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Sunday, June 17, 2012

So Russia is sending weapons to Damascus.... So what?

US enlists Britain's help to stop ship 'carrying Russian attack helicopters' to Syria

The US government has enlisted Britain's help in a bid to stop a ship suspected of carrying Russian attack helicopters and missiles to conflict-riven Syria, The Sunday Telegraph can reveal.

US enlists Britain's help to stop ship
The helicopters Hillary Clinton was referring to are believed to be part of a 36-strong consignment ordered by the Syrian government at the end of the Soviet era, some of which were transferred back to Russia recently for routine maintenance 
The MV Alaed, a Russian-operated cargo vessel, is currently thought to be sailing through the North Sea after allegedly picking up a consignment of munitions and MI25 helicopters - known as "flying tanks" - from the Russian Baltic port of Kaliningrad.
Washington, which last week condemned Moscow for continuing to arm the Syrian regime, has asked British officials to help stop the Alaed delivering its alleged cargo by using sanctions legislation to force its London-based insurer to withdraw its cover.
Under the terms of the current European Union arms embargo against Syria, imposed in May last year, there is a ban on the "transfer or export" of arms and any related "brokering" services such as insurance. Withdrawal of a ship's insurance cover would make it difficult for it legally to dock elsewhere and could force it to return the cargo to port.
The request to London from US officials comes after the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, disclosed on Tuesday that Moscow was in the process of shipping a batch of attack helicopters to Syria.
Dismissing Russian government claims that its weapons sales to Syria would not be used for internal repression, Mrs Clinton warned the shipment could "quite dramatically" escalate the conflict, which has already claimed an estimated 10,000 lives. Yesterday, the United Nations monitoring mission said it had suspended its work because of "intensifying" violence on either side, which was putting its teams of unarmed observers at risk.
The helicopters Mrs Clinton was referring to are believed to be part of a 36-strong consignment ordered by the Syrian government at the end of the Soviet era, some of which were transferred back to Russia recently for routine maintenance. They are understood to have been serviced by the state-owned helicopter manufacturer, Mil, at their premises at Factory 150 in Kaliningrad.
While the Kremlin, which has so far vetoed calls for a United Nations arms embargo against Syria, insists that Mil is merely honouring the terms of an existing business contract, critics point that such helicopters have helped spearhead President Bashar al-Assad's attempts to suppress the uprising against him. Last week it was reported that helicopters had repeatedly fired rockets at a hospital in a rebel enclave outside Aleppo in northern Syria.
Shipping records show that on Thursday - the most recent date for which data is available - the Alaed was off the north-west coast of Denmark, apparently heading south towards the entrance to the English Channel. It is insured by Standard P and I Club, which is managed by Charles Taylor and Co Ltd of London, whose offshore syndicate director, Robert Dorey, confirmed on Saturday that they were investigating claims that the ship was carrying arms.
"We were informed on Friday evening that the ship might be carrying weapons, in particular attack helicopters, missiles and non-specific munitions, and we are making inquiries to establish what their side of the story is," said Mr Dorey. "There are exclusion clauses in our cover, and for anyone involved in improper or unlawful trade, we can cancel cover. We are investigating whether or not to do so in this case."
Like most international cargo ships, the Alaed has a complex ownership and management structure. Its registered owner is Volcano Shipping on the island of Curacao in the Dutch Antilles, but it is listed as part of a fleet belonging to a Russian company, FEMCO, which was unavailable for comment last night. According to FEMCO's website, the ship's commercial management and chartering is carried out by United Nordic Shipping, a Danish company based in Copenhagen, but yesterday, United Nordic shipping said that the management agreement had never actually been finalised, and that FEMCO's website was wrong.
"To the best of our knowledge the vessel is managed and operated by FEMCO in Russia," said Soeren Andersen, United Nordic Shipping's managing director. "We have no knowledge of or involvement in the vessel's current charter or trading - a fact we have also satisfactorily accounted for to the Danish authorities."
A source close to United Nordic added: "The Danish authorities contacted us a few days ago to ask about the ship, and said it was related to possible shipments of weapons to Syria."
The claims about the Alaed's cargo will fuel the growing row over Russian involvement in supplying arms to Syria, which Moscow has long seen as a strategic partner because of the Russian naval base in the Syrian port city of Tartus.
Last week, The Sunday Telegraph disclosed how the Professor Katsman, a ship belonging to a firm owned by a Russian billionaire, Vladimir Lisin, docked in Syria with a suspected weapons cache on May 26, one day after the massacre of more than 100 people in the Syrian village of Houla.
Dr Lisin, a steel magnate who is also vice-president of the Russian Olympic Committee, now faces calls from British MPs to have his invitation to London 2012 withdrawn. Sources close the Games organisers have said, however, that accredited Olympic representatives of foreign countries enjoy an effective "diplomatic immunity" that would be revoked only in the most serious of circumstances.
On Saturday, Dr Lisin said that the accusations against him were "groundless" and said an internal investigation he ordered at his transport firm, Universal Cargo Logistics (UCL) had found no evidence that the cargo was dangerous or violated international law.
"The evidence I was presented with indicates that according to the documentation the company was not transporting arms for either side of the Syrian conflict," Dr Lisin said in emailed comments.
"To date, I have not received a single [piece of] evidence to the contrary. If at some point someone does bring such evidence to my attention, I shall be grateful and will take all the possible measures available to me."
