Saturday, December 16, 2006

Litvinenko stroy gets weirder

Today Reuters reports:

"Murdered Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko was killed because of an eight-page dossier he had compiled on a powerful Russian figure for a British company, a business associate told the BBC on Saturday. Ex-spy Yuri Shvets, who is based in the United States, said Litvinenko had been employed by Western companies to provide information on potential Russian clients before they committed to investment deals in the former Soviet Union. He said Litvinenko was asked by a British company to write reports on five Russians and asked Shvets for help. The British company was not named."

Could it have been the British security firm Erinys International Ltd, perhaps? Larisa Alexandrovna for Raw Story wrote on Monday that Litvinenko "was working for a British security firm at the time of his death, two well placed British sources who wish to remain unidentified tell RAW STORY. . . One of the 12 to 24 polonium contamination sites in the Piccadilly area of London identified by British authorities was the office of the security and risk management company Erinys International Ltd. Erinys has been a player in international relations since it was founded in 2002 by Sean Cleary, a South African Apartheid-era official with ties to Angolan right wing extremist Jonas Savimbi, and Jonathan Garratt, a former British Guards officer. . . These sources further explained that the reason Litvinenko was meeting at Erinys' offices around the time of his contamination was to broker a deal of some sort with a Russian security startup being created by two former FSB agents, Andrei Lugovoi and his business partner Dmitry Kovtun."

This is all one possibility but apparently the Russian connection might also related to an oil deal involving Exxon/Mobil for running a pipeline from Sakhalin Island to mainland Russia, this according to Energy Pipeline News. Erinys International Ltd is very big into securing oil pipelines.

Friday, December 15, 2006

The Saudis and Somalia

The WaPo reports today:

"With the Ethiopian government saying it is technically at war with Somalia's Islamic Courts movement, and the movement having declared holy war against Ethiopia, there is fear that an all-out conflict in the Horn of Africa may be unavoidable."

We all remember the Islamic Courts movement, the ragtag bunch of whackos who managed to take over most of Somalia this year. This is the first time Somalia has been under any kind of control since W.s daddy's blundering in 1992.

The back story on the the Somalia mission back then, according to F William Engdahl in Atimes Online was:

"Little known was the fact that the humanitarian intervention by 20,000 US troops ordered by father Bush in Somalia had little to do with the purported famine relief for starving Somalis. It had a lot to do with the fact that four major US oil companies, led by Bush's friends at Conoco of Houston, Texas, and including Amoco (now BP), Condi Rice's Chevron, and Phillips, all held huge oil-exploration concessions in Somalia. The deals had been made with the former "pro-Washington" tyrannical and corrupt regime of Mohamed Siad Barre.

Siad Barre was inconveniently deposed just as Conoco reportedly hit black gold with nine exploratory wells, confirmed by World Bank geologists. US Somalia envoy Robert B Oakley, a veteran of the US mujahideen project in Afghanistan in the 1980s, almost blew the US game when, during the height of the civil war in Mogadishu in 1992, he moved his quarters on to the Conoco compound for safety."

Nowadays, due mostly to the bungling of this Bush administration's attempts to keep the ICU from taking over by giving the hated warlords hundreds of thousands of dollars, the ICU is now more popular than ever.

Somalis don't tend to be all that religiously pious when it comes to Sharia law and the like, but the faced with US meddling and Ethiopian threats, they will back the ICU for lack of a better alternative. This administration is apparently so concerned about the Somalia situation and the potential for a regional war in the oil rich Horn of Africa that they have exaclty one low level State Department offical watching the Somalia portfolio from the captial of Kenya.

The WAPo reports, "the Islamic Courts are receiving substantial assistance from Iran and Hezbollah." A UN study, according to the Post article "found that the Islamic Courts group has also raised money from various Arab states."

The main "Arab state" funding thr ICU is Saudi Arabia. Before we statrt blaiming Iran for this one too, we'd better get our good friends the Saudis to knock it off.

More soon.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Pointless immigration enforcement

Boy, the Justice Department is really doing a bang up job of protecting us Americans from those dirty illegal immigrants. Yesterday, 1,000 Immigration and Customs Enforcement (I.C.E.) agents simutaneously raided six Swift & Co. plants and rounded up hundreds of illigals working there. [AP] I.C.E spokesperson Marc Raimoudi said the agency was concerned about a fake ID ring. "There are several hundred Americans who were victimized," says Raimoudi. So therefore, hundreds of illegals and their families have to be terrorized by US agents swooping in to arrest them for trying to make an honest living.

