home

Home / Diaries

Afghanistan is the Taliban is Afghanistan is the Taliban

It's wonderful to have a loud-mouth liberal like Alan Grayson in Washington, along with all the loud-mouth neo-cons and mush-mouth Democrats, but whoever increases knowledge increases sorrow, and Alan Grayson's grim analysis of Afghanistan is even grimmer than he thinks.

It's not a country; it's not even a place. It's just an empty place on the map.  It's terra incognita.  People who live there are a welter of different tribes, different language groups, different religious beliefs.  

All over the country you find different people who have nothing to do with each other except for the fact that we call them Afghans, and they don't even call themselves Afghans.  They're Tajiks or they're Pashtuns, or they're Hazzaras or someone else.  The things that hold them together are simply the things that we try to create artificially.  

With all due respect, which is actually a lot, I have to say that Rep. Grayson has been addled by world-tourism, and when you spend just a few days or weeks or even a few months in very foreign countries like Afghanistan, it's easy to avoid understanding that you don't understand anything at all, and only if you're very, very lucky will you ever experience even one or two epiphanies of the obvious like a sudden realization that...

Afghanistan is the Taliban is Afghanistan is the Taliban.

(2 comments, 676 words in story) There's More :: Permalink :: Comments

A Victim of "Bipartisanship"

From the Guardian...

Tension between gangs of teenagers in Chicago's schools that last year saw the killing of a record 42 young people has reached a peak in the city following the beating to death of a 16-year-old that was captured on camera.

Derrion Albert is seen being struck on the head by a boy in a purple shirt who hits him from behind with a long wooden board, thought to be a part of a railway sleeper. Albert falls to the ground, then stands up and is immediately punched in the face by another boy. He slumps to the ground a second time and stays down for more than a minute. Then he struggles onto his feet for a third time, at which point a separate boy strikes him again over the head with a wooden board before a fourth boy stomps on top of his head.

That time he stays down for good.

(1 comment, 467 words in story) There's More :: Permalink :: Comments

Did Zazi's Lawyer Sell Him Out to the FBI?

This story begins with two lawyers, one of the best and one of the worst, and we might as well begin the beginning with one of the best.

Jeralyn E. Merritt is a distinguished Colorado lawyer who created TalkLeft, a website devoted to discussing "the politics of crime." Ms. Merritt was one of the principal trial lawyers for Timothy McVeigh in the Oklahoma City Bombing Case, and she has served as Secretary, Treasurer and member of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers as well as on the ABA Criminal Justice Section Council and the Board of Governors of the American Board of Criminal Lawyers. Nobody questions her outstanding integrity and professional competence.

She has closely followed the case of Najibullah Zazi, who is now charged with knowingly making false statments to the FBI in a matter involving terrorism, and these charges arise entirely from statements Mr. Zazi made during a series of free-wheeling interviews with the FBI, arranged by his attorney, Arthur Folsom.

(1695 words in story) There's More :: Permalink :: Comments

Minsky Minimum Wages, After the "Minsky Moment"

Steven Mihm, the Boston Globe's econ correspondent, has posted a relatively long appreciation of the economist Hyman Minsky, recently celebrated by Paul Krugman and Joseph Stiglitz for predicting the "Minsky moment" when capitalism more or less melted down after Wall Street's fourth biggest investment bank, Lehman Brothers, collapsed in September, 2008.

(417 words in story) There's More :: Permalink :: Comments

Obama's Healthcare Tuesday Speech - the contents

Here's what's going to happen come Tuesday.  This is my naked prediction, i.e., independent of any outside information.  I've been sitting on this for two days, more out of laziness in putting it on the screen than anything else.

And those of you who remember these things, will remember I am usually pretty darn good at my predictions being right.

(388 words in story) There's More :: Permalink :: Comments

Waterproof Socks as a Weapon of Mass Destruction

Syed Hashmi is an American citizen who has been held in an extremely restricted form of solitary confinement in a federal prison in New York for more than two years for providing "miltary equipment" to al Qaeda in Pakistan.

MSNBC was all over this story way back in 2006, when Mr. Hashmi was arrested in London...

