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Wednesday, 03 February 2010

"America's Oldest Aquarium": Dormant, Neglected

Click on image for a larger version
Belle Isle Aquarium, a public realm gem doomed in a country that no longer values its public realm.
[Update below]

While untold trillions are siphoned from the public trough and dumped into weapons production, massive "security" data centers, tax payer funded overseas arms sales, bankster bailouts, and last, but certainly not least, flat out war, we find yet another canary-yellow indicator of the rot of American civil society the ruling class has seen fit to catalyze, and the value it now places on the public space, as once esteemed public works of the City Beautiful movement lay abandoned, desolated, if not already razed to the ground and lost forever.

Like much of Detroit, the Belle Isle Zoo and its gorgeous aquarium have been shuttered for "budget reasons."  It seems "the greatest country in the world" just cannot afford $300K to keep its oldest aquarium operating.
And then there is the Belle Isle Aquarium, a 10,000-square-foot gem with an eight-sided dome that opened in 1904 as the entrance to the botanical conservatory.

Designed by Albert Kahn as part of the "City Beautiful Movement,"the ceilings are still covered in green glass tiles, the viewing tanks are

Trans Ramos Pipeline Hit, Shell Shuttters Flow Stations

Not long after MEND (Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta) declared an end to an October truce, the Trans Ramos oil pipeline was hit by sabotage.
Royal Dutch Shell has shut three oil flow stations in Nigeria's Niger Delta region after a pipeline was sabotaged

Saturday's leak on the Trans Ramos oil pipeline was confirmed "to have been caused by sabotage". The leak was later stopped.

Mend said it was not "directly responsible" for the attack, reports the Reuters news agency.

But an e-mailed statement said: "It was certainly a response to our order to resume hostilities by one of the various freelance groups we endorse."


IED Attack on Frontier Corps Kills "Aid Workers"

As uncritically reported by the New York Times:
Four aid workers employed by the United States Agency for International Development were killed Wednesday morning when the paramilitary convoy they were traveling in was hit by a remote-controlled explosive device in Lower Dir, an area adjacent to the troubled region of Swat
The aid workers were traveling in vehicles of the Frontier Corps, the paramilitary force in Pakistan. The Frontier Corps was assigned to provide protection to the workers, according to the military spokesman.
Despite the American corporate media's inability to report the uncomfortable fact that almost everyone outside the United States either suspects or knows that USAID is oft a front for covert destabilization operations, this is especially true in Pakistan -- where Blackwater is known to have posed, and probably is still posing, as "aid" workers.
Blackwater operatives also integrate with Kestral’s forces in sensitive counterterrorism operations in the North-West Frontier Province, where they work in conjunction with the Pakistani Interior Ministry’s paramilitary force, known as the Frontier Corps (alternately referred to as “frontier scouts”). The Blackwater personnel are technically advisers, but the former executive said that the line often gets blurred in the field.
Who knows what evil lurks in the heart of the blurry field? 

A more circumspect BBC simply calls the so-called aid workers, "foreigners," and "Westerners."  Horribly, at least three school girls were killed.

Update:  the "foreigners" have now been [...]More

Monday, 01 February 2010

CRU Email Hack IO pales against IPCC Chair

Of course, it wasn't the scatter shot email bitching that "destabilized Copenhagen."  The CRU hack was meant for public consumption. 
'Climate emails hacked by spies'

A highly sophisticated hacking operation that led to the leaking of hundreds of emails from the Climatic Research Unit in East Anglia was probably carried out by a foreign intelligence agency, according to the Government's former chief scientist. Sir David King, … said that the hacking and selective leaking of the unit's emails, going back 13years, bore all the hallmarks of a coordinated intelligence operation– especially given their release just before the Copenhagen climate conference in December.

Sir David suggested the email leaks were deliberately designed to destabilise Copenhagen and he dismissed the idea that it was a run-of-the-mill hacking. It was carried out by a team of skilled professionals, either on behalf of a foreign government or at the behest of anti-climate change lobbyists in the United States, …

The leak of the emails in the weeks running up to the climate change conference in Copenhagen appeared to be carefully timed to destabilise the meeting.
Clearly, this effort did not "destabilise the meeting."  In fact, there was an enormous dichotomy between the news coverage of the email hack and the coverage of the  Copenhagen summit.  What it was meant to do was to provide a public pretext for "doubt."