If this phony ID ring is really such a huge problem, why not go after the actual people who are responsible for stealing the identities of these "several hundred Americans?" Something tells me the folks who sold these funny IDs are laughing all the way to the bank while the DOJ is chasing its tail. I mean, seriously, is this really any way to go about finding the real culprets? These raids may look great on the six o'clock news but do they really accomplish anything as far as stopping illegal immmigration is concerned? The IRS and the Social Security administration already know where most of these illegals work and which SS #'s they're using.

If this administration is itching to get at this problem of hiring illegals, then ask them. Why go after the lowest of the low in this country? Why break up families and leave children parentless in these pointless enforcement actions? As long as the ecomony sucks in Mexico and South America and companies like Swift need cheap labor, all the raids in the world aren't going to put an end to illegal immigration. The only way to put an end to illegal immigration is either, to identify who these peolpe working here illegaly are and make them legal, which can be done (ask the IRS), or the alternative is to round up every single person living in this country illegally.

Besides causing chaos the latter option would also destroy the economy, so I think the former is the best idea. My theory has always been to take the data the Social Security administration has along with the what IRS keeps track of and send a letter to every illegal telling them they have a temporary green card for 6 months. Thye have that long to get legal and if they don't they'll be deported. That would make the business community happy and we'd know where all these folks are. And in addition the IRS could keep making money off the labor of the illegals, as they are now, and the newly legal workers could take advantage of the benefits they;re forgoing in fear of being arrested.

A win win situation.

Palestinians getting the dirty end of the stick again.

Trudy Rubin had an interesting column in the Inquirer today about the flow of refugees out of Iraq. I wrote about this very same subject back in June. Rubin cites a UNHCR report in November which counts the number of Iraqis leaving Iraq at 2000 a month. These lucky ones who are able to get out are mainly winding up in Jordan and Syria. (Unfortunately, there are about 425,000 who can't get out and are being forced to move into areas of Iraq where they can find the relative security of being amongst their own religious group.)

In all, over one million Iraqis have fled George W. Bush's war since 2003, according to the UN. Countries like Syria and Jordan are hardly capable of taking care of so many displaced people. These countries won't allow the Iraqis to work and can toss them out at any time as they are considered temporary visitors. These poor people are under intense economic stress and the situation is being left to fester without any international relief because of the fact that W. & Co. refuse to recognize any of this is actually happening.

Beyond all the doomsday scenarios presented by the ISG about Saudi Arabia, Iran and Turkey getting involved in a regional war over Iraq, there is the added threat of the regimes in Jordan and Syria being destabilized by the influx of so many Iraqis across their borders. W. & Co. might welcome the collapse of the Syrian government but there would be hell to pay as Syria's current ethnic tranquility dissolved. They've got their own Christian, Kurdish, Sunni/Shiite divisions that would doubtless spill over into Turkey and maybe even into Israel.

And the loss of good King Abdullah II, our good authoritarian buddy in Jordan, could make the Palestinian problems of today look like a picnic in comparison. W & Co. are playing with fire by ignoring what's going on with the Iraqi refugee situation. If something isn't done right away about this unconscionable neglect of so many human being trying to escape W.'s bloodbath in Iraq, we're all going to wind up burning in the same hell, as Hamid Karzai puts it. (He thinks he's got problems in Afghanistan!)

One other note about the Iraqi refugee problem:

A group of 24 Palestinians escaping from certain death in Iraq have been stuck in a no man's land "between Tanf on the Syrian side and El Walid on the Iraqi side" because as stateless peoples they are forbidden to travel without papers. [UNHCR] Again we have a situation where no one from the US or the UN is willing to deal with reality. These Palestinians have no country because the Israelis took it. We know they're there but by law and treaty they don't exist. I would just like to point out here that the Gulf State Arabs and the Iranians like to talk a good game about their great love for the Palestinian people's cause and plight under Israeli occupation, yet when it comes right down to it, they don't give a damn.

Sure the Saudis will tell Jim Baker that the Arab/Israeli conflict is the number one thing that needs to be taken care of to set things straight in the Middle East, but all they really want the Palestinians around for is the cheap labor they provide. The Saudis and the Kuwaitis are the biggest hypocrites when it comes to the Palestinian question. 'Oh yes, it’s terrible what the Israelis are doing in the occupied territories. We're shocked, shocked! Now clean my toilet you dirty Palestinian!' Remember what the Kuwaitis did to the Palestinian laborers in their country after the US threw Saddam out in 1991?

