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2007 October 01 — Why Now?
On-line Opinion Magazine…OK, it's a blog
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How A Pro Does It

Vladimir Putin is having too fun being “tsar,” but he still wants to look like a “democratically elected leader,” like Khrushchev, who was “democratically elected” by the Party.

The BBC tells everyone how he’s going to do it: Putin moves to extend political life

In the second surprise announcement in as many weeks, the Russian President Vladimir Putin has said it is “entirely realistic” that he will become prime minister after stepping down as president early next year.

Mr Putin is barred by the constitution from standing in presidential elections due to be held in March, having already served two consecutive terms as president.

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October 1, 2007   4 Comments

Burma Update

From the BBC which is still able to make limited contact with people inside Burma:

Heavy army presence in Burma city

Thousands of heavily armed soldiers are patrolling the streets of Burma’s main city, Rangoon, with no sign of further protests against the military junta.

Troops are stopping young men on the streets and in cars, searching for cameras that may be used to smuggle out images, correspondents in Burma say.

Most internet links are still down and mobile phone networks disrupted.

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October 1, 2007   8 Comments

Deja Vu All Over Again

Seymour Hersh writing in The New Yorker informs the world of the new stupid White House tactic in his piece, Shifting Targets.

The US is going to bomb Cambodia Iran to stop the flow of assistance to the Viet Cong al Qaeda.

Oh, I’m sorry, this is nothing like the Vietnam War – Cambodia was to the west of Vietnam, while Iran is to the east of Iraq.

There has been no credible evidence provided that the government of Iran is providing aid and assistance to anyone other than the current government of Iraq. A military attack on the territory and armed forces of another sovereign nation is an act of war, and only Congress can declare war.

October 1, 2007   5 Comments

Avoiding Responsibility

While many people have written about Blackwater, Paul Krugman points out in his Friday column, Hired Gun Fetish, that the practice is wide spread in other areas of government.

…the administration has abandoned the principle of a professional, nonpolitical civil service, stuffing agencies from FEMA to the Justice Department with unqualified cronies. Tax farming — giving individuals the right to collect taxes, in return for a share of the take — went out with the French Revolution; now the tax farmers are back.

And so are mercenaries, whom Machiavelli described as “useless and dangerous” more than four centuries ago.

The private companies are not accountable. They end up with the immunity of government and the immunity of the private sector. When something terrible happens the Hedgemony says it wasn’t us, it was a private company, and nothing ever happens to the private company. The government contracts have often been written to shield these companies from even civil liability.

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October 1, 2007   6 Comments