Have a happy Pearl Harbor Day.
Contrary to what the military says it believes, the back of the insurgency doesn't seem to be broken after the destruction of Fallujah. Just read throught the posts of Juan Cole's blog. It is only getting worse. Much worse.
Clash on a Street called Haifa
by Juan Cole
Guerrillas on Haifa Street in downtown Baghdad fought a running battle Monday with Iraqi police or national guards, and killed one civilian working for the US. The battle took place near the Green Zone, where the US embassy is sited.
There were also attacks on an oil pipeline that supplies Baghdad from the north, and clashes in the west, in Anbar province. From Friday through Sunday guerrillas killed 5 US troops in Anbar.
The CIA station chief in Baghdad has concluded that things are deteriorating in Iraq and may not get better any time soon. This breathtakingly honest evaluation was unacceptable to US Ambassador John Negroponte, who insisted it be hedged about with warnings that it was too pessimistic.
Uh, John, when you have conquered a country and ruled it for 18 months, and when you have 140,000 plus troops on the ground, and when you have to forbid your embassy staff to take the 10-mile-long road from the capital to the airport because their lives cannot be assured on it-- then, John, things are deteriorating and may not get better soon. Get used to it.
by Dahr Jamail
Photos dated from May, 2003 have been shown all over Jazeera today-showing Navy Seals torturing Iraqis. Up close shots of men with bloodied mouths with guns held to their heads, etc. You know the drill by now.
They were put on the net by the wife of a soldier who’d returned from Iraq.
John Hutson, a retired rear admiral who served as the Navy’s Judge Advocate General from 1997 to 2000, said the photos suggested possible Geneva Convention violations, as international law prohibits souvenir photos of prisoners of war.
Hutson said, “It’s pretty obvious that these pictures were taken largely as war trophies.”
Not too surprising, however, because there are also eyewitness reports now from refugees that some soldiers in Fallujah were tying the dead bodies of resistance fighters to tanks and driving around with their “trophies.”
Another victory for their hearts and minds.
Fallujah as a “Model City”
by Dahr Jamail
Driving across Baghdad yesterday a GMC full of armed men races past our car, missing it by inches. Along with guns pointed out their windows at us (and all the other cars), a couple of the men hold their hands out, waving them down towards the ground in order to instruct the traffic they are pushing their way through to stay back.
CIA and/or mercenaries always travel like this here.
Another example of the winning of hearts and minds of Iraqis is being formulated for the residents of Fallujah. The military has announced the plans it is considering to use for allowing Fallujans back into their city.
They will set up “processing centers” on the outskirts of the city and compile a database of peoples’ identities by using DNA testing and retina scans. Residents will then receive a badge which identifies them with their home address, which they must wear at all times.
Buses will ferry them into their city, as cars will be banned since the military fears the use of them by suicide bombers.
Another idea being kicked around is to require the men to work for pay in military-style battalions where these “work brigades” will reconstruct buildings and the water system, depending on the men’s skills.
There will also be “rubble-clearing” platoons.
The intent of the US commanders and Iraqi leaders is to make Fallujah a “model city.”
I wonder if they’ll try this in Baghdad. The goal of crushing the resistance and creating stability by destroying Fallujah has gone so well that resistance fighters here roamed freely about Haifa street today hunting for Iraqis collaborating with US forces.
They executed a man they suspected as being a collaborator in Tahrir Square, and then they moved on to Mathaf Sqare, just 3 blocks from the “Green Zone” where the interim government and US embassy are located.
We pay our slave laborers
by Steve Gilliard
This is not postwar Germany. Forced labor is a war crime. I know the US doesn't live in fear of the Hague, but considering the relative ruthlessness of the resistance, I would suggest one day of killing would end compliance with such orders. They can't even protect the National Guard, who are being executed like rats in a pantry.
They don't get it. The Fallujans will resist this. Not only that, the city isn't nearly safe enough for this. Now the cowardly exiles, who spend more time in London than Baghdad, want to impose colonial methods. Except these colonists have rocket-propelled grenades and AK's. The more desperate we become, the easier we are to strike. A crowd of people seeking to comply with this are a perfect human bomb target. Mocking the Americans once again with Iraqi lives.
As you read about colonial warfare, keep in mind, even the Belgians had a native army. The Americans have been precluded from that by a fast-moving resistance. Cooperation with the US means death. Simple as that.
