johnny9fingers: (Default)
Ah....some of the profiteering is starting to come out:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/mar/27/usa.afghanistan?gusrc=rss&feed=networkfront

Though it is always the small scale operations that get caught: the sophisticated ones will carry on regardless.

A quote from the article:

"AEY's contract was approved weeks later in January 2007, and Diversoli began scouring the globe for suppliers. Diversoli turned to Albania, which had large weapons dumps. However, the Times reported that the firm ended up paying for Kalashnikov rounds that was so obsolete and unsafe that the US and Nato were funding programmes to see them safely destroyed."

This means the US has paid for that ammunition twice: once to buy, and once to destroy.
Good use of taxpayer's dollars.

Don't you love carpetbaggers...but the big boys will avoid inspection: I reckon, so let's not make a scapegoat of a chap just trying to exercise the old 'entrepreneurial' talent. With luck Efraim Diversoli has made his money, despite the main players having most of the other contracts 'stitched up', as I believe the phrase to be.
johnny9fingers: (Default)
Oh Dear....

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/mar/11/usa.israelandthepalestinians?gusrc=rss&feed=networkfront

I quote from the article:

The top US military commander in the Middle East is stepping down days after a magazine profile reported he was trying to block US military action against Iran.

Admiral William Fallon, the head of US Central Command, was described in an Esquire article published last week as a lone voice within the administration arguing for restraint.

The article's author, Thomas Barnett, had predicted that if Admiral Fallon was pushed out of his job "it may well mean that the president and vice-president intend to take military action against Iran before the end of this year and don't want a commander standing in their way".

Now I think GWB will have to get a UN resolution on this if he wants anyone else to go with him: and that may be difficult.
And we all know the costs will have to be borne by the next administration.
Perhaps the next President will rescind some of the legislation that GWB passed. Specifically the 'get out of jail free' cards.

William Fallon: an honourable man in an honourable service led by....
Naval bods tend to be honourable: look at Canaris.
johnny9fingers: (Default)
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/mar/10/usa.iraq1?gusrc=rss&feed=worldnews

I adore the paragraph:
"KBR has angered Republicans as well as Democrats in Washington thanks to recent sexual assault and tax evasion scandals."

One wonders if KBR had paid their tax and/or their contibutions to party funds via K Street as usual, would they be in this position even if US soldiers had become very ill indeed.

It's a salutary lesson. If you want to avoid prosecution for your company's dodgy doings remember to pay your contributions properly and regularly. 

(We got rid of the Brown Envelope stuffed with £50's during the 'Cash for questions' scandal. But it didn't change too much, look at the Al_Yamamah scandal, and present Parliamentary expenses problems.)

Oh well, here we are in the best of all possible worlds: it's a good job judgement over the world isn't given unto me.
johnny9fingers: (Dogbert1)
Oh well. As long as we're led by imbeciles who fight when & where the opposition want us to, they're going to walk all over us.
Why do democracies continually elect people representative of lowest common denominator mentalities?
What is it about subtlety or intelligence or talent that intimidates a voter?
If folk don't want government to be any cleverer than themsleves they deserve what's coming to them.
The one qualification to be a politician is to be,  according to cummings, an arse upon whom everyone has sat except a man.
Let's all vote for stupid and 'regular' guys, after all what harm can come of it?

I now think that democracy is flawed beyond redemption, which is probably why we want to export it to places that are governed differently: after all we don't want them to have an unfair advantage, (like smarts and subtlety) do we?

Or perhaps it's a good thing that we elect as our leaders persons who are perfectly happy to put the family silver (budget surplus to budget deficit, and servicemen's lives) on a three card trick operated by some dodgy middle-eastern terrorist manque, and thereby turn him into the most wanted man in the world, and amongst the opposition, the most feted.

I'm almost beginning to wish for another Nixon - for all his criminality, at least he was smart.

Fuck democracy, let's have competitive examinations; the Chinese had such for almost two thousand years, even their nightsoil attendendents needed to be able to pass exams, and their hierarchy was determined by such. None of the twats we've got at the moment are fit to govern. And if that's an elitist opinion, I would suggest we look at the way things are going under the present 'best of all systems': if we can't look at ourselves and see the faults, we're delusional, and also deserve everything we get.

johnny9fingers: (window)
If you want to know how truly dumb we've been, and how utterly stupid the idea of torturing information out of the enemy is, please read this extract from the today's Guardian:

Al-Qaida 'planted information to encourage US invasion'


Richard Norton-Taylor
Friday November 17, 2006
The Guardian


A senior al-Qaida operative deliberately planted information to encourage the US to invade Iraq, a double agent who infiltrated the network and spied for western intelligence agencies claimed last night.
The claim was made by Omar Nasiri, a pseudonym for a Moroccan who says he spent seven years working for European security and intelligence agencies, including MI5. He said Ibn Sheikh al-Libi, who ran training camps in Afghanistan, told his US interrogators that al-Qaida had been training Iraqis.

