Archive for September, 2004

ELF to shut down today

Thursday, September 30th, 2004

Deep Blade has received a comment from an excellent, helpful Michigan blogger (site named Vacuum) to my post on Nukewatch: 25 years later. He posts today on a September 20 Ashland, Wisconsin news story: Navy plans to scrap ELF; Transmissions to end at Clam Lake September 30. Please click through his Daily Press link to read a detailed news story giving lots of history on the ELF system.

This is good news, as it fulfills the wishes of hundreds of activists who have over the years conducted numerous demonstrations and civil disobedience actions against this transmitter.

The transmitter was designed to broadcast Extremely Low Frequency electromagnetic waves that would direct submarines during the conduct of a nuclear war. It is good to see that this particular Cold War symbol of planetary destruction will be put to rest.

Hersh on Daily Show

Wednesday, September 29th, 2004

Saw Seymour Hersh on the Daily Show last night (replays at 10am and 7pm Eastern). Thank goodness for Jon Stewart. He put in just the right touch of levity on what otherwise was the most deadly serious seven minutes in Comedy Central history. Hersh’s new book is Chain of Command: The Road from 9/11 to Abu Ghraib.

Stewart: …I read it, and I have to tell you sir, not funny….Do you think that it’s sticking? Do you think that any of the accusations or mistakes they have made are sticking to this administration?

Hersh: Absolutely not.

Stewart: Absolutely not? Why do you think that might be?

Hersh: Because they live in their own world. This is a president, a vice president… they don’t care what books say or the New Yorker, … , or your show…

Stewart: I hope not! (laughter)

Hersh: …or the New York Times or the Washington Post… These are guys that have their own mantra, they have their own thing. I mean, you know as far as I’m concerned, I watch ‘em, I talk to people on the inside who are as concerned as you are, as I am, about these guys…

Stewart: When you say “these guys”, … , your also sort of this group in the Pentagon…sort of this “neocon” group…

Hersh: They took over the country, like a coup. Eight or nine guys came. They overran the press, the Congress, the bureaucracy. And we all fell down so easy. Now the question you have to ask…the one I don’t have an answer for…Is our democracy that fragile, that it can be taken over so quickly by people who are zealots, who are ideologues, utopians, if you will? The only problem was…you know they didn’t go into Iraq because of oil or Israel, they went in because they really believed they could go in with 10,000 American soldiers, a few bombs, a lot of American flags, Saddam would fall, a new government would come in, democracy would flow like, like ah, water out of a fountain…

Stewart: And how did that work out? (laughter)

Hersh is so right, Bush does not have to care. No one is able to hold him responsible, least not Kerry. Kerry has been a miserable failure in delivering a sharp, winning critique. Bush just laughs at him, mocks him for being indecisive, then goes for the jugular with charges of preferring a dictator to freedom and failing to support the troops in war – treason, in other words.

As an example, hear are a few quotes from Bush in Bangor, Maine one week ago (yes, I’m ashamed he came to my home town to squeal this Stalinist propaganda):

[Kerry said] well, I actually did vote for the $87 billion, before I voted against it. I don’t think a lot of people speak that way in Bangor, Maine. (Applause.) They kept pressing him and he said he was proud of vote. Finally, he said, the whole thing was a complicated matter. There’s nothing complicated about supporting our troops in combat. (Applause.) …

Incredibly, this week, my opponent said he would prefer the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein to the situation in Iraq today. (Booo!)

You cannot lead the war on terror if you wilt when times are tough. (Applause.) You cannot expect the Iraqi people to stand up and do the hard work of democracy if you are pessimistic about their abilities. You cannot expect the Iraqi people to do the hard work if you say that they’d be better off with Saddam Hussein in power. (Applause.) What kind of message does it send our troops, who are risking their lives and who see firsthand the mission is hard, but know the mission is critical to our success? Mixed signals are the wrong signals. I will continue to lead with clarity, and when I say something, I’ll mean what I say. (Applause.)

Kerry’s Iraq critique is bogging down. Some of the huge issues Hersh raises – the neocon takeover & torture of prisoners, for example – are off the table. Kerry forces himself to speak in roundabout phrases. He might be understood by the small percentage of voters who have a firm grasp of history and follow events closely through journals…

But…picture Jon Stewart slumped on his desk following some footage of Kerry in a deadly interview with Diane Sawyer (from a segment in last night’s show prior to the Hersh interview). He can’t give a clear answer on whether or not the invasion of Iraq was right or wrong! That slumped reaction is what Kerry can’t help but cause. I’m worried about Kerry’s ability to win!

