Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Monday, January 29, 2007
Stanley Kubrick, Barry Lyndon
Sunday, January 28, 2007
Jean-Luc Godard, Bande à part
Tod Browning, The Unknown
So, my young charmer, your mission in life is to lure men into lonely ruins --- to be robbed and tortured!
George Fitzmaurice, Son of the Sheik
Encouraged by an indulgent grandfather who was his ideal, what chance had Julio Desnoyers to be other than a youthful libertine?
Rex Ingram, The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse
Saturday, January 27, 2007
Iraqi militants posing as Americans kill 4 U.S. soldiers
BAGHDAD — Four American soldiers were abducted during a sophisticated sneak attack last week in the Shiite holy city of Karbala, the U.S. military confirmed Friday. It said three were shot to death and a fourth was mortally wounded with a gunshot to the head when they were found in a neighbouring province, far from the compound where they were captured.
Two of the four were handcuffed together in the back seat of an SUV near the southern Iraqi town of Mahawil. A third dead soldier was on the ground nearby. The fourth soldier died on the way to the hospital, the military said in a statement issued late Friday that confirmed details reported by The Associated Press earlier.
On Jan. 20, the day of the raid on a security meeting in Karbala, the military said five soldiers were killed repelling the attack.
The brazen assault, 80 kilometres south of Baghdad, was conducted by nine to 12 militants posing as an American security team, according to two senior U.S. military officials as well as Iraqi officials. They travelled in black GMC Suburban vehicles — the type used by U.S. government convoys — had American weapons, wore new U.S. military combat fatigues, and spoke English.
None of the American or Iraqi officials would allow use of their names because of the sensitive nature of the information.
The confirmation has emerged after nearly a week of inquiries. The U.S. military in Baghdad initially did not respond to repeated requests for comment on reports that began emerging from Iraqi government and military officials on the abduction and a major breakdown in security at Karbala site.
Within hours of the AP report that four of the five dead soldiers had been abducted and found dead or dying about 40 kilometres to the east of Karbala, the military issued a long account of what took place.
It said, “Two soldiers were found handcuffed together in the back of one of the SUVs. Both had suffered gunshot wounds and were dead. A third soldier was found shot and dead on the ground. Nearby, the fourth soldier was still alive, despite a gunshot wound to the head.”
The mortally wounded soldier was rushed to the hospital by Iraqi police but died on the way, the military said.
The military also said Iraqi police had found “five SUVs, U.S. army-type combat uniforms, boots, radios and a non-U.S. made rifle” near Mahawil, in neighbouring Babil province.
“The precision of the attack, the equipment used and the possible use of explosives to destroy the military vehicles in the compound suggests that the attack was well rehearsed prior to execution,” said Lt.-Col. Scott Bleichwehl, spokesman for Multi-National Division-Baghdad.
“The attackers went straight to where Americans were located in the provincial government facility, bypassing the Iraqi police in the compound,” said Lt.-Col. Bleichwehl. “We are looking at all the evidence to determine who or what was responsible for the breakdown in security at the compound and the perpetration of the assault.”
The Karbala raid, as explained by the Iraqi and American officials, began after nightfall at about 6 p.m. on Jan. 20, while American military officers were meeting with their Iraqi counterparts on the main floor of the Provisional Joint Co-ordination Centre in Karbala.
Iraqi officials said the approaching convoy of black GMC Suburbans was waved through an Iraqi checkpoint at the edge of Karbala. The Iraqi soldiers believed it to be American because of the type of vehicles, the distinctive camouflage American uniforms and the fact that they spoke English. One Iraqi official said the leader of the assault team was blond, but no other official confirmed that.
A top Iraqi security official for Karbala province told the AP that the Iraqi guards at the checkpoint radioed ahead to the compound to alert their compatriots that the convoy was on its way.
Iraqi officials said the attackers' convoy divided upon arrival, with some vehicles parking at the back of the main building where the meeting was taking place, others parked in front.
The attackers threw a grenade and opened fire with automatic rifles as they grabbed two soldiers inside the compound. Then the guerrilla assault team jumped on top of an armoured U.S. Humvee and captured two more soldiers, the U.S. military officials said.
One U.S. soldier was killed in the melee at the compound, and three were wounded.
The attackers captured four soldiers and fled with them and the computer east toward Mahawil, the U.S. military officials said.
The Iraqi officials said the four were captured alive and shot just before the vehicles were abandoned.
Police who became suspicious when the convoy of attackers and their American captives did not stop at a roadblock chased the vehicles and found the bodies, the gear and the abandoned SUVs.
Three days afterward, the U.S. military in Baghdad announced the arrest of four suspects in the attack and said they had been detained on a tip from a Karbala resident. No further information was released about the suspects.
