- Tricks of the Libyan Trade
- Mubarak is gone
- Sino-Russian oil pipeline goes operational
- Obama DoJ Refuses Cooperation on Polish "CIA Black Site" Investigation
- Iran Suspends Fuel Delivery to Afghanistan
- Halliburton settles, Cheney skates
- "We are filing charges against Cheney"
- Students Storm La Torre di Pisa, Colosseum
- "Evidence of Informed Trading on the Attacks of September 11"
- "Drones Strikes Based on Scant Evidence"
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Sunday, 16 November 2008
A Pak Wink and a Pentagon Nod in the NWFP
The United States and Pakistan reached tacit agreement in September on a don't-ask-don't-tell policy that allows unmanned Predator aircraft to attack suspected terrorist targets in rugged western Pakistan, according to senior officials in both countries. In recent months, the U.S. drones have fired missiles at Pakistani soil at an average rate of once every four or five days.In what maybe described as yet another salutary benefit of the highly anticipated departed of the much loathed Bush administration, Pakistanis seem somewhat more willing, perhaps better described as 'less unwilling,' to endure the bombing with the advent of a
The officials described the deal as one in which the U.S. government refuses to publicly acknowledge the attacks while Pakistan's government continues to complain noisily about the politically sensitive strikes.
The arrangement coincided with a suspension of ground assaults into Pakistan by helicopter-borne U.S. commandos. Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari said in an interview last week that he was aware of no ground attacks since one on Sept. 3 that his government vigorously protested.
The Slings and Arrows of Outrageous Fortune
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them?
By "outrageous fortune," I doubt Shakespeare had in mind the kind of wholesale wealth transfer currently being enacted by the Bush administration's Treasury Department, but such a turn of phrase is entirely appropriate to what is transpiring in the country right now. I am not, by implication, advocated an armed insurrection, but we certainly need to somehow oppose this insanity. Unfortunately, there seems nary a peep of protest about the monstrous scam being perpetrated within a shock doctrine paradigm.
Below is my article in the Indypendent Reader on the looting of the Treasury, a sham that we otherwise know as "the bailout." This article was submitted two weeks ago and prior to a couple of other news nuggets that have since exposed themselves; the $2 trillion in secret, opaque loans to person or persons unknown and whom the Fed has refused to identify, and the little noticed $140 billion Wall Street tax break, illegally ordered by a fiat from the Treasury Department. Which tells us only that there has been far more to the looting than what was already known and indicates the likelihood that there most certainly will be more of that to come.
When Treasury Secretary and bald-pated "former" Goldman Sachs
Thursday, 13 November 2008
IEA Oil Report: The End of Oil is Nigh
projections call for cumulative investment of over $26 trillion (in year-2007 dollars) in 2007-2030.This is an estimate $4 trillion larger than last year's WEO. In other words, things are rapidly getting worse, as depletion rates of the world's top oil fields are projected to be hitting 8.6% by 2030.
NSA Secrets and Lies: An Interview with James Bamford
Read it all, but the provenance of Bamford's early investigations is rather interesting. It all began with a seemingly benign agency newsletter.
CP: Did you get any push-back from the agency when you started writing about it? After all, it's supposed to be top secret.[...]More
JB: I had a difficult time. My advance was fairly small, I was living in Massachusetts, I didn't really know anyone in intelligence, and I hadn't written anything before. And I was going up against NSA.
One of the things I was good at in law school was research, so I thought maybe I'd try using the Freedom of Information Act. The problem with that was, NSA is really the only agency excluded from the act. If you sent them a [FOIA] request, they would just send you a letter back saying [under Section 6 of the National Security Agency Act] we don't have to give you anything, even if it's unclassified.