How ironic that Syria will allow the exiled leadership of Hamas to set up shop in Damascus, yet at the same time claims that these poor bastards living in tents out in the Syrian Desert aren't allowed to travel through the country to get back home. I guess if they had RPGs or suicide belts strapped to themselves, they'd be welcomed with open arms! And please, Mamoud Amadinejad; don't tell me about you're support for a free Palestine. You're using the Palestinians just like the Saudis are. They're merely a pawn in your in game for political power. If Israel were to get wiped off the map tomorrow, you and the Royal Saudi family and Bashar al-Asad would all have to find new jobs. If you didn't have the Jewish state to kick around anymore maybe your people would finally wake up to the fact that Israel really wasn't responsible for all the poverty and desperation. Maybe it was you bloodsuckers all along.

Sisyphius in Iraq:

The propaganda coming from the White House this week is that W.'s whirlwind of visits with various experts, generals and State Department officials -- experts from within the administration, decidedly not of the surrendering simian variety --are designed to help him come up with a "new way forward" for his disaster in Iraq. The result of all these visits was supposedly going to culminate in a major speech on the New Way Forward shortly before Christmas. It turns out, though, that there will be no New Way Forward until January, at least. The NYT reports that W. is going to "delay presenting any new strategy until early next year."

Jim Rutenberg and David Sanger write the reason for the delay is: "Mr. Bush had concluded that the decisions about troops, political pressure and diplomacy were too complicated to rush in order to lay out a plan before Christmas." He was ready to chew through iron to get at Saddam's phony WMD. He was even willing to go as far as to suggest to Tony B-liar that they should paint a U-2 spy plane UN blue and get Saddam to shoot it down to in order to create a causus belli. That's how hell bent he was on getting us into a war. Now, when it comes to getting us out of the war, he's got to study some stuff first. It might take a while.

And whilst we await W.'s descent from Mount Sinai with the tablets, dozens more US troops will continue to die every week along with many hundreds more Iraqi civilians. W. has been repeating his new mantra, "I take your comments very seriously," to everyone he talks to, yet I see very little evidence of any sense of urgency on his part to do anything. And there’s reason for that; he doesn't intend to do anything.

Weston Kosova reports in the current NEWSWEEK that Josh Bolton has for the past few months been "girding" W. for the release of the ISG report by making him sit down and listen to opponents of his Iraq policy. While W. has been saying his victory strategy was working and the Democrats were all for cutting and running, Bolton has been planning for the worst and positioning W. to look like he cared all of a sudden. Kosova writes "The challenge for Bush's team was to make the president appear as though he was taking the release of the report seriously, without necessarily embracing its conclusions."

W. might not be too interested in admitting that he really fubar'd the whole thing up, but the people in the administration who actually pull the strings are locked in mortal combat over the New Way Forward. It's really difficult to know exactly what's going on, there are so many contradictory reports and leaks coming out of the administration, but Condi and Cheney seem to be the main combatants. (God help us!)

Due to my not having access to the inner sanctum of the Oval Office, my initial impression was the Cheney's plan was to co-opt "moderate" Sunni leaders into going along with supporting al-Maliki in order to cut Muqtada al-Sadr out of the picture. According Sanger and Rutenberg, though, that's actually Condi's plan. Cheney's plan involves picking sides and supporting the Shiites. I don't know which plan is dumber. I'm thinking, though, that Cheney's plan has best possibility of creating an even worse disaster than Condi's.

The fact that W. is even giving Condi and Cheney the time of day just proves he has no intention of radically changing course, which is what is needed immediately. If there were any illusions about W.'s sincerity in cleaning up the mess he made, they should all be dispelled by his visit with Rummy today. If you're really, really interested in fixing a problem, why would you go to get advice from the very person who created it?

I've said it before and I'll say it again: there is no way this bunch currently in office has a chance in hell of fixing Iraq. It took them three years to create the seething cauldron of religious and ethnic hate that's on the verge of boiling over into the rest of the Middle East. What makes anyone think W. and Cheney have either the ability, or the willingness to change at this late date? There isn't even any firm evidence that they actually think they've done anything wrong. If it hadn't been for the GOP's defeat in the elections, we'd still be hearing about "cut and run" Democrats and the "victory strategy."

