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Ghost Dog

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Hometown: Canary Islands Archipelago
Home country: Spain
Member since: Wed Apr 19, 2006, 01:59 PM
Number of posts: 13,822

About Me

Brit gone native. Cooperative member. Ecology. Cartography. Programming. Music production.

Journal Archives

Meanwhile, at Asia's arms bazaar...

... Many of the uniformed officers from Asia's militaries who are visiting the biennial Singapore Airshow make a beeline for the aircraft.

For the most part, the Poseidon is a Boeing 737, the world's most commonly seen passenger jet. But first looks can be deceiving - this plane can be fitted with torpedoes, depth charges and anti-ship missiles. Inside are packed some of the world's most advanced avionics, radars and sensors, making it the only long-range marine patrol aircraft that can hunt and destroy submarines.

"When you want the best long-range anti-submarine warfare aircraft in that class, we have the product that's most developed," said Chris Raymond, an executive vice president in Boeing's defence, space and security division.

Defence analysts say maritime surveillance is the most pressing security need in East and Southeast Asia, made up of predominantly littoral states. Rival maritime claims that have pitted China, which has one of the world's fastest growing militaries, against Japan and other Asian nations have made the South and East China Seas dangerous flashpoints.

Piracy and smuggling are also rife in the region. And natural disasters strike with depressing regularity, leading to a need for search and rescue aircraft.

"Maritime patrol is the buzzword at the moment, especially in Singapore," said Gareth Jennings, an aviation expert at IHS Jane's...

/... http://uk.reuters.com/article/2014/02/12/uk-airshow-singapore-defence-surveillanc-idUKBREA1B04F20140212

... and "capitalism’s inherent dynamic ... threatens democratic societies":

Nothing new about these propositions for what I'd call the 'anarchist' left.

... Now define more clearly what a 'democratic society' should or could look like...

So Hagel specifies Iran, huh. More general phrasing here:

Published: January 31, 2014

The first of four U.S. Navy destroyers to form the centerpiece of Europe’s missile defense shield departed the U.S. East Coast on Friday for its new home port in southern Spain.

Plans call for the USS Donald Cook to be joined by three more Arleigh Burke-class missile-guided destroyers, which carry the Aegis weapon system, in the coming two years. All are to be stationed at the U.S. Navy base in Rota, Spain, on the Atlantic coast north of Gibraltar.

Other pieces of the missile defense shield, known as the European Phased Adaptive Approach, include land-based Aegis interceptor batteries in Romania and Poland, radar in Turkey and a command center at the U.S. Air Force base in Ramstein, Germany.

The plan has caused a major rift with Russia, which says the shield is aimed against its own nuclear missile arsenal. The U.S. and its NATO allies insist the defense system is to meant to protect Europe from potentially hostile countries in the region, such as Iran.

The destroyer detachment expands the Navy presence in Europe at a time when other services are drawing down across the continent. It follows the Navy’s current emphasis on forward deployment, or having ships stationed closer to areas of interest...

/... http://www.stripes.com/news/uss-donald-cook-heads-to-rota-as-part-of-missile-shield-1.264891

... I wonder how much Spain gets paid for the use of Rota, air and naval...¿?





Oh, fuck.


Let the UN have teeth. Let it tax and spend,

conjoin and coerce, reward and punish.

But make it respond to bottom-up, directly participatory democratic social forces.

Would you go for a French-style Republic?

ie. with an all-but plenipotentiary President?

Or for more of an Italian, say, model, where the President merely attempts to maintain some kind of order?

A note on (the world's non-existent) nuclear waste repositories

The most long-lived radioactive wastes, including spent nuclear fuel, must be contained and isolated from humans and the environment for a very long time. Disposal of these wastes in engineered facilities, or repositories, located deep underground in suitable geologic formations is seen as the reference solution. The International Panel on Fissile Materials has said:

It is widely accepted that spent nuclear fuel and high-level reprocessing and plutonium wastes require well-designed storage for periods ranging from tens of thousands to a million years, to minimize releases of the contained radioactivity into the environment. Safeguards are also required to ensure that neither plutonium nor highly enriched uranium is diverted to weapon use. There is general agreement that placing spent nuclear fuel in repositories hundreds of meters below the surface would be safer than indefinite storage of spent fuel on the surface.

Common elements of repositories include the radioactive waste, the containers enclosing the waste, other engineered barriers or seals around the containers, the tunnels housing the containers, and the geologic makeup of the surrounding area.

