Weblog Archives




  Thursday   November 25   2004


Economic `Armageddon' predicted

Stephen Roach, the chief economist at investment banking giant Morgan Stanley, has a public reputation for being bearish.

But you should hear what he's saying in private.

Roach met select groups of fund managers downtown last week, including a group at Fidelity.

His prediction: America has no better than a 10 percent chance of avoiding economic ``armageddon.''


  thanks to daily KOS

The dollar’s demise
Is the dollar’s role as the world’s reserve currency drawing to a close?

WHO believes in a strong dollar? Robert Rubin, Bill Clinton’s treasury secretary, most certainly did. John Snow, his successor but two, says he does but nobody believes him—if only because he wants other countries’ currencies, in particular the Chinese yuan, to go up. Mr Snow’s boss, President George Bush, in one of his mercifully rare forays into economics last week, also said he wants a muscular currency: “My nation is committed to a strong dollar.” Again, it would be fair to say that this was not taken as a ringing endorsement. “Bush’s strong-dollar policy is, in practical terms, to maintain a pool of fools to buy it all the way down,” a fund manager was quoted by Bloomberg news agency as saying. It does not help when the chairman of your central bank, Alan Greenspan, whose utterances on the economy are taken rather more seriously than Mr Bush’s, has said the day before that the dollar seems likely to fall: “Given the size of the current-account deficit, a diminished appetite for adding to dollar balances must occur at some point,” were his exact words. The foreign-exchange market immediately decided that it was sated, and the dollar fell to another record low against the euro.

Mr Greenspan’s words were of huge moment, and not just because he spoke clearly, unusual though this was, nor because the Federal Reserve rarely comments on foreign-exchange movements. No, Mr Greenspan’s words were significant because he was tacitly admitting what right-thinking economists the world over have long believed: that the emperor has no clothes.


  thanks to DANGEROUSMETA!

 11:22 PM - link




  thanks to Conscientious

 11:09 PM - link


Tomgram: On "Iraqifying" the Quagmire

Our gamblers in Washington cast the die in March 2003 and invaded Iraq based on a "theory." Now, the game is being played out ever more extremely and murderously by others on the ground. In the penultimate paragraph of a recent piece -- oh, those last, seldom-read paragraphs of news reports in our imperial press where reporters can finally slip in their hunches and opinions, usually through the words of others -- Thomas Ricks of the Washington Post quotes a "Special Forces veteran, who speaks Arabic" as summing up the situation this way: "Across Baghdad, Latifiyah, Mahmudiyah, Salman Pak, Baqubah, Balad, Taji, Baiji, Ramadi and just about everywhere else you can name, the people absolutely hate us. . . . The Iraqi people have not bought into what the Americans are selling, and no amount of military activity is going to change this fact."

Simon Jenkins writes this:

"No statement about Iraq is more absurd than that ‘we must stay to finish the job.' What job? A dozen more Fallujahs? The thesis that leaving Iraq would plunge it into anarchy and warlordism defies the facts on the ground. Iraq south of Kurdistan is in a state of anarchy already, a land of suicide bombings, kidnapping, hijackings and gangland mayhem. There is no law or order, no public administration or police or proper banking. Its streets are Wild West. The occupying force is entombed in bases it can barely defend or supply. Occasional patrols are target practice for terrorists. Iraq is a desert in which the Americans and British rule nothing but their forts, like the French Foreign Legion in the Sahara."

But perhaps the simplest way to sum up where matters may rest in Iraq today I ran across in the final lines of a recent long New York Times piece by Edward Wong and James Glanz (Rebels Attack in Central Iraq and the North): " [T]he violence [in Mosul] had calmed since then, and children could be seen playing in some parks. At one playground, Amin Muhammad, 10, and his friends raced around with plastic guns. 'We divide ourselves into two teams,' he said, 'the mujahedeen versus the American forces.'' And in their battles, he said, the mujahedeen always win."


More blood, More chaos

In Ramadi today 6 civilians were killed in clashes between the resistance and military.

The military sealed the city, closing all the roads while announcing over loudspeakers for residents in the city to hand over “terrorists.”

A man, woman and child died when the public bus they were riding in approached a US checkpoint there when they were riddled with bullets from anxious soldiers. A military spokesman said the bus was shot because it didn’t stop when they asked it to.

The city remains sealed by US forces as fierce clashes sporadically erupt across the area while the military decides how to handle yet another resistance controlled.

As the mass graves in Fallujah continue to be filled with countless corpses, sporadic fighting flashes throughout areas of the destroyed battleground.

“The Americans want every city in Iraq to be like Fallujah,” said Abdulla Rahnan, a 40 year-old man on the street where I was taking tea not far from my hotel, “They want to kill us all-they are freeing us of our lives!”

His friend, remaining nameless, added, “Everyone here hates them because they are making mass graves faster than even Saddam!”