You call this liberation
Pentagon experts have made a discovery: Muslims do not hate America's freedoms, but its policies
Who wrote this - a pop sociologist, obscure blogger or anti-war playwright? "Muslims see Americans as strangely narcissistic - namely, that the war is all about us. As the Muslims see it, everything about the war is - for Americans - really no more than an extension of American domestic politics and its great game. This perception is ... heightened by election-year atmospherics, but none the less sustains their impression that when Americans talk to Muslims, they are talking to themselves."
Actually, this is the conclusion of the report of the defence science board taskforce on strategic communication - the product of a Pentagon advisory panel - delivered in September. Its 102 pages were not made public in the presidential campaign, but, barely noticed by the US press, silently slipped on to a Pentagon website on Thanksgiving eve.
thanks to Antiwar.com
They love us in Fallujah
by Steve Gilliard
by Steve Gilliard
Tom Swift Dust Jackets
thanks to Coudal Partners
The disappearing dollar
How long can it remain the world's most important reserve currency?
THE dollar has been the leading international currency for as long as most people can remember. But its dominant role can no longer be taken for granted. If America keeps on spending and borrowing at its present pace, the dollar will eventually lose its mighty status in international finance. And that would hurt: the privilege of being able to print the world's reserve currency, a privilege which is now at risk, allows America to borrow cheaply, and thus to spend much more than it earns, on far better terms than are available to others. Imagine you could write cheques that were accepted as payment but never cashed. That is what it amounts to. If you had been granted that ability, you might take care to hang on to it. America is taking no such care, and may come to regret it.
thanks to Talking Points Memo
I've been reading some interesting books. First a couple of war stories.
Hemmingway's A farewell to arms was about WWI. Good but it was For Whom the Bell Tolls that I couldn't put down. It's based on his experiences during the Spanish Civil War in the late 1930s, which was a warm-up for WWII. A must read.
On a different note, I've started a book about N.C. Wyeth.
The Wyeths: The Letters of N. C. Wyeth, 1901-1945
N.C. was one of the great American illustrators of the first part of the 20th century. This book consists of his letters to his family starting in 1901. It chronicles not only his life but also gives a window into the education of an artist a hundred years ago. It's also a window into life of another world. It was printed in 1971 and is long out of print but the above link takes you to many sources of used books. Includes photos and his wonderful illustrations.
The Republicans are working hard to convince you of Social Security's imminent collapse. Nothing could be further from the truth. It's just more Republican fraud. They just want to get their hands on your money. A must read...
Inventing a Crisis
by Paul Krugman
Privatizing Social Security - replacing the current system, in whole or in part, with personal investment accounts - won't do anything to strengthen the system's finances. If anything, it will make things worse. Nonetheless, the politics of privatization depend crucially on convincing the public that the system is in imminent danger of collapse, that we must destroy Social Security in order to save it.
Ariel photography from model airplanes...
2005 Calendar Entries
thanks to Steve Gilliard's News Blog
Destabilizing the CIA
In Washington, it's hardly without precedent for a presidential appointee to swear one thing before a Senate confirmation committee and then, once ensconced in the sought-after post, do another. But even by this standard, George W. Bush's new Director of Central Intelligence, Porter Goss, has been particularly brazen. Appearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee on September 14, Goss--until recently, a Florida Congressman and chair of the House Intelligence Committee--not only swore to "commit myself to a nonpartisan approach to the job of DCI"; he even went so far as to state that "it would be entirely inappropriate to make anything that looks like a partisan comment."
On November 15, however, the newly appointed DCI told CIA employees in a memo that "we support the Administration and its policies in our work...we do not identify with, support or champion opposition to the Administration or its policies." One of the most insightful analyses of the memo came from Jon Stewart's Daily Show; correspondent Rob Corddry explained it as reflective of the Administration's desire to deal only "with intelligence that's been vetted to support decisions they've already made. They're tired of having to repeatedly misinterpret information the CIA gives them, so from now on intelligence will arrive at the White House pre-misinterpreted." In addition to heralding a likely continuation of the intelligence "stovepiping" process that reformers agree has to change, Goss's memo was a stunning and unparalleled articulation of CIA fealty to the White House. It was also tantamount to a declaration of war by Goss and his Capitol Hill cronies against career civil servants--and necessary intelligence reform--that shows a remarkable lack of judgment and competence.
thanks to War and Piece
Insiders fear that changeovers at the CIA will weaken the agency
IF CHANGES IN government agencies were characterized as album titles, the soundtrack to Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) Porter J. Goss’s November restructuring at the CIA might be named, with apologies to U2, How To Dismantle an Effective Senior Leadership Staff With an Atomic Bomb. Though, in the name of precision, "neutron bomb" might be the better choice of words. While the CIA’s headquarters in Langley, Virginia, still stands, vaporization seems to be the order of the day there, for both people and trust.
thanks to War and Piece
This is a project that has been slow in starting. I'm always looking for the perfect stitching software. (It's not like I've been sidetracked or anything like that.) I thought I had come close but this new one is amazing.
a new dimension in automatic image stitching
There are three panels that I have been trying to stich together and nothing has really been perfect but Autostitch is as close to perfection as I've seen and it was all automatic.
