Saturday, January 29, 2011

Ni Hao, Mr. Bond.

I didn't realize how much evidence is available in the public sphere about the deliberate US targeting of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade back in 1999....

This story is as up to-the-minute contemporary espionage as it gets.

Interesting Data

Another take on the military's role

Conveniently, Egypt's military Chief of Staff just happened to be in DC last week

From "Will the Chief of Staff of the Egyptian military play a new role for the United States?"

by Marwan Bishara, Al-Jazeera's "senior military analyst":

The Obama administration has probably put the Egyptian military chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Sami Hafez Anan, on notice before he left the US capital on Friday, and explained what it can, could not or would not stand for in terms of the military's response to the revolt.

Washington has been a major backer of the Egyptian military over the last three decades, supplying the country with around $2bn in annual aid mostly for military purposes. When the uprising broke out, Anan was in Washington as part of their annual strategising sessions.

Clearly caught by surprise, the US has been a mere spectator over the last several weeks, as people took to the streets in Tunisia or Egypt.

The Obama administration continued its predecessor's policy of nurturing contacts and consultation with various Egyptian opposition groups in addition to the military.

It understands all too well that the response of the Egyptian military will have far reaching influence, not only on the situation in Egypt, but also on other countries in the region, no less on its future relationship with Israel.

For the military to be the guardian of the state's sovereignty and stability, it must be the protector of Egypt's future politics, not its permanent leader.

Riveted by the Live Stream on Al-Jazeera

Police have disappeared. Army doing little. Wealthy parts of Cairo feeling vulnerable. A lot of looting apparently by armed gangs.

Many questions.

What are the orders to the army? Will they enforce the curfew? This is what one tank commander said via bullhorn to people in the streets... "I'll take off my uniform and join you during the day, but please clear the streets at night so we can go after the "thugs"..."

or is the military paralyzed? Waiting to see which way the wind blows?

Without a decisive presence, pretty soon people will begin arming themselves to maintain order.

The key action is now behind the scenes --- will the armed forces remain united and uphold the state apparatus or split between factions? If the latter, then fasten your seatbelts cause it will be more Iran/Russia rather than Philippines.

What about those humans? On the edge of extinction, they still make history

Amazing how slowly the owl of Minerva flies and how long twilight lasts.

This is the best live coverage I can find:

As the Arab peoples rise up, Al Jazeera may well become a superpower in the media world, contending with BBC and CNN. Maybe the Anglo-American media cartel will finally lose its grip.

I've been disappointed at the Indian media's performance -- still under the tutelage of the Anglo world--- but perhaps eventually they will transfer some of the amazing intellectual ferment inside India onto the global scene.

Meanwhile, re: the French Revolution, still "too early to tell".

Friday, January 28, 2011

Is that the fat lady singing?

From the Telegraph:

In what could be a sign of things to come, some army units in Suez, the eastern city that has seen some of the worst of the violence, reportedly refused orders to disperse protesters yesterday.

Stoller keeps telling the truth

From Yves Smith at NC (no link):

The FCIC report is destined for the same dustbin of history as that speech. It is a document of and by well-meaning insiders that just can’t deal with the corruption they were supposed to investigate. It’s a psychological crutch maybe, or perhaps a denial mechanism, but it doesn’t really matter. This report is just a cover-up, the same kind of cover-up that is allowing the thieves to escape with their loot.

Nothing will come from the generation in power who created this mess. They just don’t have it in them. The bad guys will steal again. I mean, crime pays. Besides, who’s going to call it crime, anyway?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

They're going for insurrection

A story in the Guardian describes leaflets circulating in Cairo:

Protesters in Cairo are advised to gather in large numbers in their own neighbourhoods away from police and troops and then move towards key installations such the state broadcasting HQ on the Nile-side Corniche and try to take control "in the name of the people". Other priority targets are the presidential palace and police stations in several parts of central Cairo.

It's not clear who this is, but as always, if the police and army fold, which no longer seems far-fetched, given the gerontocratic nature of the regime, we may have February revolutions across the arab world.

An eruption of real politics about real power.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Fascism with a capital F

What for years Dave Neiwert has been calling eliminationist rhetoric is now apparently filling the minds of millions on a daily basis. The crazed quality of the thinking reminds me of a certain house painter.

As recently as Monday, Beck devoted over seven minutes of his TV show to Piven, repeatedly calling her an "enemy of the Constitution" due to an article she wrote for The Nation in which she praised the demonstrations and civil disobedience that occurred in Britain and Greece in the past few months.

He also included her in a pledge that he asked members of Congress to sign following the Arizona shootings. In it, he compared her to a violent, far-right militia whose members are now in jail for conspiring to overthrow the U.S. government.

the rest at HuffPo

Friday, January 21, 2011

I like this guy Stoller

Matt Stoller, who was Alan Grayson's advisor (via NC):

The only way out of this box is to establish a new international order of trade, which both handles balance of payments problems effectively, ends the arbitrage of labor, and directs resources into common global problems like pollution, energy deficits, pandemics, and extreme poverty. This means, though, that the big banks simply must become less important. Trading flows have to be managed by trusted public entities, new business sectors that drive value from innovation must supplant the exist outsource predatory model, and workers must find representation in some sort of forum to allow them some economic power.

