Open Thread

The Pirate King

While the world has been watching the rise of the left – from Obama’s ascendancy to the reorganisation of political parties across South America, another game has been in play – the ascendency of the Pirate King.

Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me.
We pillage, we plunder, we rifle, and loot,
Drink up, me ‘earties, yo ho.
We kidnap and ravage and don’t give a hoot,
Drink up me ‘earties, yo ho.

While Johnny Depp brought smiles to our faces though the Pirates of the Caribbean, it’s the Somali Pirates who are writing the script in 2009. On the 7th April this year hijackers off Somalia’s coast seized five ships in 48 hours. The pirates eluded the armada of warships from more than a dozen nations patrolling Somalia’s seas.

According to Wikipedia piracy off the Somali coast has been a threat to international shipping since the beginning of Somalia’s civil war in the early 1990s. Since 2005, many international organisations, including the International Maritime Organization and the World Food Programme, have expressed concern over the rise in acts of piracy. Piracy has contributed to a rise in shipping costs and impeded the delivery of food aid shipments. Ninety percent of the World Food Programme’s shipments arrive by sea, and ships have required a military escort. According to the Kenyan foreign minister, Somali pirates have received over US$150 million during the 12 months prior to November 2008.

Where things get interesting is in the analysis of cause and effect. According to an article over on the New York Times Somali officials said piracy started about 10 to 15 years ago as a response to illegal fishing. The country’s tuna-rich waters were plundered by commercial fishing fleets soon after its government collapsed in 1991. Somali fishermen turned into armed vigilantes, confronting fishing boats and demanding they pay a tax. In 2008, more than 120 pirate attacks occurred in the Gulf of Aden, far more than in any other year in recent memory. Experts said the Somali pirates netted more than $100 million, an astronomical sum for a war-racked country whose economy is in tatters.

UPDATE: 12 April 2009
Rachel Maddow provides a roundup on the Meet the Press.

UPDATE: 13 April 2009
John J. Kruzel of the American Forces Press Service reports Hostage Captain Was in ‘Imminent Danger’ at Time of Rescue

1,477 replies on “The Pirate King”

wtf is a Tweetie??
apart form a little yellow bird who is scared of a Puddy tat.

And ….(rant on)
I keep hearing from people (who were not directly affected by the fires on Feb 7) that everyone should stop blaming the authorites because they were just doing their best and even if they got it wrong and people were burnt alive and others lost everything they should Take Responsiblity For Their Own Actions.. as in, they should accept that if they died waiting for some kind of signal that they were in imminent danger then they were just being pathetic and not taking responsibilty even if the phones didn’t work and the sirens wenre’t rung (to avoid panic for Chrissake) and there was nowhere to go.
I’ll get over it one day, but it’s not today.
my sister, her kids, my kids, my parents, me… all just fucking stupid apparently.
(they say at 3 months it hits you again.)
Rant over for now.. thanks for bearing with me.

Jen, photographs are only one form of evidence. The greater difficulty is that the definition of torture was very narrowly defined by John Yoo and the Office of Legal Council – and the White House operated on this narrow definition.
The legal opinion was erroneous but was the President entitled to act on this advice?

I’m a gun for hire who doesn’t care for the truth?

Oh hell no Ferny … I have no doubt that you care for the truth (it’s just some of your colleagues that I’m suss about).
So, John Yoo changed the deinition of torture to suit Bush… how is that not to be challenged??
If John Yoo decided to change the definition of murder ( as in – even though you killed him it is not really a crime) surely someone, somewhere can challenge that.
Why are these men so sacrosanct.? The rest of us aren’t, and surely that is what The Law is all about – All men are equal . and all that guff.

In my half-awake state , I accidentally zapped your post along with the real spam… apologies.
Glad to know you are safe and well up north and it’s good to see you back again.

Alas, poor Wakefield, we knew him well
Afore his dispatch to cyber-hell;
Hapless mishap of a megan mouse tap,
He was rendered from this place,
And inadvertently scattered in cyberspace.

