Iraq: Things keep getting worse

bq.. Weve lost this war. We’ve literally lost entire swaths of Iraqi territory to the insurgents. We’ve empowered Al Qaida and Islamist militants with new recruits and pictures of prison torture and rape to fuel their cause. We”ve stretched our military thin, hurt recruitment, made it impossible to respond to actual threats.

In short, this is the biggest political and military blunder this country has faced since — I’ll let the historians decide when. But as things are going, this is going to have worse repercussions for our nation than Vietnam ever did.

>> ‘Daily Kos’:

p. Or as a Newsweek headline put it, ‘Its worse then you think’:

Continue reading Iraq: Things keep getting worse

Some cows have it good

bq.. For the developing world, *farm subsidies are slow-motion weapons of mass destruction.* Yesterday�s ‘WTO agreement’: is the first multilateral deal in a decade that pledges reductions. If it holds, much could change � but it could also mean new pressures for adherence to international IP laws.

In 1994 developing countries made a deal at the WTO. In exchange for TRIPS (the Trade Related Intellectual Property Agreement), they were supposed to get major reductions in agricultural and textile subsidies.

It was a bad deal. The world got TRIPS, but it didn’t get much of the agricultural reform that was promised. Europe, the United States, and Japan have mostly moved backward on agriculture since 1994. *The average European cow lives on $2.50 a day subsidy when 3 billion people live under $2 a day.* The average Japanese cow, meanwhile, lives on a healthy $7.50 a day[1], rather like a college student.

But yesterday’s deal is a new hope. It agrees most prominently to reductions in cotton subsidies. We in the U.S. pay out $4 billion a year to 25,000 cotton farmers who then produce $3 billion a year in cotton. That’s $160,000 per farmer — we’d save alot of money by just opening a federal amusment park that employs everyone in the cotton industry.

>> ‘Lawrence Lessing: An agreement that may change the world’:

Continue reading Some cows have it good

Iraq Update

The US has managed to bumble its way up shit creek in Iraq spectacularly, as ‘predicted many months earlier’: Just about every report in the ‘NYTimes coverage of Iraq’: is negative. The NYTimes is supposed to be somewhat ‘left leaning’, so to balance that lets see say about ‘4500 other news sources’: to get a broader overview of the whole Iraq/US mess. Nope, not a single positive news item anywhere as far as the eye can see. Hell, even Fox News, that bastion of goodness, freedom and American Pie has been bashing Bush and co. _softly, with padded sticks_, but it’s a start nonetheless.

Continue reading Iraq Update

the Iraq misadventure

bq. >Can I ask you a question about what is happening over there.

>As of today, there is more horrific mayhem in Iraq.

>What do you folks make of this? I really do not trust our media

>to represent the truth. How do the Pakistan people in general

>feel about the US being there? If you have time to respond,

>it would be appreciated. If others there have comments they

>also would be appreciated. Thanks, Dave

Continue reading the Iraq misadventure


Long ago, in centuries gone past, England was famous for its fish and chips. No more! Balti shops have stormed the maignot line and taken over in Birmingham. It takes a brave soul to venture into a Balt shop, for the recipe for making Balti is basically to chuck whatever meat is at hand into, you guessed it, a Balti with lots of ghee/oil and spices and stir it for 20 minutes. Voila, its the poor mans karahi! -Some- Many people claim its a Kashmiri dish, but thats just a attempt to give this fast food atrocity an exotic sounding lineage.

So we went hunting for fish and chips, and in between the hundred’s of balti shops finally came across a few. But as I said to MO, if the fish and chip shop is also selling donor kebabs and cheeseburgers, its just not cricket. Fish and chips was just about the only enduring worthwhile British tradition, so it’s a sad loss. I know they have all these funny superstitions and rituals involving this old woman in a big house, but I figure it must be some strange tribal custom which they’ll outgrow as Britain integrates into the world. But damnit, why the fish!

Continue reading Birmingham

John Kerry

John Kerry seems to have become the Democratic “canidate”: for president. Anyone who could make this speech back in ’71 has my vote:

bq.. …We who have come here to Washington have come here because we feel we have to be winter soldiers now. We could come back to this country, we could be quiet, we could hold our silence, we could not tell what went on in Vietnam, but we feel, because of what threatens this country, not the reds, but the crimes which we are committing that threaten it, that we have to speak out.

…We are asking Americans to think about that, because how do you ask a man to be the last man to die in Vietnam? How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?

…We are here to ask, and we are here to ask vehemently, where are the leaders of our country? Where is the leadership? We’re here to ask where are McNamara, Rostow, Bundy, Gilpatrick, and so many others? Where are they now that we, the men they sent off to war, have returned? These are the commanders who have deserted their troops. And there is no more serious crime in the laws of war.

