Those now dispensing judgment from on high are not gods, though they must feel like it. The people striking mortals down with drones are doubtless as capable as anyone else of self-deception, denial and cognitive illusions. More so, perhaps, as the eminent fictions of the Bush years and the growing delusions of the current president suggest …
These power-damaged people have been granted the chance to fulfill one of humankind’s abiding fantasies: to vaporise their enemies, as if with a curse or a prayer, effortlessly and from a safe distance …
[One] danger is acknowledged in a remarkably candid assessment published by the UK’s Ministry of Defence, which also deploys drones, and has also used them to kill civilians. It maintains that the undeclared air war in Pakistan and Yemen “is totally a function of the existence of an unmanned capability – it is unlikely a similar scale of force would be used if this capability were not available”.
The author also seems to argue that by not being put at risk, as Americans were when they had to dispense with the Japanese and the Germans in WWII, there is no deterrent to use.
However, deterrence can be thought of as deferred, put off to some future date as vengeance since the only way those attacked can retaliate is through terrorism, should the created enmities last long enough.
However, the use of terrorism on the US, or on clients, is always seen in this nation as a reason to turn loose more drones.
And I’m still waiting for someone, other than here, to dig into the issue of the haves bombing the have-nots. Strictly speaking, it’s a war of impunity against paupers. Drones will never be turned loose on those who have the money to immediately take action.
In this, Iran has a deterrent should they get the bomb. And Pakistan has the ability to make a similar threatening noise.
Through diplomatic channels it becomes plausible to suggest to American leadership that unless the war of impunity ceases, there are other far less pleasant methods of escalation than standard state-sponsored terrorism they’re prepared to let us come to grips with. Maybe such a thing would be a bluff. And maybe not.
In the old Star Trek episode — Mirror, Mirror — the evil Kirk had something called the Tantalus Field, a weapon to disappear enemies with impunity. The good Kirk chose not to use it to get himself out of a jam although in the hands of his alternative evil Federation girlfriend, it was.
Say hello to “the United States of Awesome Possibilities” as it looks to visitors from abroad to help lift it out of the economic doldrums.
By soft-pedaling patriotism, the newly-formed US national tourism board tasked with getting more tourists — and their money — onto US soil is reinventing the nation as a hip new land of diversity and possibilities.
“We’re rebranding America for the first time,” said Jim Evans, chief executive of the Corporation for Travel Promotion, ahead of the World Travel Market that opened Monday in London.
“Over the last 10 or 12 years, people have seen America as unwelcoming as we’ve focused on security …
Today from the wires, two young Englishes, refused entry at Los Angeles International because of exuberant Twitter tweets reported on the national anti-terror tip and squealer network.
A pair of U.K. tourists were arrested after landing in Los Angeles on terror charges after joking on Twitter they were going to ‘destroy America’ and ‘dig up Marilyn Monroe.’
Leigh Van Bryan, 26, was detained last Monday after landing in Los Angeles with his friend, 24-year-old Emily Bunting, according to the British Daily Mail.
Bryan was flagged as a potential threat after tweeting this message about his upcoming trip to Hollywood “@MelissaxWalton free this week for a quick gossip/prep before I go and destroy America? x”
Bryan and Bunting told officials the term “destroy” was British slang for “party.” Despite the explanation, they were held on suspicion of planning to commit crimes and their passports were confiscated, the Daily Mail reported.
Bryan was also questioned about another tweet quoting the animated show, “Family Guy:” “3 weeks today, we’re totally in LA p****** people off on Hollywood Blvd and digging Marilyn Monroe up!”
Bryan’s luggage was searched for spades and shovels as a result.
Boost jobs in travel and tourism. This industry is one of America’s largest employers, but the U.S. has lost significant market share. By making it easier to visit the U.S. through improved visa processes, we can win back market share in travel and tourism and create hundreds of thousands of jobs.
But as head of Obama’s expired jobs advisory council Immelt was nothing if not an odious fellow, unmoored from all reality except his own private Idaho.
Apparently homeland security and the TSA never got the memo and sent the Englishes home as undesirables.