The ability of natural geologic barriers to isolate radioactive waste is demonstrated by the natural nuclear fission reactors at Oklo, Africa. During their long reaction period about 5.4 tonnes of fission products as well as 1.5 tonnes of plutonium together with other transuranic elements were generated in the uranium ore body. This plutonium and the other transuranics remained immobile until the present day, a span of almost 2 billion years. This is quite remarkable in view of the fact that ground water had ready access to the deposits and they were not in a chemically inert form, such as glass.

Despite a long-standing agreement among many experts that geological disposal can be safe, technologically feasible and environmentally sound, a large part of the general public in many countries remains skeptical. One of the challenges facing the supporters of these efforts is to demonstrate confidently that a repository will contain wastes for so long that any releases that might take place in the future will pose no significant health or environmental risk.

Nuclear reprocessing does not eliminate the need for a repository, but reduces the volume, reduces the long term radiation hazard, and long term heat dissipation capacity needed.

/... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deep_geological_repository

In 1982, Congress passed the Nuclear Waste Policy Act directing the Department of Energy to build and operate a repository for used nuclear fuel and other high-level radioactive waste. The act set a deadline of 1998 for the Energy Department to begin moving used fuel from nuclear energy facilities.

To fund the federal program, the act established a Nuclear Waste Fund. Since 1983, electricity consumers have paid into the fund one-tenth of a cent for every kilowatt-hour of electricity produced at nuclear power plants. These fees continue to accumulate at a rate of $750 million a year, and the fund accrues more than $1 billion in interest each year. The fund’s balance, as of May 2013, is more than $29 billion. Without a high-level radioactive waste management program and annual congressional appropriations, these funds are not available for their intended purpose.

In 1987, Congress amended the Nuclear Waste Policy Act, directing the Energy Department to exclusively study Nevada’s Yucca Mountain, a remote desert location, as the site for a potential repository for geologic disposal of used nuclear fuel. After two decades of site studies, the federal government filed a construction license application in 2008 for a repository at Yucca Mountain.

However, President Obama in 2010 stopped the Yucca Mountain license review and empaneled a study commission to recommend a new policy for the long-term management of used fuel and high-level radioactive waste. In January 2012, the Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future published its final recommendations, most of which are supported by the industry. The Energy Department’s used fuel management strategy to implement the commission’s recommendations was issued in January 2013.

/... http://www.nei.org/Issues-Policy/Nuclear-Waste-Management/Disposal

The Strategy for the Management and Disposal of Used Nuclear Fuel and High-Level Radioactive Waste is a framework for moving toward a sustainable program to deploy an integrated system capable of transporting, storing, and disposing of used nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste from civilian nuclear power generation, defense, national security and other activities.

The Strategy addresses several important needs. First, it serves as a statement of Administration policy regarding the importance of addressing the disposition of used nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste; it lays out the overall design of a system to address that issue; and it outlines the reforms needed to implement such a system. Second, it presents the Administration’s response to the final report and recommendations made by the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future (“BRC”). It also responds to direction in the Joint Explanatory Statement accompanying the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2012, to develop a strategy for the management of used nuclear fuel and nuclear waste in response to the BRC’s recommendations. Third, this strategy represents an initial basis for discussions among the Administration, Congress and other stakeholders on a sustainable path forward for disposal of nuclear waste.

/ and blah blah blah... http://energy.gov/sites/prod/files/Strategy%20for%20the%20Management%20and%20Disposal%20of%20Used%20Nuclear%20Fuel%20and%20High%20Level%20Radioactive%20Waste.pdf
(18-page .pdf) The essence of the Obama Plan? Back to the drawing-board on square one, basically. And lots of political opportunities...

Mmmm. "If our allies (and other western nations) are able to build similar sized ships

with stealthy designs, full military sea-frames, far more armament/protection, with mission packages for 1/3 less, then it isn't hard to see why every other allied navy that was initially interested in LCS has since walked away."

... Like this?


... One wonders about final cost there too.

Eurozone inflation rate falls to 0.8%

The eurozone's inflation rate fell to 0.8% in December, official figures have shown, down from 0.9% in November.

The Eurostat data means that the inflation rate has moved further away from the European Central Bank's (ECB) target of just below 2%.

In November, the ECB cut its benchmark interest rate to a record low of 0.25%, reflecting the low inflation outlook.

