Obama Sends Egypt’s Military Dictatorship More Weapons

Despite the fact that the Egyptian military overthrew a democratically-elected government and then imprisoned 40,000 people, the US has decided to sell them “12 F-16s made by Lockheed Martin Corp., 20 Harpoon missiles from Boeing Co. and kits to assemble 125 M1A1 Abrams tanks from General Dynamics Corp.”

So much for the “Arab Spring” and America’s love of democracy.

How long before these weapons are used to kill more civilians?

They shipped weapons to Iraq and they ended up in the hands on ISIL.

They shipped weapons to Mexico and they ended up in the hands of drug cartels.

They shipped weapons to Yemen and they ended up in the hands of… well, they don’t really know. They just “disappeared”.

Living With A Small Drive

I finally bit the bullet yesterday and bought a new Macbook Pro (13″). My 2009 17″ had been on life support for the best part of 18 months and the cost of keeping it running was delivering diminishing returns.

The problem I have now is: how do I live with only 256 GB internal storage?

Here’s what I’ve set up so far but I’d be happy for suggestions on how to improve it.

1. Previously I had my DOCUMENTS folder sitting inside GOOGLE DRIVE. It was pretty large (>65GB). So I’ve set up HAZEL to automatically grab files that either a) haven’t been modified in the last six months or b) are larger than 50MB and haven’t been modified in the last week, and move them to a portable USB 1TB drive, maintaining the same folder structure.

2. For redundancy purposes, I’ve got SYNC FOLDER PRO set up to automatically keep the portable drive in sync with an old 4TB drive I have on my desk. So when I’m traveling, I can take my 1TB drive with me – if it gets lost, stolen or fries, I have a backup. My photos and videos are all on the 1TB drive too, so they are always being backed up in case of disaster.

3. Of course I have TIME MACHINE backing up my internal drive.

4. And I’m keeping all of the documents that are less than six months old in GOOGLE DRIVE.


Any suggestions on better ways of living with a small hard drive?

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Iraq Body Count May Be One Million Or More

According to Sourcewatch, Physicians For Social Responsibility was founded in 1961 and “is a non-profit advocacy organization that is the medical and public health voice for policies to stop nuclear war and proliferation and to slow, stop and reverse global warming and toxic degradation of the environment.”

PSR’s new report “Body Count Of The War On Terror” calculates around 1 million people dead in Iraq as a direct result of the US-lead invasion in 2003.

This investigation comes to the conclusion that the war has, directly or indirectly, killed around 1 million people in Iraq, 220,000 in Afghanistan and 80,000 in Pakistan, i.e. a total of around 1.3 million. Not included in this figure are further war zones such as Yemen. The figure is approximately 10 times greater than that of which the public, experts and decision makers are aware of and propagated by the media and major NGOs. And this is only a conservative estimate. The total number of deaths in the three countries named above could also be in excess of 2 million, whereas a figure below 1 million is extremely unlikely.

PSR cautions us to be careful of accepting the estimates from Western governments and media:

Unfortunately, the media often portray passively collected figures as the most realistic aggregate number of war casualties. Valuable as they may be for gaining a preliminary impression on the extent of violence, they can only serve as minimum numbers. And unsurprisingly, the numbers supplied by the involved Western governments and the organizations close to them also do not produce a complete picture, since they mainly publish what is absolutely undeniable. Whoever wants to trace the actual number of war casualties will have to look for them actively, as was done, for instance, in the 2006 study in Iraq published by the renowned medical journal Lancet.

Further to my recent post on the same subject, it’s worth remembering this number when you hear the media and governments talking about what the brutality of ISIS/ISIL/Daesh.

When their side kill civilians, it’s brutality and they are terrorists and a death cult.

When our side does it, it’s “regime change” or “spreading democracy” or “collateral damage”.

Good luck finding a mention of this report in your local news.

(Thanks to podcast listener Paula Davis for the link!)


Yemen Update

I was reading about Saudi Arabia’s bombing of targets in Yemen yesterday and realised I don’t know much about Yemen, so I compiled this briefing note for myself.


Iraqi Death Toll – US v ISIL

When you’re reading the news about ISIL’s bloody campaign to get political control of Iraq, it’s worth keeping in mind another bloody campaign to get political control of Iraq that started 12 years ago, lead by the US, with coalition partners including Australia and the UK.

According to the Iraq Body Count project, the current death toll of the ISIL insurgency since 2011 stands at around 38,000. That’s about 13,000 a year (although the annual number is growing steeply).

Comparatively, Iraq Body Count project found 174,000 Iraqis reported killed between 2003 and 2013, with between 112,000-123,000 of those killed being civilian noncombatants. That works out to about 17,400 a year.

Other sources, such as a Opinion Research Business (ORB) poll conducted August 12–19, 2007, estimated 1,033,000 violent deaths due to the US invasion, or about 258,000 a year for the first four years.

