Archive for November, 2010

Wikileaks: Hillary wanted the skinny on Cristina’s anxiety

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

You wouldn’t know it from the photo-op,

but Hillary wanted to know if Cristina was on meds,
Clinton probed Argentine leader’s ‘nerves,’ ‘anxiety,’ ’stress’

“How is Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner managing her nerves and anxiety?” asked a cable dated Dec. 31, 2009, and signed “CLINTON” in all capital letters.

The cable, sent at 2:55 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, and originating in the department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research, asked a series of other probing questions as part of what it said was an attempt by her office to understand “leadership dynamics” between Kirchner and her husband, former President Nestor Kirchner.

“How does stress affect her behavior toward advisors and/or her decision making?” the cable continued. “What steps does Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner or her advisers/handlers, take in helping her deal with stress? Is she taking any medications?”

Hillary wanted info on Nestor Kirchner’s temper, and what the hey were the Kirchners doing with the economy. Of course, that assumes that the Kirchners (Cristina and Nestor) had a clue as to what they were doing,

“Long known for his temper, has Nestor Kirchner demonstrated a greater tendency to shift between emotional extremes? What are most common triggers to Nestor Kirchner’s anger?” the cable asked.

The cable described Nestor Kirchner’s governing style as “heavy-handed,” and asked U.S. diplomats in Buenos Aires to determine whether Cristina Kirchner viewed “circumstances in black and white or in nuanced terms?” Does she have a “strategic, big picture outlook” or does she “prefer to take a tactical view?” it asked.

Other leaked cables offered insight into U.S. interest into a foreign minister’s past links with leftist Montoneros guerrillas, and suggested that Argentina had offered to intercede with Bolivian President Evo Morales, who expelled the U.S. ambassador to La Paz in September 2008.

Another confidential cable detailed Argentine umbrage at Assistant Secretary of State Arturo Valenzuela’s remarks in late 2009 suggesting that U.S. businesses had concerns over “rule of law and management of the economy in Argentina.”

“Once again, the Kirchner government has shown itself to be extremely thin-skinned and intolerant of perceived criticism,” the cable said.

The Argentine anger at Valenzuela contrasted with the good relations it held with his predecessor, Thomas Shannon, an Oxford-educated U.S. diplomat with a smooth manner. According to the Madrid daily El Pais, a not-yet-public cable dated Sept. 2, 2008, reveals how Shannon convinced Kirchner that Washington did not have anything against Morales, Bolivia’s first indigenous leader, and did not seek to break apart his country.

Good for Shannon. Evo, who recently kneed a guy in the gonads during a friendly soccer game, is a lunatic in power.

No wonder Hillary asked about meds.

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Will Wikileaks’ Assange end up in Ecuador?

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010


The Swedes are investigating him, and the Australians are “studying whether he’d broken any laws there”, so here comes Rafael Correa to the rescue,
Ecuador offers a home for founder of WikiLeaks

Deputy Foreign Minister Kintto Lucas said in audio posted online by the EcuadorInmediato news site that “we are open to giving him residence in Ecuador, without any kind of trouble and without any kind of conditions.”

“We think it would be important not only to converse with him but to listen to him,” Lucas added, saying Ecuador wanted to invite Assange to “freely expound” and see what it’s like in “friendly countries.”

He praised people like Assange “who are constantly investigating and trying to get light out of the dark corners of (state) information”

Lucas said Ecuador’s government was “very concerned” by revelations that U.S. diplomats have been involved in spying in the first of the more than 250,000 U.S. diplomatic cables and directives that WikiLeaks has begun to release.

Assange was interviewed by Forbes and talked about “his profile”

You mean as your personal profile rises?

Yeah, the rising profile of the organization and my rising profile also. And there’s a network effect for anything to do with trust. Once something starts going around and being considered trustworthy in a particular arena, and you meet someone and they say “I heard this is trustworthy,” then all of a sudden it reconfirms your suspicion that the thing is trustworthy.

So that’s why brand is so important, just as it is with anything you have to trust.

Assange’s profile’s ought to be prosecuted. Today’s WSJ,

What WikiLeaks has done is use the betrayal by the original leaker to expose American secrets and thus destroy trust in America’s reliability. For an administration whose policy choices have already done so much to erode global confidence in the U.S., these leaks are a disaster. How should the administration go about regaining confidence? It’s astonishing that Iceland, a member of NATO, is where WikiLeaks is headquartered. Don’t we have an embassy there? It’s astonishing that the Australian government has yet to receive a request from the U.S. to take action against Mr. Assange, an Australian national. It’s astonishing that Pfc. Bradley Manning, the suspected leaker, has yet to be court-martialed. It’s astonishing that Mr. Assange should be described by National Public Radio as a “whistleblower,” while in fact he’s conducting a form of cyberwarfare against the United States.

