Mercury Rising 鳯女

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Archive for June 3rd, 2011

Hersh on Iran

Posted by Charles II on June 3, 2011

Seymour Hersh published yet another important article in The New Yorker. Unfortunately, most of that is behind a paywall. However, he was interviewed on Amy Goodman. Bottom line is that Iran is not making nuclear weapons and the US knows it; also, a NY Times story claiming that there is new evidence of Iranian intentions is a complete phony. Some excerpts from the interview:

JUAN GONZALEZ: Sy Hersh, your article details some extraordinary efforts by the United States. You talk about the special forces operations actually replacing street signs in Tehran with radiation detectors and replacing bricks in buildings.

SEYMOUR HERSH:… the latest study, was actually supposed to be promulgated—is the word they use in the community—last fall, and it was delayed because the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Pentagon intelligence agency, had an assessment that was—knocked everybody’s socks off. Their assessment was, the only reason Iran even looked at weaponization—and we’re not talking about building anything, we’re talking about doing studies, paper studies—was because they were frightened of Iraq.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And Sy Hersh, one of the things you say in your article is that these latest intelligence assessments—that a lot of the career intelligence people in the government now have pushed back a lot more against political pressure, after the debacle with Iraq and the pressure on the intelligence community to skew intelligence assessments about weapons of mass destruction, that now the career people are a lot more willing to buck any political pressure.

[One part of the phony “evidence” cited by the NY Times involves a magic laptop] SEYMOUR HERSH: And there’s been some evidence that some of the material—particularly there’s a famous laptop incident, where there was material given to us, the providence of which wasn’t known, that we made a big fuss about, allegedly a laptop belonging to an Iranian scientist, nuclear scientist. There were very crude drawings in it. They weren’t at all near the level of anything serious. And that, for years, back about four or five years ago, fueled all sorts of debate.

[Al Jazeera’s coverage of the Arab Spring is slanted to cover for Sunni elites] SEYMOUR HERSH:…You have the Gulf states in a state of sort of controlled panic now. They’re all sort of locally owned oil combines, owned by various one-time Bedouin—you know, Bedouin desert livers, now suddenly owners of huge complexes of oil billionaires, all of them, and they want to stay in power in the Gulf—Oman, even Qatar. You can see a lot of problems with Al Jazeera’s coverage, particularly of Bahrain. Al Jazeera, for example, is always calling me, didn’t call me for this story because everybody wants to point fingers at Iran.

So you have the American response to—you have this GCC, the Gulf Cooperation Community or Committee. It’s probably the only defense organization in the world that’s designed for all the countries getting together to ward against internal dissent, not external threat, but internal threats. And so, we have this amazing institution. …

And what we do is we focus on Iran as the bad guy…

And so, you have the Saudis in full panic, refusing—in anger at us, refusing to increase the oil output, so the price of oil stays—gasoline is $4 or more a gallon.

They’re worried about—what’s going on in Bahrain is, I’m telling you, it’s a sensationally underreported story. The brutality there is beyond—it’s shocking. And again, the Saudis are directly involved, sort of with our OK.

So, Arab Spring is being undercut enormously. There’s still some hope in Egypt, because the kids are so strong, the movement there is so strong. But I can tell you, Suleiman, the leader of the intelligence service, is still there.

SEYMOUR HERSH:… meanwhile the real crisis is going to be about Iraq, because, whatever you’re hearing, Iraq is going bad. Sunnis are killing Shia. It’s sectarian war….there are Sunni Baathist groups in Damascus, in various places, in the United Kingdom—Leeds is one place—ready, as soon as we get out, to declare an alternative government, a provisional government, and announce that they’re going to retake Iran from the Shiites and from—Iraq from the Shiites, who they believe are totally tied in to the Iranians, which probably isn’t true, but that’s always been the fiction we have, or the fear we have: Iran controls Iraq….But there’s going to be a holy hell there. It’s going to be probably the biggest problem the President has next year, along with gas, along with the crazy Republicans that are running against him. He’s going to—and along with Afghan and along with Iran, it’s going to be Iraq. We’re going to be back looking at Iraq, as that country goes berserk.

