflage patterns of the two uniforms were “perfectly identical.”

After inspecting the photographs, the AP confirmed that the images were, indeed, Photoshopped, and issued eliminations on the two photos.

Irrelevant

According to the NYT

Judges around the world have long looked to the decisions of the United States Supreme Court for guidance, citing and often following them in hundreds of their own rulings since the Second World War. But now American legal influence is waning. Even as a debate continues in the court over whether its decisions should ever cite foreign law, a diminishing number of foreign courts seem to pay attention to the writings of American justices.

The story is similar around the globe, legal experts say, particularly in cases involving human rights. These days, foreign courts in developed democracies often cite the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights in cases concerning equality, liberty and prohibitions against cruel treatment, said Harold Hongju Koh, the dean of the Yale Law School. In those areas, Dean Koh said, “they tend not to look to the rulings of the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Another reason is the diminished reputation of the United States in some parts of the world, which experts here and abroad said is in part a consequence of the Bush administration’s unpopularity abroad.

Err, no. They are not cited, because they endorse criminal actions, which is y’know sort of like the opposite of what courts sort of are meant to do, is that too complex a concept for the ‘post 911 mindest’? Whether it’s a war of aggression, surveillance, retroactive immunity for corporations or TORTURE. The US courts are utterly corrupted, no it’s not friggin’ Bush’s rep, it is because it is a criminal regime running a brutal empire cancerous with insularist nationalism, and soft soaping it for the Homeland’s audience ain’t gonna help.

Haiti- More Than 600 Dead

(AFP) – Hurricane Ike took aim at Cuba Sunday after leaving 20 people dead in Haiti, where fatalities from a succession of powerful storms in the past few weeks now tops 600. Ike was downgraded Sunday from a Category Four hurricane to a still potentially devastating Category Three, as Cuba evacuated hundreds of thousands in a frantic bid to evade the storm’s fury.

But the immediate concern was its effect on Haiti, where a humanitarian crisis was unfolding after flooding from Ike and previous storms Hanna and Gustav left around 600 people dead and thousands in desperate need of food, clean water and shelter.

With winds near 215 kilometers (135 miles) per hour, the storm’s outer bands lashed Haiti’s vulnerable northwest coast with torrential rain. Hundreds of bodies were found in flood-prone Gonaives, a town of 350,000 in northwestern Haiti, after a five-meter (16-foot) wall of water and mud engulfed much of the town. The storm followed on the heels of Hanna, last week’s massive storm.

United Nations peacekeepers on Saturday evacuated several thousand residents from Gonaives, a local official said, but thousands more are still awaiting relief. Some 650,000 Haitians have been affected by the flooding, including 300,000 children, and the task of delivering crucial aid has been complicated by dismal transport conditions, according to UNICEF. Officials said 200,000 people have been without food and clean water, many for four days.

Haiti’s agricultural sector was ruined by the US, so the least America could do is pay back some of those profits in this time of need. And release the money promised for water projects-

A coalition of human rights groups has accused the US government of withholding money intended to provide clean drinking water to Haiti as leverage to push for regime change in the country. In 1998, the Inter-American Development Bank approved $54 million to help the Haitian government revamp the country’s water and sanitation systems. Ten years later, the water projects have yet to be started, because the US government aggressively attempted to block the disbursement of the loans. According to the report, the US government derailed the projects in 2001 at a time when it was pushing for the ouster of Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Haiti’s democratically elected president. Aristide was eventually overthrown in 2004 in a US-backed coup.

Posted in Food, Health. Tags: , , . 2 Comments »

Malice Aforethought

The RNC created a precedent by having an insurance policy against cases of police brutality, that is how the corporatist crypto-facist Republican establishment work, they expect it (because they drew up the battle plans) and a corporation makes profit from a policy to protect criminal activity by security forces.

The deal required the Republican Party’s host committee to buy insurance covering up to $10 million in damages and unlimited legal costs for law enforcement officials accused of brutality, violating civil rights and other misconduct.

The Brown Shirt- Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher, they have fronting their Green Zone operation is, it turns out, a desperate man under investigation for serious corruption. He gave his best man a badge and a gun, he acted like a cop in an elite unit and was used as an ‘informant’ for search warrants even though he had no knowledge on which to inform. The protesters were herded onto a bridge then told they were under arrest because Fletcher claimed he had revoked their permit, (unilaterally, and…the permits weren’t revoked), then huge bail set, time limits on incarceration ignored as protesters were imprisoned in huge military guarded citadel Green Zone prison. More detail here.

Meanwhile, nevermind the trees. The forest: George W.Bush -the son of the former head of the CIA George Bush, who held high office for 12 years, 4 of them as President whose father backed the Nazi party during WW2 and plotted a facist coup– got to power in a coup cemented by the state his brother ran and a court with a conservative partisan majority. Warned of attacks before 9/11 they did nothing, well ok, George went fishing. Wars of aggression killing over a million and making over 6 million refugees continue, some remain below public perception such as Somalia. Torture, mass surveillance & imprisonment without trial are practised, the normal legal protections afforded constitutionally have been suspended under various acts and ‘signing statements‘. The Homeland Security agency in the guise of ICE are killing people in detention centres to terrorise migrants into obedience, the ruling party selects racist sales people incompetent at the job and demonstrably corrupt to front their election campaign while maintaining their grip on the mechanics of the election and the law. At their conference they demonstrate they will use pre-planned violence and subvert the law to control dissent and the media. The country while spending more than the rest of the Earth combined on the military with around 1,000 bases in over 100 countries is portrayed as a victim by ultra nationalist supporters who claim a divine justification to their wars of dominion. And the gap between rich and poor grows.

