Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The Fuel Fixers

The above article, published in this week's New York Times Sunday Magazine, concerns James Giffen whose participation in the Kazakhstan bribery scheme was documented in a two-part article in FTW in 2002. I have been unable to find part 2 on the FTW website or on the net. But Mike says it contained an interview he conducted with a member of the Kazakhstan parliament who implicated Dick Cheney in the scheme.

China Secures New Access to Kazakh Oil
Terrorism Damage Bill Passed by House
Transcript of Bill Moyers Show on Iraq War

"PHIL DONOHUE: Our producers were instructed to feature two conservatives for every liberal.
BILL MOYERS: You're kidding."

BILL MOYERS: Now that memo said, "Donohue presents a difficult public face for NBC in a time of war. At the same time our competitors are waving the flag at every opportunity." Did you know about that memo at the time?
PHIL DONOHUE: No. No. I didn't know about that till I read about it in The NEW YORK TIMES.
BILL MOYERS: What did you think? What does that say to you? That dissent is unpatriotic?
PHIL DONOHUE: Well, not only unpatriotic, but it's not good for business."

"ERIC BOEHLERT: One of the first big embarrassments was Powell had talked about this British intelligence report.
COLIN POWELL: I would call my colleagues attention to the fine paper that United Kingdom distributed yesterday, which describes in exquisite detail Iraqi deception activities.
ERIC BOEHLERT: Literally within a day or two it was proven in the British press that that had simply been downloaded off the Internet. And was plagiarized. And it actually contains the typos that were in the original.
BRITISH REPORTER: (2/7/03): The British government dossier is supposed to be about Iraqi deception and concealment. It says it draws upon a number of sources including intelligence material. Well, actually what it largely draws on is a thesis written by a Californian post graduate student...
ERIC BOEHLERT: That was just the first of many embarrassments that were to come. But within days the British press was going crazy over this revelation.
BRITISH REPORTER: As for the student himself, he's accused the government of plagiarism.
BRITISH REPORTER: If the government is reduced to trawling academic journals then how good is the rest of its case for war against Iraq?"

Cynthia Mckinney Announces Run for Presidency
China's Presence in Africa is Wake-Up Call for Europe
Iraqi Kurds: Turkish Warplanes Bomb Northern Iraq Again
Rumsfeld Torture Case Dismissed in France
Tar Sands Versus Clean Water
Carbon Conscious Consumer

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

FTW Blog Regrets the Death of Iranian Friend, Ali Samsam Bakhtiari
In light of Bakhtiari's death several weeks ago, it is interesting to read his unusual personal post on his website in June of this year.

The Biggest Environmental Crime in History
Greenhouse Gas Benefits of Fighting Obesity
World Food Supply is Shrinking, UN Agency Warns
Flameout: Corn Based Ethanol
Ethanol Set to Take Giant Leap
“That means fewer acres for fruits, vegetables, soybeans, alfalfa and other crops, and higher food prices,” said Jesse Sevcik, a vice president at the American Meat Institute.

And even CERA has doubts:

“Congress is making the assumption that the technology will appear,” said Aaron Brady, an ethanol expert at Cambridge Energy Research Associates. “To make billions of gallons of next-generation biofuels, a lot of things have to go right within the space of only a few years.”

Major Anti-Bush Talk Show Host Gets "Fed-ded"

Comment by an FTW ally:

"This is largely a Northern California story, or is it? KGO Radio's Bernie Ward, one of the only three mainstream Left radio talk show hosts in the region, and a bigtime critic of Bush-Cheney, has been indicted on Internet kiddie porn charges because, as a journalist, he was working book on the subject.

While he may have been careless about how we went about his research, it is obvious that he is not a kiddie pornographer. This is a political silencing through and through. It is also a cautionary tale about what happens to critics of the administration when even small mistakes are made."
China Link Suspected in Lab Hacking
The New Middle East Map: Ethnic Cleansing and Petroleum
The Advantage of Balkanizing Iraq: Michael Kane
Iran Bourse to Start Work Soon
Scout's honor.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A Time to Reassure People and A Time to Scare the Cr*p Out of Them

Jenna Orkin

Might it sometimes be appropriate for the government to lie in order to reassure the public? Asked this question during a Court of Appeals hearing yesterday in Benzman vs. EPA, the case brought by residents, students and office workers exposed to and in many cases sickened by the environmental hazards following 9/11,* EPA lawyer Alisa Klein answered, "Yes."

Competing interests such as the economy or the "return to normalcy" [sic] might supercede that of public health, she argued.

There's no question that Ms. Klein accurately represented EPA's position. In addition to their compelling urge to reopen Wall St. ASAP after 9/11, the protocols they have developed to respond to a dirty bomb also take into account the economic import of the area exposed, regardless of the fact that an area that's important to the economy will also be more densely populated.

Accepting, for the moment, the mindbending reasoning that requires us to be reassured by a government which has admitted that it will lie whenever it feels like it, let us turn now to some situations in which said government has seen fit not to reassure us but in fact, to scare the sh*t out of us.

The lead-up to the Iraq war, when Condoleeza Rice dropped a metaphorical bomb into the conversation with her allusion to a mushroom cloud, comes to mind, as do the "Hoo-oo-oo - Be very afraaaaid" references at the time to chemical and biological weapons labs.

Ditto Iran, up until last week.

Then there are all those toys with kooties and that contaminated toothpaste from China. I'm not saying they're safe. I'm just wondering why they've garnered such prompt headlines while the press on American products such as Zonolite has traditionally been sluggish, never mind Agent Orange and depleted uranium. Some of the interests that have rightly decried lead-contaminated toys from China have, on the other hand, put up the strongest resistance to changing the lead laws in New York City housing, for example. (Also compare the press on avian flu with that on the numerous offenses of the American food industry.)

And remember the good old days of Homeland Security orange alerts and Osama's sneak previews? The ones that tended to come just before an election or some other sensitive event?

They don't fall into the category of reassurance but doubtless those in charge knew what they were doing those times also.

The government may not be consistent about wanting to reassure us but it certainly is consistently entertaining.

*I am one of the original plaintiffs in the case.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

The Light Goes on for Ben Stein About Goldman Sachs
"Goldman has a fascinating culture. It is sort of like what I imagine the culture of the K.G.B. to be. You always put the firm first. The long-ago scandal of the Goldman Sachs Trading Corporation, which raised hundreds of millions just before the crash of 1929 to create a mutual fund, then used the fund’s money to prop up stocks it owned and underwrote, was a particularly sad example. The fund, of course, went bust.
Now, obviously, Goldman Sachs does many fine deals and has many smart, capable people working for it. But it’s not the Vatican....(Ed:??)
...Should Henry M. Paulson Jr., who formerly ran a firm that engaged in this kind of conduct, be serving as Treasury secretary? Should there not be some inquiry into what the invisible government of Goldman (and the rest of Wall Street) did to create this disaster, which has caught up with some Wall Street firms but not the nimble Goldman?"
Paulson Finds Bush's Treasury No Career Enhancer Like Goldman
Gulf Pegs to Dollar in Question
BBC on Sino/U.S. Economic Warfare
NY Times Series on Global Warming Trends
Ice Free Passage Possible in Arctic by 2010
Algae Emerges as Potential Fuel Source
It works particularly well if you don't have to breathe at the same time.
Manhattan Turns to New Jersey to Fulfill its Need for Electricity