Public transport is non-existent in many parts of the US. Automobile industry interests have opposed and destroyed public transportation and made people dependent on gasoline whatever the cost of it.
So if the rumours are to be believed, the saviour of the world, president-elect Brak Obama has appointed Rahm Emanuel as Chief of Staff. This man’s father was in Irgun. Irgun was a terrorist outfit - an anti-arab terrorist outfit so that really doesn’t count in the eyes of Americans I would suspect. Mr Emanuel has also volunteered for the Israeli army back in 1991 ….
So a great start really for the man who is going to change things?! My less cynical mates tell me that Obama will curtail the usual US proclivities - warring, torturing, renditioning etc. Yeah right.
My Fellow Americans,
It grieves me to see the livelihood of decent ordinary Americans, folk who pay off their mortgages and file their tax returns every April 15, threatened by the behaviour of irresponsible people in the financial sector. That is why I am planning to take the money away from ordinary Americans and give it to those irresponsible people. Because capitalism and democracy is the best system of government in the world, and you can’t have capitalism without irresponsible people in the financial sector.
In normal circumstances I believe that companies which are managed badly should be allowed to go bust. But these are not normal circumstances. The market is not working, as people have lost confidence in the system. That is why, so that ordinary decent people will still be able to get credit to buy homes and pay their children through college, I must take all their money and give it to these very well paid people who mismanaged their companies. Because these are not ordinary people in normal circumstances who use monkey wrenches and stuff and can be allowed to lose their jobs as firms go bust. These are rich folk like me. Society needs rich folk, so unless you give away all your money to these very rich people now, you will end up poor and without a pension and you will die alone and miserable.
This is not like taking money for medical insurance or welfare. I can assure you none of this money will be wasted on poor people, and hardly any of it on black people. So unless we build a bipartisan consensus and you give all your money to me to redistribute to the extremely rich, the plain truth is you will end up poor.
George W Bush
See my post from yesterday re how some research work of the IMF is also against a bail out.
As the news comes in from the House of Reps rejection of the bail I can’t help but feel that the IMF is an institution that has been ignored too long. They have been warning Gordon Brown for a long time and if they had been allowed to, they would have criticised what was happening in the US as well. Mr Brraaawck Obama, the great Democrat messiah, needs to do his homework a bit and read this report by the IMF:
In brief, Merrill Lynch’s economists suggest that the United States should move quickly to declare certain banks “survivors” and put the others out of their misery.
Are you like me fed up of hearing about the “American Dream” and seeing Barack Obama’s face everywhere? Are you sick to the teeth of hearing american commentators squawking “BRRAAAAAACK” all over the show? Sick isn’t it all this fanfare? Remember the turn out for him in Berlin earlier in the summer? I mean what the hell? He is simply a bloody opposition politician for god’s sake.
Anyway, the excessive media noise is useful when it comes to burying real news stories. And yesterday there was a real belter of a story which should remind everyone of the shape and colour of the so-called American Deam. A law suit has been filed in Los Angeles
One of America’s biggest military contractors (KBR- once a Halliburton subsidiary) is being sued by a Nepali labourer and the families of a dozen other employees who say they were taken against their will to work in Iraq. All but one of the Nepalese workers were subsequently kidnapped and murdered….
The 12 Nepalis were seized by a group calling itself the Army of Ansar al-Sunna. The men were taken hostage on 20 August 2004 and shortly afterwards the kidnappers released a video of one being beheaded and the other 11 shot.
Many Bangladeshis were similarly tricked and made to work in Iraq. I posted a story earlier.
Seeing Cherie Booth yesterday on TV demanding the immediate shipment of Hasina for medical treatment made me think about foreign interference in Bangladeshi politics. So I am going to blog about James Moriarty, the US ambassador to Bangladesh. His arrival earlier this month portends, I fear, a menacing level of interference.
“Diplomatic activism,” if we can call it that, has been key in the recent developments in Bangladesh not least in the installation of the current military-backed caretaker government. So what can we expect in the future? Judging from his recent stint in Nepal, Mr Moriarty is not the type to engage in sensitive diplomacy. Indeed one journalist wrote “Moriarty was to prove very much an American cowboy in a Nepali china shop.” Read “cowboy” as euphemism for stoking conflict, murder and mayhem. As the results favouring the Maoists come in from Nepal, Mr Moriarty - their implacable opponent - must be wondering where he went wrong. The truth is that he never did possess a realistic view of what was possibile in Nepal. Mr Moriarty’s CV on the web tells us he has won several performance awards. Perhaps these were won mainly when he was behind a desk in Washington. In Nepal, his performance would have earned him a severe dressing down given the perverse outcome. And hence perhaps his appointment/demotion to Bangladesh.