Capitalism: Paragon of Failure- US Nationalises Mortgage Banks

Well probably not exactly expect the commons to carry the burden of keeping the corporate ‘free market’ afloat then when it goes into profit, you won’t see a cent of that…unless you insist…

US financial officials have outlined plans for the government to take over the failing mortgage giants Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. The two companies account for nearly half of the outstanding mortgages in the US, and have lost billions of dollars during the US housing crash. The most recent figures show about 9% of US homeowners were behind on their payments or faced repossession. The federal takeover is one of the largest bail-outs in US history.

So here we have a taste of socialism saving the conservatives, free marketeers, corporatists, objectivists and all the other eejits, of course no one will have the bad taste to say the ‘S’ word in case people get ideas (healthcare, schools, welfare, progressive taxation under democratic control to recover the private fortunes stolen from labour -often under arms) the system will remain in place, this is just to weather the storm… they caused.

Michael Hudson: What do you mean “failure”? Your perspective is from the bottom looking up. But the financial model has been a great success from the vantage point of the top of the economic pyramid looking down? The economy has polarized to the point where the wealthiest 10% now own 85% of the nation’s wealth. Never before have the bottom 90% been so highly indebted, so dependent on the wealthy. From their point of view, their power has exceeded that of any time in which economic statistics have been kept.

America Wins Pakistan Election

NYT– ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Asif Ali Zardari, the widower of the assassinated former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto who has little experience in governing, was elected president of Pakistan on Saturday by a wide margin.

Supporters of the Pakistan Peoples Party celebrated the victory of Asif Ali Zardari, the widower of slain former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, in Islamabad on Saturday. Mr. Zardari, 53, who spent 11 years in jail on corruption charges that remain unproved, succeeds Pervez Musharraf, who resigned last month under the threat of impeachment. He is expected to be sworn in on Monday or Tuesday, officials said.

Mr. Zardari has the tacit approval of the United States, which views him as an ally in the campaign against terrorism. He has promised a tougher fight against members of the Taliban and Al Qaeda ensconced in the nation’s tribal areas, from where they mount assaults on American and NATO troops in Afghanistan.

Well that’s ok then Pakistan voted and America’s interests are secure, as for the actual people in Pakistan…erm, well they get the last few paragraphs in the New York Times, like they matter.

Death Star Jnr.

Take the Advanced Tactical Laser (ATL) that U.S. Special Forces have begun to test-fire. Intended for “covert strikes,” the ATL has been sold on its ability to blast away with pinpoint accuracy. A very rough estimate shows, however, that the effects when you target an individual are not quite what you might expect.

So if the beam stays on the same spot of the target for a full two seconds –- which is a very long time under the circumstances –- it would in theory boil off a disc around one centimeter deep. In real life, the laser would be much less effective, as smoke and steam would rapidly degrade the effectiveness of the beam. Also in real life, the energy is likely to be focused at the center of the beam. And flesh is not water. And nobody is going to hand around being lasered that long… But we’re just trying to get a general idea of orders of magnitude here.

A rough calculation suggests that exposed skin would be blistered/burned in under a twentieth of a second, so the beam could play over the target at quite a high rate. It’s unclear whether clothing would have much protective effect or whether it would simply ignite and cause secondary burns. So instead of “zap-and-you’re-dead” in normal science fiction style, with a hundred kilowatt laser, it’s more a matter of spraying the target all over to ensure they’re done. The description of the ATL as a “long range blow torch” is probably quite accurate.

With this type of weapon, the effects are more like napalm than bullets. Humanitarian protests are likely. And one accidental lasering of a civilian could be enough to prevent the ATL being used as an anti-personnel weapon.

That’s the thing about some geeks, they can get such a hard on for shiny hi-tech death machines they sound rather sulky about those damned ‘humanitarians’ and their pesky aversion to endless imperial war. And ‘accidental’ so people still think the US doesn’t intentionally kill civilians? How quaint. But I’m sure this is the best use of America’s capital…

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.

Well known pacifist pinko hippy terrorist Dwight D. Eisenhower.

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Potemkin Patriots

It was a video that was supposed to elicit soaring patriotism and real emotions about the Pledge of Allegiance. But to do that, it used fake soldiers and a staged military funeral instead of the real thing. On Tuesday night, 15-year-old Victoria Blackstone, a sophomore at the St. Agnes School in St. Paul, led the crowd at the Xcel Energy Center in the Pledge of Allegiance. The audience heard her 434-word essay, “Pledging myself to the Flag of the United States of America,” an essay she’d entered in the “Wave the Stars & Stripes” essay contest and won. The RNC turned that essay into a three and a half minute video, a visually stirring montage rolling over Victoria’s words about sharing the Pledge with Americans who have stood at important moments in history. 


There’s the Continental Congress…A real WWII vet…Photos of workers at Ground Zero. A close-up of a folded flag presented to a grieving widow at a military funeral… profiles of soldiers swelling with pride in slo-motion. 

But CBS News found that the footage of the ‘funeral’ and soldiers is what is called ‘stock’ footage. The soldiers were actors and the funeral scene was from a one-day film shoot, produced in June. No real soldiers were used during production. 

The footage, sold by stock-film house Getty Imageswas produced by a commercial filmmaker in Chicago. Both Getty and the production company, Mr. Big Films, confirmed that the footage was shot on spec and sold to the Republican National Committee

One of the actors, Perry Denton of Chicago, Ill. also confirmed that he was hired on a day-rate as an actor for the shoot and told CBS News he was surprised to learn the footage was shown at the convention.