UCL said that as part of its investigation it requested information on the Professor Katsman's cargo from the owner, which it named as another Russian company. The company told UCL that the containers the Professor Katsman delivered to Syria "was a general cargo of non-military purpose featuring electrical equipment and repair parts (rotor blades) in containers and wooden crates", he said.
Dr Lisin is reported to be one of Russia's richest men and is well-connected to the country's political elite. Victor Olersky, a former board member of Dr Lisin's shipping firm, North Western Shipping Company, is now a Russian deputy transport minister, while Dr Lisin himself has been photographed meeting both the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, and the Russian prime minister, Dmitry Medvedev.
Dr Lisin also described calls to bar him from the Olympic Games as opportunistic "self promotion."
"I am against armed conflict in any region of the world, including Syria," he said. "Sadly, there are those who try to use the tragedy of the Syrian people for self-promotion... At the same time, I would like to ask those who consider themselves to be reasonable and responsible to refrain from groundless accusations that will do nothing more than aggravate the relations between people, businesses, and states.
"I have no doubt that the International Olympic Committee, the National Olympic Committee of the United Kingdom, and the Organising Committee of the 2012 Olympics will preserve the traditions of the Olympic movement that has always been above political gambling."
Meanwhile, Russia and the West are at further loggerheads over Moscow's plans to press ahead with a deal to supply President Assad's regime with state-of-the art attack jets.
In a move that US intelligence officials fear could plunge the Syrian conflict into even greater long-term bloodshed, the Kremlin is pushing on with an existing 2007 contract to provide two dozen Mig-29M2 fighter aircraft, estimated to be worth £250 million to the Russian defence industry.
While the aircraft may not be ready for delivery for many months, Washington fears if President Assad's regime is still intact it could use them to devastating effect against the country's rebel enclaves. They could also be used to hinder any Western plans for a no-fly zone, which some analysts believe may eventually prove the only way to provide Syria's rebel movement with a safe haven.
"Delivery of the Migs will helps prop Assad up and give him some credibility, which is not the message the US wants to see," said Washington-based national security analyst John Pike. "The Migs would make it more difficult to enforce a no fly zone, and would increase the amount of time that the Syrian air force could survive, although possibly only by a matter of a few days."
Rafif Jouejati, spokeswoman for the Free Syria Foundation, a US-based Syrian activist group, said: "Russian arms are flooding into Syria. If Assad gets these new and advanced Migs it will be terrible – a fearful thing."
She dismissed Russian claims that the aircraft were largely to provide strategic air defences against Syria's historic enemy, Israel. "It is preposterous to argue that Assad needs them as a defence against Israel with everything else that is happening right now."
She also claimed Mr Lisin ought to have ordered his shipping firms be more proactive in finding out what any ships heading to Syria contained.
"When your ship is taking a cargo to Syria – a country embroiled in civil war – it is your duty to know what that cargo contains. You can't hide behind a lack of knowledge when little children are being slaughtered."
The Kremlin has dismissed Western criticisms of its arms policy to Syria as hypocritical, saying that other governments are also fuelling the conflict by arming anti-Assad guerrillas. The Daily Telegraph disclosed yesterday that representatives of the main rebel group, the Free Syrian Army, had held meetings with US government officials to discuss getting them to authorise shipments of heavy weapons, including missiles.
British MPs are calling for Rosoboronexport, the Kremlin-owned arms export firm that has a monopoly on Russian arms exports, to be banned from exhibiting at the trade section of next month's Farnborough Airshow. Last week, Rosoboronexport had a stall at the Eurosatory 2012 arms exhibition in Paris, where videos of Russian attack helicopters were on display. Igor Sevastyanov, the company's deputy CEO, said: "No-one can ever accuse Russia of violating the rules of armaments trade set by the international community.
"The contract (with Syria) was signed long ago and we supply armaments that are self-defence rather than attack weapons."
On Monday Caroline Lucas, the Green Party MP for Brighton, raised the issue of Rosoboronexport's attendance at Farnborough with the Foreign Secretary, William Hague, in Parliament. She said: "It is deeply alarming that while the Russian state-owned company Rosoboronexport continues to sell weapons to the Syrian government – despite appalling state-sponsored atrocities in the country – it will nevertheless be allowed to exhibit its wares on UK soil at Farnborough International Airshow.
"The Foreign Secretary has assured me in Parliament that he will look into the matter, but with the air show only a few weeks away, I would urge him to act now to prevent Rosoboronexport from entering altogether."
She added: "By taking measures to ban Rosoboronexport from Farnborough and revoke Mr Lisin's invitation to the Olympics, the United Kingdom can lead by example in showing that it is prepared to take a moral stand against all of those foreign companies accused of involvement in the sale of weapons to deadly and undemocratic regimes."
An FCO spokesman said that Mr Hague was still considering the matter, but added: "Farnborough International Air Show is a commercial event run by Farnborough International Ltd. The British Government plays no part in deciding which companies are invited to the event."
Asked about the Alaed last night, a spokesman for the Foreign Office said it was “urgently looking into any possible breaches of the EU arms embargo on Syria.”
“We are aware of reports that a ship carrying a consignment of refurbished Russian-made attack helicopters is heading to Syria and that it is travelling in international waters near the UK,” the spokesman added. “The Foreign Secretary made clear to Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov when they met on 14 June that all defence shipments to Syria must stop. We are working closely with international partners to ensure that we are doing all we can to stop the Syrian regime’s ability to slaughter civilians being reinforced through assistance from other countries.”
Additional reporting by Bill Lowther in Washington, Peter Allen in Paris, and Justin Stares in Brussels


