Open Thread

Open_thread There are a number of interesting topics available for comment today but I am going to pass on all of them and leave them to you.  pl

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16 Responses to Open Thread

  1. Bill Wade, NH, USA says:

    “February 14, 2009
    US intel predicts Israel-Iran war in 2009
    The US intelligence chief reportedly expects Israel and Iran to engage in a major military confrontation before the end of the year.
    Dennis Blair, the newly-appointed head of US intelligence, said Tel Aviv will eventually declare war on Tehran as a last-ditch effort to curb Iran’s enrichment capabilities, Israeli daily Ha’aretz reported on Saturday.”
    I can only wonder if this plays out, what exactly is going to happen?

  2. Ken Roberts says:

    Ok thanks for the open thread. Here’s a topic on which I would appreciate the expert commentary…
    Afghan supply routes for Nato forces in country. Logistics aspects, personnel and supplies. Political leverage aspects. Robustness, risks, capacity. Strategic options, including political.
    Also perhaps related … have heard a proposal re Indian troops being deployed, what is status of that in fact or in terms of govt relations?
    I’m pretty ignorant, just looking for some background for general info. Thanks!

  3. Bobo says:

    As I sit here in the dead of night
    Wondering of others plight and fright
    A stimulus has been paved
    So others may be saved
    Now hopefully its not to light

  4. JJackson says:

    The current item that caught my attention was this one.
    King Abdullah seems to be making some personnel changes but I do not understand the significance. I was hoping someone here may have thoughts.

  5. greg0 says:

    The stimulus bill has passed.
    While the details can be argued over endlessly, at least there are not billions going for bonuses.

  6. Interesting that economic crisis now labeled one of key threats to National Security! What does one (anyone) do with that analysis?

  7. curious says:
    The FBI, SEC, and IRS are all looking into the business activities of the Stanford Financial Group, a Houston-based private investment group run by the “flamboyant Texas billionaire” Allen Stanford, reports the New York Times.
    Like Madoff, Stanford’s returns may have been too good to be true. A bank he owns, based in Antigua, has been issuing certificates of deposit that pay interest rates at more than twice the national average, says the paper.
    The Times also notes that Stanford and his firm have “emerged in recent years as major contributors to various lawmakers, appearing to focus particularly on legislators considering bills that would change offshore banking rules.”
    So we took a quick look at online campaign finance records compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics — and it’s fair to say the paper wasn’t exaggerating.
    Over the last decade or so, Stanford or the Stanford Financial Group have given $128,500 to the RNC, $238,500 to the NRCC, over $80,000 to the NRSC, and $180,000 to the DCCC. They have also given smaller amounts to current or former members of Congress with leadership positions, or positions with oversight over the banking and financial systems. That lists includes Tom DeLay, Phil Gramm, Chuck Schumer, Richard Shelby, Charlie Rangel, Max Baucus, Bob Torricelli, and Paul Sarbanes.

  8. Redhand says:

    A coincidence? Yesterday Yahoo News had a scathing article, How Banks Are Worsening the Foreclosure Crisis. That same day CNN reported that Banks Agree To Foreclosure Moratoriums.
    I was thrilled to read in today’s WaPo, however, that the Banks’ sudden public spiritedness may be just a tad too late: Congress Trumps Obama by Cuffing Bonuses for CEOs.
    More than pay cuts are merited by Mr. Sandor E. Samuels, formerly chief legal officer of subprime giant Countrywide Financial, and now “a top in-house lawyer for Bank of America, which acquired Countrywide in July 2008.” According to the Yahoo article, in 2007, at a meeting where Senator Dodd expressed concerns about the growing foreclosure to a group of bank executives, and asked, “What do you need me to do to help you modify loans?” Mr. Samuels responded to a fellow participant that “”We are going to keep making these loans until the last second they are legal.”
    Why is Bank of America continuing to employ slime like this? Mr. Samuels should have been fired just like John Thune was.
    I hope that in my lifetime, and that of my children, Wall Street never regains any of the “prestige” and power these former “Masters of the Universe” had. Their predatory greed has destroyed our economy and helped impoverish hundreds of thousands. They have made millions more terrified about their financial futures. They should be broken as a class and never be allowed to forget what they have done to the rest of us. I absolutely despise these people.

  9. Mongoose says:

    Colonel, et. al.,
    A very interesting read in today’s NYT concerning an ongoing investigation into possible graft and corruption reaching into the armed forces contracting offices in Iraq. Any thoughts on how rigorous the scrutiny will be when it comes to investigating fairly high ranking officials of the U.S. Military? Or will the inquiry stop short–much like Abu Ghraib–and content itself with frying smaller fish?
    Here’s the link:

  10. curious says:

    second wave of hard crash about to hit.
    While Ireland is in that fix, a more immediate trigger for trouble is Eastern Europe. We’ve mentioned in particular the precarious position of Austria, which was a big lender to the region. As Ambrose Evans-Pritchard remarks in the Telegraph:
    Austria’s finance minister Josef Pröll made frantic efforts last week to put together a €150bn rescue for the ex-Soviet bloc. Well he might. His banks have lent €230bn to the region, equal to 70pc of Austria’s GDP.
    “A failure rate of 10pc would lead to the collapse of the Austrian financial sector,” reported Der Standard in Vienna. Unfortunately, that is about to happen.
    The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) says bad debts will top 10pc and may reach 20pc. The Vienna press said Bank Austria and its Italian owner Unicredit face a “monetary Stalingrad” in the East.

