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World in Chaos Open Thread

Brain fog

Brain fog

My brain isn’t working too well this morning, thanks to a nasty head cold. Still I got up as usual and surfed around to see what’s going on in the world. Is it just me, or are things even more chaotic out there than usual? Let’s see…

Robert M. Morgenthau, district attorney of Manhattan has indicted Li Fang Wei, a Chinese businessman, for selling nuclear raw materials to Iran and using U.S. banks such as Bank of America, Citibank and J.P. Morgan Chase to launder the financial transactions. Supposedly the banks were unwitting accessories. Hmmm… why don’t I buy that excuse?

Chinese and Russian “cyberspies” have infiltrated the U.S. electric grid.

Authorities investigating the intrusions have found software tools left behind that could be used to destroy infrastructure components, the senior intelligence official said. He added, “If we go to war with them, they will try to turn them on.”

Officials said water, sewage and other infrastructure systems also were at risk.

Now isn’t that special?

Pirates have captured a U.S. flagged ship and taken 20 American crewmembers hostage off the coast of Somalia.

The container ship, the Maersk Alabama, was carrying thousands of tons of relief aid to the Kenyan port of Mombasa, the company that owns the ship said.

The ship was taken by pirates at about 7:30 a.m. local time, 280 miles southeast of the Somali city of Eyl, a known haven for pirates, a spokesman for the United States Navy said. It is owned and operated by Maersk Line Limited, a United States subsidiary of A.P. Moller – Maersk Group, the Danish shipping giant.

The Maersk Alabama was at least the sixth commercial ship commandeered by pirates this week off the Horn of Africa, one of the most notoriously lawless zones on the high seas, where pirates have been operating with near impunity despite efforts by many nations, including the United States, to intimidate them with naval warship patrols.

The death toll continues to rise after the earthquake in Italy.

At least seven strong shocks hit the region during the night, killing one person and waking people from their sleep in the tent shelters.

The tremors brought down masonry from already damaged buildings and one tremor was felt as far away as Rome.

President Obama has finally returned to Washington, D.C. after his triumphant global tour. Will that help or hurt our economic situation? Will he finally wake up and realize that Geithner and Summers are wrecking our economic system in order to save their rich friends? Or does he already know that and think it’s a good idea? Will Obama’s wooing of Muslims in Turkey make a difference or is it “just words?”

A “turning point,” a “fresh breeze” — even a “light in the darkness.” Arabs and Muslims have been charmed by President Barack Obama’s first venture into the Islamic world.

Obama’s visit to Turkey this week was full of gestures calculated at showing he is a friend to Muslims, like his headliner sound bite that the U.S will never be “at war with Islam” and his mention of the Muslims in his family. Even throwaway lines like a comment that he had to wrap up a town-hall meeting with Turkish students “before the call to prayer” showed he was no stranger to Muslims’ way of life.

To many, the town-hall format for a meeting with students in Istanbul on Tuesday sent a significant message. The sight of a U.S. president being questioned by Muslims was dramatically different from the perception many had of Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush.

What do you think? And what are you reading/hearing/watching this morning?

88 Responses

  1. After this, I really need one of those sweet endearing posts? Is there anything happening in the world that is good?

    • I thought Obama’s efforts to reach out to Muslims could be a good thing. I’ll try to to dig up some good news. Have you heard any?

      There are now four states where same sex marriage is legal. That’s a good thing.

      • A good thing would be outlawing marriage for everybody in all 50 states.

        Q: Why is divorce so expensive?

        A: Because it’s worth it.

        • LOL! It was the best thing that ever happened to me–twice!

          • Divorce, I mean.

          • i keep telling my daughters to NEVER get married, they keep saying not all men are like their dad … i just tell them, watch a few of their friends who get married and you’ll see in a few months, every one turns into some kind of stereotype kneejerk married person…

            i tell them to protect and preserve their assets by staying away from men

  2. Thats the problem BB, I haven’t heard any – except my daughter is getting married and he is wonderful!!

    Oh and the four states, that is good news, but I am not holding my breath. The right wingers will come out in full force.