  1. It is not our business and we should stay out of it. It is an internal Syrian matter. We really need a showdown with Russia over a tribal fight in Syria?

  2. In addition to the Abraham Lincoln Brigade during the Spanish Civil War, there was the George Washington Brigade and some other smaller group too I think. On the other side, some Americans went and fought for Franco. The American literary folks were famously divided too, people like Hemingway making the documentary 'The Spanish Earth' and filing dispatches and doing photo-ops and some others at the time famous advocating for Franco. Now Spain is a mess again, but this time they have something of a safety net so the poor don't have to eat grass again which doesn't grow well in most parts of Spain. Otherwise there would probably have been riots in the streets and bombs thrown by now, and the Army making moves. Things go on but not much seems to change. It's the Christians I feel for in Syria and Egypt, though the ones in Syria may well have some culpability for all I know for more or less supporting Assad. I'd think that if we were to get in the business of supporting anyone in the area it ought to be the Egyptian Army in some way, otherwise let those who feel a 'responsibility to protect' form a Brigade and head on over to fight for whatever side they choose. Maybe some Americans would end up fighting some other Americans but they wouldn't be fighting one another here and the rest of us could continue to get our beauty sleep at night. It's an honored American tradition, forming a Brigade and heading on out.


  3. And if you suggest I form an aerial brigade and go bomb Iran by myself, my response is it is beyond my technical capacities and neither Syria nor Egypt are in the atom bomb making business yet.


  4. If there were no Assad, it is unlikely there would be any Christians in Syria. If I read you correctly, you are advocating for US interference in Syria, Egypt and Iran, satisfied with our previous interference in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Iran and Kosovo no doubt.

    1. Try again, and concentrate really hard on the dots.

      let those who feel a 'responsibility to protect' form a Brigade and head on over to fight for whatever side they choose

      There, happy now?

      if we were to get in the business of supporting anyone in the area it ought to be the Egyptian Army

      IF - ought to be......

      and neither Syria nor Egypt are in the atom bomb making business yet......

      (though I should have reminded Syria was beginning to get in the business at one time and the Israelis took care of it)

      I'll be happy when Romney is President and we will at least back Israel up on what they might do.


    2. If Romney keeps up his tune on further engagement in the Middle East, you may be pining away for at least another four years.

    3. .

      Repeating for the record what I’ve written many times before, I think only three things justify resorting to arms: (A) self-defence, (B) treaty obligations, and (C) defending vital national interests, defined as interests that properly mandated governments on reasonable grounds honestly believe cannot be safeguarded or secured in other ways.

      As far as I can see, nothing compels or even excuses belligerency except national defence obligations. Humanitarian components are icing on the cake. “Responsibility to protect” strikes me a slogan of liberal imperialism; the battle cry of post-modern civilization’s missionaries, the casus belli of self-appointed knights errant with an unquenchable thirst for running the world. Disguised as academics, adventurers, mercenaries, bureaucrats, bien-pensants and do-gooders, these 21st-century Don Quixotes consider themselves the new global aristocracy. They’re the enlightened ones, expecting to become the anointed ones before long, and rule as functionaries of various supranational bodies — governmental, non-governmental, or merely mental — in what no doubt many believe is humanity’s best interest.

      These lines by George Jonas pretty much sum up my views on appropriate foreign policy.


  5. Egypt, and Syria - Two former oil Exporters that can no longer feed their burgeoning populations. No matter who wins, they'll both be in worse shape next year than they are this year. Let Allah save them. I'm not interested.

    1. Allah is compassionate, merciful.


  6. Reagan and his religious fanatics and the Saudis and their religious fanatics supported the Mujahideen to the tune of billions against the godless Soviets. God rewarded them with 911, just to prove he had a sense of humor.

    Just to prove the all seeing genius of our masters and rulers in Washington, you may be interested in seeing how we helped the Shah overthrow the democratically elected Mossadegh government in Iran. In a sense we attacked the governance of Iran and propped up our guy, The Shah and turned our vision away from the atrocities of the Shah’s secret police. That went very well and we ended up with the Ayatollah. Your solution is to attack Iran with airpower. God will love you even more for that I am sure. I can hardly speculate on the next reward for humanity brought to us all from the god squad.