But I found this place, the George C. Marshall Research Library in Lexington, Virginia, and William F. Friedman, one of the founders of the NSA, had left all his papers there. When I got down there, I found the NSA had gotten there just before me and gone through all of his papers and taken a lot of his papers out and put them in a vault down there and ordered the archivist to keep them under lock and key. And I convinced the archivist that that wasn't what
Painting a Picture with a Palette of Pain
- Retailers Feel Pinch …
- Life Insurers Facing Cuts
- Golden Years, Tarnished
- Chip Makers Cut Outlook
- City of London Struggles
- Best Buy Cuts Outlook
- Hedge Fund Managers to Testify…
- Major Indexes Fall Sharply…
- Flat-Screen Makers Plead Guilty [to price fixing]
- UBS Executive Indicted
- Macey's Posts Loss as Sales Decline…
- Worst May Be Yet to Come for Citigroup
- … Bailout Plan Falters
- BT Group to Cut 10,000 Jobs
- Holiday Season Looking Cheerless
- German Economic Data Show Recession
- Bush Speaks in Defense of Markets
Obama's Bailout Muzzle
Overall, Obama is flat-out kicking McCain's ass when it comes to Wall Street contributions, raking in nearly $9 million from securities and investment executives, compared to $6.2 million for McCain. Obama has received more contributions from Goldman Sachs than from any other employer — more than $627,000 at this writing — not to mention $398,021 from JP Morgan Chase, $353,922 from Lehman Brothers and $291,388 from Morgan Stanley. Even among hedge-fund executives, who have an unequivocal interest in electing McCain, Obama is whipping the Republican, collecting $500,000 more than McCain.[...]More
Those worried that Obama might be all talk when it comes to needed reform had a real scare in July, when the senator failed to show up to vote for the Stop Excessive Speculation Act, a bill designed to curb rampant oil speculation. Oil speculators provide the perfect microcosm of what happened to the economy under Bush. Back in 2001, investment banks like Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan got together and created an online exchange called the ICE for trading energy commodities. The ICE ended up buying the British-regulated International Petroleum Exchange; it then opened trading windows in the U.S., allowing Wall Street investment banks to make oil-futures trades on American soil, on their very own commodities exchange, without any federal regulation whatsoever.
"In financial terms, they were
Nixon, Lies and Videotape
For more fun things in the annals of "national security," check the trove of stuff at the Presidential Recordings Program hosted by the Miller Center for Public Affairs. You'll begin to understand why Bush, Cheney and Rove have tried to "lose" all those presidential records.More
Tuesday, 11 November 2008
Blackwater Arms Bazaar
the State Department's Directorate of Defense Trade Controls, which is responsible for export controls on some arms, is moving to hit the North Carolina-based firm with what could be millions of dollars in fines for shipping weapons to police training facilities in Iraq and Jordan without proper licensing, according to three officials briefed on the probe.This follows on the heels of a current grand jury investigation of the now infamous Nisour Square shooting, in which seventeen Iraqi civilians were killed. That grand jury may well indict the Blackwater guards involved.
One official said 900 weapons were shipped improperly, though another said the figure is lower. Each weapon shipped could constitute a separate violation and carry a hefty fine. Sources said the foul-up may have been unintentional but left the company unable to properly account for the weapons.
"They didn't do the original paperwork, therefore they don't know where the guns are," said one source.
China, Iraq Complete $3.5 Billion Oil Contract
Well, that ratification has now occurred and the oil contract has grown to $3.5 billion. Shockfront is forced to once again note the irony in one salient fact of the transaction: this is the "first major oil-development deal that Iraq has made with a foreign company since the American-led invasion."
Perhaps even more ironical than China being awarded the first major oil contract in Iraq since the 2003 US invasion, is that the fact that
Iraq had agreed to provide security for Chinese workers.That Iraq could even agree to provide security to Chinese workers is a direct result of years of US taxpayer funded training of Iraqi security forces.
Western companies are still expecting to get in on the big awards and await the passage of a now much modified Iraq Oil Law. Nonetheless, it seems highly unlikely that Dick Cheney had the Chinese National Oil Company in mind when he and his Energy Task Force advisers were examining Hussein era oil contracts and maps of Iraqi oil fields.