U.S. officials say the military gear was intended to support al-Qaida's jihad activities overseas, especially in Afghanistan, where it could be used against U.S. soldiers.

Lots of information was apparently leaked to NBC "terrorism expert" Michael Sheehan...

"Hashmi was a jihadi. He was interested in fighting jihad in Pakistan," says Michael Sheehan, a terrorism expert and NBC News analyst. "He had connections to serious terrorists in the U.K. He was an American citizen, a very troublesome character, and we're glad that he's been picked up."

But not even the mysteriously well-informed Mr. Sheehan seemed to know exactly what kind of "miltary equipment" Syed Hashmi had provided to al Qaeda in Pakistan.

(3 comments, 750 words in story) There's More :: Permalink :: Comments

Two Coups, and a Cuckoo Condemnation of Obama

The New York Times is currently hosting a thunderous editorial by Mark Weisbrot about Barack Obama's "failure" in Latin America. Obama has done "worse than Bush." Hopes have been dashed!

The occasion of this over-the-top indictment is the military coup which overthrew President Manuel Zelaya of Honduras on June 28, 2009. According to the Times editorial, President Obama should have condemned this coup immediately! Immediately!

Instead he waited almost a week.

Unthinkable!

(516 words in story) There's More :: Permalink :: Comments

The New American Reality of Long-Term Unemployment and Destitution

As illustrated by this (slightly improved) graphic from the New York Times, long-term unemployment (as a percentage of the workforce) has now outrun all previous recessions since this data began to be collected in 1948, and even more bad news is lurking under the numbers.

At the height of unemployment in 1982, one of every five unemployed workers was on a temporary layoff, with the expectation they would be recalled, sooner or later. Today the comparable figure is 1 of 10.

(1 comment, 406 words in story) There's More :: Permalink :: Comments

Poll: Disorderly Conduct and Disturbing the Peace

"The life of the law has not been logic; it has been experience. The felt necessities of the time, the prevalent moral and political theories, intuitions of public policy, avowed or unconscious, even the prejudices which judges share with their fellow men, have had a good deal more to do than the syllogism in determining the rules by which men should be governed. The law embodies the story of a nation's development through many centuries, and it cannot be dealt with as if it contained only the axioms and corollaries of a book of mathematics."

                                                           Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

The recent arrest of Barack Obama's friend Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. in Cambridge, Massachusetts has stimulated an unprecedented volume of discussion about the meaning of charges like disturbing the peace and disorderly conduct, which are famously hard to define, and since nothing much less than an infinity of legal detail can specify how either charge is interpreted by judges in Massachusetts and elsewhere, it may be worthwhile to approach this issue from the other side of the bench, and investigate when and how the public believes these and similar charges should be defined and applied.

So temporarily leaving aside the question of which specific offense should or should not be charged, and in order to accommodate this diary to sites where it's either inconvenient or impossible to post a poll, and focusing solely on shouting, because of the particular episode which prompted so much discussion, and additionally leaving aside complications about whatever an individual may be shouting, with the special proviso that it isn't threats or "Fire!"...

Readers are invited to list their preferences in comments according to designations like A1 or B1 as listed below, and of course anyone is welcome to add his or her own set of conditions.

Do you believe that a citizen should be subject to arrest for...

(7 comments, 633 words in story) There's More :: Permalink :: Comments

Obama/Gates/Crowley: Relevant Statutes, Case Law, and Model Code

The first stop on this road is the original police report, and this is the section that directly recounts the arrest.

http://i262.photobucket.com/albums/ii97/JacobFreeze/TL.jpg

There are several critical elements in this account which bring it into conformity with the "definition" of disorderly conduct, which comes in three layers:

  1. Statutes
  2. Case law
  3. Model code

The most important layer is the model code, which is likely to be totally unfamiliar to almost everybody, so we might as well start there.

(6 comments, 925 words in story) There's More :: Permalink :: Comments

Socialized Medicine Sucks

No one wants the U.S. to be a backward third world country like Canada, do they?

In Canada they have long, long, long waiting lists and people just up and die waiting, right? Just ask the villagers, they'll tell you.

I live in Vancouver, BC. Canada's medical system is a single payer system as many of you know. The monthly premium for a single person is $54.