Libi was captured in November 2001 and taken to Egypt where he was allegedly tortured. Asked on BBC2's Newsnight whether Libi or other jihadists would have told the truth if they were tortured, Nasiri replies: "Never".
Asked whether he thought Libi had deliberately planted information to get the US to fight Iraq, Nasiri said: "Exactly".

Nasiri said Libi "needed the conflict in Iraq because months before I heard him telling us when a question was asked in the mosque after the prayer in the evening, where is the best country to fight the jihad?" Libi said Iraq was chosen because it was the "weakest" Muslim country.

It is known that under interrogation, Libi misled Washington. His claims were seized on by George Bush, vice-president, Dick Cheney, and Colin Powell, secretary of state, in his address to the security council in February, 2003, which argued the case for a pre-emptive war against Iraq.

Though he did not name Libi, Mr Powell said "a senior terrorist operative" who "was responsible for one of al-Qaida's training camps in Afghanistan" had told US agencies that Saddam Hussein had offered to train al-Qaida in the use of "chemical or biological weapons".

What is new, if Nasiri is to be believed, is that the leading al-Qaida operative wanted to overthrow Saddam and use Iraq as a jihadist base. Nasiri also says that part of al-Qaida training was to withstand interrogation and provide false information.

Nasiri said last night he was later sent to London by his French handlers to infiltrate Finsbury Park mosque and spy on its imam, Abu Hamza, as well as another radical cleric, Abu Qatada.

He said MI5 and French intelligence were watching the two clerics in London from as far back as 1997. He said he told them that Abu Hamza was carrying out combat training and how he listened into conversations relaying messages between Abu Qatada and the training camps in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

"At the time we didn't think that the growing threat from al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden was sufficient to put more resources on it," Bob Milton, a Metropolitan police special branch officer, told Newsnight. "We were monitoring what he was doing, certainly working with the US and European colleagues to do that. But at that time we were still unsure what the threat would be," he said.

Abu Hamza was charged in 2003 and convicted this year for incitement to murder and race hate crimes. 

How fucking retarded. We went to war because they told us porkies, or we told them to ourselves.  Flip a coin. 

They've got what they wanted. Sometimes we are so stupid. I think the time has come for me to kill myself (except I cannot leave my duties undone).

On a lighter note:
I give you Iggy Pop's rider, for those that haven't seen it before.




johnny9fingers: (Sri Yantra)

The Old Man is stable for the time being. Visitors have been trying not to tire him out, which is thoughtful.
Took my amps into John Kelly's workshop without too much of a hitch, though I did get caught in a yellow box due to traffic. If I get a fine, so be it, dammit.

I've been thinking about the 'Clash of Cultures' worst case scenario.
I can't imagine even the most hardened Al Qaeda Islamist really wants a complete and total war against the west. A von Clauswitz total war (the whole of the West's economies and societies given over to the military objective) against Islam would effectively wipe the religion from the map - & with all it's holy sites crisped in the process. (A total war may well include nuclear weapons, especially if terrorists use them first.) The horrors (& expenses) of interning all moslems living in the west, conscription for all able bodied non moslem males leading to perhaps 20-30 million men under arms,  the complete occupation or destruction of Islamic capitals and thereafter Islamic culture - all these are horrific, by anyone's standards. I cannot believe that even Al Qaeda wants a total head to head, even if they say they do, and even if they think they can win such a set of engagements with the one or two nukes that Islamic countries might be able to build and use before the inevitable armageddon.

GWB's neocon advisors have tried to portray Islamists as fascists, conflating the terms into one: 'Islamofascist'. If we go down the WWII route, we will have to defeat them utterly, with all that implies. I can't see destroying the culture that returned Classical Greek to us and has given us the basis for much higher mathematics as being a good thing, merely because of the actions of a few madmen and zealots.

By definition then, if they are not mad, they have more limited (& achievable) objectives, else they would not be pushing us even this far. If they are mad, the moslem community should cauterise them, and quickly, before they tip the balance and everybody loses, but Islam loses even more.

