Daily Archives: April 1, 2007

You want E coli with that burger? Corruption at Food Safety and Inspection Service

This is disgusting.

Us poor stiffs are worrying about which food product will kill us. But the food inspectors have no money to do inspections, cause the Republican bosses are soaking up the budget by giving each other bonuses.

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Filed under food/drink, George W. Bush: is he really THAT bad?, Politics, Uncategorized

Republicans oppose the right of habeas corpus.

From Glenn Greenwald:

Two of the three leading Republican candidates for President either embrace or are open to embracing the idea that the President can imprison Americans without any review, based solely on the unchecked decree of the President. And, of course, that is nothing new, since the current Republican President not only believes he has that power but has exercised it against U.S. citizens and legal residents in the U.S. — including those arrested not on the “battlefield,” but on American soil.

What kind of American isn’t just instinctively repulsed by the notion that the President has the power to imprison Americans with no charges? And what does it say about the current state of our political culture that one of the two political parties has all but adopted as a plank in its platform a view of presidential powers and the federal government that is — literally — the exact opposite of what this country is?

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Filed under Dick Cheney: Hannibal Lector in disguise?, George W. Bush: is he really THAT bad?, Middle East

Reported Iraqi, US casualties unchanged

Iraq Casualties:
1800 Iraqis reported killed; back up to January levels after the short month of February
80 US troops killed in March. Same as last two months.
US casualties and Iraqi casualties have not improved.

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Filed under Bill Kristol: is he smarter than you?, Dick Cheney: Hannibal Lector in disguise?, George W. Bush: is he really THAT bad?, Iraq, Politics

Could the chocolate Jesus be used for communion?

I’d even go to THAT mass.

I just hate to see it go to waste.

A New York gallery has cancelled an exhibition of a life-size sculpture of a naked Jesus Christ cast in chocolate after it sparked an uproar among American Roman Catholics.

Staff at the swanky Roger Smith Hotel in midtown Manhattan said Saturday it had called off the controversial exhibit, which was due to open next week just before traditional Easter celebrations, but did not explain its decision.

Bill Donohue of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, which had led objections to the anatomically revealing sculpture and described it as a “direct in-your-face assault on Christians,” welcomed the hotel’s decision.

Now, when the priest gets to certain parts of the body, well, maybe we’d have to show some discretion, sure….

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Filed under food/drink, religion

Apple’s new products for the Middle East, introduced by George W. Bush

video

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Filed under Apple, Bill Kristol: is he smarter than you?, Condoleezza Rice: tell me again, what is her job?, Dick Cheney: Hannibal Lector in disguise?, George W. Bush: is he really THAT bad?, Iraq, John McCain for president of Del Boca Vista, Middle East, Politics

[UPDATE:US incursion into Iranian Air Space] The US and Iran: Elliot Abrams’ sandbox

The Countdown to Attack series ended yesterday, because it was clear that the US was not going to launch any military attack on Iran in the near future. And because I got to zero on the countdown.

But I am going to continue to follow Iran closely. What am I gonna call a new series on Iran…CountUP?

What I finally decided was to emphasize the fact that what is going on in the Middle East today is the work product of certain neocons who have gotten us into this mess and who are continuing to dig the hole deeper every day. It is important to recognize that Bush’s policies arise from the influence of specific people. Bush himself has little interest, (or time, he thinks) and certainly no ability, to formulate anything coherent of his own.While Dick Cheney may be the driving force (within our government), the operations leader of this bunch is neocon Elliot Abrams, head of the Iran Syria Policy and Operations Group (ISOG) within the administration, and he is doing his best every day and twice on Sunday to make everyone in the region hate us. He is succeeding in those efforts. Of course, he doesn’t see it exactly that way; not that he cares if people hate us…but he thinks what he is doing is encouraging “regime change,” humiliating governments so that they will fall and somehow be replaced with governments that will love America and Israel and sign over their oil. Nope, I can’t figure it out either.

The term “sandbox” in this context refers to someone who plays with lives like they were toy soldiers in a sandbox.

So that’s my title: The US and Iran: Elliot Abrams’ sandbox. Of course, Syria should also be in the title, because Abrams/ISOG is also after them hot and heavy, but I’ll let someone else handle that end. As we shall see below, we might could start a countdown to June 30…I’ll think about that.

Geez. Enough meta. Let’s get to the newz:

link

The UK has responded to the Iranian note of protest regarding the violation of Iranian waters. It’s good that a dialogue is occurring. However, there were some explosions at the British embassy in Tehran:

Several small blasts rocked the British embassy in Iran and smoke rose from inside the compound in central Tehran on Sunday during a protest over 15 detained sailors and marines, but no one was hurt.

Britain said no damage had been done and no one was hurt in the protest by about 100 people. Reuters witnesses also said the blasts did not appear to do any damage, although each sent a small plume of smoke into the air.

One witness cited eight blasts saying they came from small, home-made explosive devices.

link

Blair has stated that the UK will not negotiate over hostages. Hmm.

Blair’s government may have little room to give Iran a way to save face. It has dismissed Iran’s demands that Britain acknowledge the naval crew mistakenly crossed into Iranian waters.

Such an admission could have serious repercussions — perhaps even encourage Iranian-sponsored militias in Iraq to kidnap British soldiers, said Simon Barrett, director of International Media Intelligence Analysis in London.