Deep Blade calls for fuel conservation

Tuesday, September 28th, 2004

Deep Blade Journal calls on government officials of all levels to issue an immediate request for all members of the community to voluntarily conserve fuel. A small amount of restraint by fuel consumers at this critical time could really help avoid a fuel supply and cost crisis.

Oil barrier breached

Monday, September 27th, 2004

November light sweet crude touches $50

The Daily Star: “This is a major problem we don’t need. There is just not enough sweet crude“.

Some of the current rationales given for the latest spike in oil prices include

· Unrest in Nigeria – Shell evacuated 200 workers from the Niger Delta due to insecurity

· Unrest in Saudi Arabia – firefight in Riyadh’s Shifa district, Frenchman killed in Jeddah

· More sabotage attacks on Iraqi pipelines – two Iraqis were killed near Kirkuk when a bomb they were planning to plant exploded

· Tropical storm Jeanne – any news suggesting an oil supply threat moves traders, because…

· …U.S. oil inventories are at the lowest levels since February.

“There is beginning to be a problem with inventories”, a trader quoted in the Bloomberg piece said. He continued, “$50 is a psychological shock, and it could climb to $60. It’s definitely something that could happen”.

Additional reporting from the New Zealand Herald lays out a grim future:

The lack of a supply cushion has reinforced the view among some investors that oil near $50 is not overpriced, despite a 50 per cent jump in crude prices since the start of the year.”The market faces the prospect of years without sufficient flexibility or insulation from shocks during a period of extreme geopolitical stress,” said analyst Paul Horsnell of Barclays Capital.

But here’s the real kicker. Demand is so high that

Extra crude from Opec, now pumping at a 25-year high, has failed to make any impact. The group produced 30.5 million bpd in September, the highest since 1979, tanker-tracking consultancy Petrologistics said Monday.

The people who watch tankers suggest that OPEC has succeeded in increasing output by 2.5 million bpd, but it doesn’t matter, due to the Nigerian problems and other strains making the highest output rates unsustainable, growing demand still hasn’t been slaked.

The story that moved the markets last week, Yukos cuts in China deliveries, barely makes the radar compared to this week’s oil problems.

I really need to finish that “next posting” I promised two months ago, as energy could sharply rise as an issue in the presidential campaign. Could the October surprise be gas lines?

Meanwhile, it is time to review the Matthew Simmons material I cited in July.

Update 9:45am: Oil is up sharply at $50.47 in early Tuesday trading. According to this updated version of the Bloomberg story cited, Robert Mabro, president of the U.K.-based Oxford Institute for Energy Studies is quoted:

With geopolitical uncertainty, large demand growth and limitations to capacity, the surprise isn’t that oil reached $50 but that it hasn’t gone to $70.

Also,

The Niger Delta People’s Volunteer Force plans to extend the fighting across the delta and will target Agip, a unit of Rome-based Eni SpA, Reuters reported, citing an interview with rebel leader Mujahid Dokubo-Asari. In March 2003, Shell, ChevronTexaco Corp. and Total were forced to idle more than a third of Nigeria’s output because of violence around the town of Warri.

“Given the fact that we have such a tight supply-demand balance and that Nigeria is one of the major oil producers in OPEC, any potential disruption there at this moment in time would be very significant for prices”, said Simon Wardell, an analyst at World Markets Research Centre in London.

Daily oil output in the Gulf of Mexico, home to a quarter of U.S. oil production, remains about 500,000 barrels below normal two weeks after Hurricane Ivan, the U.S. Minerals Management Service said. More than 11 million barrels of production have been lost in the past two weeks.

Funny how the Bush campaign is basically mum about how high oil prices may affect the election, preferring instead to push the terror panic button. All we know is the Whitehouse is keeping “a close eye on” the oil price, according to spokesman Scott McClellan. I really feel secure knowing that.

Bush loyalists reveal the unvarnished America

Monday, September 27th, 2004

CSPAN is a treasure trove of wonders. Washington Journal, the 7am – 10am call-in show, receives its share of crackpot callers. A few days ago, a transcript (credit: Sinfonian/Blast Off!) of a call into Washington Journal by an obviously disturbed individual made the rounds of blogspace commentary. Atrios was particularly impressed.

This “housewife” began

I’m going to vote for President Bush because, after all, you know, God made us there, you know, in His image, free from any black color and all [Host looks up, surprised]….

Click through for the rest of the incredible ride.

Some time ago (August 2003), I posted this, also a Washington Journal transcription.