If they have limited objectives we may be able to see just how far those coincide with ours. If not at all, then it's back to square one, but we always have further positions to adopt, right up to, and including (in extremis) all out war. And they (the 'bad guys') have the same choices. I'm sure there are sane Al Qaeda top brass who know what they want, and who also know what would satisfy them in the real world. But I may be wrong.

I know GWB's screwed the pooch over this, but I'm sure we can find a way out before we need to use 'Von Kreige' as our textbook. There should be about a hundred steps before we get to the worst case scenario, but again I may be wrong.

Of course, if I'm wrong, the only decent thing to do would be to join up myself. I rather hope that doesn't happen, as I'm pretty Bolshie and don't take kindly to orders given by idiots. However, I might prefer that to orders given by an Ayatollah: but it's only going to come to either if both sides are completely stupid. Nevertheless H L Mencken might have something pertinent to say about my optimism, or alternatively my belief in human beings rising above such stupidity.

johnny9fingers: (Sri Yantra)
Armstice day. 2 mins silence at eleven.
Somewhat less frazzled than yesterday despite getting up at 3.30am to see if the Da needed help to the loo (Which means setting alarm clock and then stumbling down three flights of stairs to the parents rooms).
Mike's been a complete hero - arrives and immediately takes over 75% of the workload. The man's a complete star. Reassures the old man as well - at least somebody competent's helping out - unlike self.
The other thing I really become aware of is how fortunate I've been in my friends. Stalwart coves all, and in many respects better than I deserve.

Been cogitating on The American Situation quite a lot when my brain hasn't been dwelling on other things.
I have come to the conclusion that the situation is so involved and has so many ramifications that we have to examine what led us to this pass (which is not the same as apportioning blame) in order to prevent any more obvious abuses of power happening in the future. This will not prevent clever and unscrupulous folk finding loopholes, but will at least indicate that the body politic will attempt work out what's been going on, and what's been going wrong.

I think the maxim 'be sure your sins will find you out' is probably one which should be enshrined somewhere in all of our unwritten constitutions - I know from experience that it operates on a personal basis, alas - but I don't know how to extend it to the political arena now without damaging left/right relations and compromising whatever foriegn policy solutions are going to need to be implemented in order to extract us from our present difficulties. Also I think it may be a waste of our political resources, dividing our efforts, which should be better employed in sorting the mess out.

I think we should find out how and why we got into this mess, so the naysayers cannot deny either the fact of it happening, or the causality thereof; but take no further action unless... unless the administration uses the Dems generosity to simply further their own pre-existing agenda - ie if GWB and his minions make all the right noises, but continue exactly as before (vide Tony Blair - says all the right things but does whatever he wants no matter how much it contradicts his public political pronouncments).

Vigilance and watchfulness should be our position, but not blame or revenge.
johnny9fingers: (Sri Yantra)
Julius Caesar had Gaul; Bush just has gall


Terry Jones
Sunday November 5, 2006
The Observer


In 59BC, Julius Caesar declared he was so shocked by the incursions of the dangerous Helvetii tribe into Gaul, and the suffering of the Gaulish peoples, that he had himself appointed 'protector of the Gauls'. By the time he'd finished protecting them, a million Gauls were dead, another million enslaved and Julius Caesar owned most of Gaul. Now I'm not suggesting there is any similarity between George W Bush's protection of the Iraqi people and Caesar's protection of the Gauls.
For a start, Julius Caesar, as we all know, was bald, whereas George W Bush has a fine head of hair.

In any case, George W Bush is not personally making huge amounts of money out of it. The money-making is all left in the capable hands of companies like CACI International, Blackwater Security and Haliburton.

It's true that Vice-President Dick Cheney's stock options in his old company, Haliburton, went up from $241,498 in 2004 to $8m in 2005 - that's an increase of 3,281 per cent.

But then Dick Cheney is bald.

The point I'm trying to make is that there is absolutely no comparison to be made between Julius Caesar's invasion of Gaul in 58-50BC and George Bush's invasion of Iraq.

I mean, Julius Caesar had the nerve to pretend that the Roman state was being threatened by what was going on in Gaul. He claimed he had to carry out a pre-emptive strike against the Helvetii in the interests of homeland security. In reality, his motives were political. He desperately needed a military victory to boost his standing in Rome and give him the necessary popular base to seize power.

George W Bush, on the other hand, was already in power when he invaded Iraq and, in any case, he didn't need to boost his popularity, because the popular vote had nothing to do with his getting into power in the first place. Julius Caesar was also a very adroit propagandist who made damn sure that his version of events prevailed. He even wrote eight books about his wars in Gaul to make sure it did. George W Bush doesn't need to go to such lengths. He has Fox News.