Yes, he’s Mr. Happy News.


Posted in Iran, Iraq war | 3 Comments »

The oil link between the Haitian and Honduran coups

Posted by Charles II on June 3, 2011

The Nation is publishing a series of articles on Wikileaks regarding Haiti. Today on Democracy Now, Amy Goodman and Juan Gonazalez interviewed Kim Ives and Dan Coughlin who have been writing for the Nation. One particularly interesting aspect has to do with subsidized oil offered to Haiti by Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez. Some excerpts from the DemocracyNow interview:

KIM IVES: …It’s really amazing to see an ambassador pushing around a president, and all his officials telling them what to do, that they don’t understand this, they don’t understand that, trying to tell them what Haiti’s interests are. It’s the epitome of arrogance. [compare with Ambassador Ford’s attempt to push Zelaya around]

DAN COUGHLIN: … People don’t understand about the dominant role that the U.S. plays there. It’s the fourth-largest U.S. embassy anywhere in the world. The U.N. mission in Haiti today is the third-largest U.N. mission anywhere in the world.

AMY GOODMAN: For the poorest country in the Western hemisphere, they would save $100 million a year [from the oil deal with Venezuela]?

DAN COUGHLIN: It’s not just the $100 million a year, which is huge for Haiti. It’s 10 percent of the Haitian government budget…

DAN COUGHLIN: … But also, it’s part of a package where you’re getting electricity to Haiti. And this is something that even the U.S. embassy recognized. In one cable, they wrote how—that this PetroCaribe deal “is very good for the country,” wrote the chargé d’affaires for the U.S. embassy in one of the cables. Port-au-Prince, Gonaives and Cap-Haïtien now have electricity thanks to Venezuela and Cuban technicians. “Haiti receives shipments of PetroCaribe fuel every two weeks.” And, “In addition to three power plants already in operation and promises to modernize the airport in Cap Haïtien, Venezuela’s oil refinery project,” etc. There’s tangible benefits to the Haitian people, but Chevron, Mobil, Exxon Mobil, and the U.S. embassy tried to block this.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, one of the cables talked about that the Cubans wanted to replace two million light bulbs throughout Port-au-Prince at a cost of $4 million, but that that would save Haiti, I think, $70 million annually in electricity costs. And yet the U.S. embassy was opposed to it.

DAN COUGHLIN: Yeah, what’s remarkable, again, is that we have Venezuela and Cuba helping Haiti out. The Haitians say, “This is nothing ideological. We just want electricity and development for our country.” And sure enough, what happens, in a matter of years, Port-au-Prince, the main cities, most of the country, electricity production skyrockets. People now can read their books at night. Hospitals have power. Schools, factories, homes have electrical power that they didn’t used to have under 50 years of U.S. development aid. All of a sudden, in two or three years, Venezuela and Cuban technicians come in, patch a few power stations together, three of them, bring in the oil supply, a steady oil supply that benefits Haiti, and sure enough, there’s electrical power. So, it’s an extraordinary transformation that happened.

This makes it clear that US policy is to keep Haiti desperately poor by blocking even such basic measures as efficient light bulbs. This alone is shocking, and there is much more. But the thing that stands out is just how threatening to US interests Chavez’s subsidized oil was. It was clearly a factor in both the Haitian and Honduran coups.

Posted in Haiti, Honduras | Comments Off on The oil link between the Haitian and Honduran coups

Noted with sorrow

Posted by Charles II on June 3, 2011

Syed Saleem Shahzad, a journalist with and Pakistan Bureau chief for ATimes who I have cited many times, was murdered, perhaps by Pakistani’s ISI (intelligence service), perhaps by Al Qaeda, or perhaps by parties unknown. As Munawer Azeem and WA Butt of Dawn note, Pakistani law enforcement wrapped up the case with unusual alacrity.

