Saturday, April 30, 2011

Helping Hawaii


Military Occupation of Hawaii continues. Local people suffer.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Emergency Managers

The Governor of Michigan has begun ruling via Emergency Managers. Many taxpayers and citizens will cheer efforts to "break through the logjam of politics" and appoint emergency financial managers to administer local government. Turnaround management of gutted economies sounds great, but the process is short sighted, anti-democratic, dangerous & wrong. Most such places can never become competitive through government directive or extensive privatization; the procedure is a corporate raid, stripping away liens & assets. Free citizens become subject peoples. Never accept or trust such dictatorial bureaucrats. Hopefully it can't long continue...

Me Me as Meme

Where's this place?
From a biting article (link) full of clever phrases, a few excerpts:

+   "aggressive superficiality"
+   "Viagra Capitalism"
+   "proto-fascist"
+   a thinning empire ruled by "two wings of The Money Party"
+   "disparity between facade & content"
+   a "corporate order of Botox Politics"

"Republican Party strategists game the ... bigots of their political base by raising the fearsome specters of child-recruiting gay pedophiles, in alliance with Islamic Caliphate plotters, all of whom, at the behest of dirty hippie socialists, have designs to redistribute their lawn furniture, outdoor grilling equipment, and pool toys to dark and dusky sorts."

Phil Rockstroh writes of a land where Donald Trump gives national problems the comb-over treatment.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

No Fly ==> Combat

We's been hoodwinked again. "No-Fly" was an excuse for combat. Big military nations now wage war in Libya. A remit to protect civilians has been twisted to uncivil intervention. Euro-American conquest in Africa again.

A "No Lie Zone" would greatly change our leadership...

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Japan's Nuclear Disaster Secrets?

Many Japanese people are suffering greatly -- from the unknown... They've learned from past experience not to trust the authorities. Corner cutting, rubber-stamp inspections, shabby attempts to hide "dirt" & error, Japanese nuclear industry mismanagement stems in part from poor checks & balances.

Government / corporate efforts fail to reassure the population. Nuclear safety fears are substantial & genuine.

Some people in Japan look back at the Chisso-Minamata mercury poisoning disaster, when the cause & extent of Chisso's pollution were revealed only after decades of misinformation. "Compensation" for destroyed health & loss of life has been slow.

Corporations often respond poorly to accidents. Union Carbide's Bhopal (India) disaster killed many thousands of people in 1984; legal actions still continue. Key officials (such as Union Carbide Chairman & CEO Warren Anderson) refused to appear in court. Justice becomes more difficult to determine. Deception, spin, legal claptrap, smoke & mirrors -- tough for common folk...

The British remember similar episodes of broken trust. UK Agriculture Minister John Gummer tried to reassure a public scared by BSE vCJD. He claimed beef was "perfectly safe" and in front of the press tried feeding a beefburger to his four-year old daughter Cordelia (she refused to eat it).

Individuals cannot be well informed in the face of official misinformation. We need more Japanese press adversarialism in this critical area. So certainly people are afraid. They worry about being tricked, and truth coming out too late.

We're deceived repeatedly. As Pres. George W. Bush said persuasively in his first term: "Fool me once..."   uhhh... mmmm   Quickly fooled again.

Leaky Leaders - Same Script

Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak now is reportedly too ill to be questioned about alleged crimes, corruption & murders under his administration. Many Egyptians will be skeptical of his sudden disability.

Americans had similar doubts in 1974, when former U.S. President Richard Nixon's sickness with phlebitis made him claim danger & unable to testify about his colleagues' alleged crimes (he survived for 20 more years).

Chilean dictator General Pinochet also plead that health problems prevented his assisting justice investigations (for 6+ years).

Truth & justice are important -- more than the comfort or survival of former public servants.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Rah Rah Robbery

Rah rah rip-off.
The USA is waging war in Afghanistan (& Pakistan), the Middle East (Iraq), and in Libya (North Africa).

The people of the USA cannot afford these wars. The USA as a Warfare State cripples home communities. Americans are cheating ourselves.

Our world-encircling military bases network is now horribly toxic. Most host nation people want us gone. Warfare sucks. And we do it Industrial-scale.

