Saturday, December 27, 2008

14,500 Candidates!!

BAGHDAD — Iraqi voters next month will see 14,500 candidates vie for 440 open seats on provincial councils, an outpouring of interest in a new phase of Iraqi self-government that could make for a baffling ballot.

article here

Plenty of heat in "passive" houses

The concept of the passive house, pioneered in this city of 140,000 outside Frankfurt, approaches the challenge from a different angle. Using ultrathick insulation and complex doors and windows, the architect engineers a home encased in an airtight shell, so that barely any heat escapes and barely any cold seeps in. That means a passive house can be warmed not only by the sun, but also by the heat from appliances and even from occupants’ bodies.

And in Germany, passive houses cost only about 5 to 7 percent more to build than conventional houses....

“The myth before was that to be warm you had to have heating. Our goal is to create a warm house without energy demand,” said Wolfgang Hasper, an engineer at the Passivhaus Institut in Darmstadt. “This is not about wearing thick pullovers, turning the thermostat down and putting up with drafts. It’s about being comfortable with less energy input, and we do this by recycling heating.”

article here (<-- click)

United States pushing sex and drugs in Muslim countries

Considering the crashing success we enjoyed with the last fellow the CIA embraced and trained in Afghanistan, this too seems to promise continued "success" for the CIA and the international reputation of the United States.
"Take one of these. You'll love it," the officer said. Compliments of Uncle Sam.

The enticement worked. The officer, who described the encounter, returned four days later to an enthusiastic reception. The grinning chief offered up a bonanza of information about Taliban movements and supply routes -- followed by a request for more pills.

Four blue pills. Viagra.
article here (<-- click)

Friday, December 26, 2008

Be Good and Grow Rich: Reversing the Economic Meltdown

Frank Kaufmann
December 23, 2008
"Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."
Albert Einstein
Why is it that suddenly everyone seems lost. Only weeks ago, the pantheon of cable news finance wizards flooded our lives around the clock with pride, bluster, and "expertise." And while they frothed and “explained,” lust and frenzy infected world markets like bone cancer. A financial world was built with bedrock institutions packaging, selling, and buying less than nothing.

When natural laws of economics finally tore though the mirage, financial meltdown fell on us like a flesh eating virus that continues relentlessly and with a vengeance. Extreme responses arose in all sectors with leaders scurrying about like those on the deck of the Titanic hit. Makeshift measures to stanch hemorrhaging in this spot or that were passed in panic, but none brought about a settling, stabilizing, or passing of the storm. We wait with baited breath to see if, when, and how great the carnage, pain, and suffering finally will be. Fully one third of savings have evaporated.

Those working on fixes are not working on a level that matches the depth and nature of the crisis. Everything that breaks does so because essentials are violated, basic elements collapse under the strain. Analyses and proposed remedies must start with clear-headed investigation of what fundamentally broke. What was violated? What snapped? What basic laws and rules were stretched to the breaking point?

Current recommended remedies stem from and remain mired in this mentality of violation and untruth. The slide will pause now at 35% loss, giving us the opportunity to awaken, change, and begin to recover. If we do not acknowledge what we have wrought, the economy will drop its next third, leaving none from this generation to see recovery.

3 sectors are responsible for failures comprising the global economic crisis, the business and financial sector, the political arena, and the media. Great wrong, great greed, and great dysfunction took place under the watch of each of these 3 sectors, each having failed in their respective responsibilities to be sure that such things never happen. The reform of the economy cannot be achieved through the application of mere “economic” fixes. Recovery requires reform, acknowledgement of wrongdoing, taking responsibility for harm done, and commitment to change in each of these three areas.

The economic crisis happened by violating two basics: 1.Self interest cannot evolve into greed to the degree that personal, material lust is sated without regard for the human condition of “the neighbor.” 2. Production and consumption may not persist in a manner and degree that outstrips nature's capacity to repair and rejuvenate herself. The economic meltdown is not merely the fruit of greed. It more accurately occurred through the the deadening of the heart.

According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, almost 1 billion people suffer in this year's global food shortages. The number of undernourished, the FAO said, rose by 40 million, following a 75 million jump the previous year. This is simply forbidden. Prosperity and suffering in such magnitude are not coterminous.

Growth of value (perceived by many as growth of capital) cannot continue unchecked when doing so happens in ways that violate basic human norms and morality. The meltdown will not relent nor subside until approaches at resolution address real causes. Lust for personal profit and consumerist excess may not be sought in anti-human and anti-environment structures and patterns.

The way to genuine recovery, growth, and the return of wealth will come to enterprises oriented specifically to the causal factors of the meltdown. Industries that fit this bill will experience genuine growth and profit. These will produce jobs and wealth aplenty. On the other hand, proposals based on the persistent breaking of natural rules and rectitude not only will fail rescue the economy, but will drive the meltdown further. If we snap the 35% loss barrier through obstinately not learning, the collapse will become irreparable.

What is needed now for recovery is the very opposite of current approaches seeking desperately to resuscitate over-heated, self-gratification, and debt-fueled consumerist materialism.

Real solutions that will turn the tide to recovery will be led by industries and entrepreneurs devoted to the restoration of balance in human affairs, balance such that acquisitiveness is no longer admired if it fails to be coupled with minimum concern for vast numbers of suffering people, the millions who starve and die without hope. Industry that retools itself to create opportunity, housing, education, and work for the needy will prosper.

Secondly, everything entrepreneurial that is devoted to restoring nature's capacity to repair and sustain herself while keeping apace with non-excessive human consumption will prosper.

