Monthly Archives: July 2008

AIDS in Africa and International Welfare Provisions

“There is not one single case of AIDS in this country that cannot be traced in origin to sodomy.”  – Fmr. Sen. Jesse Helms


‘Africa’s peoples are outstripping their resources, and causing catastrophic ecological degradation,’ writes Kevin Myers. A sick child waits in line to be screened at Giara Clinic, Southern Ethiopia
By Kevin Myers

Thursday July 10 2008
No. It will not do. Even as we see African states refusing to take action to restore something resembling civilisation in Zimbabwe, the begging bowl for Ethiopia is being passed around to us, yet again. It is nearly 25 years since Ethiopia’s (and Bob Geldof’s) famous Feed The World campaign, and in that time Ethiopia’s population has grown from 33.5 million to 78 million today.
So why on earth should I do anything to encourage further catastrophic demographic growth in that country? Where is the logic? There is none. To be sure, there are two things saying that logic doesn’t count.
One is my conscience, and the other is the picture, yet again, of another wide-eyed child, yet again, gazing, yet again, at the camera, which yet again, captures the tragedy of . . .
Sorry. My conscience has toured this territory on foot and financially. Unlike most of you, I have been to Ethiopia; like most of you, I have stumped up the loot to charities to stop starvation there. The wide-eyed boy-child we saved, 20 years or so ago, is now a priapic, Kalashnikov-bearing hearty, siring children whenever the whim takes him.
There is, no doubt a good argument why we should prolong this predatory and dysfunctional economic, social and sexual system; but I do not know what it is. There is, on the other hand, every reason not to write a column like this.
It will win no friends, and will provoke the self-righteous wrath of, well, the self-righteous, letter-writing wrathful, a species which never fails to contaminate almost every debate in Irish life with its sneers and its moral superiority. It will also probably enrage some of the finest men in Irish life, like John O’Shea, of Goal; and the Finucane brothers, men whom I admire enormously. So be it.
But, please, please, you self-righteously wrathful, spare me mention of our own Famine, with this or that lazy analogy. There is no comparison. Within 20 years of the Famine, the Irish population was down by 30pc. Over the equivalent period, thanks to western food, the Mercedes 10-wheel truck and the Lockheed Hercules, Ethiopia’s has more than doubled.
Alas, that wretched country is not alone in its madness. Somewhere, over the rainbow, lies Somalia, another fine land of violent, Kalashnikov-toting, khat-chewing, girl-circumcising, permanently tumescent layabouts.
Indeed, we now have almost an entire continent of sexually
hyperactive indigents, with tens of millions of people who only survive because of help from the outside world.
This dependency has not stimulated political prudence or commonsense. Indeed, voodoo idiocy seems to be in the ascendant, with the next president of South Africa being a firm believer in the efficacy of a little tap water on the post-coital penis as a sure preventative against infection. Needless to say, poverty, hunger and societal meltdown have not prevented idiotic wars involving Tigre, Uganda, Congo, Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea etcetera.
Broad brush-strokes, to be sure. But broad brush-strokes are often the way that history paints its gaudier, if more decisive, chapters. Japan, China, Russia, Korea, Poland, Germany, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia in the 20th century have endured worse broad brush-strokes than almost any part of Africa.
They are now — one way or another — virtually all giving aid to or investing in Africa, whereas Africa, with its vast savannahs and its lush pastures, is giving almost nothing to anyone, apart from AIDS.
Meanwhile, Africa’s peoples are outstripping their resources, and causing catastrophic ecological degradation. By 2050, the population of Ethiopia will be 177 million: The equivalent of France, Germany and Benelux today, but located on the parched and increasingly protein-free wastelands of the Great Rift Valley.
So, how much sense does it make for us actively to increase the adult population of what is already a vastly over-populated, environmentally devastated and economically dependent country?
How much morality is there in saving an Ethiopian child from starvation today, for it to survive to a life of brutal circumcision, poverty, hunger, violence and sexual abuse, resulting in another half-dozen such wide-eyed children, with comparably jolly little lives ahead of them? Of course, it might make you feel better, which is a prime reason for so much charity. But that is not good enough.
For self-serving generosity has been one of the curses of Africa. It has sustained political systems which would otherwise have collapsed.
It prolonged the Eritrean-Ethiopian war by nearly a decade. It is inspiring Bill Gates’ programme to rid the continent of malaria, when, in the almost complete absence of personal self-discipline, that disease is one of the most efficacious forms of population-control now operating.
If his programme is successful, tens of millions of children who would otherwise have died in infancy will survive to adulthood, he boasts. Oh good: then what?I know. Let them all come here. Yes, that’s an idea.


Voltaire Quote – Tyrants

“So long as the people do not care to exercise their freedom, those who wish to tyrannize will do so; for tyrants are active and ardent, and will devote themselves in the name of any number of gods, religious and otherwise, to put shackles upon sleeping men.” – Voltaire

George Galloway – venal peace activist bureaucrat on the Arab oil money take

A world less flat by Ryan Avent, Guardian (UK)

If the price of oil remains high, we may see drastic changes to America’s cities, economy and way of life.