    1. .

      It is interesting that Russia is accused of supporting a suppressive, undemocratic regime in Syria because of the Russian naval base in Tartus.

      I wonder how that American naval base in Kuwait is doing now that the Kuwaiti authorities have 'quieted' things down there?


    2. With this talk about Mossadegh you sould like some smart ass fool from Berkeley. It goes back to far, Stalin was even still alive (?) was he not, and it was a different situation. If Carter had continued to back the Shah things might have been different and a hell of a lot better.

      You're right though things didn't work out well in Afghanistan. That was started by Carter and his genius Brezinski. (sp) I remember a photo of the great Brezinski standing at the Afghan border and pointing north, from Pakistan.

      Lots of folks thought it was a good idea at the time, including me. Probably including you, if you are honest.

      I agree with Doug, who said once it was the dumbest thing we ever did. The Russians might still be there.


    3. Sorry to disturb your screed with facts that in your estimation time out. What are the statutes of limitations on facts?

      On a related matter, we recently read that the US has attacked Iranian infrastructure with the Stuxnet cyber attack on their nuclear facilities. How should Iran respond to that?

    4. LOS ANGELES - It reads like a riveting sci-fi novel, but it’s stunningly real: A super-sophisticated malicious computer virus burrowed its way into Iran’s nuclear facilities and took down several parts of the operation. Oh, and it apparently came from us.

      In 2010, it was the United States who launched Stuxnet, a seek-and-destroy cyber missile so sophisticated that some briefly thought it might have an other-than-earthly origin, against Iran’s nuclear infrastructure, according to a New York Times [NYT] report. The virus was, in fact, created jointly by the United States and Israel.

    5. You have zero idea how things would have turned out with Mossadegh so you have no facts at all to be talking about and are just blowing gas. The Shah however kept the lid on for a long time. I remember many cheering in the US about the evil Shah is gone, yeah, yeah, the evil Shah is gone!

      How is that working out for you?

      On a related matter, we recently read that the US has attacked Iranian infrastructure with the Stuxnet cyber attack on their nuclear facilities. How should Iran respond to that?

      I'd suggest they consider joining the civilized world, begin behaving like say Canada, quit this threatening of the Great and Little Satans, and engage in cultural exchanges.

      That is how Iran should respond to that.


    6. You have zero idea how things would have turned out with Mossadegh so you have no facts at all to be talking about and are just blowing gas. The Shah however kept the lid on for a long time.

      We do know how things have turned out. Not very well.

      Focus on something you know something about such as alfalfa.

    7. Focus on architecture, yourself.


  7. It's always been about protecting the Gulf Oil. Let's take the next $Trillion and put it in Solar Panels, Wind, Public Transit, and Biofuels. Let the Arabs eat sand.

  8. Deuce: It is not our business and we should stay out of it. It is an internal Syrian matter. We really need a showdown with Russia over a tribal fight in Syria?

    Why, Deuce, obviously you are an anti-Syrmite. We need to send Assad $3 billion a year in aid, as SAPAC demands.

  9. With a little more Compression, and the proper tune, my Impala could easily be carrying me around for $0.10/mile on home-grown ethanol.

    TXU is giving electricity away at night for Free due to all their Wind Power.

    Germany's "Peak" Rates have plummeted due to all their Solar (and, they are still a Net "Exporter" of Electricity.

    1. And, the Koch Bros are raising $370 Billion to give us a guy that will spend another $Trillion muckiing about in the ME (protecting the oil.)

    2. A couple of posters get mad every time I ask this, but I can't help it - Are we Nuts?

    3. million, Rufus, million.

      $395 million

      (ref Politico article: Inside Koch World)

      Thank you Supremes.

    4. Oops, :)

      Billion, schmillion, at some point it all becomes gazillions.


  10. Iran Working on Strategic Cyber Defense Plan
    TEHRAN (FNA)- Iranian experts are preparing a strategic cyber defense plan to help the country counter cyber attacks, Head of Iran's Civil Defense Organization Gholam Reza Jalali announced.

    "In the previous (Iranian calendar) year (which ended on March 19), the country's cyber command was established, and (the formulation of) the cyber defense strategy is now in our agenda," Jalali said.

    "The important point is that we develop mechanisms for cyber defense in a way that we will be able to defend the country against new viruses," Jalali was quoted by MNA as saying.

    Over the past few years Iran had been the target of numerous cyber attacks, which had been carried out to disrupt the country's industrial systems, but Iranian experts had been able to successfully monitor and counter the threats, he added.

    The official said that the focus of the cyber command's activities was on cyber defense and Iran had no plan to launch cyber attacks on other countries.

    In May, Iran announced that its cyber experts detected and contained a complicated Israeli spy virus known as "Flame".

    The head of Information Technology Organization of Iran, Ali Hakim Javadi, said earlier that the country's experts had managed to produce anti-virus software that could spot and remove the detected computer virus "Flame".

    Javadi said that the indigenous anti-virus software had been capable of detecting the virus and cleaning up the infected computers.