Naturally, clueless right wing dipshits were happy to sing their usual tune.  I wonder if it would disturb these nubs in the least of the possibility that they were sucking the sour milk from the teat of a Russian IO working on [...]More

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Cornel West to Obama

Shorter Cornel West: Obama!  You are being a wimp.  Stop it.


Zinn: Dead at 87

Shockfront mourns the death of one of the good guys: at the ripe age of 87, Howard Zinn leaves us the poorer for his passing.
Howard Zinn, an author, teacher and political activist whose book “A People’s History of the United States” became a million-selling leftist alternative to mainstream texts, died Wednesday in Santa Monica, Calif. He was 87 and lived in Auburndale, Mass.

The cause was a heart attack, his daughter Myla Kabat-Zinn said.
Thanks, Howard, for all your great and good efforts.More

Monday, 11 January 2010

Passing Sigh-op

For those paying attention to this grim outlet, posting will be light for the next couple of weeks.  Shockfront will leave readers with an image from Murdoch's Sunday Times (paper only), an indication of the pysop now playing out in corporate media outlets, led by News Corporation: tiny, scrabbling grunts heading into battle with the looming spectre of Muslim assassins hanging in the Afghan air.

Enjoy the terror!


This image and the accompanying articulated hysteria about Afghanistan and al Qaeda was followed, on the very next page (p. 18), by a Sunday Times editorial that expressed the conservative sentiment of our time, one which we're used to hearing from the lords of war:
"When Human Rights Can Put Lives at Risk."
When is that? readers might ask.  Always, says The Sunday Times.  Human rights are an unnecessary evil.  Damn you, Human Rights!  Stop this senseless killing!

When I first saw this image, I burst out laughing.  For all intents and purposes, it appears that Rupert Murdoch is single-handedly reestablishing the Weekly World News.  I'll be convinced of this when Weekly Worl …,  uh, The Sunday Times, follows up on my own personal favourite WWN exclusive story, one that really does demand further investigation.


Sunday, 10 January 2010

This Sceptred Isle

NASA looks down on Great Britain.



Reining in the Sing

There's a protest singer, he's singin' a protest song.
Army Imprisons Soldier for Singing Against Stop-Loss Policy

Army Specialist and Iraq war veteran Marc Hall was incarcerated by the US Army on December 11, 2009, in Liberty County Jail, Georgia, for recording a song that expresses his anger over the Army's stop-loss policy.

Hall, (aka hip hop artist Marc Watercus), who is in the Army's 3rd Infantry Division, was placed in Liberty County Jail for the song (click here to listen to "Stop-Loss," by Marc Watercus), in which he angrily denounces the continuing policy that has barred him from exiting the military.

Military service members do not completely give up their rights to free speech, particularly not when they are doing so artistically while off duty, as was the case with Hall. He is charged under Article 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which covers "all disorders and neglects to the prejudice of good order and discipline" and "all conduct of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces." The military is claiming that he "communicated a threat" with his song. Hall mailed a copy of the song to the Pentagon after the Army unilaterally extended his contract for a second Iraq deployment.


Saturday, 09 January 2010

Google: We Will Ad Everything

Anticipating virtual windfall revenue, Google, INC., is hefting its large bore advertising paradigm guns onto a virtual realm of its own creation: Street View in Google Maps.  Yes, those clever folks at Google, INC. are now filing for patent protection on, and I do not hesitate to quote, "Real Estate in Panoramic or 3D Mapping Environments for Advertising."  This marvelous imagining will provide an entirely new dimension to advertising: virtual billboards.   What joy.
'The street view display server can locate an ad image within the image database and overlay the region of interest with the associated ad image.'
Yes, those super clever folks at Google have figured out how to sell advertising "real estate" within the framework of their own Google Maps virtual Street View "world,"  a virtual world made by them pestering the real world, which knew not what the geniuses at Google, INC. had in store.