  3. You beat me to it BB! I was trying to get a quickie in, not sure where RD is this morning.

    • That’s OK, Dakinikat. I did the same thing. RD must have had an early meeting or something. I hope she doesn’t have this nasty cold that I am struggling with. I finally decided to stay in bed today and try to shake it off.

    • You didn’t have to take your post down, but I guess it might be better to spread them out. Did you see the Black Swan piece in FT this morning. I really liked it. Taleb can really write, can’t he? And he’s a master of metaphor.

      • that’s what the post is, thought we could use some nice practical inspiration

      • BB, could you pls provide a link to Black Swan’s post? I can’t find it in the links.

        Yes, the world is indeed in chaos! I listened to Laura Ingram on one of the morning shows (the one with Matt Lauer), and found that for the most part I agreed with her take on Obama’s lack of success in his world tour.

    • Daki, you got to check this one out (curtosy of Larry Doyle at Noquarter). It is hilarious.


      • that’s cute, I saw another one like that last month, same song but slightly different words and not such great cartooning!

  4. I thought it was kind of nice that Ted Kennedy threw out the first ball at the Red Sox opener yesterday. And the Sox won!

  5. BB. If there is one thing I have learned during the campaign, it is that O contrary to what we could think, does mean everything he says and mean everything he does. His agenda is very well established in his mind and it comprises of weaking America to level the field with other nations of the world, especially the emerging nations.

    Forcing the American economy to recess is a goal and will be achieved even more easily once it is weakened.

    Paying back his backers is just killing two birds with one stone.

    The wrecking of the economy is the first punch, and coming this fall all the new regulations for energy caps will be the second.

    Let’s not be naive. It is not a question of tinfoil hat conspiracy. It is just a question of listing to what Obama has always said.

    • Well, he also said he would restore habeas corpus and stop torture and illegal spying. But that’s not happening…

      • That would mean confronting the CIA, which is protecting him. So, I guess those will wait until he feels secure enough with the CIA to move them around.

      • he talks a lot says the same thing,doesn’t mean a word of it.
        tomorrow it,s a different spiel.don’t believe it either..

    • Obama has a special ability that helped him win the election.

      When he lies, his followers believe him. When he tells the truth, they don’t.

  6. Well, at present, the homepage of Yahoo has its lead story as “What Obama watches on TV.”

    • Apparently he’s addicted to “Entourage.” Why does he have time to watch TV? TV, parties, flying around the world, everything except dealing with America’s problems.

      • It said he actually changed his campaign schedule so he wouldn’t miss an episode. This is the mentality level we are dealing with–he wants to watch a bunch of 20-something “cool” guys make it big in Hollywood, and bed a lot of lovelies. Entourage can be funny, but it is pure testosterone, and ultimately pretty juvenile. How old is this guy??? Seriously.

        • He couldn’t tivo the thing or just watch it on demand? That’s sad.

          • Why let something like the presidency get in the way of your fave TV show? These are his priorities.

        • I work 50-60 hours a week.
          I give up some of my other activities such as watching TV (not that there is much of value on since “reality” tv come to be).
          America may have been sacked with the Democratic Bush.

      • I bet its really “Kings” which is a new show. If he had said “MadMen” at least I could have respected him for that.

  7. does OBama know what his staff is doing? Yes, he does. If he doesn’t he is a complete incompetent and needs to resign. We were supposed to belive that bush didn’t know who outed Valerie Plame and I do not believe that for a minute. Whatever is going on in the whitehouse the president knows about it.

  8. Helen Thomas is definitely a PUMA:

    Helen Thomas: Obama plays it safe

    Veteran White House correspondent Helen Thomas, who has covered the presidency for nearly half a century, shared some observations about the office’s newest occupant with Washington Flyer magazine.

    “I think he has to be very daring, [but] I think he plays it very safe, very cautious, which is probably smart, but I’m not sure he’s going to really be as bold as I want him to be,” said Thomas, who is known for voicing critical, usually liberal opinions during press conferences. “I want to see a real transformation—a caring for the people, not just giving a $700 billion bailout to Wall Street while Detroit suffers.”