The ECB will gather for its latest meeting later this week, although no changes to policy are expected.

The data may fuel concerns that the eurozone risks a period of deflation, in which consumers delay purchases in the expectation that prices will fall further...

/... http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-25636441

But low inflation alone can cause problems. And with 11 of the euro zone's 18 members recording inflation below 1% in November, the problem is widespread.

The key issue is that it will make the process of adjustment more difficult for countries that need to boost their competitiveness. Arguably, a period of higher inflation in the stronger countries would now help to counterbalance low—but still positive—inflation in the weaker countries, helping to rebalance the euro zone. After all, this would simply be the opposite of the situation in 2000-07, when Germany was undertaking reforms: German inflation averaged 1.5%, euro-zone inflation was 2.2% and the rate in the so-called periphery countries was 3.3%, Citigroup notes. But German inflation as measured by European Union standards is running at just 1.2%.

And low inflation threatens over time, perhaps, to reawaken concerns about debt sustainability in some countries. While there has been encouraging news on real growth in gross domestic product in recent months, the fall in inflation will reduce its ability to erode debt. After all, it is nominal growth, not real growth, that is decisive for debt-to-GDP ratios.

The ECB's problem is that it has already fired a good deal of monetary ammunition. Rates are at 0.25% and options deployed elsewhere such as quantitative easing are operationally tricky for the ECB. The main tactic appears to be to wait it out as growth picks up gradually.

For now, the ECB should keep its powder dry: The latest data don't change the big picture, and there are encouraging signs on growth from business surveys and from markets, where sovereign borrowing costs for southern Europe are continuing to fall. But if inflation slows significantly from here, the ECB will again be forced to enter new monetary policy territory.

/... http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304887104579306354114249772

So why does searching behind the throne feel so necessary to so many? Notes on the Straussian in US

So why does searching behind the throne feel so necessary to so many?
Notes on the Straussian in US policy

... There is a growing awareness that a reclusive German émigré philosopher is the inspiration behind the reigning neoconservative ideology of the Republican Party. Leo Strauss has long been a cult figure within the North American academy. And even though he had a profound antipathy to both liberalism and democracy, his disciples have gone to great lengths to conceal the fact. And for the most part they have succeeded... This picture of Strauss as the great American patriot, who was a lover of freedom and democracy is pure fabrication. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The trouble with the Straussians is that they are compulsive liars. But it is not altogether their fault. Strauss was very pre-occupied with secrecy because he was convinced that the truth is too harsh for any society to bear; and that the truth-bearers are likely to be persecuted by society - specially a liberal society - because liberal democracy is about as far as one can get from the truth as Strauss understood it.

Strauss's disciples have inherited a superiority complex as well as a persecution complex. They are convinced that they are the superior few who know the truth and are entitled to rule. But they are afraid to speak the truth openly, lest they are persecuted by the vulgar many who do not wish to be ruled by them. This explains why they are eager to misrepresent the nature of Strauss's thought. They are afraid to reveal that Strauss was a critic of liberalism and democracy, lest he be regarded as an enemy of America. So, they wrap him in the American flag and pretend that he is a champion of liberal democracy for political reasons - their own quest for power. The result is that they run roughshod over truth as well as democracy...

- Shadia B. Drury: Saving America: Leo Strauss and the neoconservatives

... This paper concentrates primarily on the 'why' questions concerning the neoconservative ascendency — questions of why it understands the world the way it does — of why it is committed to radically changing both liberal and (traditional) conservative approaches to US foreign policy and the traditional systemic order. The paper suggests that intrinsic to this understanding and commitment, for some of the most significant of contemporary neoconservatives, is the work and legacy of Leo Strauss (1898–1973). There is contention associated with precisely what Strauss' dense and (consciously) ambiguous writings sought to convey to his readers. In this paper, I propose that for Straussian inspired neoconservatives his meaning and its implications are clear enough, in the (interpreted) injunction to wrench political and cultural power from the (perceived) liberal establishment in the US, and to forcefully and unapologetically impose American power, values and hegemonic design upon the global system, for the long-term good of that system. More precisely, I argue, neoconservatives have drawn from Strauss a thematic agenda of sorts which emphasizes; the re-invocation of strong nationalism and cultural unity in modern western societies; the value of a simple religious and philosophical morality, and (ultimately) of a 'war culture' as the basis of maintaining such unity; the use of maximum force by the Western democracies in the face of endemic threat; and of a more general 'peace through strength' approach to foreign policy by the US, the political and ideological leader of modern Western civilisation. From Strauss too has come the notion that elite rule is crucial if post-Enlightenment liberalism is not to further threaten the (classical) democratic model of governance, and that the neoconservative elite has the right and indeed the obligation to lie to the masses in order that the 'right' political and strategic decisions be made and implemented...