So what did he do in the last four years in Nepal? And what can Bangladeshis anticipate? Since 2001, with the appointment of Christina Rocca as Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia, the USA’s military involvement in Nepal has been considerable. The US pumped millions of dollars into building up Nepal’s security forces. Military exchange programs got expanded, and the Royal Nepalese Army (RNA) saw its numbers swell from a pre-2001 figure of 35,000 to 100, 000 in 2005 and a projected 150,000 by this year. US military advisers swarmed the place, and the compliant RNA did their bidding from sabotaging peace talks to murdering people in cold blood. Many people believe that US arms support during this period intensified violence and killings of innocent people. John Mage writes:
The resumption of civil war in the fall of 2003 saw the highpoint of U.S. military involvement in Nepal. Elaborate permanent quarters for U.S. “advisers” were constructed adjacent to RNA headquarters in the centre of Kathmandu. Through its International Military Education and Training Program (IMET), the U.S. trained the security forces in “special operations.” There ensued “a policy to allow mass disappearances accompanied by tacit approval at the highest levels of state to use mass torture, extra-judicial killings and other gross abuses.” The government announced a plan for “Village Defence Volunteers,” based on Latin American paramilitary “death squad” models. This proved too much for the European Union Heads of Mission in Nepal, who up to this time had followed the growing U.S. intervention without adverse public comment. They warned, with diplomatic understatement, that in other countries such plans “have often been responsible for grave violation of human rights.”
Mr Moriarty arrived in 2004 and lost no time in engaging in “diplomatic activism.” The infamous killings and destruction of property in Kapilvastu in the Terai by the death squads revealed Moriarty’s political objectives. I again quote at length from John Mage:
“These semi-official communalist murders were immediately denounced by the European Union ambassadors and “Human Rights” groups. Moriarty, recalled to Washington for consultations, was reported to have pointed to these death squad activities as reasons for “optimism.” Moriarty returned to Kathmandu in May 2005 and did not deny the report when confronted with it, merely stating that there was a “range of opinion” about the Kapilvastu death squad outrage. Moriarty said his main concern was that the RNA was running out of bullets. Not wishing openly to break ranks with India or the European Union on the question of military assistance to the increasingly isolated royal regime, the United States turned to its Israeli surrogate. In August a “huge cache” of 5.56 mm bullets for the U.S. M-16 rifles was reported to have been supplied to the RNA by Israel.”
Earlier this year, another commentator, Mohan Nepali, had this to say about another massacre in the Terai:
“James F. Moriarty visited Nepal’s Terai region (bordering India), met Madhesi leaders and instigated them to take actions against the Maoists. Immediately after this, devastating communal violence erupted in the Terai region. The Madhesi Janadhikar Forum, comprising not only armed robbery, smuggling and kidnapping gangs from both India and Nepal but also political workers and supporters from different mainstream parties ranging from moderate to ultra-rightist views, massacred 29 civilians in Rautahat in March 2007. The massacre is globally known as the Gaur Carnage.”
Moriarty’s job therefore was to stop the Maoists at all costs. Pratyush Chandra, writing in CounterPunch says, “for the US, the main task of the Nepalese politicians must be to eliminate the Maoists, not to bring in a stable democracy. The latter could be just an instrument in this regard. The “authoritarian rule” imposed by Monarchy per se was not wrong, If it had eliminated the Maoists, it would have been declared successful.”
A large number of writers describe how time and again James Moriarty over-stepped the boundaries of diplomacy to pursue these aims. On the eve of the historic April 2006 revolution which humiliated King Gyanendra, Moriarty was machinating to get the Seven Party Alliance to break their pact with the Maoists “and reconcile with the monarch contrary to the spirit of the people” according to Narayan Prasad Wagle. He goes on to state that
“Moriarty’s visits of army camps and frequent speeches about domestic political affairs do not confrom to diplomatic norms and etiquette, and principles of Vienna Conventions on diplomatic relations. The arms deal between the government and the Maoists was unreasonably delayed partly due to the threat of suspension of aid by America if the conditions put forward by it (were) ignored.”
I wonder now that Moriarty has left the country whether he has come to terms with why the Nepalese did not swallow his viewpoint. I wonder if he remembers his words from 2005 when he said the maoists were a “terrific threat” and wanted an “absolutely terrific totalitarian state in Nepal that also threatens the stability of the entire region.” His use of the word “terrific” is a bit strange as the writer Professor Gary Leup noted. He means it in the pejorative sense clearly. (Again according to his CV he speaks many languages including Nepali and Bangla. Some would say he should practise his English more - preferably back in the USA). But Gary Leup in the same article may have some light to shed on why Mr Moriarty’s dreams were never realised. Professor Leup assumes the voice of Thomas Paine and writes :
“The rebellion in Nepal is a revolt in favor of Reason. It makes no sense for 72% of its people to live below the poverty line, many in conditions resembling medieval European feudalism. It makes no sense for the government to neglect the population and present the king as the incarnation of a god. It makes no sense for 60% of the development budget to come from abroad, or for the country to so lack job opportunities that 50,000 Nepali women have to work as prostitutes in Mumbai, India — half the city’s total. It makes no sense for infant mortality to be 70 in 1000 because there’s just one doctor per 25,000 people, or for longevity to average 59 years, or for literacy to stand at 45% with only a third of girls getting any education. The revolution will quite likely change all this. The world is my country, all men my brothers, all women my sisters. So I reject the horrid depictions of it and yes, I support the truly terrific revolution in Nepal.”