Barrett said tough diplomacy — including the threat of financial sanctions — was the only way forward.

link

Blair has made a huge mess of this. In the toxic Iranian environment created by Bush, what did he think was going to happen if he went big on his protests? I mean, if you’re Iran, how do you react to the words “United Nations” at this point? Do we remember the two rounds of sanctions over the nuclear issue? hello? stupid. Blair just got suckered into making the whole thing blow up. I assume Bush has something to do with it. You have to treat this stuff like a game. Blair should have sat on his hands and just communicated with the Iranians, have some subminister make his little apology and it would be over. Now it’s a real HOSTAGE situation, and everybody is going into bunker mode. In the end, Britain will be sorry.

In the region, we are moving ever closer to the end game, when it is possible that the US will make a real move which could set the region on fire, and particularly Iran, on fire.

June 30 appears to be zero hour for Iraq. If the parliament doesn’t pass the “oil law” by its adjournment on that date, Bush will cause the al Maliki government to fall, and replace it with a strongman, thereby abrogating the constitution, the elections, the “democracy” fig leaf, and the concept of a de facto Shiite theocracy. A LOT of people are gonna be pissed. That’s why Bush is trying to intimidate Iran in advance. That is why the additional warships are heading toward the Gulf, and why surging US troops have gone to Iraq.

This is the only way the big transnational oil companies favored by the US can get their hooks in.

The “strongman” will probably suspend the constitution in the name of “security,” enforce martial law and sign some very favorable longterm oil contracts with (and written by) Royal Dutch/Shell, Exxon Mobil, BP Amoco, and Texaco. While not as good for the oil companies as an oil law, they will at least be contracts. Bush, of course, promotes the oil law as crucial, saying it would require revenue sharing for the various provinces and would raise needed money for reconstruction. But the oil law (written by the oil companies) is onerous:

But the execs from Big Oil didn’t just want access to Iraq’s oil; they wanted access on terms that would be inconceivable unless negotiated at the barrel of a gun. Specifically, they wanted an Iraqi government that would enter into production service agreements (PSAs) for the extraction of Iraq’s oil.

PSAs, developed in the 1960s, are a tool of today’s kinder, gentler neocolonialism; they allow countries to retain technical ownership over energy reserves but, in actuality, lock in multinationals’ control and extremely high profit margins — up to 13 times oil companies’ minimum target, according to an analysis by the British-based oil watchdog Platform (PDF).

As Greg Muttit, an analyst with the group, notes:

Such contracts are often used in countries with small or difficult oil fields, or where high-risk exploration is required. They are not generally used in countries like Iraq, where there are large fields which are already known and which are cheap to extract. For example, they are not used in Iran, Kuwait or Saudi Arabia, all of which maintain state control of oil.

In fact, Muttit adds, of the seven leading oil-producing countries, only Russia has entered into PSAs, and those were signed during its own economic “shock therapy” in the early 1990s. A number of Iraq’s oil-rich neighbors have constitutions that specifically prohibit foreign control over their energy reserves.

PSAs often have long terms — up to 40 years — and contain “stabilization clauses” that protect them from future legislative changes. As Muttit points out, future governments “could be constrained in their ability to pass new laws or policies.” That means, for example, that if a future elected Iraqi government “wanted to pass a human rights law, or wanted to introduce a minimum wage [and it] affected the company’s profits, either the law would not apply to the company’s operations or the government would have to compensate the company for any reduction in profits.” It’s Sovereignty Lite.

The deals are so onerous that they govern only 12 percent of the world’s oil reserves, according to the International Energy Agency. Nonetheless, PSAs would become the Future of Iraq Project’s recommendation for the fledgling Iraqi government. According to the Financial Times, “many in the group” fought for the contract structure; a Kurdish delegate told the FT, “everybody keeps coming back to PSAs.”

Will the new “strongman” be Ayad (Iyad) Allawi? As we have noted, he’s been campaigning pretty hard. But he has little popular support, and he may be about to lose whatever US support he might have had:

Washington Post

Former Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, a secular Shiite just back from barnstorming for support among Sunni Arab leaders across the Middle East, appears determined to make another run at the premiership.

His platform: Iraq cannot survive under the current Shiite leadership, and Sunnis must have a much larger role in government.

….

In an interview with The Associated Press last week, Allawi said the U.S.-backed draft oil law has the potential to “cause a severe backlash in society.”

The draft law, designed in part to create a fair distribution of oil profits to all Iraqis, is perhaps the most important piece of legislation for Iraq’s American patrons. But the measure, which would give foreign companies some access to the country’s enormous oil reserves, has not yet been put before parliament.

Passage of the oil law, thought to have been written with heavy U.S. involvement, is one of four benchmarks the Bush administration has set for al-Maliki’s struggling government.

But Allawi said the measure was written under time pressure and could have negative unforeseen consequences. He did not elaborate.

He was also critical of the Baghdad security operation to which President Bush has committed an additional 30,000 troops, with full deployment not expected until June.

“I seems to me even the surge, unfortunately, is not working efficiently yet,” Allawi said. “Security, as you can see, is still deteriorating in the country and sectarianism is unfortunately prevailing. We are witnessing wide-scale atrocities throughout the country.”

UPDATE:

Link

Tehran – US warplanes have violated Iranian airspace in the southwestern oil-rich province of Khuzestan, Al-Alam Arabic language news satellite channel quoted a local military chief as saying on Sunday.

“Two US aircraft trespassed into Iranian airspace northwest of (the southwestern port city of) Abadan before flying southwest into Iraq,” a local Revolutionary Guards commander in Abadan identified only as Colonel Aqili was quoted as saying on the channel’s website.

“The planes left white vapour trails, attracting the local people’s attention,” he said, without elaborating on when the alleged incursion took place.

The incident happened close to Iran’s border with Iraq, where the US and British military are deployed in force.

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Filed under Countdown to attack on Iran, George W. Bush: is he really THAT bad?, Iran