The PLOS Medicine Survey estimated 500,000 deaths in Iraq as direct or indirect result of the invasion from March 2003 to June, 2011, about 62,600 a year.

Of course, all of these figures are speculative, but at first glance, it looks like the Iraqi death toll under ISIL is much lower than it was under the US invasion.




Dictator Logic

I’m fascinated to watch how the world’s media is heaping posthumous praise on Lee Kuan Yew and compare it to their depiction of his contemporaries, like Fidel Castro they took power in the same year and are about the same age. Despite many similar aspects of their countries – a clamp down on political dissent, effectively single party rule, harsh treatment of homosexuality, limits on the right of assembly, nepotism, limits on freedom of the press, etc – LKY gets praised, mostly because he turned Singapore into a beacon of capitalism. Castro, on the other hand, has been the subject of continual criticism for 50 years because he threw the capitalists out of the country.

In a glowing obit, the NYT says LKY was “efficient, unsentimental, incorrupt, inventive, forward-looking and pragmatic” and has little negative to say about his authoritarian rule. Instead: “His leadership was sometimes criticized for suppressing freedom, but the formula succeeded. Singapore became an international business and financial center admired for its efficiency and low level of corruption.”

Politicians from around the world are singing his praises.

The lesson? Authoritarian capitalism = good. Authoritarian communism = bad. Even though they both rank highly in the UN Human Development Index, only one of them has been the subject of economic sanction for 50 years. It’s not the authoritarianism that the Western elite have a problem with – it’s what you do with it. If you’re a capitalist, everything else doesn’t matter apparently.



The End Of Terrorism

I, for one, am so glad we’ve been fighting over there in the Middle East to end terrorism for the past fifteen years. It seems to be going very, very well, I must say.


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Former US Soldier Breaks It Down

This is a pretty powerful post by Dan Crimmins (aka /u/mopecore), a former American soldier who says he was deployed in “11B from 2002 to 2008. Iraq in 2005, then again in 2007-08, during the Surge. Both tours, we were at distant outposts, (Fob Wilson in 2005, PB Eagle, COP Cahill, and COP Carver in 2007-8)”.

You grew up wanting so bad to be Luke Skywalker, but you realize that you were basically a Stormtrooper, a faceless, nameless rifleman, carrying a spear for empire, and you start to accept the startlingly obvious truth that these are people like you.

His follow up post from a few days ago is also worth reading:

It didn’t occur to me, at the time, that maybe some of their grievances might be legitimate, that they were acting out of fear and a sense of powerlessness as much or than out of hatred. That I bought into the narrative without applying really any critical thought, by giving over to emotional outrage masquerading as righteousness, by assuming the cartoonish media that I consumed had any relation to the real world, I made a mistake, and people died because of it. I’m painfully aware of the man’s tendency towards tribalism, what you describe as the hivemind, the tendency to view everything as my team against your team.

He’s now unemployed, suffering from PTSD, and trying to raise some support funds via GoFundMe.

Drone At Home

Apparently the Australian and US governments are convinced that we each have homegrown terrorists who are planning on carrying out some nefarious deeds on our respective countries.  What I want to know is – why aren’t the U.S. drone-bombing Australian and American homes? It’s apparently a perfectly good solution for suspected terrorists in other countries, so why not start with us? Sure – for each suspected terrorist (and it’s important to remember that these people have had no trial to determine their guilt or innocence) they target, somewhere between 15 and 30 innocent civilians are killed. But that’s just acceptable collateral damage, right? As someone said to me on Facebook a couple of days ago, it’s just unfortunate. It’s just unfortunate that we have to kill innocent civilians to save innocent civilians from being threatened by a terrorist who one day might kill… innocent civilians. Right?

Of course, the U.S. aren’t drone bombing suspected terrorists at home or in Australia or the U.K. or Canada. It would be totally immoral to justify killing innocent civilians in order to kill someone who might, one day, kill innocent civilians. Can you imagine scenes like this on our home turf?

drone bombing

So if it is immoral to kill innocent civilians in the hope of hitting a suspected terrorist at home, why is it acceptable to do it overseas?

Because they aren’t us. Because they aren’t white. Because they have a religion we don’t understand. Because they are inferior to us.

If you think it’s acceptable to kill their civilians, but not to kill our own with the same justification, then you must think we are superior to them. We have more rights than they do. And I’m pretty sure that’s the definition of racism.



Seriously. You Couldn’t Make This Stuff Up.

troops afghanistan

According to The Age, the Defence Minister says Afghanistan will “never again”  be a safe haven for terrorists.

And on the very same day, The Independent says they already have a foothold.

By the way, Prime Minister, the reason soldiers were maligned after Vietnam wasn’t because they didn’t have a welcome home parade – it was because that war was immoral and unjust.

The PM also thinks Afghanistan is a better place now.


It seems like he hasn’t been keeping up with the news.