The reason: My friend Don Hunt liked La Puta. He had a copy in his collection, one his brother and another family member discovered in going through his effects. They listened to it over margaritas and there was subsequently a slight tussle on who would actually get to take it back to Texas.
And ZZ Top and Texas are the music’s inspirational material.
Some notes on the tuneage:
Don’t Let Your Daddy Know — we had a ball in study hall or something like that.
La Puta — a wandering ballroom waltz about looking for prostitutes in Texas, apparently jailed by fundamentalists. Technically, a spoof on Que Lastima (What a Pity) from ZZ Top’s Mescalero. Texas guitar through rotary speaker effect, the works.
Needle & Spoon — Savoy Brown cover
Hump Blues — slide blues noise on personal disgrace having to do with a host of very dull fools, overdue bills, venereal disease and commensurate loss of lady friend
The Pennsy Redneck — dobro instrumental
Ace of Spades — Link Wray & the Wraymen cover
The China Shuffle — another ZZ Top rip, specifically the guitar sequencer programming which imitates their style from Eliminator on.
Had No Pills — “Did you see the man on TV?/He asked why you had flopped.” Viagra commercial blues, you had no pills, no stiffen pills. Melancholy harmonica because something’s drooping.
DeCulo — The Ass, instrumental
Let’s Lynch Lloyd Blankfein
Central Park Boogie — big stomping riff based on Savoy Brown stuff you probably have never heard.
A Moment from ‘Brown Shoes’ — If you’re a Mothers of
Invention fan, you’ll recognize it.
Fiscal Discipline Rock
Heevahava Boogie — a Pennsylvania Dutchman welcomes “Mr. Keith Emerson”
If you listen to the lyrics you’ll get why some old guys sipping margaritas enjoyed it. It’s all about booze, tasteless jokes, poon and various failures. Never been a big fan of inspirational tales and Norman Vincent Peale-isms embedded in rock and roll.
Jerry Boykin, for want of a better description — America’s answer to Otto Skorzeny — is in the news again for being chosen to speak at a West Point prayer breakfast.
Over the course of the war on terror Boykin has routinely been associated with a special version of repellent crackpot extremism.
Here’s a video from a couple years ago, juxtaposed with Sterling Hayden’s Gen. Jack Ripper in Dr. Strangelove.
It speaks for itself.
Here’s Boykin as one of the co-authors of the Islam-o-phobe Team B report which claimed shariah law is sapping and impurifying the precious bodily fluids of American justice.
And here’s a longish bit defending the right to preach against gayness and Muslims while praying for the future of America.
And here he is again with more anti-Muslim shariah-law conspiracy thinking.
“The Muslims would replace our Constitution with shariah … I am very concerned about this … We should not give first amendment protection to people who want to destroy our Constitution and replace it with shariah …” and so on.
The deluxe version comes with a year’s supply of injectable anabolic steroids in an on-board mini-fridge. Six gunports provide extra-clear fields of on-demand retaliatory fire.
Wha? Even local shires with no significant history of violent crime or threat try to get into the act. The Los Angeles Times informs today that South Pasadena, generally known for its population of swells, tree-lined streets and swank/genteel bungalow homes has acquired an urban combat vehicle for one dollar, sold off by Burbank, which is trading up on homeland security bucks.
These days a dollar can buy a can of soda, a song on iTunes — or, in South Pasadena’s case, an armored vehicle.
Last week the city took delivery of a vehicle known as a Peacekeeper, paying Burbank $1 for the privilege. Burbank originally received the Peacekeeper as surplus from the U.S. Air Force …
The Peacekeeper saw no action during its Burbank years …
“Active shooter training is also a high priority for police officers that are facing a new type of terror threat as was seen in the Mumbai, India, terror attack,” [a South Pasadena city report on the Peacekeeper acquisition] said …
Burbank decided to sell the armored vehicle after it obtained a new BearCat SWAT vehicle in February 2009 through a $275,000 Homeland Security Department grant.
A man who kept a recipe for a deadly poison and documents about how to make bombs has been jailed for two years and three months.