Of course, those dismissive of the geopolitical and petro-political nature of the Iraq invasion can now use the China-Iraq deal as prima facie evidence that the invasion was not about oil, that US forces really were there to deliver freedom to the Iraqi people, who could then exercise that benevolently delivered freedom to award [...]More
Monday, 10 November 2008
4300 Year Old Pyramid Discovered in Egypt
Archaeologists have discovered a new pyramid under the sands of Saqqara, an ancient burial site that remains largely unexplored, Egyptian authorities announced Tuesday. The 4,300-year-old monument most likely belonged to the queen mother of the founder of the Sixth Dynasty, the antiquities chief, Zahi Hawass, said. The pyramid is the 118th discovered in Egypt. “To find a new pyramid is always exciting,” Mr. Hawass said. “And this one is magical. It belonged to a queen.”
US Debt Expansion Threaten Asian, Gulf State Economies
Faced already with evaporating credit and export demand, cash-rich economies in Asia and the Gulf now face a growing threat from a new quarter: an erosion of the very savings they are counting on to cushion them.
At the root of the concerns is the dramatic increase in the amount of money the US government will need to borrow for its financial rescue package. Also, with calls growing for a second massive economic stimulus package, economists say the US government’s fund raising is likely to push down the value of the US dollar and with it the massive dollar holdings of central banks and sovereign wealth funds from Asia and the Gulf.
Some fear the ballooning US debt could even force Washington to go farther, asking creditors to accept delays or even reductions in its repayments.
“At current run rates, this is inevitable,” said Paul Schulte, the regional strategist at Nomura International in Hong Kong, who estimates the US budget deficit could exceed US$1 trillion (Dh3.6 trillion) next year.
The prospect of getting lower returns on money they have lent the US, or of seeing the value of those holdings drop further, could put Asian and Gulf governments in a bind. Many governments are already dipping into their savings to offset the effects of the global slowdown.
With that in mind, the Chinese stimulus package must be noted. The $586 billion plan, aimed at massive infrastructure development, which includes construction of housing, new railways (how novel!), subways, airports and roads, indicates that the Chinese see[...]More
"War is a Racket"
On this Remembrance Day, to all the poor schmucks whose patriotism was played to get them to fight wars for hoodlums, gangsters, rogues and scoundrels, Shockfront salutes you in your sincerity of purpose and curses those rotters who put you in that pointless grave. On this day more than others, let us not forget that war is mostly just a racket, and a deadly, malicious, criminal one at that.
WAR is a racket. It always has been.
It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only
Taliban Hijacking Threatens NATO Supply Route
"might just be the most flagrant hijacking of a supply convoy yet."He further indicated that Pakistani authorities, reeling from protests over American military incursions, may be little inclined to seriously investigate the attack, but rather use the incident as leverage on the Americans and NATO forces.
"I wouldn't be surprised if Pakistan is reluctant to strongly follow up on this incident," says Masood, of the hijacking. The government and military are probably frustrated with America's continued lack of response to Pakistani protests against cross-border strikes, he continues.
"They might be tempted to highlight their leverage over the situation in Afghanistan," he says.
Not exactly comforting noises of allied cooperation.
Two military humvees were seized, which the Pakistani military says need to be recovered. Apparently, the loss of the vehicles has put a crimp in plans for a[...]More
Another AIG Junket
Sunday, 09 November 2008
Secret Deals and Plunge Report
- Treasury Czar Paulson exercised some slight of hand with a sweeping yet almost unnoticed repeal of Section 382 of the tax code that could see American banks reaping a windfall of as much as $140 billion. General opinion is that the move is probably illegal. Says one tax law attorney, "[i]t was a shock to most of the tax law community…I've been in tax law for 20 years, and I've never seen anything like this." In a remarkable statement, one congressional aide said that illegality takes a backseat to the health of the market. "We're all nervous about saying that this was illegal because of our fears about the marketplace." Which tells you all you need to know about the state of the rule of law in the United States.
- Despite assurances of "transparency" in troubled times, the Federal Reserve is refusing to disclose the identity of recipients of $2 trillion in so-far secret, emergency loans to … well, no one knows except the Fed and the recipients. Bloomberg News has filed an FOIA lawsuit for recipient identities.
- After posting a third quarter loss of $24.47 billion, the bailout of troubled insurance giant, AIG, is