  11. Redhand says:

    In looking at my post I see I confused the name of John Thune, Senator from SD, with John Thane.
    On another corruption front, note that Halliburton and Kellogg Brown & Root have agreed to pay $579 million in fines related to allegations of foreign bribery, the biggest fines ever paid by U.S. companies in a foreign corruption case.
    With everything else in corporate America going to hell in a hand basket, this appears almost as a footnote.

  12. Arun says:

    Stories from the Haaretz:
    1. US putting pressure on Israel to not expand settlements.
    2. MK Avigdor Lieberman, head of Yisrael Beiteinu, was a member of the extreme right group Kach. It appears on a State Department list of terrorist organizations, and so he may not be given a visa to enter the US.
    3. The State department has decided to participate in planning this year’s UN-sponsored “World Conference Against Racism”, despite heavy lobbying by Israel to boycott.
    4. Israel impatient with US’s Iran policy.
    “Senior State Department officials contacted Israeli diplomats and asked them to take swift action to block the Durban initiative. “This is the time for Israel and Jewish organizations to intervene,” U.S. officials said.”

  13. James Montgomery says:

    What was the Chairman of our very own Joints Chiefs of Staff trying to say in that oped piece in the Post this morning?
    Was it not weird and incoherent?
    Are we, as Bacevich says, really an empire, one that should draw its lessons from the Romans? Is that what he is saying?
    How does he propose to stop killing civilians? He says that is really un-Roman, but what does he propose to do about it?
    And, does he not reveal the meritiriciousness of the whole COIN shtick when he talks about our soldiers winning the trust of people in other lands that really only the local government can be expected to win? Is he not really saying that we are going to become so good at meeting the needs of these people whose language we don’t speak and whose culture we don’t understand that they will accept us as benign occupiers forever?
    We got a lot of scary statements from the Bush people over the last eight years, but this tops them all.

  14. jr786 says:

    Always looking for a partner for peace:
    JERUSALEM – Israel has taken control of a large chunk of land near a prominent West Bank settlement, paving the way for the possible construction of 2,500 settlement homes, officials said Monday, in a new challenge to Mideast peacemaking.
    Successive Israeli governments have broken promises to the United States to halt settlement expansion, defined by Washington as an obstacle to peace. Ongoing expansion is likely to create friction not only with the Palestinians, but with President Barack Obama, whose Mideast envoy, George Mitchell, has long pushed for a settlement freeze. Obama has said he’d get involved quickly in Mideast peace efforts.
    So much for Obama.

  15. DaveGood says:

    Ken Roberts,
    It was me who posted here that the Indian Army may be considering offering massively substantial military support to the effort against the Taliban in Afghanistan.
    I also pointed that the Logistics supply line through Pakistan into Afghanistan was now extremely fragile and possibely broken (three hundred vehicles were destroyed in one month alone.)
    Other commentators here think I’m nuts.
    I follow a few obscure blogs posted be people who appear to well-informed about developments in that part of the world, largely because it’s obvious to me that Pakistan is in slow motion collapse with a weak central government, headed by a notoriously corrupt individual… losing an insurgent war against what we loosely term “The Taliban in it’s west… whose popular support and legitimacy is weakened with every air-strike from it’s American Allies, but who possess Nuclear weapons.
    What’s going to happen to those Nuclear weapons in the event of Chaos and state-wide collapse?
    Right now Taliban control, or influence extends to within the width of one American county short of the Indian\Pakistan border. India knows it will be in a war if the Taliban can push their control\influence right up to India’s borders.There are some thirty two recognised regional administrative area’s in Pakistan and it’s central Government has secure control over two of them. The rest are either in Taliban hands or contested.
    The central government has just been forced to concede Sharia law to the Swat territory in an effort to buy off further Taliban pressure, that’s just eighty miles from Pakistan’s capital city.
    It makes some sort of strategic sense for the Indians to put a big military force on Pakistans western border, They would probably get Iranian co-operation for the supply route. The Iranians have no love for the Taliban while both Iran and India hope to expand trade, particularly Oil and Gas links to each other which must pass through Afghanistan.
    Meanwhile, if\when the supply route through Pakistan to Afghanistan is finally and forever lost, we won’t be able to use the Iranian route like the Indian’s, we will be totally reliant on the willingness of Russia to permit the transport of supplies through Territory they own, control, or can bring pressure on.
    We just lost a major air staging base in the region due to Russian influence we could not match.
    The proposed budget allocation for the Indian Armed forces in the coming year will be 30 per cent bigger then last year, so they are gearing up for something.

  16. DaveGood says:

    double checked the map of Taliban controlled or contested regions of Pakistan against a map of Pakistan and have discovered that there is a large region of Pakistan south of Islamabad not included on the first map, which means (I assume), the central Government controls large swathes of Pakistan to it’s south.
    So that puts insurgents\Taliban within two hours drive of Pakistans capital city to it’s north and west, three hours drive from the Indian border but not to Islamabad’s south.

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