    He said that the malware was different from other viruses and was more destructive than Stuxnet.

    On April 24, an Iranian oil official said the country's experts had contained cyber attacks against the country's Oil Ministry.

    Hamdollah Mohammadnejad, deputy minister in engineering affairs, said "Recently, a few number of National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) servers were attacked by a malware, but the cyber security experts of oil industry contained it immediately."

    In October 2010, Iranian Intelligence Minister Heidar Moslehi announced that Iran had detected and thwarted a virus aimed at infecting the country's nuclear plant system.

    Iran said the computer worm, Stuxnet, had infected some IP addresses in Iran, including the personal computers of the staff at the country's first nuclear power plant, Bushehr. Tehran said Israel and the US were behind the infection of its industrial sites.

  11. I don't know where this 'responsibility to protect' stuff came from. Seems like a recent idea. I'm more for and like the idea of that guy that used to write for JihadWatch which was more a responsibility to sow chaos idea and let them all kill themselves. Anything to weaken islam or an islamic state being the star to be followed. On the cheap of course. The only thing I've advocated is bombing nuclear facilities, a big only, granted. It was a great thing to see Israel take out the facility Saddam was working on and that one in Syria too. Iran may be too much for them. The idea of nuclear weapons in the hands of crazy children is scary. I hope it's stopped.

    Maybe deuce is right, it's no big deal, and assured destruction will hold them in check. On the other hand maybe he is wrong.

    Kuwait was supposed to ease up on the women, a thank you for cleaning the Iraqis out of there. Whathisname promised Bush I they'd do that. What's happened to that idea?

    Iraq anyway is back to pumping a lot of oil, last I read. I thought once it was decided to go in, we ought to see it through. I remember deuce pounding the drums to get the hell out of there at the time of Fallujah or whatever the place name was.

    Afghanistan is an entirely different proposition. We had to do something. Osama did a great job sucking us in. Should have used nukes at Tora Bora, like may here said.

    If we can help out the Egyptian military on the cheap to hold the mullahs at bay, what's wrong with that? They at least have shown themselves to be partially sane, keeping the peace treaty and all, for some baksheesh.

    American troops on the ground in Egypt, Syria, Libya, Iran? Nah.

    That's it for geo-politics for me today. I feel for the Christians though in those countries.


  12. What goes around comes around.

  13. There is not one American in 25 that knows this has even happened.

  14. When you are on a picnic, you don’t want some fool stirring up a hornets nest. Whoever is behind this will get more Americans killed and cost us billions and for what?

    1. To keep us "married" to fossil fuels - most especially "Oil."

  15. The accomplishment:

    We have justified the Iranian need for nuclear defense because the US and Israel would not fuck with the nuclear control system of Pakistan would they?

  16. If you ball up your fist and shake it at me, threatening me to anyone and everyone in any venue...then screw you.

  17. I will say this for the Iranian mullahs. They make no effort to hide their disdain and hatred. The Pakis, on the other hand, are a duplicitous lot.

  18. Disdain and hatred? Why aren’t they feeling the love?

    You hardly have to go back to the fifties to understand Iran having legitimate security concerns against outside aggressors. One recent reason for Iranian fear of the United States was the US imposed regime change mission and assault on Iraq.

    Iran is also surrounded by nuclear powers: Russia, Israel, Pakistan, India and the Fifth Fleet of the US Navy in the Persian Gulf.

    Follow that with the US cyber attack on their nuclear infrastructure, the assassination of their scientists and an assault on their oil industry and banking system. What could possibly convince them that they need nuclear weapons?

  19. International sanctions are biting hard into Iran's significant and growing middle class, but for the most part people are blaming their government for the hardship, not the United States. Which is why it is so important that the United States concentrate on sanctions and not bomb Iran—a military attack would create a nationalist backlash and "cement this regime in place for years to come," writes Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times.

    Kristof just drove 1,700 miles around Iran, getting a sense of the country. "To be blunt, sanctions are succeeding as intended," he writes. "They are inflicting prodigious economic pain on Iranians and are generating discontent." With a new round of talks regarding Iran's nuclear program set to begin tomorrow and even tougher sanctions kicking in, Iran's choices are getting ever more stark, notes the New York Times. "The reality is that they're on the verge of a choice between having a nuclear program or an economy," says one Middle East analyst. "There's nothing like no money in your wallet to straighten your senses."

