Reading between the lines

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

How not to have a conversation.

It's been a looong while since I last posted on here. Mostly, because I was foolish enough to set up a rather too large number of blogs. This one was meant to be the political one, with another one for my journal about writing, a personal one, one about a certain project, a fictional one, etc. etc.

I'm currently considering consolidating everything into one.

Now, a few minutes ago, someone left an encouraging comment in a blog post. I am not entirely sure whether to believe it (mostly because I am cynical enough to distrust anonymous blog posts), but it reminded me that I should really make more effort.

So, US and Iran. Talking. It almost sounds promising, until you read more about the planned talks. OK, avoiding the nuclear question is probably not a bad idea at the moment, and Iraq should supply generous amounts of conversation all on its own, but... read between the lines:

He (Ayatollah Kameini) said a meeting with the US would allow Iran to tell Washington it should leave Iraq and allow Iraqis to govern themselves unhindered.

and on the other side...

US President George W Bush has backed the dialogue as a means to tell Iran "what's right or wrong in their activities inside Iraq".

A meeting where both sides go in to "tell" each other how to act... and neither side mentions the notion of "listening"....

It seems to me it's doomed to failure already.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Information War

And now, for some sickening reading....

Weapons of Mass Information Distortion And Destruction.

In an information society, is killing the internet genocide?

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Dear Santa....

We want to get the labour market in shape, we want to make our schools and universities world-class, we want to bring the deficit under control and repair our health, pension and nursing systems," she (Angela Merkel) told the parliament.

Yes, and I want to be a billionaire, I want to be the best writer in the world, I want to have dozens of half-naked young women around me all the time and I want to live in a house with people I actually respect.

Who writes Angela Merkel's speeches? Or was this her letter to Santa Clause?

Sunday, November 13, 2005

He's gotta be joking....

The world's greatest hypocrite and miserable failure is bemoaning "historical revisionism" about the reasons for going to war. That from the man who was harping about WMDs before the war, and when they weren't found, about "liberating the Iraqi people". Now he's displeased that people remember the WMDs, remember the fake evidence, and the lies...

Saturday, October 29, 2005

An insult to the intelligence of the world.

Three years of requests by the UN to visit Guantanamo Bay have finally achieved a result. The Pentagon has generously decided to invite the UN. Not sure invitation is the right word, if the guest has to beg for three years before being allowed in.

Not that they're allowed in very far: Three UN inspectors "will be allowed to observe the facilities and question military officials but will not have access to detainees."

Now for the big joke:

The Pentagon said the invitation showed it had "nothing to hide".

Let's re-iterate. An international agency puts forward requests to visit a facility. They are ignored. After three years of persistent requests, the government decides to let three representatives into the facility, but only to speak to officials of that government. They are not allowed to see, speak to, or share any space with the entire purpose of the facility.

Hell, even Iran had more enthusiasm for letting inspectors visit its nuclear reactors! "Nothing to hide"? Just how badly can the US military insult the intelligence of the entire world?

On a different note: Sometimes, it's slightly odd what a google image search can turn up. The site reads like an utterly bizarre, completely mindless report. It feeds every notion I've ever had about cheerleader intelligence, or the lack thereof. Semi-naked concentration camp dancers. Sometimes, you realize that no matter how low you think a nation can go, they can always drop a little lower on the tasteless scale.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Between the lines of a resignation....

Reading between the lines of this story" is fascinating. It surprised me that the Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers decided to step down from the nomination.

But check this out:
It would not be in the interests of the US to reveal details of her work within the White House, she added.

In other words, it would not be in the interest of the US public to realize just how corrupt and cronyist their administration is...

Saturday, October 08, 2005

The Phantom Menace

In 1994, a kilogram of enriched, weapons grade Uranium had a black market price of $1m - $60m. Plutonium was much cheaper, ranging in price between $300,000 and $4m per kilogram.