What greatly surprises me is the collective amnesia of people age 50 & over, who were thumped with the dark specter of dangerous Vee Yet Nam (rhyming w/ ham and spam). Millions of lives were damaged & destroyed by the U.S. war machine (subordinate allies share blame). Those who waged horrible war escaped being tried & convicted of their crimes. The world should look back at that darkness with horror & dismay; the war's planners should be despised worldwide. But there was no accountability. Too many Americans (if they look back at all) simply think:

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Baruch Blumberg, RIP

The world lost a great person with the death yesterday of Dr. Barry Blumberg, scientist & inquiring mind.

We met in 1991, as I entered Balliol College at Oxford. We freshers were first addressed by the Dean & Archivist, and offered majestic but harsh advice on disciplinary matters (aimed at the undergrads? -- the "-plinary" of disciplinary rhymed with "winery"). Next the Master of the College came to the podium and surprised me with an American accent, and a warm & friendly greeting. I soon learned that our Master was Nobel prizewinner Baruch Samuel Blumberg, born in Brooklyn (USA), educated at Balliol, a pioneer researcher on Hepatitis B whose vaccine saved millions of lives.

I got to know the Master via many small seminars he held during my years of residence at Oxford. The day-long themes were often outside my expertise, so I'd bring reference texts to study during deliberations (topics ranged from economics & public policy to philosophy, creativity, science & international relations). The Master often sat by me, dipping into my books and articles. I was most impressed with his boldly open mind. He had no pretense or arrogant airs. He was a model of accomplishment. He'll be sorely missed by many.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Blowback Analysis

Hype & marketing permeate modern daily life.

In public affairs & government, assorted interests argue for their views: best-case examples buttress their position, potential costs are minimized.

Use of military force (whether called "war" or "keeping the peace") is serious & potentially deadly. Decisionmaking processes should be methodical, not driven by hype & spin. Deployment decisions should include blowback analysis.

What potential worst-case scenarios can be linked to assorted options? What are the costs to doing nothing? Can we protect against counteroffensive, and at what cost?

Paths of action & inaction can each be costly - are we prepared to pay the expected price? Blowback analysis is essential. We should not be caught flatfooted, claiming surprise in the midst of failure.

"I don't think anybody could have predicted..."

  -- US National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice (on enemies using hijacked airplanes as missiles);   16 May 2002

Bestselling novel "Debt of Honor" by Tom Clancy depicts a revenge-seeking pilot using a commercial Boeing 747 airliner to destroy the U.S. Capitol Building, killing the U.S. President and most of the nation's leadership.

1999 (two years before Sept. 11 2001 attacks):
"Sociology & Psychology of Terrorism" (link) -- U.S. Government 1999 report which discussed expected "spectacular" al-Qaida airplane strikes against U.S. targets.

March 2001
Nationally broadcast fictional Fox TV show "The Lone Gunmen" portrays the attempted crashing of a hijacked airliner into New York's World Trade Center.

Friday, April 01, 2011

America Grows Up

The Swedish Poodle Goes to War

In Stockholm today, our Swedish Riksdag debates collaborating in Libya's war. The intervention plans are costly & wrong.

Colonial powers have already discarded the rationale of protecting civilians through a "no fly zone" -- mission creep has morphed operations toward arming militant factions, regime change, erosion of sovereignty, and imposing imperialist controls making Libya a colony again.

Intervention can quickly bite us in the ass -- why create dangerous enemies? Where's analysis of potential blowback? Such costs must be considered. We don't fight for Libyan freedom or dignity. Rather, we want part of the looting, and our Swedish arms exporters are itching to show-off their weaponry...

We obey the USA like a pet.

Give a sweet goodie to Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt.
Such a well-trained little fellow!

Foreign Minister Carl Bildt is on display too!

"Luck of the Irish" = Bad Luck

Ireland needs more bailout funding. Why? Because their growth over the last 15 years was built on a "lowest taxes" model and non-sustainable.

Ireland sought to attract business investment & clever individuals by undercutting competitors. Ireland's corporate tax rate is 12.5% (compared with 28% in the UK, 35%+ in the USA, 26% in Sweden). They reportedly (link) were also highly forgiving with corporate "administrative expense" allowances. The Irish boom drained resources from elsewhere, and they hoped to generate enough new value-added synergies to operate at low cost.   They failed.

Now they're saddled with thousands of deteriorating development projects. Indebtedness forces Dublin to beg competitors for assistance. Pity the Irish...?