America has so far experienced the year’s extraordinary rise in petrol prices as a death by a thousand cuts. Each automobile trip weighs heavier on households budgets. Vacation plans are revised. Pizza deliveries are circumscribed. The long anticipated purchase of a new pick-up or SUV is revisited. And despite the national love affair with automobiles, commuters are increasingly parking the car and boarding trains and buses. Decision by decision, dear petrol is having a transformative effect on the American household.

But the full extent of the changes underway may not become clear for years, or decades. The structures of America’s cities and towns, its economy and way of life were formed during a long era of cheap petroleum. But for the oil scares of the 1970s and early 1980s, the price and availability of petroleum have never been issues we’ve needed to think much about. But now we must, and we will likely be shocked by the pervasiveness of petroleum in our society.

Economist Paul Krugman recently estimated that Americans use about 1,000 gallons worth of petroleum products a year – each. We pay for oil at the gas station, of course, but also at the grocer, through food shipping costs and – less obviously – in the petroleum-derived fertilisers that fuel crop yields. We pay for petroleum in the plastic products that surround us. Designers are now investigating ways to fit products into ever smaller containers as a response, and those of us who fondly remember the days when toys were made of sturdy metal (and when the average child had less than a closet full of them) may recognise the shape of Christmases future.

Petrochemicals find their way into most of the products we use as consumers, from lip balm to house paint. If dear oil becomes the norm, we can expect less waste across the board and a thriving research business in chemical alternatives.

Changes on shop shelves may seem minor compared with coming shifts in our urban geography. From the end of the second world war, centre cities in America emptied out in a great rush for the suburbs. Outer suburbs became inner suburbs, distant towns became outer suburbs, and the rural hinterlands became the edgeless exurbs. Tens of millions of Americans now live in such places, unserved by transit, and with commutes that frequently stretch longer than an hour each way.

But exurbs that thrived with oil at $20 per barrel may wither with oil at $130. The rush outward was largely driven by cheap housing (pdf), made possible by the ease of erecting homes on virgin land unencumbered by the burden of urban housing regulations. But the cost of petrol has eroded the value of such homes – savings on a house no longer compensate for the price of long daily drives.

Unsurprisingly then, the nation’s housing collapse has struck exurbs hardest. In distant suburbs prices have fallen farthest fastest, foreclosures and defaults have soared, and municipal budgets have been devastated. With whole neighbourhoods shuttered and public services curtailed, it’s unclear whether many such enclaves can recover. As Brookings scholar Christopher Leinberger has written, the age of the suburban slum may be upon us. And meanwhile, demand for centrally located homes near transit is soaring.

The shift in housing preferences may begin to reverse one of the defining national trends of recent decades – the massive migration toward the south and west of the country. Sunbelt boomtowns like Atlanta, Houston, and Riverside, California have grown at breakneck pace thanks to cheap and plentiful housing built along sprawling highway networks. Some of these places are now rushing to build transit service, but the soaring cost of petrol has caught most flat-footed. Such cities can expect outward expansion to slow, but perhaps more importantly, households considering moves to warmer climes may rethink their decision. Northeastern and Midwestern cities in long decline, such as Baltimore, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Cleveland, may find their dense structures and legacy transit systems an incalculable asset.

Bigger changes yet may be in store. Anti-globalisation activists have long railed against trade liberalisation, and lamented the perceived role of lax labour and environmental standards in trade growth. In the end, however, the rise of a global economy in the 20th century may owe more to falling transportation costs than anything else. Cheap oil, cheap trucking, cheap shipping, and cheap flying exploded old production methods, sending industry from great manufacturing hubs to scattered factory towns to distant nations. Supply chains are now international in scope, and just-in-time business models fly inventory thousands of miles from warehouses to distributed outlets, all in an effort to cut costs and boost profit margins.

This may all soon come to a screeching halt. As economist Menzie Chinn recently noted, international shipping costs have tripled since 2000 and continue to increase. Fuel costs are destroying airline business models, and analysts now note that transportation costs, and not tariff barriers, constitute the largest stumbling block for international trade.

This may mean a return to localised production of some goods. Plant owners thinking of moving to China may think again. Foreign producers may find it better to locate in America, rather than swallow freight costs to export there. In a stark reversal of recent trends, the most economically outsource-able jobs may become those involving the management of data and ideas – products transferable by satellite rather than ship.

Whether and how these changes occur depends on how high oil prices go, how long they stay there, and how quickly alternative technologies can be found. But the odd truth behind the seemingly unstoppable trends of the past century is that they may have been quite impermanent. Having built a world on cheap oil, we may now need to trim back our excesses. And the stunning outcome may be a nation that looks remarkably as it did decades ago – when urban neighbourhoods thrived and sidewalk life flourished, when streetcars and trains represented the future and not the past, and when regional tastes and markets were as important to producers as international ones.

These changes could mean a greener and wealthier world, globalised yet differentiated, free from petroleum. Or it could mean disaster. It remains to be seen how quickly we can adjust and how wisely we will invest as we get used to a world that no longer seems as flat as it once did.