  20. Don't do this often but fascinating:


    37. stoicheion

    Maybe Off Topic, but there IS hope after all;
    A guided rifle round that can hit the target at 4 to 5 Km’s. Now everybody can send in their vote. I’ll bet this round is suppressed ASAP. A good rifle shot, with the proper gear can hit a headsized target at 400 meters about half the time. A trained professional 9 out of 10 times. 800 meters is about the max for my mythical trained professional. Protective details Know this. They use some of the best trained professionals. The world record is about 2.4 Km’s. So the protective team establishes a perimeter at about 500 meters and controls every possible hide ( technical term for an ambush position) within that perimeter. Takes a lot of manpower. Which is why POTUS travels with hundreds of SS agents. More then will fit on a 747. They have a plane fly in first with the advance team.
    Expand that perimeter to 4 Km’s and there aren’t enough police in America to cover it. Plus, there is no talent or training required. Maybe not even a man. With a remote trigger someone can get on their laptop in Miami. and take potshots at a politician in Seattle. This opens up a whole new vista in politics. We will see if the tyrants can run their empires from inside a bunker.
    Military historians tend to overlook the social effects of advances in weapons;
    Early gunpowder weapons needed a manufacturing base. Despots needed firearms to continue their petty wars. It took years to train a mounted knight or a pikeman. Mounted knights were expensive. Muskets were cheap once the factory was built. A musketman could be trained in weeks, not years. Despots now had cheap weapons that ruled the battlefield. Once there were enough musket in circulation, the peasants learned that they worked on Despots as well as Knights or pikemen. That combined with the industrial revolution led to a social revolution that is still being played out today.
    The Human race as always produced individuals driven to rule. 2 major ways for despots to keep power. Brute force, such as we are seeing in Syria today. Co-opting or buying off threats. That is what the Egyptian military is trying. Obama in a small way.
    The guided rifle bullet might be a 3rd.
    June 16, 2012 - 10:02 am


  21. http://cleantechnica.com/2012/06/16/lcd-panel-makers-could-drive-60-reduction-thin-film-solar-pv-costs/

  22. From $10.00/Watt (Solyndra was at $6.00/Watt) to $0.75/Watt (First Solar's Current Price,) to $0.30/Watt.

    And we want to go fight more wars in the middleeast over oil? You gotta be shitting me.

  23. BTW, October Ethanol is selling for $1.89/gal on the CBOT. That's w/o subsidies, Quirk.

    And, the pubs are fighting the optional purchase of E15 with all they have.

    In other words: The Republicans want to MANDATE that your gasoline contain 90% Petroleum.

  24. Rodney King dead at 47. Found this morning floating in his pool.

    LAPD motto: "We treat you like a King."

  25. Why? Because it's the right thing to do.

    McCain tells NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday that members of the Syrian opposition are being "killed and massacred and tortured and raped" and "the fact that Americans aren't helping them is shameful."

    Commentary: What the world needs now is a gut King or maybe a nice little parliament of Crazy G-ys.

    Speaking of which, what a slow morning. I've been sitting here thinking about whether to call Farm Boy on his low-level mock-and-ridicule routine or to suggest that little Mattie haul his wounded psyche to the nearest kiddie shrink.

    But my ankle is feeling better today so I think I will take it for a run instead.

    Never mind.

  26. McCain, my guy, feet firmly planted in his post-dimentia era also is being helpful to Romney:

    Sen. John McCain appeared on NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday and continued to slam Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire casino mogul that recently announced his intention to spend a possibly "unlimited" amount of money to aid Mitt Romney against President Barack Obama in the 2012 election.
    It continued McCain's diatribe this week against Adelson and the Supreme Court's decision in the Citizens United case, which prevented government regulation of individual and corporate contributions to political campaigns and aided the rise of so-called super PACs.
    Sunday, McCain measured his criticism more broadly, saying he was worried about "many others," and not just Adelson.
    "I think there will be scandals as associated with the worst decision of the Supreme Court in the 21st century. [It was] uninformed, arrogant, naive," McCain said.

    I thought Dodo bird appeared with Romney in some incoherent get together in New Hampshire.

  27. Dementia you stupid shit.

    Speak to yourself!


    Here, enjoy some good music and relax --



  28. Time for the stables!

    I'll bring some you know what back to add to the pile here.

    Rufus, Happy Grandfather's Day. Hope you are lap-filled with young joy today.


  29. Putin and Obama meet in Mexico on Monday.

    No word on whether they're bringing shovels.

  30. Let’s recap. The Marshall Plan had an outer shell, the European Recovery Programme, and an inner core, the economic reconstruction of Europe on the basis of debt forgiveness to and trade integration with Germany. The effects of its implementation were huge. While Western Europe in the 1950s struggled with debt/GDP ratios close to 200%, the new West German state enjoyed debt/ GDP ratios of less than 20%. This and its forced re-entry into Europe’s markets was Germany’s true benefit from the Marshall Plan, not just the 2-4% pump priming effect of Marshall Aid. As a long term effect, Germany effortlessly embarked on a policy of macroeconomic orthodoxy that it has seen no reason to deviate from ever since.

    But why did the Americans do all this, and why did anyone in Europe consent to it? America’s trauma was German reparations after World War I and the financial mess they created, with the U.S. picking up the bill. Under the Dawes Plan of 1924, Germany’s currency had been put back on gold but Germany went on a borrowing binge. In a nutshell, Germany was like Greece on steroids. To stop this, the Young Plan of 1929 made it riskier to lend to Germany, but the ensuing deflation and recession soon became self-defeating, ending in political chaos and German debt default. A repetition of this the Marshall Planners were determined to avoid. And the U.S. led reconstructions of Germany and Japan have become the classical showcases of successful liberal intervention.

