Iraqi Oil Law Gives Cover for Corporate Profit

The U.S.-backed Iraqi cabinet approved a new oil law Monday that is set to give foreign companies the long-term contracts and safe legal framework they have been waiting for, but which has rattled labour unions and international campaigners who say oil production should remain in the hands of Iraqis.

Independent analysts and labour groups have also criticised the process of drafting the law and warned that that the bill is so skewed in favour of foreign firms that it could end up heightening political tensions in the Arab nation and spreading instability.

For example, it specifies that up to two-thirds of Iraq’s known reserves would be developed by multinationals, under contracts lasting for 15 to 20 years.

This policy would represent a u-turn for Iraq’s oil industry, which has been in the public sector for more than three decades, and would break from normal practice in the Middle East.

According to local labour leaders, transferring ownership to the foreign companies would give a further pretext to continue the U.S. occupation on the grounds that those companies will need protection.

[Alternet]

Does what happens in the Facebook stay in the Facebook?

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watch “Does what happens in the Facebook stay in the Facebook”

While the nearly $13 million that came from Accel to fund The Facebook certainly looks suspicious and unfortunately disturbing after reviewing all of this information, the only problem on the surface seems to be the appearance of some incestuous relationships between the Pentagon, the CIA, and these venture capital firms. But this goes further than just the initial appearances. DARPA shot to national fame in 2002 when John Markoff of the New York Times announced the existence of the “Information Awareness Office” (IAO). [8] According to Wikipedia, “the IAO has the stated mission to gather as much information as possible about everyone, in a centralized location, for easy perusal by the United States government, including (though not limited to) Internet activity, credit card purchase histories, airline ticket purchases, car rentals, medical records, educational transcripts, driver’s licenses, utility bills, tax returns, and any other available data.” [9] Protests came from civil libertarians on both the right and the left who saw the IAO as a new Orwellian arm of the United States government. After Congress investigated DARPA’s project, funding was cut off and IAO was essentially dead in the water…

Some of the aspects of the privacy policy are downright creepy and confusing. This particular gem is especially disturbing: “Thefacebook also collects information about you from other sources, such as newspapers and instant messaging services. This information is gathered regardless of your use of the Web Site.” And there’s no telling when the privacy policy may change. As of when this was written (July 1, 2005), the policy was effective as of June 28, 2005.

Read more at Common Ground Common Sense

Do female suicide bombers get 72 virgins too?

Slate.com explains how god rewards a female suicide bomber:

Women may not get these particular perks, but religious commentaries argue that paradise will make them beautiful, happy, and without jealousy. The fact that they fasted and worshipped Allah during their earthly lives will also make them superior to the virgins, who only exist in heaven. Some modern clerics argue that in heaven, husbands never grow bored of their wives, even with so many huris around. That may explain why some would-be female suicide bombers have spoken of becoming “chief of the 72 virgins, the fairest of the fair.” 

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The North Korea intel botch is worse than you think.

Stories in Thursday’s New York Times and Washington Post quote senior U.S. intelligence officials saying that North Korea might not have an enriched-uranium program after all…

“The revelation is stunning on two levels.

First, it suggests that the Bush administration could have struck a deal to halt the North Koreans’ nuclear-weapons program five years ago—before they reprocessed 8,000 nuclear fuel rods into plutonium, before they tested a nuclear bomb for the first time, before they officially became a “nuclear-weapons state.”

Second (and this is the reason for the “no-confidence” stamp), it shows that Bush and his people will say anything, no matter whether it’s true, in order to shore up a political point. It means that U.S. intelligence has become completely corrupted.

It would be nice to know whether Iran is supplying Iraqi insurgents with particularly deadly explosives. It would be nice to know how far along the Iranians are coming with their (quite real) enriched-uranium program. It would be nice to know lots of things about this dangerous world. Or it would, at least, be nice to have a true sense of how much our intelligence agencies know about such things.

But we don’t know how much these agencies know, because we can have no confidence in what the Bush administration tells us they know.”

[Slate.com]

BBC News reported WTC 7 collapsed before it did (CNN too)

The Wonkette sounds off: 

The Internets are buzzing with the bizarre story of BBC News reporting the 9/11 collapse of WTC7 before the building actually collapsed — all over a live shot of Ground Zero, with the 47-story highrise clearly in view and clearly standing….

Google is quickly deleting copies of the video, although it’s unknown who or what is requesting the clips be deleted. BBC presumably owns the copyright on the footage, and it seems BBC would want to collect and examine this footage — because the BBC now claims it lost all the 9/11 video. Because who would want to save video of the biggest news event of the last 40 years?

[Wonkette]

Bush’s Future Iran War Speech: Three Charges in the Case for War

Sometime this spring or summer, barring an unexpected turnaround by Tehran, President Bush is likely to go on national television and announce that he has ordered American ships and aircraft to strike at military targets inside Iran. We must still sit through several months of soap opera at the United Nations in New York and assorted foreign capitals before this comes to pass, and it is always possible that a diplomatic breakthrough will occur – let it be so! – but I am convinced that Bush has already decided an attack is his only option and the rest is a charade he must go through to satisfy his European allies. The proof of this, I believe, lies half-hidden in recent public statements of his, which, if pieced together, provide a casus belli, or formal list of justifications, for going to war.

Three of his statements, in particular, contained the essence of this justification: his January 10 televised speech on his plan for a troop “surge” in Iraq, his State of the Union Address of January 23, and his first televised press conference of the year on February 14. None of these was primarily focused on Iran, but the President used each of them to warn of the extraordinary dangers that country poses to the United States and to hint at severe U.S. reprisals if the Iranians did not desist from “harming U.S. troops.” In each, moreover, he laid out various parts of the overall argument he will certainly use to justify an attack on Iran. String these together in one place and you can almost anticipate what Bush’s speechwriters will concoct before he addresses the American people from the Oval Office sometime later this year. Think of them as talking points for the next war.

[Truthout.org::via::TomDispatch.com]

Justice Department takes aim at image-sharing sites

The Bush administration has accelerated its Internet surveillance push by proposing that Web sites must keep records of who uploads photographs or videos in case police determine the content is illegal and choose to investigate, CNET News.com has learned.

That proposal surfaced Wednesday in a private meeting during which U.S. Department of Justice officials, including Assistant Attorney General Rachel Brand, tried to convince industry representatives such as AOL and Comcast that data retention would be valuable in investigating terrorism, child pornography and other crimes. The discussions were described to News.com by several people who attended the meeting.

A second purpose of the meeting in Washington, D.C., according to the sources, was to ask Internet service providers how much it would cost to record details on their subscribers for two years. At the very least, the companies would be required to keep logs for police of which customer is assigned a specific Internet address…

Often invoking terrorism and child pornography as justifications, the administration has argued that Internet providers must install backdoors for surveillance and has called for routers to be redesigned for easier eavesdropping. President Bush’s electronic surveillance program, which was recently modified, has drawn an avalanche of lawsuits.

[CNET News]

Inside Bush’s prosecutor purge

Suspicions about the unusual purge of eight U.S. attorneys in December exploded into the open across the legal community and on Capitol Hill after McNulty conceded in Senate testimony on Feb. 6 that the U.S. attorney in Arkansas, Bud Cummins, was pushed out for no reason other than to give someone else a shot at the job. Using a little-noticed provision in the Patriot Act allowing interim appointments, Gonzales gave the post to Timothy Griffin — who had been both an operative for the Republican National Committee and a deputy to senior White House advisor Karl Rove — in what many believe was a maneuver to sidestep the traditional Senate confirmation process for U.S. attorneys.

[Salon.com]