(As an ampere of Ticster respect, Mr. Wakefield’s electrons have been statically furled and returned to his family)
megan, hasn’t the spam been prolific lately? Been getting a spot of right flexor digitoris longus RSI just keeping house. Wonder if Cat’s got us on Compo? Gonna have to make an appointment with Healing Hans if my forefinger gets any worse.
Goodbye golden wrist, hello platinum fist! 🙂

Ecky 😆
poor Wakefield indeed- perhaps we should warn visitors that they are in grave peril of being Gitmoe’d on entering TicksterTown.
And who knows what goes on below stairs… a touch of the Boarding perhaps??

Ferny …
“(given that you guys are all Guns for Hire regardless of the truth ) .”
whoops- that was a bit unfair… damn that red.

Agree Ecky….and it is so easy to miss that one extra step and go into auto-pilot and just keep pressing the delete. 😳
And recovery seems impossible.
As the Chinese proverb says “a hasty (woe)man drinks his tea with a fork” !!

Yes Jen,
Mr Yoo’s definition can, and has, been challenged by every thinking legal expert from Washington to Wangarata, but that’s not the point. The question is whether the White House is entitled to rely on the advice of its own Office of Legal Council.

For those interested in Mr Yoo’s definition of torture, it can be found in one of his memo’s here:

To be fair to the Office of Legal Counsel, its director, Jack Goldsmith, repudiated Yoo’s opinions. It appears, however, that the White House acted upon them and several of his other politically motivated memos.

In terms of accountability, Yoo was called to testify before the House Judiciary Committee in 2008 in defense of his role. The Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility has been investigating Yoo’s work since 2004, and is completing a report which is said to be sharply critical of his legal justification for waterboarding and other interrogation techniques (see Wikipedia under ‘John Yoo’).

As for lawyers being ‘guns for hire regardless of the truth’ there are no doubt some like that (like Yoo, fr’instance)- but it’s not the vast majority of lawyers I meet, many of which take their role very seriously as officers of justice as well as of the court.

cheers Ferny – so what can happen to Yoo if the Justice Department decides that his legal advice to Bush was erroneous?

It will come as no surpise to anyone that Yoo had a close working relationship with Cheney and that it was Yoo who gave the advice that the Geneva Convention did not apply to Afghanistan’s ‘enemy combatants’ held at Gitmo. He was Cheney’s legal fix-it man and is ultimately as responsible for the evils that ensued as Cheney himself.

The Dept repudiated Yoo’s advice, but by that time most of the damage had been done.
As for what happens to Yoo, much will depemd on the Office of Professional Responsibility’s report and recommendations. As of now, he still holds senior academic positions and is a far-right mouthpiece in several journals and newspapers.

Ferny- posted last question before oyur answer came up. Thanks.
Let’s hope these pricks get everything they deserve. I can imagine there are many many people who were forced to work under that administration that are busting to have their say when it is safe for them to do so. Let the canaries sing!!

Yes he can be charged – I’m just not sure what with at this point. At the very least, I’d have thought he can be charged with professional misconduct and breaching his duties to give independnt legal advice. This could, if considered serious enugh, lead to him being struck off.
As for criminal charges (which is I think what you are asking) I really have no idea – but I know very little of the US Federal criminal statutes and how these apply to Government officers.

I just noted that the Wikipedia article has an update on several cases against Yoo throughout the world – principally in Spain and Germany. THe ‘crimes against humanity’ cases, in reaity, have very little chance of being given any credence by the US government.
There is a civil suit by a torture victim, Jose Padilla, currently on foot in California. That will be more interesting to watch, but my bet is that it will be thrown out on policy grounds.

This might give you some hope though, Jen:
“Retired Colonel Lawrence B. Wilkerson, General Colin Powell’s former chief of staff (in both the Persian Gulf War and while Powell was Secretary of State in the Bush Administration), has stated the following regarding Yoo: “Haynes, Feith, Yoo, Bybee, Gonzalez and – at the apex – Addington, should never travel outside the US, except perhaps to Saudi Arabia and Israel. They broke the law; they violated their professional ethical code. In the future, some government may build the case necessary to prosecute them in a foreign court, or in an international court.”