Fallujah Refugees

“Doctors in Fallujah are reporting there are patients in the hospital there who were forced out by the Americans,” said Mehdi Abdulla, a 33 year-old ambulance driver at a hospital in Baghdad, “Some doctors there told me they had a major operation going, but the soldiers took the doctors away and left the patient to die.” He looks at the ground, then away to the distance.


Up to 50,000 more US troops needed in Iraq: Senator McCain

U.S. struggles to find troops for Iraq, Afghanistan

Last Exit Before Gas

Between now and January, the Bush administration will have to decide whether or not to take the last dignified exit from Iraq. That is, to announce before the Iraqi elections that we will be leaving soon after them. If Bush and his neocon handlers miss this opportunity, our only choice will be to remain in Iraq until we are driven out in a humiliating defeat. Like the kid who knows he has to eat his spinach, we will be better off pretending to choose the inevitable.

What is the chance this will happen? Behind the scenes, a growing number of conservative leaders are working to make it happen. But events are moving the other way. The elevation of the Tea Lady, Miss Rice, to Secretary of State is intended to silence any voices of prudence from that department. New CIA Director Porter Goss recently told his people, "As agency employees we do not identify with, support, or champion opposition to the administration or its policies." If you want to guarantee disaster, there is no better tool than turning your intelligence agency into a closed system. Most indicative is the fact that not a single neocon has been given his walking papers. So long as they are running the show, substantive change is unlikely.

But what are the neocons going to do about Iraq? The insurgency is growing, American casualties are rising, and at some point the American public will demand something better than the nonsense being mouthed by our commanders. (My favorite last week was the American general who claimed Fallujah had "broken the back" of the insurgency. Insurgencies, like octopi, are invertebrate.)

With other fools throughout history, the neocons' answer to defeat will probably be escalation. What I had predicted as a likely "October Surprise" may instead be a Christmas present: a joint Israeli-American air and missile attack on Iran's nuclear facilities.

Knowing nothing about war, the neocons probably expect any Iranian response to be symmetrical: an air and missile counterstrike. But Iran cannot do much that way, and surely knows it. Why shoot a few ineffective missiles at Israel when you have two juicy targets right next door, in the form of American troops in Afghanistan and Iraq?

An Iranian riposte in Afghanistan probably would come slowly, in the form of a guerilla war in that country's Shi'ite regions. That might also be Iran's response in Iraq, where it already has Revolutionary Guard troops in Shi'ite areas. But there is another possibility. Under the cover of bad weather, which winter often provides, Iran could strike suddenly into Iraq with several armored divisions. Our forces are scattered throughout Iraq, and they cannot mass rapidly because Iraqi guerillas control the roads. With skill that is not beyond what Iran might manage (the Iranian army is better than Saddam's was) and a bit of luck, they could roll us up before American airpower could get the clear weather it needs to be effective. America would not only lose a war in Iraq; it would lose an army.


 11:05 PM - link


Pictures of rebuilding Frankfurt after WWII.



  thanks to Conscientious

 10:49 PM - link


A Few Thoughts Before We 'Liberate' Iran

It appears as though the long knives are out in Washington. Career operatives in the CIA and State Department who opposed the neocons’ attempt to "sex up" the intel during the run-up to the Iraq War are being purged wholesale. Various cliques at the CIA, who systematically leaked information to the press about just how bad things are in Iraq, are being replaced by yes-men or ideologues who can be relied upon to "toe the administration line". Anyone still doubting the Trotskyite ancestry of the neocons should finally be convinced by this housecleaning, which is being perpetrated in a manner that would make Chairman Mao blush (and which is also compromising our security by terminating numerous experienced intelligence analysts).

Meanwhile, the drumbeat for an attack against Iran continues more stridently than ever. Elements within this administration are opening a propaganda campaign designed to sabotage the European Union’s attempt to negotiate an agreement with Iran concerning its nuclear weapons program. Rumors and innuendo are being spread about the deceit of the Europeans, the duplicity of the Iranians, and the impotence of diplomacy as a means to solve this dispute.

Given this record, it is becoming increasingly obvious that President Bush is now wholly on-board with the neocons’ agenda and that an Iranian conflict may be on the way. After all, Karl Rove was famously quoted as saying that there must be "no war in ’04" due to the impending election. This, of course, says nothing about ’05.

But before we begin the saturation bombing, antiwar Americans should take the time to investigate the realities of Iran so as to be more informed about the political realities of that ancient land.


 10:45 PM - link


Ancient Marks:
The Sacred Origins of Tatoos and Body Marking


 10:41 PM - link

How to Remember Arafat

Two, three, or four young Palestinians are killed by Israeli forces every day now (we call it "restraint"), but none of them could win even a fraction of the attention given to Yasser Arafat, the dying old leader. The endless stream of words occasioned by Arafat's long dying and death is a good opportunity to ask who and what Arafat is for the Israelis, and how he is to be remembered.


 10:37 PM - link


There is a photographic term that I have been running across — bokeh. Bokeh refers to the out of focus areas of a photograph.