>> “Democracy Now: John Kerry Then: Hear Kerry’s Historic 1971 Testimony Against the Vietnam War”:

p. If you change Vietnam to Iraq, and the names of the officials to Rumsfield and co. then this speech could have been written for today’s war. At the most a para needs to be deleted.

Continue reading John Kerry

You see, the trouble is, Im not actually American …

Articulates brilliantly what people all over the world have been feeling about the American preoccupation with terror and their ham fisted way of dealing with it. Sometimes it seems like this entire war on terror is just a big pacifier for the so called American people. To call it a blinkers like they have on horses is plain wrong, for not only don’t they see either side, they also don’t see straight ahead…

bq.. But you see, the way my life runs, the security of the American people, even those I know and love, is not a constant and present consideration. I don’t get up in the morning and think ‘gee, what can I personally do to improve the security of the American people today.’ Yes, I think about it from time to time, and seriously, but honestly it figures fairly low on my daily agenda. Consequently, if I’m to be fingerprinted, photographed, iris-scanned, weighed, poked, prodded, stripped naked, denied access to sanitation, handcuffed if I so much as raise my voice to complain, and generally humiliated because of your government’s Patriot Act, I do not anticipate that I will be comforting myself with the thought that, hey, it’s okay because I’m doing my bit to ensure the security of the American people. No, really, I won’t.

*I realise this is very unAmerican of me but, you see, I’m not actually American…*

…Yours used to be a fine country, Mr Government Affairs Spokesman; I liked the straightforward way most people went about their business, and the ‘how can we make things work for you’ attitude. It was invigorating and I got a real buzz out of visiting. Now I’m not so sure I want to come and visit. I can stay at home and experience administrative paranoia; I don’t need to see that your country can do it bigger and better than anyone else. I feel uncomfortable trying to deal with an administration that feels so threatened, without being able to define what that threat really is, that it has to tell itself bigger, ever more bizarre stories about perceived threats in order to justify its reactions to what are now effectively pieces of fluff moving in the breeze. This is not healthy. The USA is no longer a healthy country, and this is clearly demonstrated in the way it deals with the rest of the world. 9/11 was a terrible thing, in and of itself, but so was bombing Afghanistan and Iraq because your administration thought the perpetrators might be hiding there, even though it had few grounds for thinking so, and even fewer now that weapons of mass destruction are providing elusive.

So, Mr Government Affairs Spokesman, you’ll excuse me if I don’t get all excited about your conviction that knowing I’m ensuring the security of your people will somehow make everything better, because, actually, it won’t.

>> “You see, the trouble is, I’m not actually American …”:

U.S. Rejects Iraqi Plan to Hold Census by Summer

The U.S. seems to have exported “Catch-22”: to Iraq:

bq.. BAGHDAD, Iraq, Dec. 3 : Iraqi census officials devised a detailed plan to count the country’s entire population next summer and prepare a voter roll that would open the way to national elections in September. But American officials say they rejected the idea, and the Iraqi Governing Council members say they never saw the plan to consider it.

The practicality of national elections is now the subject of intense debate among Iraqi and American officials, who are trying to move forward on a plan to give Iraqis sovereignty next summer. *As the American occupation officials rejected the plan to compile a voter roll rapidly, they also argued to the Governing Council that the lack of a voter roll meant national elections were impractical.*

The American plan for Iraqi sovereignty proposes instead a series of caucus-style, indirect elections.

Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the most influential Shiite cleric, is calling for national elections next June, not the indirect balloting specified in the American plan for turning over control of the country. But American officials, and some Iraqis say the nation is not ready for national elections, in part because the logistics are too daunting.

p. No census, no voter rolls, no voter rolls, no direct elections. What’s the story? Aren’t there enough Diebold machines available yet to produce the outcome the Bush Administration desires in Iraq?

It’s amazing when the puppet-master doesn’t even trust the puppet. First, the Governing Council wasn’t given any advance input on how to spend the $20 billion U.S. taxpayers are contributing to reconstructing Iraq. Now we learn that the IGC was never consulted about holding a census.

Not content with their general record in the employment arena, the Bush Administration seems *determined to put satirists out of work* as well.

via “Daily Kos: Remind Us Again What the Governing Council Supposedly Does …”:

Iraq under Saddam, like all other police states, had extremely detailed records on the Iraqi people, and managed to conduct polls, rigged as they were. Not only that, there are other records still available:

bq. There apparently is an up to date population enumeration: the Oil for Food Progam household ration information. Apparently it is intact and quite accurate. Some IGC person suggested it be used instead of a full census in order to handle that all-important first election in a timely manner.

Of course the idea was rejected by the Occupation Office of All Things.