The Defence Department has released the names of troops killed last Saturday but clearly identified only one as being killed because of the sneak attack.
Capt. Brian Freeman, 31, of Temecula, Calif., “died of wounds suffered when his meeting area came under attack by mortar and small arms fire.” Freeman was assigned to the 412th Civil Affairs Battalion, Whitehall, Ohio.
The only other troops killed that day in that region of Iraq were four army soldiers said to have been “ambushed while conducting dismounted operations” in Karbala.
The four were identified as 1st Lt. Jacob Fritz, 25, of Verdon, Neb.; Spc. Johnathan Chism, 22, of Gonzales, La.; Pte. 1st Class Shawn Falter, 25, of Cortland, N.Y., and Pvt. Johnathon Millican, 20, of Trafford, Ala. All were with the 2nd Battalion, 377th Parachute Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, of Fort Richardson, Ala.
Friday, January 26, 2007
The idea is to weaken Iran financially, because 85% of Iran's export income comes from oil and 40% of gasoline used in Iran is imported (even though it is the fourth-largest producer of crude oil) because of a lack of local refining capacity.
Financial-futures analyst Gary Dorsch reports that, contrary to analysis in the press that holds warm weather as the cause of falling oil prices, the real reason is that an excess of 700,000 barrels of oil is being produced by OPEC countries.  Only Saudi Arabia has the spare capacity to bring market prices down.
Add to that the growing hue and cry about the rising "Iran threat" that one hears in the Gulf Arab states. The Saudi government, elites and Muslim scholars are issuing increasingly dire predictions about the growth of Iranian power; they are manufacturing hysteria about an "Iran threat". Even Yusuf Qaradawi, the famous Egyptian preacher with a slot on Al-Jazeera, is criticizing Iran for allegedly spreading sectarian strife in Iraq. 
During the final stop in US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's recent trip to the Middle East, in Kuwait City, where Robert Gates, the defense secretary, joined her, Arab foreign ministers from Egypt, Jordan and the six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council stood together to produce a united front against Iran.
In related news, Mujahedeen Khalq has released a list of more than 32,000 Iraqis working as agents of the Iranian regime for the Al Quds Brigade.
Oh wait, the U.S. struck a deal with MK very early on after the invasion.
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
One vibrant and innovative ad is located above a urinal in London:
- Courtesy of Dougald Hine, who comments:
I am struggling here. I can't seem to find anything beyond the single entendre. Or even much of a connection to poker. Unless the message is: "Gamble on our site and you can win enough to pay for a prostitute."Are we in Iraq for the oil? No, the oil is just the means to the end. The end is even more diverse and vibrant innovation, forever.
Monday, January 22, 2007
NI police colluded with killers
Police colluded with loyalists behind over a dozen murders in north Belfast, a report by the Police Ombudsman of Northern Ireland has confirmed.
Nuala O'Loan's report said UVF members in the area committed murders and other serious crimes while working as informers for Special Branch.
It said two retired Assistant Chief Constables refused to cooperate with the investigation.Special Branch officers gave the killers immunity, it said. The officers ensured the murderers were not caught and even "baby-sat" them during police interviews to help them avoid incriminating themselves. The Special Branch officers "created false notes" and blocked searches for UVF weapons.
The report, published on Monday, called for a number of murder investigations to be re-opened. But it is unlikely that any of the police officers involved will be prosecuted - the ombudsman said that evidence was deliberately destroyed to ensure there could not be prosecutions.
They also paid almost £80,000 to leading loyalist Mark Haddock, jailed for 10 years last November for an attack on a nightclub doorman. The ombudsman's investigation began more than three years ago when Belfast welder Raymond McCord claimed that his son, also called Raymond, had been killed by a police informer. The former RAF man, 22, was beaten to death and his body dumped in a quarry in 1997. Mr McCord has said he wants those who murdered his son to be put in prison. He said he had received a death threat at the weekend from the UVF.
Mr McCord said that during his campaign of justice for his son he had been made to feel by police that he was "some sort of crank".
Sunday, January 21, 2007
Thursday, January 18, 2007
Sinfonia (1968–69), for eight amplified voices and orchestra, was part of a wider pattern of response to the musical crisis of the 1960s, during which avant-garde composers began once again to look to music of the past for material and inspiration – a turn towards so-called "meta music", or music about music. The third movement of Sinfonia is one of the most famous and remarkable examples of this approach: a dense fabric of verbal quotations contained within a musical quotation, the Scherzo from Mahler's Symphony No. 2, which is borrowed virtually wholesale and then used as a kind of musical armature around which Berio concocts a dazzling semantic and musical labyrinth, including further quotations (from Mahler, Ravel and Debussy, among others) and chattering texts drawn from Samuel Beckett's The Unnameable.