Assange promises more megaleaks to come regarding the private sector because

there will be some flagrant violations, unethical practices that will be revealed, but it will also be all the supporting decision-making structures and the internal executive ethos that cames out, and that’s tremendously valuable. Like the Iraq War Logs, yes there were mass casualty incidents that were very newsworthy, but the great value is seeing the full spectrum of the war.

You could call it the ecosystem of corruption. But it’s also all the regular decision making that turns a blind eye to and supports unethical practices: the oversight that’s not done, the priorities of executives, how they think they’re fulfilling their own self-interest. The way they talk about it.

Assange says he’s got stuff on Russia, too, even when he claims,

It’s not right to say there’s going to be a particular focus on Russia.

One can easily conclude that Assange is an optimist if he believes that the Russians are going to take anything sitting down, and that he’ll be enjoying a nice comfortable existence under the aegis of Rafael Correa.

Cross-posted at The Green Room

UPDATE
Ed’s got more on how the Russians may approach Wikileaks.

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Iran: A series of fortunate events? UPDATED

Monday, November 29th, 2010

Maybe it’s all coincidental,
First, the Stuxnet virus at work for 17 months,

the worm was designed to allow the Iranian program to continue but never succeed, and never to know why.

Then all those hints from Arab leaders wanting Iran stopped “by all means necessary“, as revealed by the Wikileaks.

Now this,
Blasts target Iranian nuclear scientists
One professor dies, another is injured on their morning commutes
.

Both scholars’ wives and a driver were also injured in the attacks, according to the news agencies. The slain scientist, Majid Shahriari, was a member of the nuclear engineering team at the Shahid Behesti university in Tehran, according to the official Islamic Republic News Agency, or IRNA.

It almost looked like an old-fashioned Mafia hit out of a movie,

The assassins, riding motorcycles, tossed bombs at — or attached them to — vehicles of the two Shahid Behesti University professors as they drove with their spouses en route to work between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m..

“A Pulsar motorbike drove close to Dr. Shahriari’s car and stuck a bomb on his car which after a few seconds exploded,” Tehran police chief Hossein Sajednia was quoted as saying by the semi-official Fars news agency

Not the first blast to kill a scientist in the Iranian nuclear program,

A powerful and still mysterious Jan. 12 explosion killed Iranian physicist Massoud Ali Mohammadi near his home.

By now Iran ought to take the hint that Someone Is Trying To Sabotage The Iranian Nuclear Program.

Yes, but the word “someone” implies a single entity. One shouldn’t rule out a group of entities acting together.

Just sayin’.

UPDATE
Ace:

I sure would like to think my government was capable of stuff like this. Or had the balls to do it. But I don’t.

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Wikileaks: The Middle East, part 1

Monday, November 29th, 2010

(part 1 because there surely will be more, much more on the Middle East)

Barry Rubin summarizes how the information leaked by Wikileaks confirms points he has made over the years,

1. Iran steadily smuggled arms to Hizballah using various means including in ambulances and medical vehicles during the 2006 war. This violates the laws of war. At times, the media has condemned Israel for attacking ambulances though it showed Hamas was also using such vehicles for military and arms-smuggling operations. Moreover, the postwar UN force proved consistently ineffective in stopping smuggling while the U.S. government did not denounce Iran, Syria, and Hizballah for breaking the ceasefire arrangements.

2. Israeli leaders have repeatedly made clear in diplomatic discussions their acceptance of a two-state solution but warned that the Palestinian leadership sought Israel’s destruction.

3. Arab states have constantly been warning the United States about the threat from Iran as their highest priority, even urging the United States to attack Iran itself. Note that Arab leaders did not condition their oppositon to Iran or call for a U.S. attack on settling the Arab-Israeli or Israel-Palestinian conflicts. This is contrary to what Administration officials, academia, and parts of the mass media who argue these issues are basically linked and that is why the conflicts must be ”solved”  before doing much else. As I’ve told you, the Arab regimes worry first and foremost about Iran and have greatly downgraded their interest in the conflict or antagonism toward Israel.

4. Iran and North Korea cooperated to provide Tehran with long-rang missiles that were shipped to Hizballah.

5. One week after President Bashar al-Asad promised a top State Department official that he would not send “new” arms to Hizballah, the United States complained that it had information that Syria was providing increasingly sophisticated weapons to the group. Yet the U.S. government did not take strong action.