In B.C., premiums are payable for MSP coverage and are based on family size and income. The monthly rates are:

$54 for one person
$96 for a family of two


$108 for a family of three or more

Two years ago I developed a bladder infection, so I walked across the parking lot from work to a walk in clinic on my coffee break to see a doctor. The wait was about ten minutes. I presented my medical id card, saw the doctor, was diagnosed, and she wrote a prescription for antibiotics that cost me $18.

There was no bill for the doctor visit. It was covered.

(33 comments, 526 words in story) There's More :: Permalink :: Comments

Back-story of the iPhone "Suicide" in China

Some American media outlets are reporting the apparent suicide of a young worker at Foxconn Technology Group, which makes iPhones in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen, near Hong Kong.

According to publications that include Shanghai Daily, Sun Danyong, a recent engineering graduate, jumped out of the window of his apartment last Thursday. The reports said Sun, who had been tasked with sending iPhone prototypes to Apple, had been under suspicion for stealing after one of the handsets went missing. Some publications reported that, in the days prior to his suicide, Sun had been detained and beaten by a senior official in the security department of the Taiwan-based electronics manufacturing giant.

Apple immediately responded with a "concerned" press-release...

"We are saddened by the tragic loss of this young employee, and we are awaiting results of the investigations into his death," Apple spokeswoman Kristin Huguet told CNET on Tuesday. "We require our suppliers to treat all workers with dignity and respect."

This sounds like a few "bad apples" in Apple's otherwise humane and benevolent supply chain ran amok in faraway China, but...

(294 words in story) There's More :: Permalink :: Comments

Global Exposure in Financial Derivatives Surpasses One Quadrillion Dollars

When I posted the lowest responsibly sourced figure for global exposure in financial derivatives, $592 trillion, published May 19, 2009 by the Bank of International Settlements, all sorts of hoodoo apologists for Obama, Geithner, Summers, and Goldman Sachs crawled out the woodwork to claim that this figure is ridiculously exaggerated, there's really nothing to worry about, it's just a few bucks, and so on.

All the same hoodoos unfailingly claimed that it's stupid to consider worst-case scenarios when you calculate risk, because...

They have learned absolutely nothing from the ongoing financial meltdown which annihilated some of the oldest and largest investment banks in the world, and plunged the global economy into an almost vertical downturn.

So, since even the lowest reasonable figure for global exposure in financial derivatives attracts so much obfuscation and denial, I might as well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb, and offer up a much larger and probably more accurate estimate, which also includes the huge market in off-the-books derivatives, instead of only considering the OTC market upon which the previous calculation by the Bank of International Settlements was based, and that estimate is...

$1.4 quadrillion.

(1 comment, 517 words in story) There's More :: Permalink :: Comments

The Invisible Iranian Embassy in Nicaragua

I found this to be (unintentionally) funny, and disturbing. From this mornings WaPo: Iran's Invisible Nicaragua Embassy

For months, the reports percolated in Washington and other capitals. Iran was constructing a major beachhead in Nicaragua as part of a diplomatic push into Latin America, featuring huge investment deals, new embassies and even TV programming from the Islamic republic.

"The Iranians are building a huge embassy in Managua," Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton warned in May. "And you can only imagine what that's for."

More...

(375 words in story) There's More :: Permalink :: Comments

31% of South African Men Are Rapists

From the Guardian...

(Professor Rachel) Jewkes and her colleagues (on the Medical Research Council) interviewed a representative sample of 1,738 men in South Africa's Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal provinces.

Of those surveyed, 28% said they had raped a woman or girl, and 3% said they had raped a man or boy. Almost half who said they had carried out a rape admitted they had done so more than once, with 73% saying they had carried out their first assault before the age of 20.

The study, which had British funding, also found that men who are physically violent towards women are twice as likely to be HIV-positive.

Only 7% of reported rapes are estimated to lead to a conviction.

A report published by the trade union Solidarity earlier this month said that one child is raped in South Africa every three minutes, with 88% of rapes going unreported. It found that levels of child abuse in South Africa are increasing rapidly.





(5 comments, 387 words in story) There's More :: Permalink :: Comments

<< Previous 15 Next 15 >>