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Whenever I hear that phrase I am reminded of a conversation I had a couple of years ago with the city fathers of Liverpool, who were talking excitedly about their plans for the 2008 city of culture. They spoke a good deal of the booming 'leisure sector' in the city; eventually I came to realise that what they meant by this was drinking. I remember sitting in one of those packed drinking dens late one night with a notebook thinking blearily I had cracked the mystery of Labour's economic policy: create as many students as possible, encourage them to live in blighted city centres, surround them with cheap drink and all-night licensing hours, allow them heavy debt, and let the consequently rampant 'leisure industry', in league with property developers, rebuild your cities.
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
1. January 16th 2007: It was evident even before the invasion that the war's intention included making a failed state of Iraq. That that's not yet conventional wisdom shows just how much too many still want to believe bad policy is made in good faith.
2. May 2nd 2005: Civil War? Let's put it this way: do you believe the idealogues of invasion ever intended to leave Iraq a strong, united country? Its atomization into impotent, submissive bantustans has been on the neoconservative agenda nearly as long as there have been neoconservatives.
Why won't the Democrats impeach Bush and Cheney? Beacuse they're still useful for something. Exactly what that is, we have yet to see. But no doubt we will, sometime before November 4th 2008.
When I began writing about the Bush administration's violations of FISA, what confounded me at first was the sheer pointlessness of the lawbreaking. It was not merely that the FISA court has always allowed the President -- all presidents -- to do whatever eavesdropping they wanted, and that bypassing it was therefore unnecessary.
That is true. But more significantly, if the President wanted FISA changed, even radically, to vest him with still greater powers, the unprecedentedly compliant post-9/11 Congress was as eager as could be to grant all of his wishes and to give him whatever new powers he wanted. It did so repeatedly, at exactly the time (October, 2001) when he ordered eavesdropping in violation of the law.
The reason Bush violated the law when eavesdropping is the same reason Lithwick cites to explain his other lawless and extremist measures -- because he wanted purposely not to comply with the law in order to establish the general "principle" that he was not bound by the law, to show that he has the power to break the law, that he is more powerful than the law.
The Bush Gang is planning some show trials just before the 2008 'election':
Prosecutors could use hearsay evidence or secondhand testimony, but could not use information obtained under torture. Even so, that would mean that virtually any information obtained by the CIA would appear to be admissible because, in the view of Justice Department legal opinions, none of the harsh techniques it used amounted to torture.
Monday, January 15, 2007
PELLEY: Do you think you owe the Iraqi people an apology for not doing a better job?
BUSH: That we didn't do a better job or they didn't do a better job?
PELLEY: Well, that the United States did not do a better job in providing security after the invasion.
BUSH: Not at all. I am proud of the efforts we did. We liberated that country from a tyrant. I think the Iraqi people owe the American people a huge debt of gratitude, and I believe most Iraqis express that. I mean, the people understand that we've endured great sacrifice to help them. That's the problem here in America. They wonder whether or not there is a gratitude level that's significant enough in Iraq.
Saturday, January 13, 2007
*Prime Minister Tony Blair, defending his interventionist policies in Iraq and Afghanistan, said Britain should carry on influencing world affairs through fighting wars as well as peacekeeping.
*Washington intelligence, military and foreign policy circles are abuzz today with speculation that the President, yesterday or in recent days, sent a secret Executive Order to the Secretary of Defense and to the Director of the CIA to launch military operations against Syria and Iran.
*Some Somali officials with the TFG, however, openly boast that U.S. ground forces are in Somalia, while others stick to the party line and flatly deny it. And in a telephone interview today from Mogadishu with NEWSWEEK, the TFG's interior minister, Hussein Aidid, confirmed that U.S. ground forces were involved in the mop-up in southern Somalia.
*OK, so the question is: Was the U.S. assault on the Iranian consulate in Irbil--sovereign Iranian territory--legal? Does the President have the power to invade another country without authorization under the war powers act? I would think not, but I just spoke to a Democratic Member of Congress who was freaked by the obvious attempt to provoke the Iranians into a military response, but said that it might have been legal if the people and information seized were directly involved in attacks on U.S. citizens.
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
Monday, January 08, 2007
And I thought: Our leaders lie, and we know they have lied, and there is war in our name, and the world kicks and boils itself to death and we do nothing but stare into the tiny grinning faces of people we don't even know; faces that are, apparently, more "fast, easy and practical" than language itself.
Sunday, January 07, 2007
Saturday, January 06, 2007
A couple of recent posts by Angry Arab reminded me of the need to link to it again. In other words, blog it.
Now, I know why the Russian, Chines[e], and British ambassadors in Lebanon speak fluent Arabic (the Chinese ambassador has a PhD in Arabic literature and she never uses a translator), while the US ambassador has been practicing the word fa-la-fil for the last two years. Keep trying.