I guess the part I find most extraordinary is the sheer number of people involved, from the administration policy level to those carrying out of the torture, to the victims, their families, their governments… that is lots and lots of information and evidence to be collected so when some of them get the opportunity to tell their stories this whole thing will surely go off!

What a very novel way of increasing your bonus.
Take out insurance policy on your workers but you be the beneficiary. How clever.
Do you know of anyone in Oz doing this Kirri.

Banks are using a little-known tactic to help pay bonuses, deferred pay and pensions they owe executives: They’re holding life-insurance policies on hundreds of thousands of their workers, with themselves as the beneficiaries.

Are they burning the brand with women in the process? From the latest Daily Kos poll:
Favorable Unfavorable No Opinion
Barack Obama 70 24 6
Nancy Pelosi 39 44 17
Mitch McConnell 16 65 19
John Boehner 9 71 20
Cong. Democrats 46 45 9
Cong. Republicans 5 80 15
Democratic Party 54 37 9
Republican Party 14 78 8

I’m not a statistics expert by any means but in the last election, women cast 53% of the Presidential vote. Obama got 56% of the female vote, while McCain drew 43%.

Congressional Republican have a five percent approval rating among women. You’d have to look up to see Dick Cheney from there. Math wizardry isn’t required to figure out that if the Republican Party has a 78% disapproval rating among women, up from 64% at the beginning of the year, they are not on a good trajectory for winning national elections in the future.

Women don’t even have to like Nancy Pelosi to recoil from the people lobbing this kind of stuff at a 69 year-old grandmother.

read the whole story on Fire Dog Lake

Gouldie will be able to shove those numbers under the scope and come up with;
I think at the moment it is only rumours and the odd assumption and it did not take place in the USA therefore we can take no notice of it. :mrgreen:

For GOP, A Southern Exposure.

Republican strength in the South has both compensated for and masked the extent of the party’s decline elsewhere
Founded in the decade before the Civil War as the Northern voice of union, the Republican Party today is more electorally dependent on the South than at any point in its past.

In the House and Senate, nearly half of all Republicans were elected from that region, defined as the 11 states of the Confederacy, plus Kentucky and Oklahoma. In each chamber, Southerners are a larger share of the Republican caucus than ever before. Similarly, beginning with the 1992 presidential election, the South has provided at least 59 percent of the Electoral College votes won by the GOP nominee, including by George W. Bush in his 2000 and 2004 victories. That percentage is nearly double the South’s share of all Electoral College votes and by far the most that GOP presidential nominees have relied on the region over any sustained period.

Republican strength in the South has both compensated for and masked the extent of the GOP’s decline elsewhere. By several key measures, the party is now weaker outside the South than at any time since the Depression; in some ways, it is weaker than ever before.

Today the GOP holds a smaller share of non-Southern seats in the House and Senate than at any other point in its history except the apex of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s popularity during the early days of the New Deal. What is perhaps even more dramatic is that Republicans in the past five presidential elections have won a smaller share of the Electoral College votes available outside of the South than in any other five-election sequence since the party’s formation in 1854. Likewise, since 1992, Republican presidential nominees have won a smaller share of the cumulative popular vote outside of the South than in any other five-election sequence since the party’s founding, including the five consecutive elections won by Roosevelt and Harry Truman (1932 to 1948).

The Republican domination of the South “looked great when we were holding on to our Northeastern and Midwestern seats and continuing to sweep the South,” said Whit Ayres, a GOP pollster who specializes in Southern races. “The challenge arises when the rest of the country says, ‘I don’t believe the same things,’ or ‘I don’t admire the same candidates,’ as the South does.”

The National Journal

Keep a steady hand on the tiller boys. Still 18 months to go. There maybe some rough waters ahead, but from November 2010 it’ll be pretty smooth sailing. Just negotiate the Supreme Court Judge, jutting out ahead next week. NO MISTAKES, but don’t go over cautious and appoint a moderate instead of a female Hispanic Judge or the boat will start a rockin.