    LINK [h/t Marie-Claude @ BC]

  31. This is what I'm talking about:

    Partnering in Training

    A community college in Omaha stepped up to fill the need for a highly trained local workforce to land the new plant. The Metropolitan Community College provides career and technical degrees, one of which is based on ethanol—only at MCC it’s a little different. “We went a little bit broader,” Bill Owen, associate vice president of academic affairs, says of the program his team created. “We call our program a process operations technology program,” he explains. Give credit to Owen for identifying a need for a broader view of what the ethanol industry in his region requires. But don’t give it all to Owen, Novozymes deserves some credit as well. Before MCC began the process operations technology program—a curriculum that includes courses on the basics like stationary engineering (boilers and pressure vessels) and applied physics, in addition to the more specific topics like instrumentation and control—they hashed out the curriculum with the Danish enzyme company. “We started from before we had any bricks and mortar, before we had any equipment,” Owen says of the partnership. “We had the college and the industry sitting down together and making the decisions, not only as to what this program should ultimately be about, but how it was going to come to be.”

    That discussion led to a newly remodeled and user-friendly campus building paid for by Novozymes, and staffed by MCC. More importantly, after only one year of operation, the program has two groups in the program, one of which is already employed at the Blair Biorefinery Campus. “We are trying to fill the pipeline with generally skilled individuals who can be the future workforce in these industries,” Owen says of the program’s early success. The school has already spent over $200,000 on software and other equipment that allows the students to move beyond pencil and paper and actually witness how a tweak to pressure here, or a change to power there, affects the outcome of a process technology, that not coincidentally, could be used in an enzyme manufacturing plant.

    Owens says the newly trained students will be ready to unite technology and agriculture. Novozymes wants the students to understand and touch and feel the sorts of things they want them to be working with as part of their education. But, what they say again and again,” Owens says, “is that we have to have someone who doesn’t just react to A plus B equals C, but instead can think about A and B and all of the possibilities it might equal.”

  32. Following in the footsteps of Jesus (who, we recall, gave the money bag to Judas to carry) --

    Since the end of May, the pope's former butler, Paolo Gabriele, has been detained in a 35-square-meter (377-square-foot) cell at the Vatican, with a window but no TV. Using the code name "Maria," he allegedly smuggled faxes and letters out of the pope's private quarters. But it remains unclear who was directing him to do so.

    Even with Gabriele's arrest, the leak still hasn't been plugged.

    Fear is running rampant in the Curia, where the mood has rarely been this miserable. It's as if someone had poked a stick into a beehive. Men wearing purple robes are rushing around, hectically monitoring correspondence. No one trusts anyone anymore, and some even hesitate to communicate by phone.


    A "reform of the Curia" is probably a contradiction in terms. Its hierarchical, essentially medieval organizational model is incompatible with modern management. The Vatican is an anachronistic, albeit surprisingly tenacious system, in which pecking orders and an absurd penchant for secrecy and intrigue prevail. "The only important thing is proximity to the monarch," says a member of a cardinal's staff.


    Observers believe that the banker's case is the real core of the scandal, a power struggle over control of the Vatican's finances.


    He has annoyed the Protestants by declaring that denominations other than his own are not true churches. He has alienated Muslims with an inept speech in the Bavarian city of Regensburg. And he has insulted Jews by reinserting a prayer for the conversion of the Jews into the Good Friday liturgy.


    The pope only wanted to be a "simple, humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord," a "servant of the truth."





  33. RE: Responsibility to Protect

    Depending on which analysis one finds more credible, the R2P doctrine is either a deliberate excuse to attack Israel:

    NATO prepares for another war under R2P. Is Israel next?

    Or a deeper subterfuge sponsored by the Israeli's via the wily George Soros:

    Was the Israel lobby behind the Ugandan intervention?

    I gave this a little bit of thought, and I'm not seeing it.

    "Bernadine and Bill" seem to get all of the attention, but Samantha Power and (new) husband, Cass Sunstein strike me as the 'next generation' to keep an eye on. If you want to get your mojo working, spend some time with these two.

    One example from Glenn Greenwald at Salon.

    One really needs a mature circumspection in dealing with some of these people, of a degree that evokes some sympathy with the Libertarians.

    (But never the Christian Theocrats.)

  34. Tonia Pavlidi, from the northern Athens suburb of Maroussi, cast her ballot for New Democracy.

    Ms. Pavlidi has a seven-year-old son. "I want him to be Greek, and a European citizen.

    I want him to have the same opportunities as every other kid in Europe," she said. "I will fight for this."

  35. Two years ago, we wrote in these pages that we were entering with respect to Iran what Winston Churchill called in 1936 a “period of consequences,” in which “the era of procrastination, of half-measures, of soothing and baffling expedients, of delays is coming to its close.”


    At the end of his “period of consequences” remarks in the House of Commons in November 1936, Churchill said:

    Two things, I confess, have staggered me, after a long Parliamentary experience, in these Debates. The first has been the dangers that have so swiftly come upon us in a few years, and have been transforming our position and the whole outlook of the world.