Asim Kausar, 25, from Bolton, Greater Manchester, kept the information on a computer memory stick that contained details about the toxin ricin, assassination and torture techniques and instructions for making improvised explosive devices …
The information came to light only after Kausar’s family suffered a burglary, when Kauser’s father handed the memory stick to police so officers could view CCTV images of the break-in recorded on the device.
Kauser told police he had downloaded the information out of “curiosity and a thirst for knowledge” …
The prosecution accepted the defendant had not disseminated the information and had not put it to any practical use. There was also no evidence to suggest Kausar had any links to terrorists.
Sentencing him, Judge Andrew Gilbart QC said: “I accept that all of this material is available on the internet and can be bought from retailers such as Amazon and I accept some of it is out of date.
“But that makes them no less dangerous or any less useful to a person committing an act of terrorism.”
Riel Karmy-Jones, prosecuting, said the defendant had “scoured the internet” between January 2009 and his arrest last year for information on the mujahideen. The information downloaded ran into thousands of pages …
Police also seized Kauser’s mobile phone, which contained a photograph of him posing with a rifle. The image was believed to have been taken in Pakistan.
From the Los Angeles Times over the weekend, a laboratory designed to fight bioterror has no bioterror to fight.
Because the only bioterror was American bioterror defense industry bioterror. In the entire decade.
So there’s make work setting up test exercises for things which, in all likelihood will never happen. And moving into police work, which in the case mentioned by the newspaper, means helping to chase around those people selling and smoking the new kind of synthetic pot called bath salts.
Anyway you look at it, it’s trivial applications for trivial problems deceptively advertised as things bigger and more meaningful.
Please don’t take the bioterror funding away! See, it’s good for something! Like protecting the populace from synthetic Demi Moore dope and the odd intestinal illness that shows up every couple of years.
In the meantime, nationwide austerity forces the lay-offs of something one does need everyday — teachers.
When Jeffery H. Moran goes to work each day, he swipes his security badge, passes into an airtight chamber, opens a bombproof door and enters a lab full of deadly toxins.
As chief of the counter-terrorism laboratory at the Arkansas Department of Health — one of 62 such federally funded labs in the country — he heads two dozen chemists who are on constant alert for the release of pestilence or poisons in the United States.
Armed with $2 million worth of new equipment, Moran concocts gruesome tests to keep his team sharp. He has laced samples of baby formula with lethal ricin. Poured rat poison into water bottles. Tainted blood with cyanide gas …
Using a counter-terrorism lab to test for synthetic marijuana is the latest sign of how a multibillion-dollar national infrastructure built to detect or respond to chemical or biological attacks over the last decade has adapted to the lack of any actual attacks.
Stewart Baker, former head of policy at the Department of Homeland Security, said he wasn’t surprised that Little Rock’s high-tech lab is helping police ferret out potheads.
“Otherwise they would be like the Maytag repairman, just sitting there waiting for the phone to ring,” Baker said.
The only place ricin has ever been put in food, excluding one case in which a husband tried to kill his wife and failed, in the last decade is in government labs. And the only place pure ricin exists is also in government labs, or private sector research labs funded by the taxpayer.
No terrorist has ever produced pure ricin.
And no terrorists have successfully used cyanide gas bombs.
Edward Hammond is the only critic polled by the Times. For those of us who have followed the issues over a decade, Hammond was known for the Sunshine Project, a watchdog agency for bioterror research, one that worked quite well.
“Pork, pork, pork, pork, pork,” Hammond told the Los Angeles newspaper. “These state departments of health have become addicted to extra federal bioterrorism dollars.”
And Hammond is on the money.
About a week ago a newspaper in the Pacific northwest ran a news brief on a local laboratory that had taken bioterrorism funds to finance testing of oysters for marine vibrios.
Outside the Gulf coast states, the only marine vibrio that causes foodborne illness is known as Vibrio parahaemolyticus.
The Los Angeles Times newspaper mentions the lab in part of its piece:
In California, the Humboldt County Public Health laboratory spent federal bioterrorism funds to buy a DNA-sequencing machine. The lab began using the device this month to test for bacteria in oysters harvested off the state’s coastline.