In between helping the neighbour at the bottom of the hill could you peruse these lists of complaints against the said torture lawyers and report back by 1800 today.
Remember speed is of the essence.

State Bar Complaints Issued For Bush Torture Lawyers

Make that 1800 on some future date.
I had not realised how much reading was in the memos.

Great glom at 1429, gaffy. Worth tabling the bit belowmentioned…..for the record.

John Choon Yoo breached his legal duty and violated the Pennsylvania Rules of Professional Conduct by repeatedly advocating for “extended” or “enhanced” interrogation techniques (amounting to torture), and other policies that resulted in clear violations of U.S. and international law.

Specifically, Mr. Yoo, ignored over two centuries of historical and legal precedents, fell short of the bar of “good faith,” and advanced suspect legal analysis and prescriptions for detainee interrogation well outside of accepted and legal norms, thereby providing the false cover of claimed legality for those who then engaged in acts and policies that, in fact, violated the following laws, both in letter and spirit:

1) The United Nations Convention Against Torture (UNCAT), Articles 1, 2, 3 and 16, to which the U.S.A. is a signatory. (ratified October 1994)

2) The Geneva Conventions, Article 3, signed and ratified by the U.S. in l955

3) The Eighth Amendment against “cruel and unusual punishment”

4) The “Separation of Powers” constructs and imperatives of the U.S. Constitution

5) The United States Criminal Code, Title 18, Prohibitions Against Torture (18 USC 2340A) and War Crimes (18 USC 2441)

As the “law of the land,” these legal protections and dictates are clear. Rather than offering a “good faith” analysis of the applicable law, Mr. Yoo authored and supported legal memoranda [1] since repudiated [2] from the Office of Legal Counsel. This legal analysis led directly to detainee abuses, and, evidence suggests, deaths at overseas U.S. military facilities [3]. Mr. Yoo, in his active role in the so-called “War Council” [4] of the Bush Administration, was engaged in unethical conduct that impeded the administration of justice and violated the Constitution, the Geneva Convention, the Convention against Torture, the U.S. Criminal Code and several Pennsylvania Rules of Professional Conduct. Mr. Yoo did not act in “good faith” but rather in a manner that was illegal, extremely prejudicial, grossly incompetent and clearly immoral.

Therefore, we call upon the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of the State of Pennsylvania to act immediately to disbar Mr. Yoo for conduct that is a travesty of justice and an affront to the rule of law and the standards of professional legal conduct.

Further, because the evidence points to numerous violations of the law, VR believes that disbarment will complement steps toward open hearings in Congress and a criminal investigation by an independent counsel appointed by the Department of Justice.

Chris, it is my considered and overridingly humble opinion that SCOTUS needs a moderate judge like Justinian needs a hole in the head. A progressive would suit Barry’s Leftish base although I reckon that mob would cop a card-carrying liberal as opposed to a moderate anyday. Don’t care how hard it is to get the appointment past Congress. That would be the sort of change one could believe in. 🙂

1427-29 Gaffy,
I’m on record as advocating the stiking off of those lawyers involved in the production of the torture memos. The law is not a tool to be used for the advancement of any political agenda and lawyers have a duty to remain independent in the advice they give. We act for our clients but we do not belong to them – and this at times means advising our clients that their instructions are unacceptable according to law. Yoo should have done this but instead surrendered his independence for political reasons and prostituted his professional standing for personal self-interest and political reasons. Hose the bastard out of our profession, I say!

Ah…. a bottle of Aussie white over lunch and I’m ripe for revolution.

I agree with those sentiments entirely Ferny.
I started to read those long memos that Yoo who wrote and (not being a lawyer) i sort of got the drift that he was playing a bit on semantics with the way he was parseing words and adding a few of his own to make it look like someone can be half pregnant without actually being preggers. The the more i read the more i could not stop my head from spinning.
I may have to read it a bit at a time.
Even if getting them struck off is all that is achieved it will make up for the poor bastards at the point of the spear who are already being prosecute and locked up.
I am sure that being disbarred is no small punishment for a top flight attorney or whatever they call themselves.
I would like to see them prosecuted under their criminal code as well though just to send a clear mesage to any future doubters.
From my biased vantage point i am of the opinion that they clearly are in breach of the US criminal code as i said a few pages back.