In short, consumption, growth, and wealth are fine. But gluttonous, consumerist materialism cannot be celebrated and encouraged 1. while able-bodied men and women with families cannot eat or lead lives with minimal opportunity and dignity and 2. when consumption happens in ways that break mother nature's ability to repair herself and sustain environmental balance and health.

In the present moment, industries designed to fix these abuses and violations naturally will inherit and enjoy the privilege of growth and profitability.

Frank Kaufmann is the director of the Inter Religious Federation for World Peace. The opinions here are his own.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki has proven flat out unflappable. Persistently unflustered, with icewater in his veins, while the most powerful men in the world are bobbing and weaving around him like horses on a merry-go-round. He even tries to snag shoe #2 like it's a line drive to center field. Watch these two videos:

Shoes destroyed, arm ok

BAGHDAD (AFP) — Security agents destroyed the shoes thrown at US President George W. Bush by an Iraqi journalist during checks to ensure they did not contain explosives, the investigating judge said on Thursday.

"The shoes were examined by the Iraqi and American security services and then destroyed," the judge told AFP.

He said Zaidi had "signs of blows to the face" but was otherwise in good health and did not appear to have a broken arm as reported by his brother.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Shoe thrower 'beaten in custody'

The brother of the Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at US President George W Bush has said that the reporter has been beaten in custody.

Muntadar al-Zaidi has suffered a broken hand, broken ribs and internal bleeding, as well as an eye injury, his older brother, Dargham, told the BBC...

Mr Zaidi told our correspondent that despite offers from many lawyers his brother has not been given access to a legal representative since being arrested by forces under the command of Mowaffaq al-Rubaie, Iraq's national security adviser....

Mr Zaidi, who lives in Baghdad, has worked for al-Baghdadia for three years.

Mr Zaidi said his actions were for Iraqi widows and orphans

Muzhir al-Khafaji, programming director for the channel, described him as a "proud Arab and an open-minded man".

He said that Mr Zaidi was a graduate of communications from Baghdad University.

"He has no ties with the former regime. His family was arrested under Saddam's regime," he said.

Mr Zaidi has previously been abducted by insurgents and held twice for questioning by US forces in Iraq.

Iraq shoe-thrower said to be in hospital with broken arm

By Waleed Ibrahim (IHT)

An Iraqi journalist who hurled his shoes at U.S. President George W. Bush in a fit of outrage was hit in the head with a rifle butt and had an arm broken in chaotic scenes when he was leapt on by Iraqi security officers, his brother said Tuesday.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Shoeless Ahmad Jackson

December 14, 2008

Yankees Sign Iraqi Hurler
Andy Borowitz

Shoe-throwing Right-hander Impresses Scouts

In their latest bid to beef up their pitching rotation for the 2009 season, the New York Yankees today signed Iraqi journalist Muntadar al-Zeidi to a three-year deal worth $32 million.

The right-handed al-Zeidi, 28, impressed the Yankee scouts with his performance in Baghdad yesterday when he threw both of his shoes at President George W. Bush.
While neither of the shoes hit their target, both throws "had great velocity and good movement," said Yankee owner Hank Steinbrenner.

"The first shoe was high and outside but the second one was right down the middle," Mr. Steinbrenner said.

The Yankee boss said that he was also impressed with Mr. al-Zeidi's fighting spirit when Secret Service agents tackled him.

"That could come in handy when we have a series with Boston," he said.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Top Officials Cited in Abuse of Detainees

WASHINGTON -- Abuse of detainees in U.S. custody was a direct result of decisions by top administration officials, according to a bipartisan Senate report released Thursday.

The report said coercive interrogation practices damaged the government's "moral authority" and its ability to collect accurate intelligence....

"What followed was an erosion in standards dictating that detainees be treated humanely," which was "a major cause of the abuse of detainees in U.S. custody," the committee wrote in the report. It was approved unanimously last month by a voice vote of the Armed Services Committee....

The report called it "particularly troubling" that U.S. adopted techniques "designed to simulate abusive tactics used by our enemies against our own soldiers and that were modeled, in part, on tactics used by the Communist Chinese to elicit false confessions from U.S. military personnel."

One of the many reports here (<-- click)

Monday, December 1, 2008

No way to stop us, pirate leader says

If you are like me, the sudden emergence of near daily reports of piracy on the high seas is hard to get one's mind around.

Truth be told I never expected to have much to do with the term "pirates" in day to day life. Until lately for me the term brought to mind Captain Hook, Johnny Depp, peg legs, eye-patches, and flintlock pistols.

Suddenly I am reading of the capture of the Faina, with 33 T-72 tanks on board(!) and a Saudi tanker with over $100 million of crude on board!

Then this morning, lo and behold "Boyah" appears and offers a full interview. So if you are missing delivery of a T-72 tank, have your post-meltdown cash tied up in captured crude, or are simply trying to deal with the imposition by circumstances to incorporate the word pirates into your adult mentality, this article should be of interest:

No way to stop us, pirate leader says

Somalis are so desperate to survive that attacks on merchant shipping in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean will not stop, a pirate leader promises.

"The pirates are living between life and death," said the pirate leader, identified by only one name, Boyah. "Who can stop them? Americans and British all put together cannot do anything."

The interview with the pirate was conducted in late August by journalists employed by the Somali news organization Garowe. The complete interview was provided to CNN last week and provides a glimpse of why piracy has been so hard to control in the region.

Entire article here