“We don’t just purchase the equipment and it sits in the corner,” said Jeremy Corrigan, who manages the lab and is state bioterrorism coordinator for Northern California. “I use it for dual purposes.”
Humboldt’s vibrant oyster farming industry and bioterrorism funds have allowed the county’s public health laboratory to deploy a cutting-edge process to test for shellfish contamination.
The laboratory is now the only public facility in California to utilize a molecular process — known as polymerase chain reaction — for oyster testing. The only other laboratory to perform this type of work is a private lab in San Diego …
According to public health, two cases of the intestinal infection caused by virbrio parahaemolyticus were reported in 2007, but it is unclear if they were linked to oyster consumption. No cases have been reported in the past four years.
Dale said the company has done quality control for oysters and water as a precaution. About 70 percent of California’s oysters are grown in Humboldt Bay.
Although there has never been a positive result, a recent false positive illustrates the streamlined convenience of the new process, he said.
The LA Times piece did not mention how minor the nature of the threat was. And it is baffling that the only result, one false positive, could be peddled as something which is actually fulfilling a need.
“Last year, people who smoked Spice or other fake pot variations made 6,955 calls to poison control centers across the country, more than twice the number of calls in 2010,” wrote the Times reporter, in trying to make the case that identifying bath salts synthetic dope is more than a trivial business.
The only way to keep the bully from punching you in the nose whenever he likes is to kick him in the nuts. You might get thrashed anyway, or maybe not. If you can land a few shots he may decide the price he has to pay to bloody your nose is too high.
In any case, the bully will continue to violate your sovereignty, so to speak, until forcefully discouraged from doing so.
The United States drone strategy is only pursued against people and countries who, largely, cannot effectively defend themselves. There is no way for them to give us a good one right in the nuts.
And so today we read from the New York Times, the continued use of drones in Iraq whether they like it or not. Further, the paper notes this was revealed in a call for bids to operate the drones, issued by the State Department. That is, bombing paupers is ripe for mercenary defense contracting.
Mr. Asadi said that he opposed the drone program: “Our sky is our sky, not the U.S.A.’s sky.”
The Pentagon and C.I.A. have been stepping up their use of armed Predator and Reaper drones to conduct missile strikes against militants in places like Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. More recently, the United States has expanded drone bases in Ethiopia, the Seychelles and a secret location in the Arabian Peninsula.
Over the weekend, Pine View Farm pointed out a story on a navy drone, one developed to be used without a remote pilot’s chair.
Published at the Los Angeles Times, the story follows in the mainstream media tradition of never stating the obvious, mostly because it’s embarrassing or unpleasant.
A couple years ago Hollywood produced a summer blockbuster on an autonomous drone. It was a a bad sci-fi-ish adventure/buddy movie called Stealth.
The drone, named “EDI” (pronounced “Eddy”) talked, went rogue, stole all its music off the Internet, and saved the day at the end.
A Wikipedia entry on it drily notes it was a “colossal box office bomb.”
Crap movie. Unlike being stuck in the real, you could walk out of the theatre and tell your friends not to see it.
For the movie, the enemy actually had forces — fighter planes and anti-aircraft flak, not that it did much good.
However, in the real world the US employs drones exclusively in places and on people who can’t defend themselves. Iran included, the high altitude stealth drone being an exception to the rule that cost the country something when it malfunctioned. However, overflying Iran with Predators — which do the lion’s share of the drone work — would seem not to be done.
Increasing amounts of money on robotics technology is used on places and peoples with essentially nothing, either for themselves or in the quiver.
And none of the allegedly wise people who get talked to for these kinds of news stories bring up this matter. Instead they go on about side issues — like “what if a theoretically artificially intelligence-equipped drone makes a wrong killing decision?” Never mind there is already a long history of wrong decisions routinely made by the people directing them.
So as the robots become more sophisticated they are used on those left farther and farther behind in the global economy. This is all written off as pro-active work making Americans secure, guaranteeing there is always some further price to be paid for being in a desperate situation and hating America for all its freedoms (to bomb).
Whether the drones get some petty bad guys or not hardly matters. It just matters that there be an increasing market and budget for them.