    Secondly, I have been staggered by the failure of the House of Commons to react effectively against those dangers.

    Iranian Nukes

  36. the only thing the USA should concern it'sself with with syria is it's stockpile of wmd. biological, chemical and nuke materials.

    other than that?

    let the whack each other to death.

    for decades the syrians, with iranian and russian help, have murdered Americans, Israelis, lebanese and dozens of other nationalities of people.

    so why should we stop them from murdering one another?

    1. This outlook makes a lot of sense to me.


    2. Let them be as ruthless to one another as the Cardinals in Rome are to each other behind the scenes.



    3. While keeping in mind we tried this once before with lamentable final results, we could provide some Stingers to the opposition to neutralize the Russian helicopters. Just enough so the opposition can't be defeated, but not enough help so they could actually win. No American lives at stake. Then sit back and watch. Our politicians generally don't think in such terms though.


  37. Opinion polls show 80 per cent of Greeks want to stay in the euro but will not accept more austerity measures that have already seen taxes rise and wages, jobs, pensions and government expenditure cut.


    Yesterday, some voters expressed worry that Greeks were not showing greater national solidarity. Yevgenia Perendiou, an unemployed nursery teacher now earning €400 a month as a babysitter, said: "I voted for the Democratic Left [which split from Syriza] because its leader, Fotis Kouvelis, said all parties should co-operate – something I didn't hear from other leaders."


    Many of the beneficiaries of the old regime were prominent in electoral campaigns, suggesting that they had not lost their political strength.

  38. As the months of housing pain have turned into very long years, the increasingly persistent “Are we there yet?” refrain from the media and homeowners is understandable, but the answer is still no. We have not reached the bottom of the housing market.


    To back up this claim, let’s consider the strongest arguments that we are witnessing a housing recovery to see if they stand up to the long-term analysis.

    Argument #1: With record low interest rates everyone will be looking to get back into homeownership.

    The Federal government’s goal of lowering long-term rates has been successful. Led by the Federal Reserve's quantitative easing program and the Treasury’s continued bailouts for Fannie and Freddie, mortgage rates are lower than ever before.


    Argument #2: Housing starts and sales of new and existing homes all went up in April and May.

    Optimists might respond to the points above by pointing out that housing starts jumped 2.6 percent in April and sales of new homes increased 3.3 percent the same month. Not only that, but existing homes came off the market in April at a rate of 3.4 percent, up 10 percent from last year.

    Hasn't Recovered

  39. In snaring the most coveted investment-banking assignment of the year, Morgan Stanley's Michael Grimes insisted to a senior Facebook Inc. executive that he be the "single driver" of the company's initial public offering, adding that if the deal soured, it would be his "throat to choke."

  40. Until now. Obama has insisted that the “tide of war” across the Middle East is “receding.”

    It’s not just that American troops have been withdrawn from Iraq, are being more rapidly withdrawn from Afghanistan, or were not employed on the ground in Libya. It is the president’s belief that they need not—should not—be used again.

    This is an unrealistic belief, one that ignores balance-of-power politics. The survival of the Assad regime, saved by its Russian, Chinese, and Iranian sponsors, would upset the international order far beyond the troubles created by the regime’s demise.

  41. .

    Protesters held true to their vow to march in silence. At times the only sounds that could be heard were feet slapping pavement, birds chirping and the occasional crackle of a police radio.

    Bloomberg has consistently argued that stop and frisk is in the best interest of the communities that most often denounce it. He noted that violent crime dropped by 34% during his time in office and said if crime stayed at the same level that it was 10 years ago, it would have resulted in roughly 5,600 more murders.

    "Many of them, sadly, would have been young people, especially young men," he said.

    "And when you consider that 90% of all murder victims are black and Hispanic, there is no doubt most of those victims would have come from communities like this one," the mayor added.

    But many of those taking part in the march took issue with Bloomberg's argument.

    "The notion that this makes us safer is a big lie," said Ben Jealous, president of the NAACP, who spent much of Sunday's march with his 6 year-old daughter Morgan perched on his shoulders. "What it does is it drives a wall between the most victimised communities in this city and the very people who have sworn to protect them."

    "It is not surprising to find out that while this city has lowered violent crime by 29% in the last ten years, Baltimore has done it by 37% without this programme. Dallas by 49% without this programme, and the city of Los Angeles by 59% without this programme.


  42. .

    It may be hard for the billions of Web users or the optimists of Silicon Valley to believe that an obscure agency of the U.N. can threaten their Internet, but authoritarian regimes are busy lobbying a majority of the U.N. members to vote their way. The leaked documents disclose a U.S. side that has hardly begun to fight back. That's no way to win this war.

    The UN taking over the internet? Ash will no doubt appplaud the effort.

    Internet Link


  43. With reports that the ship was interdicted by the Royal Navy, we may be seeing a new strategy by NATO member-states that falls neatly between sanctions and military intervention, by harassing those who are aiding and abetting the Syrian government in the course of its crimes against their citizens. It will be interesting to see if NATO continues with this plan of action. http://bit.ly/KJu7aO