Now the University Professors who study sleep deprivation are throwing the torture lawyers under the bus. They say that they have clearly misused their study findings.

Sleep Scientists: Research Twisted to Justify Torture (Updated);

In a 2005 memo, Bush administration lawyers argued that it was okay for CIA interrogators to keep terror suspects awake for seven and a half days straight — because “even very extended sleep deprivation does not cause physical pain.” The attorneys backed up the claim by citing the work of a number of leading university researchers on sleep. Now, those professors are saying that their work was horribly misused.

Like I said… there’s gonna be lots and lots of people who want to be heard.
Cheney’s fucked… and Bush is irrelevant.

1432 Enemy Combatant Exactly what I was saying. An Hispanic female liberal judge of which there is apparently two choices. I am just worried he will take the easy way out.

Spanish judges are boldly declaring their authority to prosecute high-ranking government officials in the United States, China and Israel, among other places, delighting human rights activists but enraging officials in the countries they target and triggering a political backlash in a nation uncomfortable acting as the world’s conscience.
Judges at Spain’s National Court, acting on complaints filed by human rights groups, are pursuing 16 international investigations into suspected cases of torture, genocide and crimes against humanity, according to prosecutors. Among them are two probes of Bush administration officials for allegedly approving the use of torture on terrorism suspects, including prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The judges have opened the cases by invoking a legal principle known as universal jurisdiction, which under Spanish law gives them the right to investigate serious human rights crimes anywhere in the world, even if there is no Spanish connection.
International-law advocates have cheered the developments and called the judges heroes for daring to hold the world’s superpowers accountable. But the proliferation of investigations has also prompted a backlash in Spain, where legislators and even some law enforcement officials have criticized the powerful judges for overreaching, as well as souring diplomatic relations with allies.

“How can a Spanish judge with limited resources determine what really happened in Tiananmen or Tibet, or in massacres in Guatemala or God knows where else?” said Gustavo de Arístegui, a legislator and foreign-policy spokesman for the opposition Popular Party. “We have our own problems and our own bad guys to take care of.”

On Tuesday, the lower house of the Spanish parliament easily passed a resolution calling for a new law that would limit judges to pursuing cases with ties to Spanish citizens or a link to Spanish territory. Cases could be brought only if the targeted country failed to take action on its own.

The Washington Post has a lot more of this story. You may need to be registered.

Agree with the premise that more photos of Abu Graib may do more harm than good.
Biggus Dickus Cheney is out there covering his back and it is no surprise that he interfered in CIA Inspector General John Helgerson’s torture probe.
Fortunate that the watchdog was able to document some violations.

That loud sucking sound you hear is dollars being dragged into the vortex:

Next week, the US is coming to market with $US101 billion in bonds; US debt sales in the fiscal year to September will be $US3.25 trillion, $US1.9 trillion more than the year before. This year the US government will borrow 50 cents of every dollar it spends.

The Federal Reserve has bought $US123 billion in bonds since late March as part of its $US300 billion program of buying US bonds with newly printed money, but the government needs the market to support the vast majority of its bond sales – especially as 2009 stretches into 2010 and 2011, with huge deficits as far as the eye can see.

(business spectator)

…and Trumbull wants us all to panic about the debt we have in Oz!

But what will be interesting to watch is how this vast black hole of US debt effects the world’s financial markets, and for us, how it will impact on banks’ pricing of mortgages. Sure, the RBA will be holding down rates, but that’s only part of the equation.

Capital pricing will rise, as it must, since there’s extraordinary demand during a time of tight supply, and everyone should expect and plan for it now.

The dwarf, however, failed to mention that Cassidy took the entire set of Rudd polls, from prior to the election until now, and concluded he’s been hanging around 63-64% approval and nothing has yet changed!