  9. More backpeddling.

    “Feds Push Back Deadline on Stimulus Bill Reports”

    “A new memo from the White House Office of Management and Budget pushes back a key deadline for detailed reports from states, school districts and housing authorities. The reports are expected to provide the first national glimpse at what projects receive stimulus funding, which companies get contracts and how many jobs they create.

    OMB initially set the deadline for July 10, but the new guidance pushes that back three months to Oct. 10.

    OMB spokesman Tom Gavin said the earlier deadline was an “aggressive” effort to get the information quickly. But after talking to state and local officials, the timeline faced a reality check.”


    What is interesting to me is that the federal fiscal year ends Sept. 30, but this report is not due until Oct. 10.

    • Yes, it’s all a big cover up. But you know we don’t have to pay those bills Geithner is running up. First, Congress has to approve, and second, if Obama collapses the government, which is a definite possibility, it’s all null and void. Third, refer to Jefferson’s words in the Declaration of Independence. It is our right to refuse to accept tyranny.

  10. We need to do these threads about what are you reading in the news more often, I get a lot of good links from every one who post here. I’ve been reading about the Vermont Gay Marriage Law in the NY TImes today..

  11. Anyone see Frontline last night? That expose on BAE was a real downer! Especially the fact that Britain’s policy changed because of Saudi’s threats to stop helping them in the war on terror (has this become a euphemism for oil?)… & I don’t see Obama’s cadre of idiots doing anything about the mass bribing on an international scale.

  12. 98 yr old woman crochet’s while trapped in earthquake



  13. Camille Paglia is a tough cookie:


    “You are absolutely correct! The buck stops with the top executive. But we all know how little executive experience Barack Obama has had. He was elected for his vision and his steady, deliberative character, not his résumé. For better or worse, Obama is learning as he goes — and surely most fair-minded people would grant him reasonable leeway as he grows into the presidency, one of the hardest jobs in the world.

    At a certain point, however, Obama will face an inescapable administrative crux. Arriving at the White House, he understandably stayed in his comfort zone by bringing old friends and allies with him — a team that had had a fabulous success in devising the hard-as-nails strategy that toppled the Clintons, like crumbling colossi, into yesterday’s news. But these comrades may not have the practical skills or broad perspective to help Obama govern. Like Shakespeare’s Prince Hal ascending the throne, Obama may have to steel his heart and banish Falstaff and the whole frat-house crew.”

    She goes on to address the bow and pretty much slaps around those on the fringes of both the far right and the far left.

    • She is so high on kool-Aid. She fails to see the mistakes Obama makes and blames it on the people advising him. He has no experience but don’t blame him because he “was elected for his vision and his steady, deliberative character, not his résumé”. It is all about Obama’s advisors failing to do their jobs. Has she thought for once that Obama isn’t the kind of leader she imagines him to be.

      I still strongly believe in Obama’s promise as a world leader. I was thrilled, for example, by his call this week for an end to nuclear weapons — a goal that he frankly admitted would not be attained in his lifetime. We have waited a long time for an American president who dreams big.

      Mr. Dream Big has never had an original idea.
      And yet he has no original ideas.

      • Her take on Obama is a little puzzling, she clearly admits that he essentially has no executive experience, yet she has such high expectations for him. I was surprised to see her reference his “frat house crew.”

        • Sometimes I suspect her of slipping those salon readers a little truth here and there. She lays on the kool-aid with a trowel and then tosses in those little ‘and of course he has no executive experience’ in a way that kind of makes a reader go along with it whereas we all know the kool-aid drinkers fought that sort of thing hard.

          But perhaps here I am guilty of seeing what I want to see.

        • Paglia’s “logic” is always full of contradictions. Who knows where she really stands on anything?

      • Personally I have no use for big dreamers. Usually they don’t have a job and they want you to buy their lunch and listen to them talk about themselves.

        Oh wait….

      • “Dreams Big”? What about DOING BIG THINGS Ms. Paglia?
        Doers are the ones who get things done. While JFK talked about civil rights, it was Johnson who has the drive and desire to do something about it, and that was well before the 1964 Civil Rights act. Johnson worked on Civil rights in the early 50’s, ever before it was fashionable to do so.