When Julius Caesar claimed his glorious victory over the Helvetii, he made it sound as if he had destroyed a vast army of 'wild and savage men'. Julius Caesar reckoned he had slaughtered more than 250,000 'insurgents'. In fact, documents found in the remains of the Helvetii camp showed that out of 368,000 people, only 92,000 had been capable of bearing arms.

In other words, it wasn't an army that Julius Caesar massacred, but a whole population including women, children, old and sick, which, I suppose, is one thing that George W Bush and Julius Caesar do have in common: pretending civilians are armed insurgents.

But there the similarity ends. One of the most fundamental differences between Julius Caesar and George W Bush is that Julius Caesar counted his dead, whereas George W Bush can't be bothered. It seems that, as commander-in-chief, George W Bush instructed his soldiers not to count the enemy dead. So the fact that he still sticks to an estimate of only 30,000 dead Iraqis, even when a recently published study in the Lancet suggests he's slaughtered at least 655,000, can only be the result of his extraordinary modesty.

Why else would he dismiss the study as pure guesswork or claim it had used a 'methodology [that] is pretty well discredited', even though the US government has been spending millions of dollars a year to train NGOs in this exact same methodology? Julius Caesar would have seized on the figures with alacrity.

And that is the biggest difference of all: Julius Caesar was an ambitious, vainglorious, would-be tyrant. George W Bush is a modest and self-deprecating one.
johnny9fingers: (Sri Yantra)
LJ goes down, I'm without my fix. If I were only more non-rational about things I could imagine it to be a conspiracy to deprive me of my particular pleasures. Being rational, however, I know I'm in the waiting room phase of life.
Still to come:
Colostomy
Prostate problems
Impotence
Zimmer frame
Altzheimer's
Parkinson's
Increasing myopia and then darkness
Cardiac Arrythmia

All avoided so far.
Still hetrosexual despite aversion therapy (Women...ARgh...Women...Arghh! dumbstruck by a combination of anger and confusion our hero beats himself about head with clicky ba' resulting in the normal concussion experienced by having anything emotional to do with the enemy gender - I know what they've done to me in the past, so I might as well beat myself up first, at least I'll be on the winning side.)

I still wonder why women prefer thugs to gentlemen. One forgets just what a turn off manners and courtesy are to the modern woman, or at least the modern women who, for some unknown reasons, I find attractive. My chum Hazel reckons its all self-selecting - I choose the mad ones because I need something to complain about, or in some unexplained way, the madness is the sexy bit. I'm beginning to dislike my subconscious in the same way that one begins to dislike a drinking companion who, though good fun, leads one into increasingly embarassing situations, like attending a society wedding with Courtney Love as one's date. 'Wax my anus', indeed. (Represses slight shudder - can you actually imagine shouting that to your PA down a busy London street? I know rock'n'roll folk are meant to be a bit OTT, but couldn't she just be a bit more tasteful, like Keef for instance.)

The Old Man's a bit weak today. He has spent lots of it in bed. Finishing up his 4th bout of Chemo, and right at the nadir of the cycle. Mother has local ward meetings and selection committee stuff to do and I have to be about for Dad until our sitting MP has been reselected or not. Doesn't affect me - I resigned from the Party over the war, so I don't get a say anymore - perhaps impotence has come earlier than I anticipated.

Again lifted by news from across the pond. Think the US will get its act together and do something about present situation. I have faith that now many of the issues are being openly discussed, spin will count less in forming the US electorate's opinions - even Fox News got a visit from R Murdoch (prop). Will not expect Volte Face from Fox, but if Roops is agin the war and the Republican position, then its bye-bye both houses, hello lame duck President.

My family have fought in the military for a very long time. One member was (famously) Wellington's ADC at Waterloo. One (a member of the British Upper house) died at the Somme. Both my Father and his elder brother fought during WWII, my uncle being mentioned in dispatches for work behind the lines in what is now called Iraq - he lost the sight in one eye and was physically broken by the ordeal. My brother and I are the first generation not to have served their country in over 200 years, and I used to wonder if I should have continued with a family tradition. Feel v.glad I didn't. I think it's different with conscription and von Clauswitz's concept of total war, or defensive war.
Which is of course why in any contest between defensive war, which is Athene's province, and invasion or aggressive war, which is Ares': Athene almost always wins...eventually.

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