- Jim George: Leo Strauss, Neoconservatism and US Foreign Policy: Esoteric Nihilism and the Bush Doctrine

I have been working for many years on the aetiology of commander in chief power in American politics, and in particular, the influence of pro-Nazi lawyers and philosophers, Carl Schmitt and Martin Heidegger, via Leo Strauss (an acolyte of Heidegger’s) on the neo-cons. The vehicle for this was especially Robert Goldwin, Strauss’s confidante – and a man operating behind the scenes. Most Americans have not heard of Bob Goldwin. Goldwin was eulogized, however, by Donald Rumsfeld as a “one man think-tank who transformed the Republican party” particularly on executive power - and through Goldwin (Rumsfeld's "special confidante" in Goldwin's words), President Gerald Ford and chief of staff Dick Cheney. Many political Straussians - those who seek reactionary public influence - have echoed Goldwin’s thought. Michael Malbin and Gary Schmitt, students of Herbert Storing and Walter Berns (the latter were students of Strauss), were also influential in the Iran-Contra minority report for Congressman Richard Cheney – Malbin wrote it; they, too, assert the necessity of so-called commander in chief power to undergird Reagan’s illegalities. Gary Schmitt and Bill Kristol were to become two of the three principals of the Project for a New American Century which gave America the aggression in Iraq. And Kristol, who in the Weekly Standard, now dottily hopes Netanyahu will bomb Iran and "save the West," drones on...

... As the first non-Straussian admitted to the Strauss archive in Regenstein in 2008, I discovered much striking correspondance which shows how Strauss and Goldwin networked for segregation against Brown v. Board, for taking out Cuba after the Cuban missile crisis (the likely result would have been nuclear war and extinction) and strengthening “prerogative” or arbitrary executive power...

... Perhaps one might take note because America has fought so many long-lasting and morally bankrupt aggressions - strengthening Iran, its supposed enemy. But the last shift of a scoundrel, fortunately abandoned by Obama, is to invoke "commander in chief power." This paper spells out how this tyrannical, self-destructive, and isolating - internationally and domestically - doctrine had been taken up not only by Bush, but by Obama. There is now, however, a chance, with Russia, Iran and Syria to move in a different direction. Ordinary people have been pressing for this from below.

The establishment is divided but still mainly and sickeningly wants to assert America’s power, as the supposed “good guys” to intervene anywhere in the world. Ask who wants American power asserted in this way – do the British people who stopped Cameron from intervening? Do we Amerians, Barack, support you and Samantha Power in trying to right the world’s wrongs by a force which often has other purposes (even Obama spoke too baldly yesterday about an alleged core "national interest" in stealing Middle East oil – "keeping the oil lanes open." This brief statement was far too near an explicit cause of the aggressions/preemption in Afghanistan and Iraq – an imperial one, the elephant, along with military bases, in the room – and one which does the US no honor...

- Alan Gilbert: 'Leo Strauss, executive power and the Bush-Obama "regime,"'

... Now I will tell you the answer to my question. It is this. The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from the oligarchies of the past in that we know what we are doing.

All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just around the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal.

We are not like that. We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now you begin to understand me...

... Winston made for the stairs. It was no use trying the lift. Even at the best of times it was seldom working, and at present the electric current was cut off during daylight hours. It was part of the economy drive in preparation for Hate Week. The flat was seven flights up, and Winston, who was thirty-nine and had a varicose ulcer above his right ankle, went slowly, resting several times on the way. On each landing, opposite the lift-shaft, the poster with the enormous face gazed from the wall. It was one of those pictures which are so contrived that the eyes follow you about when you move. BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU, the caption beneath it ran.

Inside the flat a fruity voice was reading out a list of figures which had something to do with the production of pig-iron. The voice came from an oblong metal plaque like a dulled mirror which formed part of the surface of the right-hand wall. Winston turned a switch and the voice sank somewhat, though the words were still distinguishable. The instrument the telescreen, it was called) could be dimmed, but there was no way of shutting it off completely...