”More aggressive robotry development could lead to deploying far fewer U.S. military personnel to other countries, achieving greater national security at a much lower cost and most importantly, greatly reduced casualties,” aerospace pioneer Simon Ramo, who helped develop the intercontinental ballistic missile, wrote in his new book, ‘Let Robots Do the Dying.’ ”
Well, the air force and navy — the new autonomous prototype drone is being tested off an aircraft carrier — aren’t doing any dying now.
The only dying, and it’s fairly obvious to all except perhaps the ballistic missile expert, is done by those where the drones are overhead.
The pirates off Somalia can’t fight back against robotic or manned systems. They can’t fight back in Indonesia or Yemen or in Afghanistan. And the drones operate in Pakistan where there is largely no Pakistani army to say boo to them.
So it’s all rubbish.
There isn’t a conventional force the US is going to fight which could inflict any serious casualties because those with such armed forces aren’t won’t be pushed into a war with us and, further, we most probably won’t be fighting them. These wars are all by the wealthy country with the biggest world military against those who have nothing except their poverty and enmity. (If there is some manner of war with Iran, you watch how quickly it turns into bombing with impunity. And that thought may have something to do with why the mullahs want an atomic bomb.)
This is what made much of the Stealth movie silly. The scriptwriters, unlike our national security experts, had to at least try to sell something on the screen that seemed slightly real. There had to be an enemy to expose the heroes, even the robot one, to danger. They failed but, hey, they gave it a shot.
Our theoreticians don’t even make the pretense of trying. They’ll just take the money whether it’s eventually a colossal bomb or not.
Tom Friedman’s answer to everything that’s wrong in the economy is to explain it away as inferiority in the face of the rest of the world.
The only answer is for all Americans to become inventor/entrepreneurs, since they can’t compete with no protections labor in other countries.
These columns forgive all corporate malfeasance in leveraging desperate conditions in foreign places for making shiny goods to sell to the haves.
So Friedman entirely misses the central point of the Apple exposures done on the news side in his own paper — that the company has built its huge fortune being abominable.
Think of all the people you pass in the supermarket or on the sidewalk every week. How many are capable of designing premium goods to sell to the rest of the world?
What should those who can’t do?
In Tom Friedman’s world, nothing really. Giant corporations shouldn’t be encumbered by them. Neither should the government. And they only themselves to blame, anyway, for being sub-mediocre.
The news furnished this week is that they can be deliverymen. There will always be a need for deliverymen to deliver the premium goods of the “innovators” to the rest of the haves. But there’s an eat-your-peas warning embedded in it. You may not even be good enough as a deliveryman if you make multi-corporation world mad and don’t get the proper skills fast.
This is the world we are living in. It is not going away. But America can thrive in this world, explained Yossi Sheffi, the M.I.T. logistics expert, if it empowers “as many of our workers as possible to participate” in different links of these global supply chains — either imagining products, designing products, marketing products, orchestrating the supply chain for products, manufacturing high-end products and retailing products. If we get our share, we’ll do fine.
And here’s the good news: We have a huge natural advantage to compete in this kind of world, if we just get our act together.
In a world where the biggest returns go to those who imagine and design a product, there is no higher imagination-enabling society than America
In a world where logistics will be the source of a huge number of middle-class jobs, we have FedEx and U.P.S.
Alert readers will have noticed last week’s Friedman wonderfulness was also labeled as from the loins of MIT. It was the MIT app-making engineers of Presto, the way to program iKit to get rid of minimum or sub-minimum wage workers in food service.
This week the wonderfulness is in the expert-minted knowledge of someone named Yossi: If you can’t make Presto things at least you might be able to carry boxes for FedEx or U.P.S.
Often it seems like I’ve made a song for every bit of cheer-leading for corporate predation and the excellence of using global sweat-shopping to find the biggest profit margin that comes out of Tom Friedman. Take, for instance, “That’s Logistics” song from a year or so ago.
It’s an accident.
Friedman’s columns are chapters for books that explain how the merciless corporate destruction of any social order devoted to economic justice and a good functioning nation is really only progress, the pursuit of innovation and serving the global appetite for consumer electronics and social networking software.
It’s purely coincidental that I hate all that stuff.