  14. I’ve been reading a lot of reports in the non-mainstream media about the conditions in Somalia and it’ s horrifying. Two things quickly: The U.N. passed a resolution turning the Somali coast into a free-fire zone, ostensibly to stop “pirates” and “terrorists,” and the result has been gruesome levels of destruction and devastation. Two, Western nations are the ones “pirating” Somalia by dumping huge amounts of toxins into their water and land, and ravaging their stock of fish (because we’ve depleted our own, so now we just steal theirs). To the Somali people, the pirates are heroes who are trying to protect them:

    “No, this doesn’t make hostage-taking justifiable, and yes, some are clearly just gangsters – especially those who have held up World Food Programme supplies. But the “pirates” have the overwhelming support of the local population for a reason. The independent Somalian news-site WardherNews conducted the best research we have into what ordinary Somalis are thinking – and it found 70 percent “strongly supported the piracy as a form of national defence of the country’s territorial waters.” During the revolutionary war in America, George Washington and America’s founding fathers paid pirates to protect America’s territorial waters, because they had no navy or coastguard of their own. Most Americans supported them. Is this so different?

    “Did we expect starving Somalians to stand passively on their beaches, paddling in our nuclear waste, and watch us snatch their fish to eat in restaurants in London and Paris and Rome? We didn’t act on those crimes – but when some of the fishermen responded by disrupting the transit-corridor for 20 percent of the world’s oil supply, we begin to shriek about “evil.” If we really want to deal with piracy, we need to stop its root cause – our crimes – before we send in the gun-boats to root out Somalia’s criminals.”


    I know, I know, it’s HuffPo, but Hari’s article is well worth reading.

    Chris Floyd has been covering the atrocities in Somalia with his usual eloquence and rage.

    • In an article I read a while back, the locals supported the pirates because they brought in income. The ransom money was used to buy food and other commodities. The people that are kidnapped are fed well. I also read that the pirates didn’t kill the people they kidnapped. They were only after money.

      • Still it’s a crime though and have been quite trying for the victims.
        Also, even though some were caught, no one country would take responsibility for prosecuting the hijackers. So their weapons were confiscated, their boats shot to pieces … and they were send back home.

        • It is a crime but considering the circumstances that have led them to this, I can understand their desperation. Their waters have been polluted, people have gotten sick because of this. No food. The countries that continue to pollut and steal their sea food, should be made to pay not the innocent people that they kidnap.
          Anyway, I appreciate the fact that they don’t kill anyone or cut off body parts.

    • Thanks for the info and the link. I guess this means that Larry Summers no longer has to fret about African countries being UNDER-polluted. As M. Gandhi said when asked about Western civilization, well that would be a very good idea.

      And thanks for reminding me about Chris Floyd–I’ve forgotten to make Empire Burlesque a regular read.

  15. I seem to have lost a comment. Let’s see if this link will go through.


  16. First headline I saw on my yahoo news headlines was “President Barack Obama can’t stand to be without his ‘Entourage.'”

    I think they’re referencing the TV show … not his own personal entourage of 500 (including basketball coach).

    Yeah, the world truly has gone f’ing MAD!

    • WTH would he need a basketball coach on a trip? It wasn’t like he was going to spend a month in Europe.

    • What’s interesting to me about Obama’s favorite show is that Ari, the star’s agent in the show, is based on the real-life Ari Emanuel, Rahm Emanuel’s Hollywood agent brother. It’s pretty clear that Obama identifies with the the rather vacuous pretty-boy star of the show.

      But I haven’t seen the show in years–it struck me as somewhat fiunny, but fairly puerile and completely disconnected from reality.

  17. Oh noes!

    Officials said water, sewage and other infrastructure systems also were at risk.

    We have a well and septic tank, so all I need is a generator and I can be completely off the grid.

    Should start stocking the basement up with food yet?

    • get a wood burning stove, a small windmill and some canned food. You’ll be better off than most.

      • I’m in PA, too. I think we’re better off than most as there are so many small farms around.

    • I’ve lived with lousy infrastructure in New Orleans for 3- 4 years now. Electricity was out at least 3 times a week for hours!!! for like 1 year.