FBI might use profiling in terror investigations

Critics worry the change would single out Muslims, Arabs or other groups

Attorney General Michael Mukasey talks at a roundtable discussion with federal, state and local law enforcement leaders in New Orleans in this May file photo.


WASHINGTON – The Justice Department is considering letting the FBI investigate Americans without any evidence of wrongdoing, relying instead on a terrorist profile that could single out Muslims, Arabs or other racial and ethnic groups.

Law enforcement officials say the proposed policy would help them do exactly what Congress demanded after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks: Root out terrorists before they strike.

Although President Bush has disavowed targeting suspects based on their race or ethnicity, the new rules would allow the FBI to consider those factors among a number of traits that could trigger a national security investigation.

Currently, FBI agents need specific reasons — like evidence or allegations that a law probably has been violated — to investigate U.S. citizens and legal residents. The new policy, law enforcement officials told The Associated Press, would let agents open preliminary terrorism investigations after mining public records and intelligence to build a profile of traits that, taken together, were deemed suspicious.

Among the factors that could make someone subject of an investigation is travel to regions of the world known for terrorist activity, access to weapons or military training, along with the person’s race or ethnicity.

Change not yet final
More than a half-dozen senior FBI, Justice Department and other U.S. intelligence officials familiar with the new policy agreed to discuss it only on condition of anonymity, either because they were not allowed to speak publicly or because the change is not yet final.

The change, which is expected later this summer, is part of an update of Justice Department policies known as the attorney general guidelines. They are being overhauled amid the FBI’s transition from a traditional crime-fighting agency to one whose top mission is to protect America from terrorist attacks.

“We don’t know what we don’t know. And the object is to cut down on that,” said one FBI official who defended the plans.

Another official, while also defending the proposed guidelines, raised concerns about criticism during the presidential election year over what he called “the P word” — profiling.

If adopted, the guidelines would be put in place in the final months of a presidential administration that has been dogged by criticism that its counterterror programs trample privacy rights and civil liberties.

Critics say the presumption of innocence is lost in the proposal. The FBI will be allowed to begin investigations simply “by assuming that everyone’s a suspect, and then you weed out the innocent,” said Caroline Fredrickson of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Attorney General Michael Mukasey acknowledged the overhaul was under way in early June, saying the guidelines sought to ensure regulations for FBI terror investigations don’t conflict with ones governing criminal probes. He would not give any details.

“It’s necessary to put in place regulations that will allow the FBI to transform itself … into an intelligence gathering organization in addition to just a crime solving organization,” Mukasey told reporters.

Agents could ask open-ended questions
The changes would allow FBI agents to ask open-ended questions about activities of Muslim- or Arab-Americans, or investigate them if their jobs and backgrounds match trends that analysts deem suspect.

FBI agents would not be allowed to eavesdrop on phone calls or dig deeply into personal data — such as the content of phone or e-mail records or bank statements — until a full investigation was opened.

The guidelines focus on the FBI’s domestic operations and run about 40 pages long, several officials said. They do not specifically spell out what traits the FBI should use in building profiles.

One senior Justice Department official said agents have been allowed since 2003 to build “threat assessments” of Americans based on public records and information from informants. Such assessments could be used to open a preliminary investigation, the official said.

However, another official said the 2003 authorities are limited, tightly monitored by FBI headquarters in Washington and, overall, confusing to agents about how or when they can be used.

Justice spokesman Brian Roehrkasse said the guidelines are part of a “harmonizing” process that will not give the FBI any more authority than it already has. He and two other senior Justice officials would not deny the changes as they were described to AP by others familiar with the guidelines.

“Since we are still in the process of drafting the guidelines, we are unable to comment any further about timing or the specific outcome of the review,” Roehrkasse said in a statement. “It is important to note, however, that nothing in the attorney general’s guidelines can authorize what is prohibited by any statute or by the Constitution.”

Privacy concerns
Although the guidelines do not require congressional approval, House members recently sought to limit such profiling by rejecting an $11 million request for the FBI’s security assessment center. Lawmakers wrote it that was unclear how the FBI could compile suspect profiles “in such a way as to avoid needless intrusions into the privacy of innocent citizens” and without wasting time and money chasing down false leads.

The denial of funding could limit the FBI’s use of profiles, or “predictive models and patterns of behavior” as the government prefers to describe the data-mining results, but would not change the guidelines authorizing them. The guidelines would remain in effect until a new attorney general decided to change them.

Courts across the country have overturned criminal convictions when defendants showed they were targeted based on race. Racial profiling generally is considered a civil rights violation, and former Attorney General John Ashcroft condemned it in March 2001 as an “unconstitutional deprivation of equal protection under our Constitution.”

Mohametan-Arab Slave Traders

Mohametan-Arab Trans Saharan Negro slave trade worse than White Christian Europe and America’s [TransAtlantic]

Sudan – where the Arab pop meets the African pop – Arabs are predominantly nomadic so they tend to roam…

Mauritania, a Muslim nation in N Africa, just passed anti slave laws (they’ve been holding black African slaves for over 1400 years in various parts of the Middle East and Africa (Muslims since the seventh century). And liberals have the gall to blame the English and English descended Americans, among other European Christian societies, for the horrors of slavery! Good God.