“I would like to remind myself and others in the United States and Britain that agressors have no rights, they have only responsibilities.The first responsibility is to pay massive reparations for the crimes they have carried out. That extends in the case of Iraq to include support for Saddam through his worst atrocities after the war with Iran.
After the savage first Gulf War when George Bush authorised the crushing of the rebellions that might have overthrown him, the murderous sanctions and of course the war and its aftermath.
And their second responsibility is to hold the perpetrators accountable. And finally, and crucially, to attend to the voices of the victims, which are not a secret. The Pentagon has just released its latest study of opinions in Iraq. It was optimistic, it said. Iraqis have shared beliefs, so there’s hope for reconciliation.
The shared beliefs turn out to be that the United States and Britain are responsible for the Sectarian warfare and all of its horrors and they should leave Iraq to Iraqis.
And we should finally resolve to ensure that we are never again responsible for such terrible crimes.”
Yes you have come to the right place my faithful readers. Surprised by the photo above? Don’t be. They are Bangladesh and Powderburn fans at a recent concert in Rock City Icehouse, Texas . When I say “Bangladesh” I refer to a heavy metal band which has recently entered the scene in that most bohemian of US states. Do they play bangla heavy metal you ask? No. Lets just say that it is not quite the sort of music you turn to soothe your troubled soul. Even the graphics are enough to make you wonder what the hell is going on in that part of America. Check this:
Having trouble believing all this? Go to their home page here. (Cotton plugs advised). But before you react with nationalist contempt take a look at their spiel…their raison d’etre for the selection of the name:
The message of Bangladesh is simple….Rise up against, and separate yourself from, everything that keeps you from reaching your fullest potential. Everything about Bangladesh embodies this concept. It is heartfelt, hardcore sincerity served up with an intensity that simply cannot be matched.
Enough to warm your nationalist cockles? Some one should invite them to Bangladesh’s premier venue for Heavy Metal (which is
sadly across the road from me in Road No 35). Here are the tone-deaf bunch of nutters musicians themselves:
All that means is that for a minimum layout the US will get to create some brand awareness in a muslim country. This is how USAID describes it
Clear evidence of the value of the increased visibility of foreign aid came in the aftermath of the 2004/2005 U.S. tsunami relief effort, the first time USAID’s new “brand identity” was used publicly. According to a State Department study, in 2004, favorable opinions of the U.S. were at record lows in many Muslim countries. But, in early 2005, favorability of the U.S. nearly doubled in Indonesia (from 37 to 66 percent) thanks to the massive delivery of — for the first time “well branded” — U.S. foreign assistance. A Pew Research study confirms this: “Positive opinions of the U.S. in Indonesia, which had plummeted to as low as 15 percent in 2003, also have rebounded to 38 percent. The U.S. tsunami aid effort has been widely hailed there; 79 percent of Indonesians say they have a more favorable view of the U.S. as a result of the relief efforts.”
And given the noise being made by some US based Bangladeshi bloggers about this american aid, no doubt the branding will succeed …at least as far as the hearts and minds of these US based bangladeshi bloggers are concerned!
Just another scary American? Yes. With some scary information for fellow republicans still with their heads up their arses:
‘I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil.’
From Alan Greenspan’s autobiography.
I was feeling guilty a couple of days ago about the backlog of work I have to do. Under these circumstances, its best to ignore the work entirely and build up the feeling of guilt to bursting point. Then - under the pressure of deadlines and potential humiliation - creativity flows. So I avoided my pile of work and went straight to John Lewis and bought an archos 604 wifi. It is a fantastic wee machine. I immediately transferred some films to it. Given my lifestyle currently it is the only way I can keep on top of some brilliant new films. I watched Jesus Camp on it. What an utterly brilliant documentary it is. The directors, Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady (below), have made a very sensitive and thoroughly researched film. The camera work is also outstanding. In case you have not heard about it, the documentary is about evangelical christians and their children. Frightening and disturbing, for me it brings home how similar fundamentalists are to each other…. whether they subscribe to christianity or to islam or to judaism or whatever. See the web site here.
And talking about reactionaries, fingers crossed tonight for the archangel of reaction in the US - Paul Wolfowitz - to be given the boot.