Camera Lenses Bokeh

Bokeh is derived from a Japanese term referring to the appearance of out-of-focus highlights as rendered by various lenses. This term is new to many photographers, having been most recently popularized in the USA by some articles (e.g., Photo Techniques Magazine May/June 1997 - see links to PDF file by Harold Merklinger above). But bokeh is a term that has been in use for decades to describe a real and easily perceived photographic effect.

Bokeh falls into the category of subjective lens factors, meaning we don't have any precise (objective) way of measuring people's reaction to lens bokeh using instruments or other measurements. While we can measure the out-of-focus blur as intensity curves for various lenses, it is harder to understand how they will impact our subjective reactions to the photographic results. For this reason, different people will respond differently to this aspect of lens performance, based on their personal subjective reactions to the out-of-focus lens highlights. So terms like "good bokeh" and "bad bokeh" have a subjective element in them too. So don't be surprised to see disagreements about the bokeh of various lenses, even between experts!


This is bad bokeh.

Some people really get exercised about bokeh. This site has everything you wanted to know about bokeh but were afraid to ask.

 10:29 PM - link


A must read...

Tomgram: Johnson on Creating a Worthless Intelligence Agency

Two weeks after George Bush's reelection, Porter J. Goss, the newly appointed Director of Central Intelligence, wrote an internal memorandum to all employees of his agency telling them, "[Our job is to] support the administration and its policies in our work. As agency employees, we do not identify with, support, or champion opposition to the administration or its policies."[1] Translated from bureaucrat-speak, this directive says, "You now work for the Republican Party. The intelligence you produce must first and foremost protect the President from being held accountable for the delusions he has concerning Iraq, Osama bin Laden, preventive war, torturing captives, democracy growing from the barrel of a gun, and the 'war on terror.'"


Year Of The Spy

The year 2005 promises to be the Year of the Spy. More and more—from the Goss-led purge at the CIA to the battle over intelligence "reform" to the planned, vast expansion of spookdom—America's foreign policy is shaping up to be more covert than ever. Does that worry anyone but me?

Apparently content that Goss will crush CIA opposition to neoconservative foreign policy, the president has ordered a stunning 50 percent increase in both operations and analysis at CIA. Now let's put this in context. During the Cold War, when the Soviet Union had the ability to obliterate the United States in 24 hours, and the United States was engaged in dozens of proxy, hot wars around the globe (Central America, Angola, the Horn of Africa, Afghanistan, etc.), we got along with an intelligence budget about half the current one. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, U.S. intelligence spending has ballooned from something like $27 billion to the current, estimated $40 billion. And now Bush wants a 50 percent increase in spooks, adding untold billions to the budget?


 10:01 PM - link


National Transport Museum of Ireland


  thanks to Life In The Present

 09:57 PM - link


Feds seize flu vaccine meant for black market

Thousands of doses of flu vaccine smuggled from France through Saudi Arabia were destined for black-market sales in New Jersey, federal officials said Tuesday.

The smuggling scheme is the latest, and perhaps boldest, criminal act to arise during the nation's unprecedented flu vaccine shortage. As health officials dole out a limited supply of vaccine, police are dealing with price gougers and vaccine thieves.

“This in all likelihood was somebody being opportunistic and trying to make a buck on the flu vaccine shortage, and in the process potentially endangering public health,” Raimondi said.


  thanks to Drudge Report

Endangering public health?! How about a healthcare system that doesn't provide healthcare? A healthcare system where people can't get immunizations. This is insane. And the American public puts up with this shit and thinks we have the best healthcare system in the world. What a joke.

Tuesday Zoe, her mom, and I went down to the Senior Center here on Whidbey Island. They had rented a bus and for $20 for the bus, and $25 for the flu shot, we left the Senior Center at 9 in the morning and at 12:30 we received or flu shots in a town just north of the border in Canada. It was a storefront in a small mall. While we were there four others from Seattle came in to get flu shots. How is it that Canada has enough vaccine to give flu shots to foreigners?

The store front was by an organization called DoctorSolve. They also mail order prescription drugs, too.

Online Canadian Prescriptions Test

KIRO 7 Eyewitness News is committed to uncovering ways you can save money on your prescription drugs. First we took Washington residents to Canada to save on their drugs. Then we revealed how you can shop online and get those same savings at home. Now we have tested 9 online Canadian websites to find even more savings for you.

We priced checked 10 different prescriptions on 9 Canadian websites to determine which site offered the best deals. We totaled up the cost of the all the drugs and included fees and shipping and handling. Below is a list of websites, with the least expensive listed first.


 09:53 PM - link


RetroPedal Cars.com


  thanks to The Cartoonist

 09:25 PM - link

have a happy thanksgiving

I'm alive and mostly well. Life has just been a little complicated lately. Hopefully I will be able to get up some links later. Until then, I'm making bread and getting ready for Thanksgiving dinner with my family. Eat too much.


I ate too much.

 09:53 AM - link