(Reminds me of how Bashar promised the Bush Administration that he would stop buying oil from Iran in violation of UN sanctions but continued doing so; and how Yasir Arafat promised that he had nothing to do with terrorism and arms smuggling from Iran and then was shown to have lied. Is there a pattern here?)

6. Israel has been warning the United States about how Iran obtaining nuclear weapons would destabilize the region, not just create a danger of an Iran-initiated attack on Israel.

7. U.S. Officials in Turkey think that the current government is in fact an Islamist one, though the U.S. government (and media) keeps insisting it is some kind of democratic-reform-minded centrist regime.

8. The U.S. government ignored repeated pleas from Israel to press Egypt to block smuggling of military equipment into the Gaza Strip.

Indeed, Anti-Israel Foreign Policy Experts Got Saudi Arabia, Other Arab Countries 100% Backward On Iran Attack.

And, yes,

It’s quite a blow to conspiracy theorists, is it not, that the combined weight of two of their favor bogeymen, “the Zionists” and “the Arabs” haven’t been able to get the U.S. to take military action against Iran.

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Wikileaks: A weak presidency, made weaker UPDATED

Monday, November 29th, 2010

The Wikileaks story is front and center in today’s news, and the deleterious consequences will linger for a very long time.

At first glance, the point of Wikileaks is to weaken America’s stance as the only superpower. That it has: as Der Speigel (via both Gateway Pundit and PowerLine) points out,

The development is no less than a political meltdown for American foreign policy.

Never before in history has a superpower lost control of such vast amounts of such sensitive information — data that can help paint a picture of the foundation upon which US foreign policy is built. Never before has the trust America’s partners have in the country been as badly shaken. Now, their own personal views and policy recommendations have been made public — as have America’s true views of them.

The leak occurred during the Obama administration. Allahpundit:

Under Dubya, this sort of mega-clusterfark could be spun internationally as further evidence of his personal incompetence, recklessness, malignancy, etc, but under Obama — who famously framed his foreign policy as, er, “smart power” — it’ll be proof that, as a systemic matter, U.S. national security isn’t nearly as secure as it should be. If you’re a foreign diplomat of whatever level, but especially among the higher ranks with political exposure at home, I don’t know how you’d trust the State Department to keep your confidence after this. Remarkable impotence indeed.

Considering that the Obama administration focuses its foreign policy on going through diplomatic channels and the State Department, this is catastrophic. Jeff Dunetz:

Whether or not someone gets killed because of these Wikileaks disclosures, the damage to our country is severe, as allies and sources among enemies will stop cooperating with us for fear of exposure, our diplomats will be hesitant to speak openly with headquarters, and our intelligence on al-Qaeda and others will be compromised.

The fact that it really was that easy to get to diplomatic cables strains credulity. The guy was allowed to carry a rewriteable CD into a secured communications area?? Are you pulling my leg?!

And what is the Obama administration’s response to Wikileaks? Jeff again,

We are the laughingstock of the world, we look impotent. The United States is supposedly a superpower whose only response to the Wikileaks disclosure is pathetically, a sternly worded letter.

William Jacobson spells it out, Wikileaks Completes Obama’s Transformation Into Jimmy Carter.

UPDATE

James Carafano on damage control:

The administration can, however, do two things to repair the damage wrought by WikiLeaks. First, it can embrace a foreign policy that our adversaries fear and our friends respect. Nobody gets more cooperation than a winner. For starters, the president should dump the New START treaty — its one-sidedness makes the U.S. look like a lousy negotiator in the eyes of the world… and a patsy in the eyes of the Russians. He should also reject out of hand calls to gut the defense budget and just flat out declare that America will stick it out in Iraq and Afghanistan until the job is done. And while he’s at it, he could stand up to China and stop extending the hand of friendship to regimes interested in a world without freedom or America.

Second, the administration can hunt down any American connected with these leaks, try them for treason, and seek the death penalty. They deserve nothing less. Ordered liberty rejects the notion that any one citizen can jeopardize lives and give away America’s secrets — just because they feel like it.

Both approaches would require spine.