      I keep bottles of water in the refrigerator. I make sure I have 2 hurricane lamps and Oil. I also have taken to stocking two cabinets with misc. canned goods. I own a charcoal burning grilll and have several bags of charcol and woods around.

      I’ve planted my backyard with orchard trees and edibles.

      I have a bike and tire pump and baskets.

      I makes sure I have plenty of good batteries for my cell phone and my computer is blue tooth enabled so i can hit a sattellite conneciton if i need it.

    • yes now is a good time to stock up.

  18. I found this at realclearpolitics, the author appears to be a conservative economist (anti-new deal tone). His comment about “real” unemployment is an eye opener.


    “The economy is shifting to permanently lower levels of production and employment, as the recession nears a depression.

    Unemployment reached 8.5% in March. Adding in discouraged adults who have left the labor force and part-time workers who would prefer to work full time, the real unemployment rate is approaching 17%.

    Simply, investors and employers lack confidence in the overall likely effects of Treasury Secretary Geithner’s plans to stabilize banks and President Obama’s stimulus package and budget proposals.”

  19. Everybody Please View This Video And Demand Our Troops Come Home: Hear Whats Happening From Our Troops


  20. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/04/07/AR2009040703675.html?hpid=topnews

    “It’s all well and good for the Goldman Sachs chairman to call for better regulation of the financial industry. But regulators are unlikely to do much better during the next bubble unless we can find better ways to insulate them from Wall Street’s outsize political influence.”

  21. in moderation

  22. Melanie Philips last Friday on Obama and Islam:

    The answer to Obama’s hand of friendship


    Melanie today:


    she doesn’t mince words.

  23. http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Stocks-hold-gains-after-rb-14880453.html?sec=topStories&pos=main&asset=TBD&ccode=TBD

    “NEW YORK (Reuters) – Stocks rose slightly on Wednesday after news of government aid for some life insurers and a merger among homebuilders spurred optimism that offset a quarterly loss from Alcoa (NYSE:AA – News).

    But the market came off its early highs after life insurers cut gains on comments from the U.S. Treasury Department that appeared to throw cold water on some aspects of a story in the Wall Street Journal that said the government planned to extend the Trouble Asset Relief Program to the insurance industry.”

    • So here’s the stock market these days in a nutshell:

      Johnny is kicking and screaming and having a tantrum and breaking up the house. Mommy says, “I’ll buy you a new car if you stop!”

      Johhny stops.

      Mommy makes a statement that perhaps it won’t be a new car, maybe a bicycle…

      Johhny resumes kicking and screaming and throwing the china.

      Meanwhile, any talk of sitting Johnny in the corner for a time out, and isolating him where he can’t break the china (i.e. receivership) is poo-pooed.

  24. BB the picture is beayoutiful!

  25. There’s a new thread, you can consider it open also 🙂

  26. Some indication via updates on the BBC that the crew of the Maersk ship may have fought off the pirates. Good on ’em. The company isn’t confirming it, though.

    The BBC has lots of informative and interesting stories on that situation.

    Re the waste dumping and pirates as “coast guard.” (Apparently that’s what they call themselves.) Yes, Western powers have behaved like the usual scumbags in any unpoliced parts of the world. But the pirates are no Robin Hoods. They’re even greater scumbags, by the sound of it. If they weren’t, Puntland would have no poverty. Instead for instance, among the gazillion other things they do, they buy the “most beautiful” nomad girls, whose families are glad to sell them because otherwise they’ll all starve to death.

    All indications are that the reason they don’t harm crews is because they get more money that way. When the business is smuggling migrants, they toss the people overboard if they think there’s a danger of getting caught. (The sea there is full of sharks. Nobody survives unless the chase boat was very close.)

  27. I was one of the lucky students at the townhall meeting and Mr. President was very diplomatic! He made us feel that he is very sensitive about islamic things. I think he has studied too much before coming, so that he left Turkey without any remarkable goof or a word that is misunderstood. He was clear and I felt that he wanted peace. But time will show it. One thing is sure now. Turks are thinking more positive about USA and the number will increase. Greetings from here all!

    • Much as none of us here like the Big 0, I have to say I feel better hearing a take like yours, Osman. It gets stuffy when you have to wear a bag over your head 24/7!

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