Summer Morning at Honeymoon Lake
The other piece of the puzzle has been the image format. The above picture was taken with a normal lens. I would be happier if it had more top and bottom to the picture. A wider angle lens would do it but shooting square format would also do it. Another reason to get that Minolta Autocord. Now, if I can only keep from getting sidetracked.
At Crucial Juncture, Iran Seeks Edge on U.S.
A quarter-century after U.S.-Iran relations collapsed, Iranians are angrier and more anxious about U.S. policy than at any time since the period from 1979 to 1981, when the United States took in the deposed and dying shah, Iranian students seized the U.S. Embassy and 52 hostages were held for 444 days.
Repeated U.S. warnings about Iran's nuclear intentions have sparked widespread fears of a new confrontation, Iranian officials and analysts said -- one that would dwarf the crisis that erupted after Tehran's 1979 revolution.
In an effort to contain U.S. influence along Iran's borders and preempt U.S. action, they said, Tehran is trying to exploit two trump cards -- its influence over neighboring countries and rising international demand for oil. Iran is beefing up aid to allied groups in Iraq and Afghanistan, which are scheduled to hold elections next year. Iran is also using oil to deepen alliances with strategic nations such as energy-hungry China.
The situation is a sharp reversal from a year ago, when swift victories by U.S.-led coalitions in Iraq and Afghanistan sent shock waves through Iran. The country was almost encircled by U.S. troops on land and sea, analysts here said. The squeeze was a major factor in Iran's agreement in October 2003 to give up uranium enrichment, a key process for peaceful nuclear energy that can be diverted for military use.
But Iraq's persistent insurgency, the failure of U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan to capture Osama bin Laden and the inability of Kabul's U.S.-backed government to consolidate national control have made the United States more vulnerable in the region and given Iran more leverage, said officials and analysts in both nations.
thanks to The Agonist
I've been wanting a 4 x 5 view camera for some time. It's not only for the large negative but also for the perspective controls a view camera offers. Good view cameras are a bit more than I can afford so I've had my eye on a Super Speed Graphic press camera. Still more than I can afford right now but it turns out that the solution, short term, was sitting on my shelf.
It's a 3.25 x 4.25 Anniversary Speed Graphic from 1946. It doesn't have a lot of movements. Just rise and slide on the front standard but that covers most of what I want to use it for. I acquired this camera sometime in the 1970s but can't remember how. It's and odd film size and there isn't film made for it and I've never been excited about cutting down 4 x 5 film so it's sat on a shelf all these years. A couple of nights ago I was searching for a source of 620 and 127 film (other obsolete film sizes) and found J and C Photo, which carries 3.25 x 4.25 film. Not a big selection. They have two emulsions. The one I want to use is ADOX, an ISO 100 black and white film. It's made in Croatia and uses an older formula that has more silver than modern black and white. A vintage film for a vintage camera. So I brought my Speed Graphic off the shelf.
The Kalart range finder works just fine, the bellows looks good, and the focal plane shutter seems to be in order (up to 1/1000 of sec.) The lens is a 127mm f4.7 Kodak Ektar which, with a little googling, I find is a very good lens. The rest of the Ektars are quite good and can be had pretty reasonable on eBay. There may be an 80 and a 203 in my future. It's a little dusty and some of the leather is coming loose. It's going to be a little while until I can do my own black and white film so I will be refurbishing it. The leather covers a mahagony body with brass and aluminum bits. The leather is coming off. Here is a naked Speed Graphic.
Nude Speed Graphic
Underneath the "Top Rangefinder" 4x5 Speed or Crown Graphic's UGLY leather is beautiful mahogany. Likewise the front door is actually nice metal underneath it all. So the trick is to take off their clothes to reveal the beautiful person.....eh camera underneath.
And maybe red bellows. Usually the rangefinder is removed but I want to keep the capability of using it as a hand held rangefinder camera. I may not use it that way much but I might.
I've ordered a manual for the camera to aid in taking it apart and, in the meantime, have removed the bubbling leather from the underside of the bed.
Lots of cleaning and refinishing to go.