And this quote from Richard Fisher lifted from just-released 2005 Fed minutes is one for the history books:

“My most delicious irony is the fact that similarly dated Vietnamese debt now trades on a price basis richer, and on a yield basis lower, than that of Ford Motor Company. [Laughter]”

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

I guess getting old involves irony overload

From a souvenir ship in Beijing, via Reuters

I used to be disgusted....

The recent, somewhat breathless discovery that neoliberalism is bad for working people is generating much conversation in certain areas of the blogosphere.

Now, aside from the fact that the blogosphere came of age at a time (after Bush v. Gore v. Nader) and with a politician (Dean) when the left reinvested in the two party system, I’m not sure how much of this is distinctly a problem with the blogosphere. Rather, it’s a problem with US discourse generally, and the taxonomy that DeBoer maps out largely comes from compromises many in the blogosphere made to be able to take part in that discourse. (Oh. Btw. Blowjob.) The blogosphere has been certified and thereby neutralized by our political elite, but only certain parts of that blogosphere.

And voila: that means not enough of the leading voices of the blogosphere speak for workers (or the unemployed or the elderly poor or immigrant workers)–or even speak out against our failed capitalist masters. More importantly (and this is why I think DeBoer’s point about socialism is important), while some–many of us here at FDL, for example–do offer critiques of our capitalist masters and support for labor such as it exists, almost no one is offering an affirmative ideological alternative to the neoliberalism of the Village.

The absence of a viable threat from the working class makes it easy for DC to use this failure of capitalism to double down on it, to further disenfranchise the poor. Shock Doctrine, baby.

The rest here: "Blindspots and fear of the working class"

Oops. Maybe not cold fusion

(UPDATE) Oops, maybe not cold fusion, but significant nevertheless.

This discussion
is more informative.

Cold fusion again

I've been following this for the last week or so and have decided to post about it since it seems like something might be happening.

I don't pretend to understand the nuclear reaction purported to take place, but it seems that there are enough expert witnesses to suggest there are no obvious gaping holes in the technique.

They claim patents and investors -- neither of which means anything. But they also claim a roll out of commercial reactors within a year....

Still too early to tell, but worth keeping an eye on.

If true, it changes the world.

(UPDATE) Oops, maybe not cold fusion. This discussion is more informative.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Ongoing Decomposition of the Political System (Homeland Insecurity)

Taibbi on Boehner and the Tea Party:

Congress was an easy job for any man with a nice fairway stroke, a limited moral compass and a keen sense of bureaucratic loyalty; it was half an acting job and half clerical work, taking orders from industry captains and selling the resultant giveaway bills to your voters as principled blows for Adam Smith, the flag and the free-enterprise system. Back when America was still a feared international bully that was flush with borrowed Saudi and Chinese cash and could stand to blow a few hundred extra billion in public funds every year on budget-padding deals — back in the Bush years — John Boehner was the perfect candidate for congressional leadership, a lifetime company man who didn't give a shit about most Americans but could shed tears on national television on behalf of Jamie Dimon's bottom line.

If the clash with the Tea Party happens, as Taibbi predicts, it will get very interesting. But clearly there will be two, three, many Tea Parties that result....

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Say It Ain't So! Even The Guardian?

Counterpunch takes The Guardian to task for political self-censorship of wikileaks materials:

Idenov concludes his talk with the rationalizations of his fellow sell-outs: “Almost everyone at the top is confused by the corrupt excesses of capitalism. ‘If Goldman Sachs executives can make $50 million a year and then run America's economy in Washington, what's so different about what we do?’ they ask.” Indeed, probably nothing. If the American people are helpless before the rapacity of Goldman Sachs executives, how can we expect the Kazakh people to defend themselves from transnational corporations assisted by the CIA? The full, unedited cable makes it too clear that their only choice is which bribe to take.

The rest here.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A new kind of bus

One of the fruits of changing global economic relations is the unleashing of new sources of innovation.

Though we are used to stuff like this coming out of Japan, Japan is a tiny country in comparison to China and India.

Get ready for many more gee whiz things coming from those countries this century.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Housing for a small planet

I'm sheepish about periodically feeling like our recently purchased house is too small, since it is actually quite fine.

Some of you may know that there is a trend in real estate towards smaller housing, and that some environmentally conscious people were buying or building very small homes.

Tiny homes is a movement

Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Last Wave

Those of a certain age will know the Peter Weir movie's aboriginal mysticism, but Australia's recent flooding "of biblical proportions" makes it now seem more like futurology.

The Climate Progress blog seems to be the essential one-stop shop for all the bad news that fits to print.

This post is as good a place to start as any.