Drudge verses, under the top story CYBER MONDAY: WIKILEAKS TURNS ON OBAMA with photo of Obama with fat lip,

CLASSIFIED NO MORE: USA RACES TO LIMIT DAMAGE...
250,000 State Dept. cables cover Iran, NKorea, Putin... MORE
Reveal: Iran 'smuggled arms' to Hezbollah on ambulances...
Reveal: Clinton Orders Diplomats to Spy on Other Countries at UN...
Reveal: Iran obtained missiles from NKorea -- capable of striking Europe...
WIKILEAKS: We've been hit with 'mass distributed denial of service attack'...
MOST EMBARRASSING, DAMAGING DISCLOSURE IN DECADES...
Reveal: China conducting computer sabotage...
Saudis are chief financiers for al Qaeda...

Reveal: Saudis repeatedly urge US attack on Iran...
SENATORS: PROSECUTE THE LEAKERS!
NYT EXPLAINS: DECISION TO PUBLISH...
Now Australian police investigate WIKILEAKS founder...
France says leaks threaten democracy...

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Silly Simon

Sunday, November 28th, 2010

Scott Simon of NPR thinks That Fat Lip Might Give Obama Some Street Cred with the North Koreans.

Simon ought to get out more often.

No Sheeples puts the fat lip in perspective: Child Emperor Plays Basketball While North Korea And China Scheme

And, yes, if Simon wanted to elect a president with a tough background, McCain’s years in a POW camp should have met the criteria.

As Don Surber said,

The NPR fellow has it backward.

Moshe Dayan losing an eye while spying on the enemy is street cred.

Being so delicate that you cannot take an elbow to the face is street crud.

pon hearing the news, Vlad Putin laughed so, he almost crashed his F1 car.

Doesn’t Obama drive a Prius or something?

No, Obama rides a bike. Wearing a helmet.

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Saturday night tango: Como Se Pianta La Vida

Saturday, November 27th, 2010

Luna Palacios & Santiago Steele,

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Drug war in Rio’s slums

Saturday, November 27th, 2010

The slums of Rio de Janeiro have been a festering wound of crime, drugs and violence for a very long time. However, with the upcoming 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, the government is trying to bring some semblance of order. Yesterday there was a big shoot-out that finally ended when the police brought in tanks:

President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil sent 800 army soldiers to the Alemão complex early Friday after police outposts in the city had come under fire from drug gang members. The death toll from the violence climbed to 41 on Friday, the police said, with nearly 100 cars and buses burned on major roadways, their passengers robbed and sometimes shot.

What provoked this latest incident?

Rio’s secretary of public security, José Mariano Beltrame, told Brazilian news media that the latest violence was “retaliation” by gang members against an ambitious government program to control violence and “pacify” 13 of the more violent slums by invading, rooting out drug traffickers and installing a special community police force.

While we think of Brazil as a far-away place that does not affect us here in the USA (even when we are starting to realize that the drug war in Mexico does), here is something to think about: Drug activity is entirely a demand-driven market. Drug use in the developed countries bankrolls the gangs and cartels (and also the terrorists who take part in the drug trade) involved in illegal drug production and distribution. What we do here affects what goes on there.

It’s not a phony “war on drugs”, it’s a war within, everywhere.

Cross-posted at Hot Air.

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Mad about Four Loko

Saturday, November 27th, 2010

Might be worthwhile to see if one can buy Four Loko stock – the drink’s about to reach cult status:

A fizzy drink with alcohol and coffee, Four Loko has some people mad,

The drink has earned a bad rap in recent months. Local media outlets have reported that empty Four Loko cans have been found at the scene of car accidents and near raucous college parties that left students filling hospital beds. State attorneys general around the country have moved to ban the drink; New York Sen. Charles Schumer called on his state to get rid of it; and the FDA sent warning letters to companies that sell the product. Advocates against the drink say that the mix of caffeine and alcohol are dangerous and they accuse the manufacturers of marketing the products to children.

The folks leading the anti-Four Loko campaign believe that they have the duty to prevent you from buying prepackaged drinks that put alcohol in your caffeine:

“We find them to be of no redeeming value whatsoever. We are asking the FDA to intervene because they have the ability to say caffeine should not be an ingredient in an alcoholic beverage.”

Adding to the silliness of it all, Rum and Cokes, White Russians, Irish Coffee, and that medicinal shot of bourbon your elderly aunt throws in her hot toddy every so often, however, ought to be safe even when they contain caffeine and alcohol, “Because you can only do it in a bar or in the comfort of your own home.”

Kind of like sex, only in a glass?

Cross-posted at Hot Air

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“The Euro game is up!” VIDEO, updated

Friday, November 26th, 2010

Via PowerLine, which has the transcript, Nigel Farage Member of the European Parliament, on why the Euro should be “consigned to the dustbins of history,” as the PIIGS do down the drain,

UPDATE,
Roger Kimball has more on the EU’s financial crisis.

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