CSPAN: Memphis, Tennessee, our next caller, good morning.

BUSH LOYALIST: Good morning. Yes, I’d like to say that I totally support George Bush as he reshapes the Middle East. People don’t understand it’s necessary that we throw all these countries into chaos, and kill all the Arabs as much as possible, so that we can have a greater Zion in that area, and have more glory and power for the United States of America.

CSPAN: Thank you for the call.

Note the intense Bush support. Back in 2003 I asked, “Why is it that George W. Bush inspires such loyalty from this warped crowd?”, and lamented the “bizarre spread of Zionist-American religious right extremism promoting a new kind of final solution”.

I still wonder how it is that Bush has locked in this most extreme cross-section of reactionary America – those holding the most rabidly racist views along with a willingness to give them out loud to a national audience. George W. Bush has called out kooks of this strain in droves. How? Why?

Today I will engage in some new speculation on this matter. I recalled an article I read in American Demographics magazine a very long time ago. It dealt with of all things, bug spray and low-income consumers. But it’s something that’s stuck with me. A bit of searching unearthed a quote from this article in American Demographics for Nov. 1991:

Psychographic marketing techniques helped Raid roach spray marketers discover that the reason low-income Southern women were the heaviest users of roach spray was that “a lot of their feelings about the roach were very similar to the feelings that they had about the men in their lives,” said the advertising executive on the account. They said the roach, like the man in their life, “only comes around when he wants food.” The act of spraying roaches and seeing them die was satisfying to this frustrated, powerless group.

Here’s my speculation – Bush engenders, in essentially powerless people who are vulnerable to his propaganda, feelings similar to what they get with a spray weapon in their hands while exterminating insects.

There are oh so many of those little devils – brown people, followers of Islam…. George W. Bush promises to spray them back, put them down. He’s been molded to fit in the hand and give just the right satisfactions. Meanwhile, Democrats like Kerry are just leechy wimps who’ll eat you out of house and home while giving everything away to the insects.

My hypothesis is that this is a technique through which the Republicans control people of different races and cultures with low resources to act against their own interests by turning them against each other. Bush becomes the satisfying exterminator of terrorists and other leeches. The targets are dehumanized through racist transmogrification into insects while a thick layer of supernatural belief forms a barrier through which no rational thought can go.

It’s just speculation. Anyone have further thoughts?

Telegraph: Ministers were told Allawi a "stooge"

Sunday, September 26th, 2004

Ministers were told premier was seen as stooge

By Michael Smith, Defence Correspondent (Filed: 24/09/2004)

British officials gave warning more than two years ago that Iyad Allawi, the interim Iraqi prime minister, was seen as “a western stooge” who “lacked domestic credibility”, secret documents seen by The Telegraph reveal.

The Cabinet Office told ministers a year before the war in Iraq that the external opposition, made up of Mr Allawi’s Iraqi National Accord and Ahmad Chalabi’s Iraqi National Congress, was “weak, divided and lacks domestic credibility”.

Mr Allawi, who was closely aligned with the CIA, and Mr Chalabi, who was initially the choice of many within the administration as Iraqi leader, were regarded by most Iraqis as “western stooges”, warned a “Secret UK Eyes Only” options paper.

A coup attempt in 1996 allegedly organised by Mr Allawi, a neurosurgeon who was trained in Britain, in tandem with the CIA ended in “wholesale executions”, according to the paper, which was prepared by the Overseas and Defence Secretariat in March 2002.

The documents also expressed concern over the possibility that the Americans would choose Mr Chalabi as the leader of Iraq after the ousting of Saddam Hussein.

They described Mr Chalabi as “a convicted fraudster popular on Capitol Hill”.

Mr Chalabi was convicted in absentia for fraud in a Jordanian banking scandal in 1991 and was sentenced to 22 years in jail.

There you have it. Warning flags waving brightly over two years ago. Huh? The Brits knew in early 2002 that America would remove Saddam and put an American “stooge” in charge of Iraq??

When the truth is radioactive…

Sunday, September 26th, 2004

It should be clear to anyone observing current events with half a brain engaged that interim Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi is a puppet of the United States. I have recent entries that assume this point.

But when John Kerry presented mild critiques of Mr. Allawi’s upbeat message, vociferous reaction from President Bush and Vice President Cheney lit into Kerry’s pessimism, and worse. Kerry said Thursday in Columbus, Ohio,

The prime minister and the president are here obviously to put their best face on the policy, but the fact is that the CIA estimates, the reporting, the ground operations and the troops all tell a different story…. I think the prime minister is, obviously, contradicting his own statement when he said, “Terrorists are pouring into the country”.