- George Orwell: 1984

Abram Shulsky is a neoconservative scholar who has worked for U.S. government, RAND Corporation, and the Hudson Institute. Shulsky served as Director of the Office of Special Plans, a unit whose function has been compared to the 1970s Team B exercise. In the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Shulsky approved OSP memos with talking points about Iraq and weapons of mass destruction and terrorism. Shulsky is critical of the traditional intelligence analysis, which is based upon the social-scientific method, and of independent intelligence agencies. Shulsky favors a military intelligence model which can be used support policy as, in Shulsky's words, "truth is not the goal" of intelligence operations, but "victory"...

- Wikipedia: Abram Shulsky

... Shulsky received his doctorate from the University of Chicago studying under Strauss, who attracted a cult following of neocons with his theories about politics and human nature. Shadia Drury, author of several books on Straussian political philosophy, said that Leo Strauss believed that "truth is not salutary, but dangerous, and even destructive to society--any society." ...


According to Shulsky and Schmitt, for the United States to operate with good intelligence, it should stop being a naïve player in a very cruel world. Given that adversaries aim to deceive, these two Straussian intelligence analysts warned that astute intelligence experts "can rarely be confident of the solidity of the foundations on which they are building; they must be open to the possibility that their evidence is misleading." Hence, effective intelligence should rely more on analysis of the intentions of adversaries rather than on details and uncertainties.

In her book Leo Strauss and the American Right, Shadia Drury elaborates on Strauss' view that a political aristocracy must necessarily manipulate the masses for their own good. The Straussian worldview, according to Drury, contends that "perpetual deception of the citizens by those in power is critical because they need to be led, and they need strong rulers to tell them what's good for them."...

- Leo Strauss and Intelligence Strategy

... Just as conservatives were contracting their Alinsky obsession, liberals were getting over a remarkably similar obsession with our own intellectual bogeyman: the philosopher Leo Strauss... The similarities between the Alinsky and Strauss fixations can tell us a great deal about Americans’ conflicted relationship with intellectuals in politics, our common suspicions of the presidency, and how (and how not) to be a constructive opposition party.

The fixations do start from a kernel of truth. Alinsky did preach an influential brand of activism founded on realpolitik, not appeals to idealism: As he was fond of reminding his students, “You want to organize for power!” Obama practiced and taught Alinsky’s methods as an organizer in Chicago; Hillary Clinton made Alinsky the subject of her undergraduate thesis. On the other hand, a well-connected network of Straussians (including William Kristol; Paul Wolfowitz, a former student; and Abram Shulsky, a Strauss scholar who led the Bush Pentagon’s Office of Special Plans), rose high in neoconservative circles. A number of liberal thinkers, such as Alan Wolfe, managed to intelligently explore Strauss’s influence without descending into hysteria.

In their partisan parodies, however, both thinkers are painted as masters of deception, authorities who bless lies of every kind. References to Alinsky or Strauss may add an empty show of intellectual sophistication to the usual talking points, but they can almost always be crossed out with no damage to the argument. In one typical case, an Obama critic uses a mention of Alinsky to make the mundane sound sinister: “An Alinskyite’s core principle is to take any action that expands his power”—as if all politicians aren’t concerned with expanding political capital, and as if Alinsky himself were out for nothing more than personal power. On the other side, the last decade saw claims that Bush’s habitual use of terms like “regime” and “tyranny” were directly traceable to Strauss’s influence. But that’s hardly proof that Bush was invoking an entire philosophy every time he used those words.

As entertaining an exercise in self-righteousness as it can be, the search for hidden influences is a distraction from an opposition party’s strongest possible case. Liberal complaints about esoteric Straussians were themselves an esoteric exercise, and they did little if anything to strengthen the case against war. Inflating the power of sinister thinkers behind the throne is not just anti-intellectual. It turns the thinkers in question into flat caricatures and wipes away the complexity that makes any thinker worthy of the name—ignoring, for instance, that Alinsky was a strong critic of “big government” from the perspective of bottom-up organizing, or that Strauss was deeply skeptical about America’s ability to promote democracy abroad. The image of two Jews exerting a shadowy power over the powerful also plays into some uncomfortable stereotypes.

So why does searching behind the throne feel so necessary to so many? I’d argue that it has to do with a sense that our leaders are unaccountable, that the decisions that matter are made somewhere out of sight, subject to pressures we can see only hazily...

- Rob Goodman: Behind the Throne: Alinsky, Strauss, and the Paranoia of Influence

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