Shahzad, a rare journalist of moderate viewpoint but with sources inside Islamic extremism, was a voice almost impossible to replace. He will be missed.

Posted in media, Pakistan, world news | Comments Off on Noted with sorrow

CTUL Ends Hunger Strike; Negotiations Planned

Posted by Phoenix Woman on June 3, 2011

US Representative Keith Ellison (in red CTUL shirt) and Minnesota Representative Jim Davnie join CTUL hunger strikers on the picket line, Sunday, May 29, 2011.

In all the tumult lately, I forgot to note that the CTUL hunger strike (last mentioned here a few days ago) has ended, with the promise of fruitful labor-management negotiations to come. From the CTUL press release:

On Wednesday June 1st, retail cleaning workers with CTUL and their allies agreed to end a 12-day hunger striker at the request of faith leaders and elected officials who pledged to press Cub Foods management to agree to meet with the workers’ organization to discuss a proposed code of conduct.

Minneapolis Council Member Gary Schiff, State Senator Patricia Torres Ray, State Representative Jim Davnie and members of the clergy spoke before a crowd of approximately 75 workers and supporters. U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison and ELCA Bishop Craig Johnson issued statements citing concern for the health of the hunger strikers and calling on Cub management to agree to meet with CTUL, whose Campaign for Justice in Retail Cleaning has sought to reverse years of declining wages and increased workloads.

“These courageous people have sacrificed their health long enough,” Congressman Keith Ellison said in a statement. “In the end, I hope all parties can sit down, talk, and come to a conclusion that ensures these workers’ voices are heard. I will continue to work to get the management involved to meet with the workers and come to a mutually beneficial conclusion.”

This is good.

(Crossposted to MyFDL and Renaissance Post.)

Posted in unions | Tagged: , , | Comments Off on CTUL Ends Hunger Strike; Negotiations Planned

A key bit of history to understand today

Posted by Charles II on June 3, 2011

Paul Krugman pointed out a very important article if one wants to understand the high unemployment of today.

Unemployment in the Depression by three different standards

Solid line: Employment, counting people working for, e.g., the WPA as unemployed (!) Unemployment 25%–>15%
Long dashes: Employment, counting people working for, e.g., the WPA as employed. Unemployment 23% –> 10%
Dots: Private non-farm jobs. Unemployment 30%–> 15%

So, New Deal policies reduced unemployment by about 1% per year by any measure, and employed about 5% of the workforce in projects like the WPA from 1932 on. But because the 1937 recession, brought on by conservatives much like the idiots in charge of the Congress, caused unemployment to rise by about 5%, the solid line looks less impressive than the others. This is what Republicans use to argue that the New Deal didn’t work.

But there’s another point to consider. How quickly can the economy absorb jobs after an extended recession? In a short-lived recession, guys are laid off, but plants remain intact. So, they be brought back to work very quickly. In a longer recession, skilled people move away to find new jobs, and plant equipment may be sold off. It is much, much more difficult to get things started again. There have only been three economic dislocations in modern economic memory that qualify: the Great Depression, the Reagan Recession of 1981, and the Dubyan Recession of 2008. In the Great Depression, as the graph shows, the rate of re-employment prior to the 1937 recession was about 2.5-3% annually. If one takes a more conservative approach, and assumes that the 1937 recession was a natural pendulum swing, then re-employment took place at about 1% annually.

As one can see from this graph, re-employment during the 1982 recession was 2% annually (although it left unemployment stuck at very high levels), while the current rate of re-employment is projected to be less than 1% annually–and that may be optimistic.

The New Deal worked. The Geithner-Summers-Obama plan has not. The difference, really, is the number of people employed by government stimulus.

Posted in economy, employment, history | 3 Comments »

Friday Cat Blogging

Posted by MEC on June 3, 2011

Posted in Alexander the Great, Friday Cat Blogging | 6 Comments »

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