How do we know these numbers? Well, incidentally, because our governments created the black market in question, and because our governments set the prices. In praticular, the German government's intelligence services, the BUndesnachrichtendienst(BND). It's a fairly old story. Some time in 1994, a couple of criminals were caught smuggling Plutonium into Germany. It was a story that made big news in Germany at the time - suddenly, nuclear terrorism seemed to be just around the corner. Later, it turned out that the men were set up by the BND. They had met with a supposed buyer - an undercover agent - to discuss the sale of conventional weapons. The agent, however, convinced them to promise the delivery of weapons grade nuclear material instead. The price offered was so high that the weapons dealers in question went out to obtain the material. In other words, the BND single-handedly created a black market for nuclear materials. Because of their financial offer, people found a way to steal and smuggle nuclear materials - and they were caught only because the recipients knew exactly where and when they'd arrive, and collected them from the airport. The smuggling and abuse of nuclear materials turned from a worrying hypothesis and fiction into reality - because of government actions encouraging it to happen.

Other governments are even worse in their desire to appear as if they're successfully stopping crime and terror from happening. Not content with staging and fabricating a crime, Macedonia simply drove a couple of illegal immigrants into a forest, surrounded them, executed them, and claimed they were terrorists who had shot first.

With this in mind, I can't say that the list of terrorist attacks America has heroically, single-handedly, prevented, according to George Bush, impresses me. First of all, if they were prevented attacks, why is no one on trial for them? Second, do they actually aound credible?
White House list of disrupted plots:

West Coast airliner

In mid-2002 the US disrupted a plot to attack targets on the West Coast of the United States using hijacked aeroplanes. The plotters included at least one major operational planner involved in planning the events of 11 September 2001.

East Coast airliner
In mid-2003 the US and a partner disrupted a plot to attack targets on the East Coast of the United States using hijacked commercial aeroplanes.

Jose Padilla
In May 2002, the US disrupted a plot that involved blowing up apartment buildings in the United States. One of the plotters, Jose Padilla, also discussed the possibility of using a dirty bomb in the US.

2004 UK urban targets
In 2004, the US and partners disrupted a plot that involved urban targets in the United Kingdom. These plots involved using explosives against a variety of sites.

2003 Karachi
In the spring of 2003, the US and a partner disrupted a plot to attack Westerners at several targets in Karachi, Pakistan.

London Heathrow Airport
In 2003, the US and several partners disrupted a plot to attack Heathrow Airport using hijacked commercial airliners. The planning for this attack was undertaken by a major 11 September operational figure.

2004 UK
In 2004, the US and partners, using a combination of law enforcement and intelligence resources, disrupted a plot to conduct bombings in the UK.

2002 Gulf shipping
In late 2002 and 2003, the US and a partner nation disrupted a plot by al-Qaeda operatives to attack ships in the Gulf.

2002 Straits of Hormuz
In 2002, the US and partners disrupted a plot to attack ships transiting the Straits of Hormuz.

2003 tourist site
In 2003 the US and a partner nation disrupted a plot to attack a tourist site outside the United States.

Looking at the list, I find myself thinking the following:

1) East Coast and West Coast airliners:
Yeah, right. Security is stepped up, reinforced doors are installed, the "cooperate and pray" approach to hijacking is replaced by "fight tooth and nail" among the flying public, and terrorists have nothing better to do than to plan to try an old trick again.

2) 2004 UK
Well, another rather wide and general claim. In 2004, the UK urban areas were saved from terrorism. All of them. Really. Show me the suspect and the trial and I'll listen.

3) Heathrow
I remember that foiled plot. Mostly, it involved a couple of tanks driving around Heathrow, just before the invasion of Iraq, and leaving again two days later. Obviously terrorists decided that they could not just do their evil deeds another day. Obviously this was not an exercise in spin, aimed to frighten the UK public into fearing the evil terrorist boogeymen ahead of an unpopular war. Oh no, of course not.

4) Ships
Hooray, all the little boats have been saved! Not that anyone is in prison, facing charges.

5) Tourist site
Get this: The US stopped an attack on a tourist site outside America. Wow. Thank you. So the entire world should be grateful, right? After all, every nation on the planet has tourist sites, and if the US saved one of them, how can we be certain it's not ours?

What a pile of bullshit. "We've saved your asses so many times in so many places, but we can't tell you about it in any detail"

Feed the public propaganda, not information, and hope they're not listening closely.

The US - a modern dystopia.