As long as this group of neocons and true believers are at the controls, preventing Iraq from descending even further into the abyss is going to be a Sisyphian task. There are no good solutions to what's facing us in Iraq but one thing we can all count on is that W. & Co. will pick the wrong road every time.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The new Embassy inside the E-Ring:

Guy Raz reported on last evening's ATC that:

"A military watchdog group is asking the Pentagon whether senior uniformed officers had permission to appear in a video endorsing an evangelical Christian group. The Christian Embassy is an evangelical missionary group focused on government workers in Washington, DC. The group's recent promotional video features endorsements from several prominent military officers."

Not that the military is endorsing Dr. Kennedy or his virilant anti-gay agenda or anything, but Kennedy's own news letter Impact reports that his visit to the E-Ring went great:

"'He made an impression on us all,' said Air Force Colonel Victor Janushkowsky about Dr. D. James Kennedy’s personal testimony, which he gave at a Pentagon Prayer Breakfast in September. "As military members we're called upon to be statesmen as well, and Dr. Kennedy is a brave man to be able to state and defend our worship of God in the U.S.,' said Col. Janushkowsky."

The Air Force academy apparently is a bastion of right wing religious indoctrination, so its no surprise Col. Janushkowsky is so into Kennedy. The WaPo reprted in May of last year:

"An Air Force chaplain who complained that evangelical Christians were trying to "subvert the system" by winning converts among cadets at the Air Force Academy was removed from administrative duties last week, just as the Pentagon began an in-depth study of alleged religious intolerance among cadets and commanders at the school. 'They fired me,' said Capt. MeLinda Morton, a Lutheran minister who was removed as executive officer of the chaplain unit on May 4. 'They said I should be angry about these outside groups who reported on the strident evangelicalism at the academy. The problem is, I agreed with those reports.'"

This October, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, questioned the promotion of Air Force Brig. Gen. Johnny Weida to Major General. AP reported that:

"Weida was the No. 3 commander at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs when allegations surfaced that evangelical Christians there were bullying cadets who held other beliefs. The Air Force later cleared Weida of allegations of using his position to proselytize non-Christian cadets."

These "prayer breakfasts" are held in the Pentagon's E-ring at Executive Dining Room (Room 3B1062). One recent breakfast featured a sermon by right wing religious nut "Dr" James Kennedy of Ft. Lauderdale Florida. In his speech, according to Raz, he asked why anyone would refuse eternal life. They must be "insane" he said.

People for the American Way reports that "Kennedy oversees a vast media empire of television, print and radio programming that includes The Coral Ridge Hour which airs on approximately 550 stations, four cable networks, and to 165 nations on the Armed Forces Network. Available to 81 percent of the nation's television homes, The Coral Ridge Hour is the third most-widely syndicated weekly Christian television program with a potential viewership numbering in the millions."

Monday, December 11, 2006

Neocons are know nothings:

Man, the neocons are on a tear with this ISG report. Jonah Goldberg in the Inquirer today writes that Baker & Co. aren't interested in winning the war in Iraq. "Indeed, former Justice O'Connor was a perfect choice given her preternatural gift for reaching decisions with no discernible principle to them other than the need to please everybody a little. Yogi Berra once said, 'If you come to a fork in the road, take it.' That, it seems, was the commission's approach."

See, the neocons have been trashing the report for months. Jim Lobe in the Atimes, "from having read the neo-conservative press in the US over the past month, one would think that former secretary of state James Baker poses the biggest threat to the United States and Israel since Saddam Hussein. . . The specific aim of the campaign - which has been waged virtually daily on the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Times and the online and printed versions of The Weekly Standard and The National Review - has been to discredit the ISG's presumed conclusions, even before they are published."

You can see why they don't like Baker's recommendations; they directly contradict everything the neocons have been saying all along about the Iraq war. My question is, why is the media still giving these guys the time of day? I heard Michael Rubin on Talk of the Nation last week. He was invited on because he had been asked to be on the commission. He didn't participate because he thought Lee Hamiliton had "gerrymandered [the] advisory panels to ratify predetermined recommendations."

So, even though he wasn't actually in the ISG, he gets on TOTN. Why? He and Goldberg and the rest of them have been wrong about every single thing about Iraq. At this point, why bother having them on any talk show to comment on something they obviously know nothing about?
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