This is exciting, isn't it?  What cutting edge stuff all those brilliant minds at Google, INC., have conjured for our betterment.  They savagely tear and rip the envelope of history.

And we all thought it was just cool to be able to stroll down a street in almost any city on Earth.

Oh, no.  That would be pointless.  Without advertising.

Afghan Obamacare Roundup

  • a rocket has hit a building housing the new U.S. consulate office in western Afghanistan.
  • three rockets were fired at the building in the city of Herat,
  • Danish military says one of its soldiers was killed in a roadside bombing in the southern province of Helmand.
  • five other Danish soldiers were wounded when the blast hit their convoy.
  • an American soldier was killed Thursday when a bomb exploded in eastern Afghanistan.
This has been the Voice of America.


Friday, 08 January 2010

IDF Air Strikes Hit Gaza

Yes, you've seen that headline before.  Many, many times.  This is just the latest one.

Now that Mubarak has stepped up to the Israeli plate, his murderously election-rigged eminence has chosen -- all by himself of course -- to slam the remaining door on the hard scrabble lives of the Palestinians in Gaza.  Already desperate Palestinians began to riot as Egyptian forces turned back food and aid convoys, while Mubarak directed that a steel wall be slammed into the earth, cutting off the vital tunnels.

Naturally, the conflict is now widening with the IDF.
At least three Palestinians were killed and several more injured in Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip late on Thursday night. The attacks came in response to a barrage of mortar and rocket fire by Gaza-based militants, and marked a serious escalation in the violence between Israel and the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.

The Palestinian death toll was one of the highest since the end of Israel's three-week offensive against the territory one year ago, which left about 1,400 Gazans dead. The night raid came less than two weeks after an even bloodier day of violence, in which Israeli forces killed six Palestinians, including several suspected militants.

According to the Israeli armed forces, the war planes attacked four sites across the coastal strip: a weapons manufacturing facility in Gaza City, two smuggling tunnels along the Gaza-Egypt border and one tunnel which the army said was designed to allow militants to infiltrate Israel.
One of the key nodes in the "Tongues of Kings" rhetorical framework surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian " [...]More

Murder Charges Slap Former Blackwater Guards

Well, I guess we'll get to watch how the Department of Justice will "screw up" this effort.
Two former Blackwater security guards were arrested Thursday on murder charges stemming from a shooting in Afghanistan last May that left two Afghans dead and a third wounded, the Justice Department said.

The arrests came just days after a federal district judge dismissed a separate criminal case against four other former Blackwater security guards involved in a 2007 shooting in Nisour Square in Baghdad that left at least 17 Iraqi civilians dead. In that decision, Judge Ricardo M. Urbina offered scathing criticism of the prosecution’s handling of the case.

Thursday’s arrests seemed to signal that the Justice Department did not plan to abandon its scrutiny of Blackwater despite its defeat in the Nisour Square case.

Exercises in rhetoric: Can we possibly expect Eric Prince to face similar charges, as has been alleged by former Blackwater employees? 


Charges Against Honduran Generals "expected to be dropped"

Well, that promised Honduran rule of law song and dance didn't last long.
Six military officers involved in the ouster of Manuel Zelaya from the Honduran presidency last year were charged this week with abuse of power, but the charges are expected to be dropped as part of a deal to ease tensions in the country….

The charges against the military commanders are not expected to go far. Porfirio Lobo, who won a presidential election on Nov. 29 and is to be inaugurated this month, has said he supports granting amnesty both to Mr. Zelaya, who has been accused of treason and abuse of power, and to those who removed him from office. The Honduran Congress is scheduled to begin debating an amnesty motion next week.

Or "presidential election," as it should be described.


Eye Witness Account: Mutallab "Aided onto Northwest Flight Sans Passport"

A young black man and a "wealthy Indian individual" walk into an airport somewhere in the Netherlands…
Suit: "This man needs to board the plane. He doesn't have a passport."
Ticket Agent: "Well, you have to have a passport to board the plane."
Suit: "He's from Sudan. We do this all the time."
Agent: "Well, you'll need to see my manager."
And then, it's off the see the wizard.

Read more of Kurt Haskel's eye witness accounts of the bizarre behaviour of US customs officials upon landing in Detroit.

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