Here is the Vice President’s reply in a Louisiana speech:

Prime Minister Allawi is a brave man. Some years ago, Saddam Hussein sent killers after him with axes. They tried to hack him to death in his bed. He is a brave and a determined leader, and I must say I was appalled at the complete lack of respect Senator Kerry showed for this man of courage when he rushed out to hold a press conference and attack the Prime Minister, yesterday right after his speech. Ayad Allawi is our ally. He stands beside us in the war against terror. John Kerry is trying to tear him down and to trash all the good that has been accomplished, and his words are destructive. As Prime Minister Allawi said in his speech, and I quote, “When political leaders sound the siren of defeatism in the face of terrorism, it only encourages more violence”.

Interesting, nowhere does Cheney say Allawi is not a puppet.

But now the wingnut side of the blogosphere has latched onto a quote from Kerry adviser Joe Lockhart

The last thing you want to be seen as is a puppet of the United States, and you can almost see the hand underneath the shirt today moving the lips

Click that link to see what free speech in America allows the wing to say about the challenger to the Republican dynasty.

Dwight Meredith at Wampum has an excellent analysis that gives clear examples of how the administration pulls the puppet strings.

And look also at the somewhat convoluted New York Times story, Iraqi With Close U.S. Ties Chosen to Be Prime Minister, by Dexter Filkins and Warren Hoge from last May 28. Here, the mysterious US-directed end-run around the UN in the Allawi selection is kind of explained:

Dr. Allawi is the leader of a group called the Iraqi National Accord. But he has a somewhat limited base among Iraqis, being viewed by many as an outsider because he lived in London for the past 20 years or so….The United States turned to the United Nations for help with the transition in January, after months of shunning the world organization, because its own credibility in Iraq had declined dangerously and it needed the international imprimatur that the United Nations can confer.

The decision to name Dr. Allawi was made with the approval of Lakhdar Brahimi, the United Nations envoy, though it was unclear how enthusiastic his support was. At United Nations headquarters in New York, officials contended that they were caught unawares by the announcement but said that they endorsed the choice….[They] had been expecting Mr. Brahimi to deliver the names by the end of this month. They had also been told that the names would be made public as a group, not in the sporadic and individual manner that Dr. Allawi’s name emerged today.

Can there be even the slightest doubt that Allawi really is a puppet?

So let’s review and extend the main lesson of this episode – hinting at certain radioactive truths about Iraq leads automatically to strong backlash and charges of pessimism, disloyalty, or worse from the Bush loyalist wing.

Below is an incomplete list of such truths. Look for any of these in mainstream media discourse. If you happen to see one discussed, you can be sure that the appropriate dismissal or loyalist backlash is included:

· Allawi is a puppet.

· Sovereignty turnover was a sham.

· The planned Iraqi elections are being set up to be a sham.

· The United States desires control of Iraqi oil.

· Saddam Hussein was not in March 2003 any sort of threat to the United States.

· The United States is less safe after the invasion of Iraq.

· The invasion of Iraq was illegal.

· Iraq is not better off than it was before the invasion.

· The invasion of Iraq does not make the world more peaceful.

· The likelihood of civilian deaths does not impede US military operations.

· Widespread torture of US prisoners is conducted under the color of authority.

· Iraqis have a right to resist occupation

· Bush, Blair, and their collaborators are war criminals

· People labeled “Islamic fanatics” do not deserve summary execution

Look for additional discussion of some of these in later posts.

Thievery underlies invasion of Iraq

Sunday, September 26th, 2004

Essential article by Naomi Klein lays it out with clarity in the September issue of Harpers

Everyone needs to read Baghdad Year Zero published in the September 2004 issue of Harpers Magazine. It is absolutely crucial for understanding the underlying planning for the conquest of Iraq.

Deep Blade has reported extensively on the illegality of the planned economic transformation of Iraq here and here, especially in connection with the indefinitely-postponed US-Iraq Business Alliance Conference — co-sponsored by the University of Maine School of Business — that was to have been held November 13, 2003.

It turns out now that events during this mid-fall period last year are absolutely pivotal to understanding the current situation. In the face of rising Iraqi resistance, the article explains the decisions taken by the Bush administration resulting in the 180 degree policy shift of last fall, where Coalition Provisional Authority head Bremer went from insisting on an in-place constitution and elections before the occupation could be ended, to the sham sovereignty hand-off and appointed puppet government there now.

