Endless American wars have been good business for Amman

[E]ndless American wars have been good business for Amman and many of the Middle East’s other newly gleaming cities.  Money from taxpayers in Wichita and Denver and Phoenix gets routed through the Pentagon and CIA and then ends up here, or in Baghdad or Dubai, or Doha or Kabul or Beirut, in the hands of contractors, subcontractors, their local business partners, local sheikhs, local Mukhabarat officers, local oil smugglers, local drug dealers — money that funds construction and real estate speculation in a few choice luxury districts, buildings that go up thanks to the sweat of imported Filipino and Bangladeshi workers kept on the job by their Saudi and Emirati bosses who confiscate their passports.  In Wichita, Denver and Phoenix, meanwhile, McDonald’s is hiring.

James Risen, Pay Any Price, (New York, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014), 124.

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Richest 1% to own more than rest of world, Oxfam says


Reading James Risen’s Pay Any Price and revisiting Bush Administration pronouncements about sacrifices by “the American people” in wake of 9/11.

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US to France: you’ve got a placating, condescending friend in us

I love this headline!


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Obama Apparently Virtual Prisoner

The BBC writes today:

On Sunday, as more than a million marchers took to the Paris streets and 44 heads of state joined arms on Boulevard Voltaire, there was one notable absence.

In a Monday afternoon press conference, White House spokesperson Josh Earnest said Mr Obama wished he could have attended, but the “onerous and significant” security preparations for a presidential visit require more than the 36-hour advance notice the White House received.

I find this explanation fairly incredible. François Hollande, David Cameron, Angela Merkel, Mariano Rajoy, Mahmoud Abbas and Benjamin Netanyahu can all travel, but Obama needs more than 36 hours notice? The excuse rings false, but if taken at face value would seem to declare Obama’s a fearful prisoner.

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Pakistan Taliban: US drone ‘kills militants’ in tribal region

This morning on the BBC I read this story, which briefly reports on a US drone strike reportedly killing six in Pakistan. There’s no explanation of why the US attacked.

I’m reading Camilo Mejia’s Road From Ar Ramadi, and was struck by how Mejia’s experience confirms contemporaneous reporting on Iraq and serves to confirm my move to Germany in 2002. The US dirty wars are now a continuous sort of background, free of mention let alone question in the US mainstream media.

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Crime is contagious

Crime is contagious. If the government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for the law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself … To declare that the government may commit crimes in order to secure the conviction of a private criminal — would bring terrible retribution.

—Justice Louis Brandeis, Olmstead v. United States, 1928,
in Jane Mayer, The Dark Side, (New York, Doubleday, 2008), 213.

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Memory of the Camps

Alfred Hitchcock’s Memory of the Camps is on YouTube.

I’m about halfway through Jane Mayer’s The Dark Side.

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I thought this BBC piece on Altamont and fame culture was interesting: Altamont at 45: The most dangerous rock concert.

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Evil Post-Axis of Evil

The president [Obama] believed that bin Laden wasn’t just evil, he was charismatically evil.

–Mark Bowden, The Finish: The Killing of Osama bin Laden, (New York, Atlantic Monthly Press, 2012), 61.

Yes. A man who kills 16-year-olds with missiles from drones determines that another man is evil.

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US Respect for Sovereignty

The White House was still considering an Air Force option, a massive air strike using B-2 Spirit bombers to level the house.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates supported the air strike because it kept American ground forces out of Pakistan, which made the mission less like an invasion of the country’s sovereignty.

–Matt Bissonnette, No Easy Day, (New York, Penguin, 2012), 171.

This refers to plans to kill Osama bin Laden in his home in Abottabad, Pakistan. No Easy Day and Scahill’s Dirty Wars detail a US entitled to kill anyone, anywhere, quite unlike the just America we were taught in junior high school civics.

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