Talk about a typhoon in a garden bird bath! And there’s the garden gnome to report it all for us! What a friggin’ joke that poor little cretin is.

Fortunately, the adults on the show, who were unimpressed with the ‘speak no billions policy’ were at least aware of facts and the relative scale of the structural deficit bequeathed by Howard and Cossie. When they pointed out that nearly $400 BILLION was pissed up against the wall in middle class vote buying, er, I mean, welfare, I suppose Milne was off getting his latte. Did he miss that bit? LOL

Only thing worse than an ugly little gnome is a stupid partisan one.

Someone should tell Milne he has a problem:

“SOMETIMES you can just smell a transitional week in politics, even without knowing about the party research to back up your olfactory senses.”

…because his nose is too close to his backside! What he smells is his own farts.

Funny little creature.

Yep Kirri,
One can’t help but feel as you read Milne’s piece that it’s all in his own mind – a wet dream.

Don’t tell, don’t ask:

Richard Fisher, president of the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank, said: “Senior officials of the Chinese government grilled me about whether or not we are going to monetise the actions of our legislature.”

“I must have been asked about that a hundred times in China. I was asked at every single meeting about our purchases of Treasuries. That seemed to be the principal preoccupation of those that were invested with their surpluses mostly in the United States,” he told the Wall Street Journal.

(telegraph UK)

…so the Chinese might be a tad worried that the Fed is buying Treasury debt, huh?

Funny, that.

The truth is out!!!!!! Phttttt!

Only the ruined rantings of a Disneyesque demented mind, ravaged by Swine Flu, could concoct animation of such deplorable dimension. The evidence is in: the veil has been ripped away from the perpetrator of this pig pox pandemic, and the sight is not pretty; the scarlet scourge surely originated in the hog-obsessed homeland of Belgium. Hogwash, you say? Exactly, Watson!

Geez Kirri
Gone are the days when you could get a decent cup of coffee in Honkers real cheap.

$2,000,000 for cup of Starbucks Coffee in Hong Kong!

CNBC anchor Emily Lau has calculated that you’ll need to have HK$2,000,000 on deposit with HSBC, for a whole year to earn the miserable HK$20 it costs to buy a small cup of coffee at Starbucks.

Hope this poor bastard gets somewhere with his case.

Shhhhhh…It’s Still a (State) Secret;

Mohamed was released from GITMO in February 2009, while he was on a hunger strike. He claims he was offered his freedom earlier if he agreed to confess to terror-related crimes. He refused.

He is currently attempting to sue the British Government, and specifically its intelligence service, MI5, for being complicit with the CIA in helping to facilitate his rendition……………………………..

Obama continues to insist that “we will safeguard what we must to protect the American people, but we will also ensure the accountability and oversight that is the hallmark of our constitutional system. I will never hide the truth because it is uncomfortable.”

Well, I would say the Binyam Mohamed story is about as uncomfortable as it gets. It’s time for the President to fess up. That will be change we can believe in.–It-s-Still-a-St-by-William-Fisher-090524-16.html

I’d like to see where those cables lead to. They look like the cable from our TV’s and a gaming box. The mind boggles. As for the four barreled robot gun, Metal Storm is the fastest machine gun in the world, Talon Storm would be part of that organisation. Good way to sneak up on the enemy. PS Metal Storm is an Australian Company and invention. The owner is a billionaire already.

If Susan doesn’t win next week there will be a pubic lynching. Probably by Royal Decree.

The arse wipe and fish and chip wrapper producers are definitely starting to get a little nervous.

Running free Web sites certainly isn’t the only reason newspapers are suffering. The allure of less expensive advertising options offered by Google Inc. and other Internet companies already were hammering newspapers before the recession exacerbated the pain.

But the abundance of news on the Internet hasn’t helped print editions containing virtually the same content that’s often available online a day earlier. As a result, 28 percent of newspaper executives responding to a recent survey by the Associated Press Managing Editors, a group of newspaper executives, said their publications are considering online fees.

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