Klein’s article zeros in on the critical moments as the forces of resistance in Iraq rose up to derail neocon economic planning:

By November, trade lawyers started to advise their corporate clients not to go into Iraq just yet….Insurance companies were so spooked that not a single one of the big firms would insure investors for “political risk”.

While “international law prohibits occupiers from selling state assets,” it says nothing about puppet governments. So the risky plan was to officially end the occupation by the end of June, “but not really. It would be an appointed government chosen by Washington.” And the timimg was set with the US election in mind.

The UN role in the plan, led by envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, was a sham, as the UN was cut out of the loop towards the end of May at the very last second.

But the plan also hinged partly on the interim constitution. Here’s a major thing I didn’t realize at the time — barely reported if at all — that I learned from the Klein article: Article 26 said, “The laws, regulations, orders, and directives issued by the Coalition Provisional Authority…shall remain in force.” After al Sistani had intervened to prevent this article from being included, five bombs exploded in front of mosques in Baghdad and Karbala on March 2, killing 200. Sistani backed down and the interim constitution, with Bremer’s legal loophole was signed.

BUT, “The final blow to the neocon dream came in the weeks before the handover.” The Whitehouse and CPA “had twisted arms to give the top job to former CIA agent Iyad Allawi, a move that will ensure that Iraq becomes, at the very least, the ‘coaling station’ that Jay Garner originally envisioned.”

However, UNSCR 1546 does not ratify the interim constitution! This was reported as a blow to the Kurds, but it also puts the neocon privatization contracts in limbo, while “Iraqi ministers are already talking about breaking contracts signed by the CPA.”

It looks to me that as a trade-off last June, the US decided authority over military operations and the election-year “Let Freedom Reign” propaganda front were more important than Kurdish autonomy or affirmation of the legality of Bremer’s orders.

Klein concludes that the resistance to US-backed corporate thievery and privatization has won round one, as “Businessmen threatened by Bremers investment laws have decided to make investments of their own–in the resistance”.

On the other hand, it’s far from over, because “…while the Iraqi resistance has managed to scare off the first wave of corporate raiders, there is little doubt that they will return”.

Nukewatch: 25 years later

Saturday, September 25th, 2004

Venerable Wisconsin-based organization celebrated anniversary last month

One of the formative experiences of my youth was a trip I took with a friend in July 1979. We left Minneapolis on a Friday, reaching Madison, Wisconsin in time for speeches and a concert given by Pete Seeger and other musicians in the UW Stock Pavillion. This concert kicked off a weekend-long Nukewatch Rally & Symposium Against Nuclear Secrecy. The messages from that event 25 years ago reverberate today.

It was there–in the wake of the Iranian revolution, US-Soviet Cold War machinations (soon to be underlined in Afghanistan), a festering energy crisis, the Three Mile Island nuclear reactor incident, and the 1st Amendment/prior restraint case concerning the US government’s attempt to stop publication in The Progressive magazine of an article describing the conceptual (not technical) “secrets” of hydrogen fusion weapons–that I received some early political wings.

We heard in person the likes of Nicholas von Hoffman, Barbara Ehrenreich, John Trudell, and the now dearly departed Dave Dellinger, Sidney Lens, Sam Day, and Erwin Knoll.

Knoll was then editor of The Progressive. At the Madison event with Knoll was the author of the H-Bomb Secret article, Howard Morland. I recall being at a session with Morland that was deadly serious–the lawyers had what he could say under strict control and there was a palpable feeling of the national security state in the air–a year-and-a-half before Reagan took office.

Poster for Nukewatch Rally & Symposium, Madison, Wisconsin, July 13-15, 1979

Fast forward to August 2004. While visiting Duluth, Minnesota, I picked up a free newspaper. It was the Summer 2004 issue of Nukewatch Pathfinder. I was so happy to see that they still exist and to read about their current activities while I filled with memories of that summer 25 years ago.

These days, Nukewatch continues with its mission of opposing the nuclear march towards planetary destruction. For many years running now, Nukewatch activists have stood steadfast in protection of the world from nuclear war planning still underway over a decade after the end of the Cold War. Perhaps their most important project has been to demonstrate for peace at the US Navy ELF (Extremely Low Frequency) communications site in northern Wisconsin, an installation designed to direct Trident submarines during the execution of a nuclear war.

Keep up the good fight, Nukewatch. The people of the world are counting on you.

Friday vegetable blogging

Friday, September 24th, 2004

Brandywine tomato

After being sluggish, they’re coming in too fast now. September weather has been excellent. The flavors from these beauties have been exquisite, every bit as good as advertised.